3DClouds’ Xenon Racer launched on Switch and other platforms just a few weeks ago. It had a lot of fanfare behind it prior to launch, but its release ended up being met with flack from the Switch user base. This was due to it becoming evident that the promotional screenshots and videos initially used to advertise the Switch version were faux. The Switch version wasn’t anywhere near as pretty-looking nor do it run as smooth as what was shown. Rather, its resolution was low and the framerate only managed to hit the sub-20s. On top of that, there was severe pop-in reminiscent of early 3D racing titles.
All of this is now in the past, thankfully.
After over a month since launch, Xenon Racer has been updated to version 1.0.4. This patch was distributed on May 8, 2019. With this patch, all of the aforementioned flaws have been improved: the visuals are better, and the framerate is now playable. Pop-in also appears to be extremely reduced, if not virtually eliminated.
What really changes the experience is the inclusion of graphics settings. Similar to some other Switch titles, Xenon Racer now offers to graphics modes: performance and quality. As the names suggest, they target different goals.
Performance pars back a few visual elements and drops the resolution in order to help the game run at 30 FPS. From my experience, I initially thought that the framerate appeared to be locked. In truth, it’s actually 30 FPS or more depending on what’s happening on-screen. Check out the comparison from ContraNetwork:
Quality mode bumps the eye candy up by just a tad with more effects like reflections being present and better scenery details, but this comes at the cost of the framerate which still only manages to hit the 20s when in this mode. Thus, I recommend avoiding it. The minor enhancement of the visuals really isn’t worth the choppy gameplay.
While it’s great that the dev team have kept their promised and fixed the issues, it’s still a little perplexing as to why the Switch version was released in such a deplorable state to begin with. There’s no getting around the fact that it was bad; the developers knew this and so did the playtesters.
Neither 3DClouds or its publisher Sodesco has officially said this, but my assumption is that the team was pressured to get the Switch version out at the same time as all the others, even if it clearly wasn’t ready to launch. There have been several cases where only the Switch version of a multiplatform game is delayed, so perhaps that outcome was trying to be avoided. But, when those delays end up resulting in solid releases, it does look better on behalf of the companies involved.
That said, if you purchased Xenon Racer on Switch prior to this patch, now you can finally play a competent game. It’s really only its issues that were holding it back, as I played and reviewed the PC version simultaneously and loved it. If you avoided the Switch version until now, it’s legitimately comparable to the other versions and has the added benefit of being portable.