Shaun Munro reviews Rocket League on Nintendo Switch…
Whether you’re triple-dipping or have never played a single match of Rocket League before, make no mistake – if you own a Nintendo Switch, you owe it to yourself to own this game.
A runaway phenomenon beyond anyone’s expectations when it was first released on the PS4 back in the summer of 2015, Psyonix’s car-football extravaganza has endured as one of the most popular and celebrated multiplayer titles of recent years, and with damn good reason.
Whether partaking in a 1v1 duel or frantic 4v4 mayhem, the loop is simple; use your rocket-fueled car to kick a comically oversized football into the opponent’s goal, using whatever jumps, nudges, boosts and death-defying flips you deem necessary. If you thought its unexpectedly complex physics mechanics and moreish addiction factor weren’t enough on other platforms, the Switch version now allows you to play in bed, on the toilet, or basically wherever you please. What a time to be alive, indeed.
Though the next few years are going to see an avalanche of third-party titles being ported to Nintendo’s hit platform, it’s hard to imagine a game better-suited to the Switch than Rocket League, what with its bite-sized five-minute matches and easy pick-up-and-play style, which nevertheless begs players to try and master the litany of nuanced techniques it has to offer.
And for the most part, this port is a resounding success, retaining the original game’s balanced core and prime status as a sports game for people who don’t really like sports games (as well as those who do). The anguish of a missed goal and the dopamine-infused elation of a last-minute belter are just as involving and intense as they were on previous release platforms, even if some clear concessions have been made to get the game running on the Switch’s modest hardware.
First and foremost, if you’re a graphics stickler, this will most certainly not be your preferred way to play the game, regardless of the portable appeal. In order to maintain a smooth-ish 60 FPS, the Switch version runs at a dynamic resolution which tends to settle at around 576p, resulting in a frequent abundance of blocky, jagged textures on both the vehicles and the stadiums themselves. The game meanwhile runs at 720p docked, yet many of the aforementioned textural issues generally persist, leaving it sorely lacking compared to the other console and PC releases.
This shouldn’t come as especially surprising, though, and aside from the occasional frame-rate hitch during an explosion or a busy sequence at a goal, these visual issues, though disappointing, are relatively easy to ignore. The silky smooth gameplay is so wildly engrossing, even in short bursts for the most casual players, and the benefits of the portability are so strong that it’s hard to hold the graphical foibles against Panic Button Studios (who were also responsible for the acclaimed recent Doom port for Switch).
Though for the most part this version of the game is unchanged from prior iterations, even coming complete with the nutty basketball, ice hockey and experimental play modes that were added as updates to the base game, Nintendo fans will no doubt get a giggle out of the Mario, Luigi and Metroid cars available, the former two of which emit the iconic Mario jump sound effect every time your car vaults into the air. It’s delightful, as you’d expect.
The Switch version also allows local split-screen play, and though it’s a little fiddly to set up and playing with a teeny-tiny Joy-Con won’t be to all tastes, it works surprisingly well for the most part, and is sure to be great fun on-the-move with a pal. Rocket League competitions in the pub, anyone?
While it’s worth being aware of what this version of the game has surrendered on a technical level, Rocket League‘s arrival on the Switch is for the most part a rousing success, retaining its brilliant essence and, crucially, snappy matchmaking which also allows cross-play with Xbox One and PC players (yet sadly not PS4 owners…yet).
With a mere £15 price tag and an unlimited cap on the tens if not hundreds of hours you’ll end up pouring into it, Rocket League Switch may not be the definitive version of Psyonix’s all-timer car sports game, but it just might represent the most fun and accessible way to play it. Seriously, what are you even waiting for?
+ It’s perfectly-suited to the Switch
+ Deceptively simple gameplay
+ It’s ludicrously addictive
+ Nintendo-themed vehicles
– The graphics take a significant hit from previous versions
Reviewed for Nintendo Switch (also available on PS4, Xbox One and PC)
Shaun Munro – Follow me on Twitter for more video game rambling.