Tropico 6 (Switch) Review
As a big fan of city simulation games, I got into Tropico a while back but haven’t picked it up in a bit. So naturally, when I saw it coming to the Switch, the dream of being El Presidente on the go was soon to be a reality. But the reality is that while the Switch version is feature complete and has everything you want from a Tropico game – the Switch itself isn’t really up to the task.
Like previous Tropico games, this sixth instalments puts you in the role of El Presidente. The leader of your island nation, and it’s up to you to lead your people through four eras The Colonial era, the World Wars, the Cold War, and the modern era. As you proceed through these eras, you’ll upgrade your little archipelago from a tiny island under the Crown to a modern metropolis and tourist destination. You can do that any way you like, peaceful or with an iron fist. You’re El Presidente, a despot, the people do what you want – or until they burn you out of your palace.
The game starts with a tutorial, and it’s a lengthy one. But you’ll need it to understand not only the controls (sim games on a console are never perfect) but all of the game’s systems. Running a city with people, industry and culture has many layers. You can play through the game with missions as you work your way through the eras or go full sandbox and play as you please.
The further you advance through the eras, the more unlocks, not only in what you can do with your people, but you interact with the world. Tropico isn’t the most advanced simulation game out there, but there are tonnes of things to control for those who want to take things to the next level.
With a simulation game on a console, you’re never going to get that slick control you get with a keyboard and mouse. Sadly while there is some support for touchscreen controls here, it’s not everything. Only some of the UI supports it so I just left it alone and used the controls. The text size and interface adjust depending on if you’re docked or in handheld at least – something some devs should take a note of. The radial menu is used to get you building and ruling, it works well in place of a mouse, although until you’ve played a few hours when your residents or advisors ask for something you’ll be circling through the menus looking for it. There’s a lot in that menu.
After the disappointment of City Skylines on the Switch, I figured the smaller-scale simulations of Tropico would be better for our beloved tiny console. Sadly, this isn’t the case, and Tropico can really be ugly at times. It looks like the low-end PC settings especially when zoomed in, in handheld mode, the resolution can be so low it makes seeing things really hard at times.
Eventually, your island will get big enough that the game will stutter and grind as you move around your island. It’s impressive what’s there, being able to zoom down to street level and then out to the three islands under your control is pretty impressive. The game needs just that little bit more oomph under the hood to run well, but it’s not unplayable at least.
Tropico 6’s Switch port is one for fans of the series or the genre. If you’re not a fan, you might not be able to struggle through the performance of the game as you learn the game’s many systems and depth. It is still a joy to be able to play these types of games on the go; they’re nearly there.
+ El Presidente
+ A colourful take on the genre
+ All of Tropico is there
- The game clearly is quite ugly
- Framerate hitches and drops whenever it wants
- Underexplained mechanics
- Load times