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Mortal Kombat 1’s Switch port is getting eviscerated by players

Beyond the graphics, the Switch version lags behind

Shang Tsung poses next to Sonya Blade in his pre-match intro in a screenshot from the Nintendo Switch version of Mortal Kombat 1 Image: NetherRealm Studios/Warner Bros. Games via Chris in Color
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Mortal Kombat 1 officially launches Tuesday, but fighting game fans who paid for the premium edition of the game have been playing it in early access since Sept. 14. Players who opted for the Nintendo Switch version of Mortal Kombat 1 have reported very visible technical issues with the game, including inconsistent frame rates, long loading times, and expressionless faces.

While Switch owners with a thirst for Mortal Kombat’s style of violence were likely expecting a graphically inferior port of the game, a la Mortal Kombat 11, they’re paying the same price ($69.99 for the base version, $109.99 for the premium version) for the Mortal Kombat 1 experience on Switch. Worse, Switch owners won’t have immediate access to the full version of Invasions mode for “a matter of weeks,” publisher Warner Bros. Games warned on its support website.

“To ensure the best possible experience for Switch players at launch, only the introduction for Invasions will be available,” the publishers said. “The full breadth of Invasions Season 1 content will be available on Switch in a matter of weeks. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause Switch players and are working to make this update as quickly as possible.”

Mortal Kombat 1 for Switch was co-developed by Shiver Entertainment and Saber Interactive, and the developers appear to have worked some magic to bring NetherRealm Studios’ work to Nintendo’s handheld console. MK1’s full roster of fighters, Kameo Fighters, and Fatalities are present in the Switch version. But there are serious graphical downgrades, most notably in the blank, bug-eyed faces of the cast.

And while the Switch port appears to target 60 fps performance, the game’s frame rate takes some serious hits when more than two fighters are onscreen. In footage from a review from YouTuber Chris in Color, you can see the game hitch and sometimes freeze when multiple characters and visual effects appear. For a fighting game where tagging in assist characters, known as Kameo Fighters, is instrumental to game mechanics, these frame rate dips will have a serious impact on gameplay.

Chris in Color’s review of the Switch version also shows off the lengthy load times — more than 30 seconds before a match — and graphical glitches, like objects in stage backgrounds flickering in and out of existence. Players in early access have also reported more serious bugs, like characters moving outside of the 2D plane and stretched, floating heads appearing after Fatalities.

NetherRealm and Shiver Entertainment released dozens of patches and updates for Mortal Kombat 11, improving stability and performance over a two-year period. The Switch version could certainly improve in the coming weeks and months — but for MK fans hoping to playing Mortal Kombat 1 on the go, if they haven’t already pre-ordered, it may be worth waiting a big longer to see how things shake out.

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