The Nintendo Switch is no stranger to late ports. Games that released years prior on current gen make their way over to Nintendo’s hybrid machine some time later. A lot of these ports come to Switch and get reworked to run and play well on the Switch, others not so much. Tropico 6 marks the series’ first appearance on a Nintendo console, and somehow it falls into the “good, not great” category of Switch ports. While Tropico 6 on the Switch is fun to play and a complete version of the game, its technical issues bring the experience down quite a bit.
We reviewed Tropico 6 on PC and its console ports back in 2019. At the time we said: “Tropico 6 is the best way for newbies to get into the series. There are several new systems, but they are pretty one-dimensional. This is a fun game to spend a few hours on, but it lacks the depth of the older versions. The new developers have played it safe, which is not a bad thing, but veterans might be put off by the new direction.” For this review, we’re only focusing on the Nintendo Switch port.
Let’s focus first on the goods. Tropico 6 on Nintendo Switch is the complete version of the game, meaning you’re getting everything the other consoles have in one reasonably priced package. There is also DLC content that can be purchased; however, they were not active in our review copy, so I can’t truly tell you how they play. Personally, I appreciate the work that went into this port. Being able to build up your own island anywhere on Switch is extremely appealing. While most of us aren’t able to travel due to current world health issues, Tropico 6 on Switch works great as a “put something on the TV and sink into the game” sort of experience. It’s easy to pick up and play for a bit without feeling the need to be heavily invested in the action on-screen. That’s not to say you can become lazy as your citizens (or ruling government) will make specific, time sensitive demands of you.
The most glaringly obvious issue with Tropico 6 are the graphics. To get the game to run on Switch, the developers obviously needed to take some of the shine away from building details, construction details, island details, and pretty much any other details. This is to be expected on Switch ports, and the issue is a bit less noticeable in handheld mode (although you can clearly see the details pulled back). Again, we’ve seen this before with other Switch ports, like Cities: Skylines or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The problem is that while Cities: Skylines and Witcher 3 had downgraded graphics but maintained its solid gameplay, Tropico 6 has its gameplay interrupted by technical issues. It’s way too common for the game to freeze for a few seconds whenever the auto-save, well, auto saves. This would be less noticeable if the game didn’t auto-save every….two minutes or so.
Even stranger is the issue with the menu system. Pulling up your in-game menu (to choose to build things, manage trades, etc.) introduces what feels like lag. Picking a specific item from the menu requires very specific, sometimes slow, choice. You actually have to hover over an item or sub-menu for a second or two BEFORE you can pick it; otherwise, the perceived lag causes you to choose the wrong thing. In a game where going into these menus is a necessary action hundreds of times per play session, this issue makes the game feel somewhat unresponsive. Neither of these things are major game-breaking issues, they’re just obvious issues that take away from the gameplay. It interrupts your time with Tropico 6. Could these issues be fixed in a patch? I would assume they could (you’d have to ask the devs). If such an issue could be fixed, then most of my issues with Tropico 6‘s gameplay on Switch would be solved.
Which brings us to the tricky part. Is Tropico 6: Nintendo Switch Edition worth your time and money? Yes and no. I’ve put in a little over 10 hours of gameplay with this title and can say that I’m having fun, despite the issues I’ve experienced. If you’ve never played the Tropico series before, then Tropico 6 is a great entry point. If you’ve already played or owned Tropico 6 on other platforms, then the Switch version probably isn’t the way to go. If you only own a Switch and this style of game is appealing to you, then Tropico 6 could be a good purchase for you. Just be aware of the drawbacks and issues with the current Switch port.
Developer: Limbic Entertainment
Publisher: Kalypso Media Group
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 6th November 2020
Gaming Respawn’s copy of Tropico 6: Nintendo Switch Edition was provided by the publisher.