With a few concessions, Persona 5 Royal is right at home on Switch
Persona 5 Royal is one of the greatest Japanese RPGs of all time and had been touted as a phenomenal PlayStation exclusive — until now. The original vanilla version, Persona 5, hit Japan in late 2016 for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. The expanded Persona 5 Royal included new features such as an entire new winter semester and a new Phantom Thief character. Suffice it to say, the former PS4 exclusive Persona 5 Royal was previously the absolute definitive edition to play the amazing dungeon crawling and life sim hybrid.
Now, the game is coming to Xbox, PC, and Nintendo Switch for more audiences to enjoy. It’s also getting a native PS5 version, as well as being added to Xbox Game Pass. Over 40 items of previously released DLC that contain extra costumes and bonus Personas are included on these new platforms.
As with many Switch ports, there’s always a question of how well Nintendo’s handheld can handle games built for more powerful hardware. To test that, I played the game on Nintendo Switch and found that it runs pretty flawlessly on the portable console. There are some concessions on the Switch version in order to make it run smoothly, but they have little negative impact on the overall gameplay experience.
In Persona 5 Royal, you play a nameable protagonist in high school. As a student by day, he goes through his normal high school life studying for exams and participating in school clubs. By night, he’s a Phantom Thief, codenamed Joker. The Phantom Thieves are a group of students who can summon Personas, beings that can fight monsters called Shadows. The Phantom Thieves’ goal is to change the hearts of evil people in Japan, by sneaking into their elaborate mind palaces (which serve as traditional dungeons).
While outside of the palaces during school hours, Tokyo is crowded with civilians walking around. Despite the density of NPCs running around Tokyo or the glitzy backgrounds of Kamoshida’s palace, the Switch held on strong with its performance. I didn’t encounter any sort of noticeable frame drops when traversing these locations, and my experience was very smooth throughout.
The Switch version does take a bit of a graphical hit though. Some character models look blurrier than their console counterparts on PlayStation and Xbox. The edges around their faces and bodies aren’t as sharp either. However, these drawbacks are negligible and you most likely won’t even notice them unless you’re hunting for imperfections.
The Switch version runs at 30 frames per second (fps) compared to the Xbox Series X version’s 60 fps, but since Persona 5 Royal utilizes turn-based combat, it’s not as big of a setback as it would be in an action RPG like Scarlet Nexus or Tales of Arise. The only instance where a better frame rate would be helpful is when you’re trying to ambush shadows or running away from them. However, the game’s hiding mechanic makes ambushing incredibly easy regardless.
Tailoring the experience
Persona 5 Royal’s user interface during a battle on PlayStation corresponded to the various controller buttons like X to guard and O to attack. Atlus did a good job translating those to the Switch Joy-Cons here as well. On the right Joy-Con, B is guard and A is attack. Another small attention to detail is that the buttons aren’t colored on the Switch version because the Joy-Con buttons themselves aren’t.
Compare this to the PlayStation version, where the X button is blue and the O button is red. On the Xbox version, the battle UI makes the B button red and the A button green, just like the platform’s controller. It’s a pleasing touch that gives each version of Persona 5 Royal on individual platforms a subtle distinct personality from each other.
Thankfully, Atlus decided to include some previously released DLC in these new ports of Persona 5 Royal for free. When the game was first released in 2020 for PlayStation 4, The Battle bundle needed to be bought separately. This particular one lets the Phantom Thieves fight the protagonists from Persona 3 and Persona 4. The Legacy DLC bundle, which was already free for PS4 Persona 5 Royal owners, is free once again. It includes a bunch of overpowered Personas from previous games in the franchise. For example, you can summon Persona 3’s protagonist’s ultimate Persona, Messiah, at level 85 even near the start of the game. They aren’t restricted by the game’s usual Persona creation rules. If you’re not willing to break the game very early on, they can be easily ignored.
These versions of Persona 5 Royal are pretty much the same as the original PS4 version from 2020, except for this time, there are some extra bells and whistles depending on the platform. For the Switch, it’s the portability. On Xbox, its easy accessibility through Game Pass and increased frame rate. On PC, modders will have a field day.
I’m honestly shocked it took this long for Persona 5 Royal to make its way to other platforms, especially Switch. The pickup and play structure of the game makes it perfect for the portable handheld and it runs very well too. If this is your first time playing Persona 5 Royal, the Switch version is a great way to experience this incredible journey. If this is your second or third time, or even beyond, playing this game, I can’t think of a better way to be welcomed back.