Growing up in the 90s, I remember rental places like Blockbuster and Video Factory being the number one way of trying out different console games. I can still remember the days of going to Blockbuster to pick out a game to rent and play during my free weekends away from school. This also used to be a great way to find out the quality of a game, since we couldn’t exactly look up on the internet if a game was good or not during those days. I remember it being very common for certain games to always be rented out, with games like Final Fantasy III (later known as VI) and Sim City rarely being available at my local Blockbuster. Outside of those games, I remember there being another title on the Super Nintendo that I would almost never see on the shelves. That game was none other than the strategy game Civilization.
I still remember the first time I ever actually saw Civilization in stock. My brother and I weren’t even sure what to expect with the game but we went ahead and snatched it up to rent anyways. This became my introduction to the Civilization series. I remember there being nothing quite like it, when comparing it to the games that I had been familiar with at the time. I remember it being insanely difficult for me to even figure out at such a young age, with my civilizations never lasting long enough for me to actually build up to anything remotely passable, but I still fell in love with the game regardless. This would unfortunately be the only time that we were able to rent Civilization, as we never saw it in stock again after that.
Years passed by, and Civilization became but a distant memory of the past. The Super Nintendo days were long behind us, and the original PlayStation was out in full force. At this point in time, I remember my brother would take advantage of the Electronics Boutique trade-ins, which was a deal where you were able to trade in multiple games to get something new. It didn’t really matter if the games were dusty old or not, as long as they worked you were still able to trade them in for something more current. This used to be our primary way of getting rid of the games we no longer wanted.
During the PlayStation One years, we had become fans of the role-playing game genre. On one of the instances of my brother trading in games to Electronics Boutique, he had brought home an RPG called Ogre Battle. We gave it an honest try, but it just wasn’t for us. With the both of us admittedly being very disappointed in Ogre Battle, my brother immediately went back to return it to Electronics Boutique. At this point, my brother would then trade in Ogre Battle for the then newly released Civilization II, a game that we still speak of fondly to this day.
Civilization II ended up being one of the most addicting and memorable games of my childhood, having spent hundreds of hours creating multiple civilizations over the years. We had found Civilization II to be a lot easier to get into when comparing to its predecessor on the Super Nintendo, mostly due to the fact that there was a cheat available that gave a large sum of gold. It never got old, and I can honestly say that this was a game that I still found myself going back into and playing from time to time up until the late 2000s.
I would eventually be introduced to later Civilization games, but I still hold the fondest memories of Civilization II. This all leads me up to where I’m now at today, with Civilization VI on the Nintendo Switch. This wasn’t my first run of Civilization VI, as I also own the PC version of the game, but I can honestly say that I’ve still been enjoying it like it’s a fresh new experience. Even after putting in more than 50 hours into the game, everything about the Switch version gives me nostalgic feels of the days of my brother and I first discovering these games. It isn’t perfect, but Civilization is a series that feels at home for me when it’s played on a console.
Getting all of that out of the way, it’s time to actually talk about the Nintendo Switch port of Civilization VI. One of the first questions I can see someone ask, might be directed towards the performance of the game. For the most part it’s generally fine, however, slowdowns do occur when there is a lot of cities and units close together. It isn’t horrible, but it is a significant drop in FPS. Overall, I would say that this is unfortunately the biggest flaw of this port, but I do feel that the game is still fine otherwise. It isn’t unplayable, and that’s all that matters.
Graphically wise, the game has certainly been toned down from its PC counterpart. This is all to be expected, mostly due to the obvious limitations of the Nintendo Switch. Environments that are well detailed and vivid on the PC, don’t seem quite as great here. It still looks relatively alright, but it’s not even close to being on the same level as what you would see on the highest settings of the PC version. It’s a bit of a sacrifice, but again, I don’t see this being a big deal. I would also like to add that the games soundtrack is also just as good as I remembered, with both the environmental ambience and music playing throughout the game giving off a nice epic vibe.
The controls, whether playing the game via handheld mode, or docked also work surprisingly well in the Nintendo Switch version. With the analog sticks you can move around the map, and the other buttons are used to navigate through the menus or select units to move around, with the ZL and ZR buttons allowing you to zoom in and out. When playing the game in handheld mode, you can also make use of the Nintendo Switch’s touchscreen functionality. You can seemingly do just about everything through the use of the touchscreen, though I don’t think it was possible to get to the pause menu without actually pressing the + button. Personally, I just used the controllers to play but the option for touchscreen is there for those playing the game undocked.
In the terms of gameplay, it’s Civilization. There isn’t really much that will surprise anyone familiar with the series, you build up a country and play how you want to play. In the Nintendo Switch version of Civilization VI, you still have the option of playing the game endlessly, with loads of different game customization options for your game. You have the typical things you’d expect from a Civ game. You can choose your country, your difficulty settings, game speed, map type, and the overall size of the world itself. It all really depends on how you actually want your game to go. I personally enjoy playing with as many countries as I can have, with the largest size game world possible. Outside of the normal way of playing, there is also a number of different scenarios that are available. Each scenario has their own set of different objectives that need to be met in order to win. I prefer just playing Civ the typical way, but this at least gives someone a bit more out of the game.
I feel that it’s also worth mentioning the DLC that comes included in the Nintendo Switch version. Disappointingly, the Rise and Fall expansion is not included but there are still a number of smaller add-ons included. You have a number of different country packs, as well as a few different scenarios. There are also additions to the multiplayer aspect of the game, each additional piece of DLC having their own set of rules and victory conditions. Admittedly, I wasn’t really interested in trying to online portion of the game, but it is available for anyone trying to play the game via multiplayer.
So… What do I think about Civilization VI on the Nintendo Switch? I absolutely love it. It feels like this port has breathed new life into a game that I already put a substantial amount of time into from the days when I played Civilization VI on the PC. I think it’s a fine way of playing the game on the go uninterrupted, though I was admittedly very weary when I noticed the slowdowns that had occurred, and I did have the game crash on me at least once. Luckily, the game auto-saves after every 2 turns so I didn’t lose that much progress. At the very least I can say that everything feels and plays great, but I do wish that the Rise and Fall expansion was included. This is still a fantastic port, and I honestly wish that it was available on the other consoles. Everything about it just feels perfect on a controller. And much like the older Civilization games that I had played back on the Super Nintendo and original PlayStation, I can definitely see Civ VI on the Switch being my go to game when I’m looking to mindlessly chuck away hours of the day. This game is just perfect for the Nintendo Switch, and easily one of the best games currently available for the system. I feel that it’s safe to say that I highly recommend this one. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a country to run.