An elongated hand looks trippy, but that’s the nightmarish reality you get after Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition was ported to Nintendo Switch last week.
The handheld hybrid system often struggles to depict more realistic human proportions and physics due to hardware limitations. Take, for example, a shocking visual bug in San Andreas - The Definitive Edition, which stretches a character’s fingers out to twice the intended size.
It looks like he’s just reached out towards a black hole, causing his extremities to begin the process of spaghettification. Except instead of a devastating cosmic event, this is just an extreme example of how many issues pop up when porting a game to a new platform. Blurry textures, muddy color palettes, dark lighting, terrible-looking rain, and creepy long fingers abound on the Switch version of San Andreas. Why?
Avoid the Nintendo Switch version at all costs
What happened — Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition is a collection of three classic GTA games, including GTA III, Vice City, and San Andreas, all remastered for modern platforms such as PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. Developer Grove Street Games worked in conjunction with Rockstar Games to bring these classics back to the forefront.
While these games feel and mostly look better than the originals in many ways, the Nintendo Switch port is particularly rough around the edges. Visual bugs, glitches, and an overall downgrade in character designs run rampant across all platforms, but it seems to be at its worst on Nintendo Switch.
Why ports go haywire sometimes — Nintendo Switch is behind the curve from a hardware standpoint, underperforming against even last-generation systems like Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Sure, cartoonish Nintendo games work with the hardware just fine, but when third-party studios port an existing game to the platform, it doesn’t always go smoothly.
It often involves scaling down visuals and frame rate, which can ultimately ruin the overall experience. If a game is designed specifically for Switch, it often looks and runs better than something that has to be scaled back.
As this current generation proceeds, the need for an upgraded Nintendo Switch model grows. A Switch Pro can’t come soon enough.
To mitigate this, developers have started creating cloud versions of games for Switch, requiring a constant internet connection to run properly. Recent examples include Hitman 3, Control, and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. The problem is that internet connections often aren’t stable or fast enough to support cloud games on Switch, so they end up running poorly anyway.
What Rockstar has said about these glitches — Rockstar Games has yet to specifically address the bugs included in the Nintendo Switch version of the trilogy collection, but the company has stated it will continue to work on improving the PC edition. When the collection launched on PC, it crashed the Rockstar Games Launcher, rendering players unable to access the game.
Here’s the official word from Rockstar about when fixes might arrive:
“Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition has been updated and is once again available through the Rockstar Games Launcher for play and purchase.
We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. We are also working to improve and update overall performance as we move forward. We would like to thank everyone for their patience as we resolve these issues.”
Developer Thomas Williamson from Grove Street Games (the studio behind the Definitive Edition remasters) also confirmed via Twitter that more updates are in the works.
“It’s so fun to see players out there really enjoying what we’ve put together for them. I’m honestly enjoying this unparalleled level of scrutiny on our studio. Today we are celebrating our monumental project launch, while we work on updates.”
When these glitches will likely be fixed — Rockstar will no doubt work on fixing many of the leading issues in GTA: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition, though it’s unclear when that will be. The team clearly aimed to release the collection to coincide with the 20th anniversary of GTA III, but by doing so, the final product has suffered in terms of quality. We’ve got our fingers crossed for an update soon, hopefully before the end of 2021.
Other examples of trippy glitches in the game — The trippy elongated fingers bug isn’t the only issue. Players have started sharing funny GTA glitches that show just how undercooked this collection is so far:
While many of the complaints are geared towards graphical bugs, the general treatment of certain character models has been criticized as well.
In San Andreas specifically, the lighting is too dark at times, which does not mix well with some of the models, many of which have been watered down in the Definitive Edition. And on Nintendo Switch, it’s far worse, as the bugs are exacerbated by the low performance and resolution.
Other games this has happened to in the past — Issues like these have happened with other Nintendo Switch ports. Even a game like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Complete Edition simply looks blurry on Nintendo Switch despite performing at a consistent 30 frames per second.
The Witcher 3 is still considered one of the best Switch ports, despite its visual issues, whereas games like The Outer Worlds, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and Dark Souls Remastered are less desirable due to a lack in graphical fidelity.
What's next — The GTA Trilogy Switch port certainly won’t put Rockstar out of business, but it has slightly hurt the company’s image. As spotted by Nintendo Life, the Nintendo Switch version has a user score of 0.5 on aggregate site Metacritic, serving as one of the worst-reviewed games on the platform. Though, we imagine once GTA 6 is announced, many will forget about the woes presented with this rocky Switch port.
The Inverse analysis — While it’s always disappointing for a Switch port to underperform, it’s particularly surprising given Rockstar’s track record, which is usually overwhelmingly positive.
The developer is often regarded as one of the all-time greats, having published multiple genre-defining titles. This is once again a situation that proves we need a more powerful Switch console, but also yet another case for delaying games that simply aren’t ready for launch.
Perhaps even more pressing: Why do game companies spend so much energy on re-releasing middling versions of the greatest hits when they could be putting out new games?
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition is available now.