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Did you know? The Switch is capable of game streaming from the cloud, a fact I was not aware of until Nintendo announced that Kingdom Hearts was coming to the portable via cloud streaming. Granted, I use my Switch in a manner limited to a few of my favorite games installed locally, and only when I'm traveling, so you could say I'm out of the loop in that regard.
During a Super Smash Bros Ultimate livestream on Tuesday, Nintendo revealed that Kingdom Hearts protagonist Sora would join the SSBU roster on October 18. However, an arguably more exciting announcement came toward the end of the show (video below). The Kingdom Hearts games are coming to the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo confirmed that Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, and Kingdom Hearts III (with ReMind DLC) would land in the handheld via cloud streaming. Yes. Cloud streaming.
Like many other platforms and companies, Nintendo has been dipping its toes in the cloud gaming market, albeit in a much different way. Instead of doing its own version of PlayStation Now or Xbox Game Pass, Nintendo has been allowing cloud-streamed titles on a game-by-game basis.
So far, most of the streamed titles are ones that would have been difficult to port to the Switch hardware without making drastic sacrifices. Instead, developers can create a small cloud-streaming client that takes about 45-seconds to download and install. Users launch the client as if it were the game, but the actual content is run on high-end servers and streamed to the Switch.
So far, there is only a small cluster of games that have implemented Switch cloud streaming. Control Ultimate Edition, Hitman 3, and A Plague Tale: Innocence are the only three currently available in the North American market. Japan has seen cloud releases for three additional titles, including Resident Evil 7 Biohazard, Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, and Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis.
Nintendo has a couple of other cloud titles slated for release soon. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy launches on October 26, and A Plague Tale: Requiem releases sometime in 2022. Dates for the Kingdom Hearts games are yet to be determined.
I was curious about how well cloud-streamed games looked and operated on the Switch, so I gave Control Ultimate Edition a spin. I was not optimistic going in but ended up pleasantly surprised. The opening cutscene looked gorgeous and ran without so much as a stutter. Likewise, the controls presented no noticeable lag, and the in-game textures were clearly superior to anything the Switch is capable of natively.
Of course, game streaming, regardless of the platform, has its downside. For one, to play the game, you must be connected to the internet. No Internet. No dice. Additionally, that connection must be stable. I have decent broadband service that consistently provides at least 400Mbps down and 21Mbps up. Those with a slower or less stable connection, may see a noticeable drop in performance. Fortunately, Nintendo's cloud streamed games allow you to try them for a short time to be sure they play well on your network setup before committing to a purchase.