Sifu is still a delicacy, but with its arrival on Switch it loses a lot of flavor

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A port on Switch is the same as life, something like a box of chocolates; you never know what flavor you are going to get. In fact, the surprise can become so pronounced that old glories (such as Game Cube’s Resident Evil) can surprise for the worse, while works that are not known precisely for their good performance —the case of Nier: Automata— far exceed all the expectations we had placed on them. Now it’s time for one of the titles that I’ve enjoyed the most this year, a video game that has slipped, without batting an eye, into my annual top ten (I’d even say among the top five — I still have to give it a spin —). I speak of Sifuan ode to Kung-Fu, signed by Slopclap last February, which is now comes to the Nintendo hybrid.

Sifu, on Switch, exhibits an unevenness in his performance that results in particularly annoying ups and downs.

Sifu may seem, from the outset, a clear example of the game that we all ask for on Switch; frantic and direct games, which revolve around replayability, and a technical section that, with a couple of cuts, could perform moderately well without questioning its aesthetic intentions. Nevertheless, the hottie —this time— looks better than he knowsbecause the machine chokes more than expected.

It is neither the first, nor the last, video game to have performance problems on the Nintendo machine. The narrowness in terms of technical architecture is evident, but so is how it can be taken advantage of. In fact, I think the quality of a port on Switch is tied to how well it deals with the issues it faces, not whether it’s able to avoid them. Returning to Nier: Automata, one can speak of notable, palpable and recognizable sacrifices, as soon as one stops to observe the detail. However, the whole does not suffer because the scissors hit in an almost surgical way; cutting in places of minor impact and obtaining, in return, a good handful of frames that make the experience perfectly playable, even if it is less pleasant. Sifu has not suffered the same fate.

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The loads are noticeable between the different sections, giving rise to moments in which the machine suffers noticeably.

The cut, again, is evident. The notable drop in resolution (compromised even on a laptop) and the sacrifices made in textures and modeling have been neither subtle nor effective. Can Sifu be played on Nintendo Switch? Without a doubt, but if you ask me if it works well to preserve the essence of the original version, my answer is no. From the outset because, in the playable, the title demands a stability that it cannot reach. The sharp drops in the rate of images per second are evident, as are the variations in resolution, and its impact on the game ends up being significant.

I love Sifu, mainly for his ability to articulate a combat system that feels, at the controls, as a natural extension of everything that is happening on the screen. The mimesis is almost perfect, the degree of synchronicity one achieves when stringing together a few good sections is insane. In fact, its original structure, the one with which it was released, left no room for error. Distractions are still fatal, but also, back then, there were no difficulty modes (this version includes all updates made to date), and certain possibilities that ease the way today (such as checkpoints). That demands a certain effort on the part of the player and this, in return, usually asks for a response according to said dedication. That is, a reliable system or a superlative experience. Sifu, as a video game, rests on the reliability of its playable system, and this port calls into question that reliability in many moments.

Beyond the visual, the problems move to the auditory, and even to the haptic. In his most creative moments, Sifu gets experimental and successfully transfers the atmospheres of his spaces through the audio and the vibration of the controller (which on PS5 shows the capabilities of the DualSense). On its way to Switch, for one reason or another (more or less justified), the title loses all that luster. The audio has been reduced in qualitywhile the terrain of the haptic, for obvious reasons, has been affected.

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Contrary to what happens with other versions of Switch, in the case of Sifu it can be said that its essence is compromised in many moments.

As a result, what we are left with is a video game that, from its playable core, demands the attention of all the senses involved in the game, delivering feedback continuous—and capital to experience—via hearing, sight, and touch, but doing so significantly worse than its other versions. Yes, Sifu can be played on Switch, but unlike what has happened to me with other titles that I have in various versions, I have not been able to enter it in the hybrid, or at least not in the same terms. So if you have the option to enjoy it on another platform, my recommendation is to opt for it.

All this does not mean that he celebrates his arrival on the Nintendo console. The more people who can enjoy this sensational way of dishing out slaps, the better. But going back to life, ports and boxes of chocolates: with Sifu we have touched the bitter chocolate.