NieR: Automata is coming to Nintendo Switch on October 6 of this year, and it has turned out well. I had my doubts that the game would maintain its beautiful visuals without sacrificing load times, but it does. It’s so fine that I’m replaying delighted. It is a pleasure to be able to find 2B and 9S in the palm of my hands, and I am taking the opportunity to do those secondary missions that I had left to do. The truth is that even if it doesn’t go to 60, it keeps its 30 fps very stable, and I need few excuses to return to the work of Yoko Taro.
The question is why has it taken so long, so long, to get NieR: Automata to Nintendo Switch? The original game launched in February 2017, and the Nintendo Switch appeared in March of the same year. It would have been a perfect accompaniment to the console, why did you decide wait 5 years to create this port? Recently, I was able to interview Yoko Taro and her team on this issue.
Yosuke Saito explained to me what was the hardest thing about getting the original NieR Automata project off the ground: “Honestly, the hardest part of it all was building a team around the core members of the game, which are Yoko Taro, Keiichi Okabe, Yoshida Akihiko and Takahisa Taura of Platinum Games. It was a miracle that it worked (…). I was worried about what was coming out of Taro’s head and how we were going to make all of his ideas come true.”
One of the reasons why NieR: Automata was a success was to have the collaboration of Platinum Games. In this way, Taro could dedicate himself to writing an interesting world and situations, Akihiko to design characters with personality and Okabe to compose. Regarding the soundtrack, Keiichi Okabe explained to me: “Yoko Taro’s vision for the direction of the sound it was very clear, so I built everything based on it. I added a lot of vocal pieces at his request.”
The presence of Taura and Platinum Games was essential to create a solid and attractive gameplay base. Something that is very successful in NieR: Automata is how its combats are resolved. It is not the best work of the studio, but they work more than solvently. That, combined with its soundscapes and Taro’s crazy ideas, gave us a title that’s still fantastic in 2022.
“When we played Astral Chain, we saw that we could also bring Automata to Switch,” Taura.
Taura, already released from his collaboration with the Japanese director, directed Astral Chain, a beat’em up from Platinum Games that was released in the year 2019. This video game has an exciting combat system, and it looks great on Nintendo Switch. This was the reaction of Saito, the producer of NieR: Automata, when seeing it in the hybrid: “the decision to create the Switch version came from wanting to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the game, and to see Astral Chain. When we played it, we thought we might as well bring Automata to Nintendo Switch. And we believe we have achieved this with impressive levels of fidelity.”
Platinum Games and Taura, essential for the creation of the port
When Saito explained this to me, I remembered a story I had read on the wonderful website shmupations. In an interview with Yasumi Matsunodirector of mythical Vagrant Storyhe said the following: “While we were making Vagrant Story, we experienced what we call the “Metal Gearshock”. We found the level of realism in Metal Gear Solid and the quality of its gameplay incredible. It was the summer of ’98. Our Vagrant Story would be released the following year, but Metal Gear Solid made us realize what a real challenge we had to face. Because of him, we added many new things to the game among which highlight the facial expressions of the protagonists.”
And I remembered it because the same story was repeating itself. Matsuno dared to improve her project because Kojima taught her with his work that she could be better. Yoko Taro’s team understood that they could bring the game to Switch because Taura showed them that it was possible. These healthy clashes between creatives are what drive the industry forward, the ones that lead the video game to a better use of technology and to have better jobs. Maybe if it weren’t for Taura’s inspiration we wouldn’t have a port of Automata to Switch or, if we did, it wouldn’t be of such quality. And Vagrant Story wouldn’t have been the same without Kojima’s work.
Because, many times, we do not embark on projects that we feel like because we believe they are impossible. And suddenly someone appears who inspires us and shows us that it is possible. Regarding this new release on Nintendo Switch, I asked Yoko Taro if she would have done something different in the original game if she could go back in time. Her response was, “She would have made a lot of different glasses for 2B, that would have given us a lot more merchandising opportunities!”
Taro, never change.