Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV, the 14th entry in the long running Romance of the Three Kingdoms or Sangokushi franchise from Koei Tecmo based on the historic novel of the same name, debuted in the West on PS4 and PC last February as the 35th anniversary game. Read my review of the PS4 version here. Since the launch, Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV has gotten multiple updates and DLC bringing in new features, content, and more. Chinese voices were also patched into the game after launch. With the announcement of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack (known as the Power Up Kit in Japan), Koei Tecmo also announced a Nintendo Switch version of Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV in the form of Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack Bundle.
The Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack Bundle brings both the base game and the expansion pack together for the franchise’s debut in the West on Nintendo Switch without leaving anything out. Ever since I got into the Romance of the Three Kingdoms games from Koei Tecmo, I was hoping for a portable entry. After Koei Tecmo skipped localising multiple entries on PS Vita and Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII for Nintendo Switch, I had almost given up hope. Thankfully, the newest entry has arrived on Nintendo Switch with its expansion packed into the release and I’ve been playing it across not just Nintendo Switch, but also PS5 (through backward compatibility) and Steam and here’s what you need to know about Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack Bundle on Nintendo Switch.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV players on PS4 and PC who own the base game can upgrade by purchasing the Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack which is included in the Nintendo Switch version by default. If you’ve already played Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV, the Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack includes trading with foreign nations like India and Rome, a new War Chronicles Mode that features shorter campaigns showcasing famous scenes with high scores recorded, geographic advantages for provinces, and more. Combined with the base game, there’s a lot you can sink your teeth into through the Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack Bundle on Nintendo Switch. I’ll have a full review of just the expansion pack in the near future and wanted to focus on the Nintendo Switch conversion for the game and expansion here.
Visually, Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV on Nintendo Switch is mostly good. The interface and menus are all native resolution both docked and handheld. They look really nice even on the Nintendo Switch Lite but there is one issue which I will get to in a bit. The visuals outside the menus and interface are acceptable. Some fonts could’ve been a bit clearer for the smaller display but I’m surprised at how well the game runs given the complexity of the game despite the visual downgrade from PS4 and PC. The biggest difference is in the animated character models animating at a lower frame rate compared to PC. Even some of the effects and model animations during the encounters are lower than PS4 and PC but not a dealbreaker. One thing I did notice is that the Nintendo Switch and PC versions have more animations for character portraits and models versus PS4. Load times also felt similar to PS4 Pro in the Nintendo Switch version with slight differences depending on the scene.
The area where the Nintendo Switch version shines (but also suffers a bit) is in the interface. You can control almost everything in Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack Bundle with the touchscreen when played in handheld or tabletop mode on Nintendo Switch. The problem here is that the interface hasn’t been scaled for handheld mode so touch targets are sometimes tiny alongside text that sometimes is too small. You will likely be forced to use a combination of buttons and touch controls to get the most out of this when played on the go. Even a stylus might be a bit too thick for some of the buttons in the interface. Being able to use buttons for navigating menus but touch for moving the map, panning, and zooming makes Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV on Nintendo Switch a joy to play and makes me want to give up my PS4 save and just keep playing through all the content on Nintendo Switch. It is that good.
The major downsides to Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack Bundle on Nintendo Switch also apply to other platforms. If you want to get the most out of the game, the first season pass (and the relevant standalone DLC) has some useful options if you enjoy being able to tweak the flow of the game, change stats, and play on a higher difficulty. This really should’ve been included in the new Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack Bundle on all platforms.
I hope future updates can adjust the text size and button targets for a better experience when played handheld. I had trouble with some touch targets on the regular Nintendo Switch and they were basically unusable on the Nintendo Switch Lite. The text issue was also present and still is in the PS4 version if you play on a TV as opposed to sitting near a monitor.
Overall, the wait for a localised portable entry in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms franchise has absolutely been worth it. While the barrier of entry here is high thanks to the $69.99 asking price with two season passes available, as a package, Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack Bundle is a much better proposition than just the base game was last year. It also helps that Koei Tecmo went above and beyond what I expected in a port for Nintendo Switch with full touchscreen support making this a great experience on the go despite some interface issues. If you’ve never played a Romance of the Three Kingdoms game before and have wanted to get into the series, Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Diplomacy and Strategy Expansion Pack Bundle on Nintendo Switch is an excellent option. I’m just disappointed it didn’t get a physical release in the West.