What to do when porting Wii U games to Nintendo Switch — and what not to do

The Nintendo Switch is off to a fantastic start, with consoles sold out across the country and players engrossed in the amazing world of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. A number of other exclusive games are planned for 2017 like Arms and Splatoon 2, but, to help bolster the fledgling system’s game library in the interim, Nintendo would be wise to port its best Wii U games over to the new system.

However, the company must make the right decisions when doing so – the Switch isn’t the Wii U, and failing to recognize their differences during development could lead to disaster. Here are the things Nintendo needs to do – and not do – when moving the Wii U library over to the Nintendo Switch.

Do: Use simple motion controls

porting wii u games switch wiiuswitchbayonetta2

Motion control wasn’t the star of the touchscreen-centric Wii U, but the console’s ability to support Wii controllers allowed for fine-tuned aiming and other unique gameplay opportunities that weren’t possible on competing platforms. With the Switch, the console itself can be placed in the dock without disabling motion functionality, which is found in both the included Joy-Con controllers as well as the more traditional Pro Controller setup. In Breath of the Wild, this means that Link can line up the perfect shot with is bow regardless of whether or not the system is docked. We see potential in these motion controls to help replicate some of the touchscreen functionality originally seen on Wii U games. Bayonetta 2, for instance, made use of the touchscreen for special attacks, which could be mapped to particular controller movements on the Switch Joy-Cons or Pro Controller, instead.

Don’t: Recreate gimmicky mechanics

porting wii u games switch mario3dworldflag

The Wii U GamePad’s touchscreen, gyroscope, and microphone, when coupled with a traditional television set, allowed for games to not only feature multiple control inputs, but also allowed for twice the screen real-estate, as different images could be displayed on the television and GamePad screen. Unfortunately, this concept was not used successfully very often. Developers rarely deviated from the basics use-cases for a second screen, such as maps and menus. While it might be tempting for developers to jam all this information on the Switch’s screen at once, it may be too much for players to take in at once. Instead, Nintendo and its teams shouldn’t be afraid to relegate much of this information to a pause menu, as we saw with the Switch and Breath of the Wild. It’s a small concession, but it’s one that ultimately makes the majority of the game easier to navigate.

The Wii U also made use of a built-in microphone for controlling games, particularly 2013’s Super Mario 3D World. While motion could arguably replicate the act of blowing into the Gamepad’s microphone — as is required at certain points in the game — simply switching to a traditional button press would suffice.

Do: Prioritize traditional control schemes

porting wii u games switch zombiport

The Switch might look like the strangest console Nintendo has ever produced, with its built-in screen and removable controllers, but its control schemes are all remarkably “traditional.” Face buttons, a d-pad, dual analog sticks, and shoulder buttons allow for games to be played much like they would be on the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 — but unlike those systems, these games can be taken on the go. Acclaimed Wii U games like Pikmin 3 and ZombiU would lose a small amount of functionality when played with a traditional control scheme, but the transition wouldn’t be impossible — in fact, ZombiU successfully made its way to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as Zombi, though it no longer featured the Wii U’s tense dual-screen gameplay.

Don’t: Port games that can only work on Wii U

porting wii u games switch starfoxzerofire

The majority of the Wii U’s first-party library would function perfectly well on a more traditional console, but there are a few games that use the system’s unique features in such a fundamental way that the games simply will not work if they are ported to the Switch. Launch title Nintendo Land, for instance, uses the touchscreen and motion functionality in tandem at times, along with asymmetrical multiplayer that would be impossible in the Switch’s docked configuration. Star Fox Zero, meanwhile, uses a constant dual-screen control scheme as its main gameplay hook, forcing players to quickly switch their attention between the television and the Wii U GamePad. This likely could be changed to a setup more reminiscent of Star Fox 64 to accommodate for the differences on the Switch, but as Zero is essentially a remake of that classic game, it would offer very little new to players.

Do: Support local multiplayer

porting wii u games switch mario kart 8 imago

The Nintendo Switch supports online multiplayer, but the system really shines when a few friends are playing together in the same room. In addition to the traditional “couch” setup, with each player looking at the television as they hold either a Joy-Con controller or a Pro Controller, multiple players can share the console’s built-in screen to play multiplayer games on the go, and if each player has their own Switch, up to eight can be connected together so that each player can still have their own screen. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe supports this feature, but if Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is ported to the Switch as well, it’s absolutely critical that local multiplayer matches can use more than one system. Though the action in Smash all takes place essentially on one screen, the Switch is simply too small for more than a couple of people to use it simultaneously. The same goes for New Super Mario Bros. U, a game that would technically function with multiple players viewing the same Switch , but also one that would benefit greatly by giving players their own screens to view.

Don’t: Bring the shovelware along for the ride

porting wii u games switch rabbidswiiuswitch

Super Mario Maker, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, and Bayonetta 2 are classic games that will go down as some of the best Nintendo has ever published, but the Wii U still had its share of shovelware during its short lifespan — not just from third parties looking to cash in on the new console, but also from Nintendo itself. Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, Pokémon Rumble U, and Game & Wario simply aren’t up to the high quality standard that Nintendo has been known for over the years, and bolstering the Switch’s limited library with a selection of games that are outdated or downright bad won’t do the young console any favors. We’re confident that the developers who struggled on the Wii U — particularly Intelligent Systems — will have an easier time developing exclusives for the Switch, as they’ll be able to focus on classic game design rather than making sure that each game makes use of the console’s unique features. We’re sure there is a small group of players disappointed that they won’t be able to play Rabbids Land on the Switch, but that’s why you should keep your Wii U around.

Gaming

Bug is turning ‘Fallout 76’ players into mutants even more terrifying than usual

A bug linked to the Power Armor gear in Fallout 76 appears to be turning players into bizarre naked mutants, complete with extremely long limbs that are more than a little unsettling.
Gaming

What games were nominated for the The Game Awards 2018? Find out here

The Game Awards returns to Los Angeles for its fifth show this December. Here is everything we know about the event, including its location, where you can watch it, and games that were nominated.
Gaming

Here are the best Black Friday deals you can get for Xbox One, PS4, and Switch

If you're in the market for a new video game console, there's no better time to pick one up than Black Friday. These are the best video game console deals for Black Friday 2018, including PS4, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch.
Deals

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for November 2018

Looking to score Nintendo's latest hybrid console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals right here, including discounts on stand-alone consoles as well as bundles that feature games like Fortnite and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Computing

Having enough RAM is important, but stick to these guidelines to save some money

Although not quite as exciting as processors and graphics cards, RAM is one of the most important parts of your PC. Not having enough can hurt performance. So, how much RAM do you need?
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Gaming

For the first time ever, PlayStation will be a no-show at E3

For the first time in the event's history, E3 2019 will not feature Sony or PlayStation. The massive event almost always features a lengthy press conference from Sony, often after all other major companies give theirs.
Gaming

Tips for surviving the nuclear wasteland in 'Fallout 76'

Before running into nuclear wasteland with your Pip-Boy, take a moment to consider these Fallout 76 tips. From food and water to maintaining weapons and armor, here are the things all beginners should know.
Gaming

Find a fish and get your boogie on with Fortnite's week 8 challenge

The Fortnite season 6 week 8 challenges have arrived as we near the end of this spooky season. The big free challenge this week is the Fortnite fish trophy challenge where you need to dance with different fishes. Here are all of the…
Deals

All the Best Target Black Friday deals for 2018

The mega-retailer opens its doors to the most competitive shoppers at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 22, and signs indicate that the retailer means business this year. We've sifted through all of the deals, from consumer electronics to small…
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.
Gaming

‘Fortnite’ gifts perfect for the video game fan in your life

Chances are someone on your holiday shopping list is a fan of Fortnite. As the most popular game on the planet, there are plenty of Fortnite-themed gift options available for purchase in stores and online. Here are the best ones we found.
Deals

The Best Black Friday Deals from Best Buy in 2018

We've been hard at work assembling all the best Black Friday deals Best Buy offers in 2018 and putting them in one place to save you time and money this holiday season. From laptops to TVs, game consoles to smart speakers and much more…
Deals

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.