Dragon Ball FighterZ's Nintendo Switch port has really impressed me so far; here's why

A ton of stylish action on a small machine

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • August 11, 2018 at 6:38 p.m. PDT

When Dragon Ball FighterZ was first announced at E3 last year, players asked the companies behind the game, Arc System Works and Bandai Namco, about the chances of seeing the title on Nintendo's new piece of hardware at the time, the Nintendo Switch. Those questions were answered definitively when the game was officially unveiled for the Switch a year later at E3 2018.

The full game doesn't come out until late September on Nintendo's hybrid console here, but there is currently an open beta for Dragon Ball FighterZ on Switch until August 12th which I decided to download and try myself.

I was very curious to see how the game would run and play and to see what corners had to be cut to get DBFZ to run on a system that doesn't quite match up to its contemporaries. I have a number of titles like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter x Tekken on my PlayStation Vita, so I know how drastically modern fighting games can differ on handheld systems.

That's why I'm happy to report that I'm quite impressed with the way that Dragon Ball FighterZ is shaping up on the Switch for how it looks, plays and runs on the system.

Dragon Ball FighterZ is a feature complete port of the game same as the other consoles, but now you can take it on the go to practice combos or get some games in locally or online which all runs smoothly for the most part.

I've personally spent around two hours with the beta so far checking out the Training Mode options as well as online matches, and I'll be breaking down my findings for both the console and handheld modes below.

How the game looks

Dragon Ball FighterZ on the Nintendo Switch is slightly toned down graphically when compared to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC versions of the game, but it is still perhaps the best looking third party developed game to use 3D graphics on the system right now.

The textures, anti-aliasing, lighting, shading and effects all appear to be rendered lower than on other systems which makes sense given the Switch's hardware capabilities. Still, the game looks great when played in console mode even on my 4K TV. Most people probably wouldn't be able to notice much of a difference unless it was pointed out to them.

Characters sill look sharp and colorful, attacks are still flashy and nobody ends up with a potato-quality face.

Playing the game on handheld mode though will show more of the shortcuts the developers had to take for the game to stay running strong. The difference between a 720p resolution screen and 1080p is quite noticeable in this game, as characters look a bit less sharp and effects and textures look a bit worse than playing the game in console mode.

All of that said, it's still kinda crazy to me that this game even runs on the system while not sacrificing its style and staying as pretty as it is. Even on the lower resolution screen, I never lost track of the action or characters flying all over the screen.

How does the game play?

More importantly to many who read this site would be seeing how Dragon Ball FighterZ on Switch plays in comparison to the game on other platforms, and honestly, it still holds up.

In console mode, I played the game with the Switch's official Pro Controller and everything worked the same as it does on PS4. Everything still feels responsive and fluid in this port especially when playing on the Pro Controller or I'm assuming a stick as well.

It's still the Dragon Ball FighterZ game you've been playing since January — if you've kept up with the game.

Using the attached Joy-Cons to play the game in handheld mode was a slight learning curve due to the d-pad's split button nature. It can work out for games such as Street Fighter, but a crazy fast paced game like Dragon Ball FighterZ makes keeping up with the inputs on that d-pad a difficult task for me at least. I almost always play fighters with the d-pad while playing on pad, but I almost immediately switched to the analog stick while playing DBFZ in handheld mode on the Switch.

The Nintendo Switch doesn't have an Ethernet port, so the vast majority of players you run into online are going to be playing over Wi-Fi unless they own a USB converter. That said, my online matches ran smoothly for the most part with an average delay of around three frames for good connections and five to seven for not-as-good of connections. I never had an in-progress match disconnect or lag to the point where it became unplayable.

A word of warning to those looking to try out the "simplified controls" option in the Switch port: it seems built specifically for single Joy-Con use, as it will turn off the shoulder button assists and shortcuts which made my first match trying it out very confusing.

It's hard to comment on the implementation of the optional control scheme without heading to Practice and seeing what all changed around which you are not really able to do in the beta version.

How the game runs

The new Switch port of DBFZ appears to run at a stable 60 frames per second on both console and handheld mode. The only slowdown or drops that occurred in my time with the game appeared to be caused by a drop in connection quality in online matches and not the game itself though it's hard to say with absolute certainty without having access to other modes like offline versus.

At least in handheld mode, introduction cinematics appear to possibly be running at 30 fps and the loading screen can stutter, but I never saw anything happen that I thought affected gameplay.

Overall, Dragon Ball FighterZ on the Nintendo Switch appears to be a very solid port of the game that plays the same, runs about the same and looks almost as good as the other versions out there. I am quite impressed with ArcSys' work to keep the game running consistently while keeping the graphics and style in tact. This version of the game is definitely on my dragon radar now.

Those looking to try out the beta for themselves will have until 11:59 p.m. PDT on August 12th to play Dragon Ball FighterZ on the Switch before it comes out in the West on September 28th.

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