Since the console’s debut, the Kingdom Hearts series has been long requested to appear on the Nintendo Switch. Of course, the franchise has launched on every other modern platform, but the conveniences boasted by the Switch hardware are difficult to ignore. With that said, the announcement of these games finally arriving to the Switch was thrilling yet simultaneously frightening. In an almost poetic twist, each title is only playable via Cloud streaming technology. Needless to say, this news underwhelmed fans and potential players for obvious reasons.
The demos are all timed with limited launch windows, making the act of playing these titles somewhat arduous. Their primary purpose is to judge whether your internet connection is viable for purchasing these games, so I believe a simple connection test or the like would have made infinitely more sense than a questionable series of demos. Regardless, these demos do at least perform their intended task of informing players of the quality they should expect of the full Cloud releases, for better or worse.
It is worth noting that everyone’s experiences with the quality of these demos will be different, seeing as it’s dependent on one’s internet connection. Personally speaking, I had a smooth set of gameplay experiences. This was my first time trying out Cloud-based gaming, and I admittedly had a negative lens going in since that’s the general perception painted towards the practice. I have a sturdy internet connection which is assuredly vital for Cloud-based gaming, and of the games I tried, combat was mostly cohesive. At most, slight hiccups and audio distortions were present. Kingdom Hearts III was the most problematic with occasional straight-up freezes, though. This is clearly the most demanding title to run, and it shows. Still, no moment of gameplay ever felt unplayable, which is probably a low bar to clear, but one worth acknowledging.
Aside from combat, the cutscenes are, unfortunately, quite messy. While I didn’t get a chance to view them in-depth since I was under a time limit, the bits of footage I did see made them out to be like poorly compressed, stuttering Youtube videos. They were undeniably awkward to watch and, at least in my case, were oddly more severe in ineptitude than the gameplay performance. This alone utterly ruins any prospect of claiming this as a recommendable avenue to experience the franchise. And, well, I just don’t believe it’s worth supporting these releases for how lazy this Cloud-based decision is. While Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage and Kingdom Hearts III would’ve been acceptable conduits for Cloud, there’s no excuse for every prior title being subjected to the same umbrella.
Even as a hardcore Kingdom Hearts fan, I can’t say I’m satisfied with how the games are being incorporated on the Nintendo Switch. Even though my gameplay experiences seem to be more favorable than the general audience, these are undoubtedly the worst ways to play the games. I still faced issues, however slight, that I would not encounter on any of the other platforms. The singularly primary advantage of the Switch, its portability functionality, is practically rendered moot by the necessity of a consistently robust internet connection.
As it currently stands, I’m not sure who the Kingdom Hearts Integrum Masterpiece for Cloud is for. It negates the advantages of the Switch, which would entice new and old fans alike, and doesn’t offer any strengths compared to other platforms. Even those who only own a Nintendo Switch should not be content with such a collectively butchered experience. At most, you can try out the demos to assess your connections, but the fragility of it all would just make the idea of full-on playthroughs more burdensome than anything else.
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