If you had asked me whether or not I was ready for an updated Nintendo Switch two months ago, my answer would have been a resounding yes. I had just played scarlet pokemon and, like many people, he was baffled by its poor technical performance. I began to wonder if Nintendo’s old hardware had finally reached its limits, unable to meet the growing ambitions of developers. Perhaps it wasn’t just time for a Switch Pro, but for a whole new console.

That wish was reactionary. Two months after the ugly launch of that Pokemon game, I’m shocked by the latest Switch exclusive, Fire Emblem Engage. The tactical RPG is one of the best-looking games on the console to date. It’s a big step forward from 2018. Fire Emblem: Three Houseswith brighter colors appearing on my Switch’s OLED screen and silky-smooth performance that makes it feel like a playable anime.

Fire Emblem Engage is the latest in a consistent line of mythbusters about “outdated” Switch hardware. It’s another exclusive that proves that Nintendo’s console is still a perfectly capable gaming device, as long as the developers design around its limitations and optimize it accordingly. If more studios take those cues, the wait for an inevitable Switch 2 could become a lot more bearable.

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If you see Fire Emblem Engage Y three houses side by side, the leap in quality is immediately apparent. The former has much cleaner images overall, as the images have softer edges. Load times are faster, your frame rate is more consistent, and animated cutscenes look spectacular. There is a feeling that the developer of Intelligent Systems identified all the technical shortcomings in three houses and, for the most part, it solved them sufficiently. That was done on the same Switch hardware it used in 2018, making it clear that developers can still get more out of today’s platform.

commitsHowever, updates are not just technical. Much of its appeal can be attributed to strong art direction. Their vibrant colors are much more aesthetically pleasing than the flat browns that made up three houses‘ world. The battlefields are awash in cool blues and greens, while the characters have more elaborate outfits with bolder color accents. As a result, the world feels more alive, giving it a completely different tone and feel. I can’t imagine what more console power could do to improve it significantly, other than to reduce some visual noise during animated cutscenes.

The best Switch games understand that great art direction can go a long way. Last years Kirby and the forgotten land it’s one of my favorite Switch games from a visual standpoint, and it certainly doesn’t demand the power levels of PS5. It works the same way Fire Emblem Engage it does, using a strong color palette and creative visual design to create its distinctive look. Similarly, Mario Strikers: Battle League it looks exactly as good as a Mario sports game really requires, even going the extra mile with its fancy Hyper Strike animations.

Mario kicks a ball towards the goal with a backflip.

Recent Pok√©mon games are somewhat of an outlier among Switch exclusives, which often stick out given the hardware’s outdated technology. xenoblade chronicles 3for example, it has an even greater open world range than scarlet pokemon, and is capable of fulfilling those ambitions with little trouble. Some of the textures on him may look muddy up close, but they don’t detract from his impressive landscapes. In the hands of the right developer, the Switch is still a more than capable console, as long as you don’t strive for realism.

That last part creates a fair sticking point for those asking for a new console. While some developers have no problem working with the current Switch, there’s no question that it’s a restrictive platform compared to its current peers. A Kirby game might not look much different on the Switch 2, but a third-party studio looking to do something more tech-intensive could use the added flexibility that comes with more up-to-date tech. Even Nintendo’s best-looking games would benefit from faster frame rates, better load times, and 4K visuals.

All of that makes the fervor for a new Nintendo console entirely understandable, but launching a new console isn’t a hair-raising decision. Ask players to set aside a few hundred dollars to upgrade, lest they get left behind in a generational leap (Nintendo doesn’t have a great history of cross-gen support, after all). Nintendo would need to give gamers a good reason to upgrade when that inevitable moment comes instead of just moving them to a system that’s only slightly more capable. Otherwise, it would simply be a stopgap solution that will inevitably have fans clamoring for another update a few years down the line.

Alear and Marth open a door in Fire Emblem Engage.

when I play Fire Emblem EngageUltimately, I find myself at peace with where the Switch is at considering its age. It’s a gorgeous RPG that looks positive. radiant on my OLED screen thanks to strong art direction and optimization. I’d love to see it running at 60 frames per second, but not so bad that I feel like shelling out up to $400 for such a luxury. I can live with that kind of concession for another two years if it means we might see a successor to the Switch that feels less outdated on day one.

And hey, if you’re not willing to wait that long, now there’s a portable device that just might cure your impatience.

Fire Emblem Engage is now available on Nintendo Switch.

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