Sonic Frontiers on Switch is quite the experience. On the most powerful hardware (PC, PS5, Series X) the Blue Blur’s latest outing is a perfectly pleasant-looking game. It has problems, but it’s not ugly. You wouldn’t walk past it with your eyebrows raised, mouth agog, staring like Sonic’s pants had fallen to his ankles. It’s just fine. On Switch, Sonic’s pants haven’t just fallen down; they’ve been mangled and haphazardly thrown back on the hedgehog. This is the same core experience, but it’s so pared back even Tiger Woods in his prime would struggle to birdie.
To be fair to Sonic Frontiers on Switch, the stage levels are decent – although a long way from ideal in terms of frame rate. These rollercoaster-esque runs are comparable to the other console versions in a “couldn’t be bothered to put on my glasses” way. You can tell it’s a fair bit rougher, but it passes. Where things start to unravel, sadly, is in the open world areas. My word, are these areas unpleasant on the eyes – and no amount of squinting can save it.
Here’s a screenshot. I didn’t deliberately pose this. I simply played the game and this is what faced me:
I’ve seen plenty of people big up the Switch version of Sonic Frontiers as surprisingly good-looking version of a game that is also on PS5/Series X. I’m honestly rather baffled by this. Maybe there’s an element of that thing where you develop feelings for your captor. At times it has felt like Sonic fans have been held hostage by infuriatingly mediocre Sonic games that would all be plates of beige at an underwhelming children’s party (with some food dye spilt over), so maybe this is the explanation. Or maybe people are just keen to enjoy the thing they paid good money for.
Or perhaps people have lower standards than I do – although I have previously said how I think most modern games look brilliant. I’m putting it down to Sonic the Hedgehog syndrome: where you think something bad is good, actually.
I fully understand that a lot of people who are Sonic fans (poor lot) have no choice other than playing the game on Switch. I’m by no means directing this rant at consumers, but I do wonder what the line is for bringing games to the Switch – a handheld so far behind the times now that I’m constantly amazed it runs current games at all. And people think it’s the Xbox Series S holding back game development!
The fact that a game runs at all on old hardware shouldn’t be a selling point, though. When the game’s visuals are compromised so much it’s a distraction to the gameplay, maybe that game shouldn’t have been offered to users of that system.
I’m sure it’ll be mere moments before someone comes into the comments or messages me on the confusing blue tick platform to say something like: “I played it on Switch, got all the emeralds, went fast, and it’s brilliant.” I’m pleased for you. As someone who very much appreciates the visual side of video games, I simply don’t want to play a game that looks like it’s being played through the world’s first emulation tool, before it was made to work properly.
This has been a bit of a grumpy rant, but it’s born out of frustration. The Switch is home to some gorgeous games, and it’s no surprise that those games are on the whole titles developed with the hardware limitations front and centre. This article is likely going to fall on deaf ears, but just expect better. If you can, don’t buy Sonic Frontiers on Switch.