When Bugsnax debuted, it served as a PS5 launch title. Granted, that wasn’t its only home at the time. It showed up on the PS4 and PC via Epic Games Store as well. Now over a year and a half later, Young Horses announced new homes for the title and a free add-on. Perhaps the most ambitious of the new platforms is a Switch port of Bugsnax. Given the nature of the system, people might wonder how it handles. While it isn’t as visually impressive or swift as other versions, it handles well.
The first thing that surprised me about the Bugsnax Switch port is its loading times. It honestly doesn’t take that long to get into an area. This will vary, depending on the size of the space. For example, loading up the Flavor Falls area when the game begins takes about 30 seconds. Moving from Flavor Falls to the smaller Garden Grove took about 15 seconds. From Garden Grove to Snaxburg is, again, about 30 seconds. Even though the wait varies, it is never too demanding. Which works out rather well, since you could find yourself needing to revisit areas to catch certain Bugsnax at different times of day or during certain weather conditions.
I also noticed that using the new fast travel system didn’t alter loading times. Right away in the Switch version of Bugsnax, it’s there. As long as you visit a location once, you can jump to it. Just open your map, move the analog stick so the right location is highlighted in blue, and you’re set. It’s honestly a huge help, given you could need to be some where at a certain time to complete someone’s request or fill out the Bugapedia.
The visual fidelity and performance is rather good too, given the nature of the game. Bugsnax does take a rather cartoonish approach. Since there isn’t the demand for realism and accuracy in certain other games, a little loss of fidelity might go unnoticed. I primarily played in Handheld mode on my Switch OLED. It maintained a consistent 30 fps. Even if it was raining or there were certain fiery situations, it tended to hold up rather well. While it also only appears at 720p, the nature of the characters and environments still meant it looked pretty good. The personality of the characters is most important, and it remains colorful and vibrant.
I do wish there were more Switch-exclusive features to Bugsnax though. For example, there are no touchscreen controls in Handheld mode. Which is understandable. After all, on the PS5 it only used the touchpad to open up the menu. There are also no gyroscopic controls. Given how these could work in games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Splatoon 2, a game in which there’s also a scanning element feels like it could have fit. Though given the tools available, staples like the Sauce Slinger and Snakgrappler don’t really need it. Using the standard controls for aiming work fine.
But I guess what I appreciated most is how well Bugsnax adapts to being a pick up and play sort of game. It isn’t a terribly long adventure. The base game sets out to accomplish its goals in about 10 hours. The Isle of Bigsnax expansion takes an additional four. Given how character questlines work, you could go ahead and spend a session just working on one area or helping one Grumpus. Given how well it keeps track of your current objectives and the new fast travel system, it is quite easy to pick up and play.
Bugsnax works better than I expected on the Switch. You aren’t going to see PS5-level loading times or visuals here. But the loading times I saw weren’t egregious and seemed in line with the ones experienced on the PS4 version. The subject matter and nature of the game means the lower resolution and frame rate are fine as well. Its structure and pacing also adapt well to a handheld format, which is another point in its favor. It’s an admirable port, and one that will benefit folks who waited to visit Snaktooth Island.
Bugsnax is available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC.