clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

This is how Wolfenstein 2 was crammed onto the Nintendo Switch

The hard work that goes into great ports

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus on the Nintendo Switch is the full game, although some liberties had to be taken visually to make it possible.

The levels haven’t been made smaller, nor have the visual techniques employed to craft the game’s aesthetic been removed. The port is very good, as we’ve discussed before, but the latest breakdown from Digital Foundry goes into deep detail about what it took to make that happen. You can watch the video at the top of this post; it’s interesting stuff, especially if you’re curious about how other graphically ambitious games may fit onto the Switch.

So if the Switch port of Wolfenstein 2 didn’t get smaller, and it still looks like the original, how in the hell did the porting team at Panic Button manage to pull it off?

“The game itself is intact, but achieving this on Switch has required a particular philosophy — specifically, the prioritization of rendering features over resolution,” John Linneman at Digital Foundry explained. “The end result is a game that is remarkably close to the existing versions, but it’s also the blurriest game of the generation thus far — but the how and why is worth exploring. For starters, like Doom, Wolfenstein 2 utilizes an adaptive resolution feature that adjusts pixel count based on load.”

The good news is that it was the right decision; you’ll certainly notice the lack of sharpness, but the game still looks great — especially in portable mode — and feels responsive enough at a relatively steady 30 frames per second that I never got mad at the controls or frame rate.

And that could only happen in a game like this on the Switch if the developer were willing to take the resolution low. The resolution in Wolfenstein 2’s Switch port dips down to 640 by 360, according to Digital Foundry, and this porting philosophy takes a fair amount of guts. Panic Button is betting that the visuals and smoothness of the play itself will make up for the fuzziness of those sub-HD resolutions.

The video shows a few other tricks used to get the game running this well, including walls that block your sight line and a few windows that are closed rather than open, but this is a version of Wolfenstein 2 that’s a lot of fun to play straight through on the Switch. That’s a huge accomplishment, and learning how Panic Button pulled it off makes it even more fun to play.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon