Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for January 22nd, 2019. Today we’ve got news of a few upcoming releases, some looks at the handful of games that came out today, a throwback review to one of the Nicalis games that is currently on sale, and a few other goodies. Check it out, enjoy, do that reader thing that we all appreciate so much. Let’s dance!
‘R.B.I. Baseball 19’ Heads to Switch in March
The name RBI Baseball is going to mean different things to different generations. It was a beloved series of baseball games that started back on the Nintendo Entertainment System, the first console baseball game licensed by the MLBPA. The last game in that line came in 1995. Nearly 20 years later, MLB Advanced Media and Behaviour Interactive revived the name with RBI Baseball 14. You see, as curious as it may be, from that year on, no company seemed particularly interested in making a multi-platform licensed baseball game. The MLB took matters into its own hands, and that’s still where we’re at a half-decade down the road. To say it has been a learning experience is probably an understatement; the games rarely crack the 50% threshold in reviews. But they seem to do well enough to keep on going, and so the latest will come to Switch, as the previous did before it. You can pick it up sometime in March either physically or digitally.
Explore the 8-Bit Underworld in ‘Necrosphere Deluxe’, Coming January 31st
About a year and change ago, Necrosphere released on PC. It doesn’t appear to have made much of a splash, but its reviews on Steam seem quite positive. The game will be making its way to the Switch on January 31st in a Deluxe edition for $7.99. You play as Agent Terry Cooper, who finds himself in the Necrosphere, which is apparently where everyone goes when they die. Rather than sit and take it, Cooper decides to try to escape. His adventure takes the form of a two-button Metroidvania-style adventure with an aesthetic inspired by 8-bit games. This looks pretty interesting and the price is right, so I’ll likely give you some impressions once it’s out.
‘Blade Strangers’ Throwback Review
It’s another somewhat quiet day, so I’ve once again pulled a game out of my archives to talk about a bit here. In case you didn’t know, Nicalis is having a pretty significant sale on its Switch line-up at the moment. There are plenty of games in there that are effortless to recommend even at their full prices, such as The Binding of Isaac, VVVVVV, and Cave Story. You don’t need me to tell you about those games, and you probably already own them or are seriously considering buying them now. But there are other games in that line-up that aren’t quite as universally loved. Games that didn’t get great review scores, and didn’t seem to catch on in a big way. I think a good sale is a chance for games like that to shine a little, and Blade Strangers certainly deserves a bit of said shine.
There are certainly criticisms to levy against Blade Strangers, the curious one-on-one fighter that brings together a very unusual cast of characters from various franchises. The roster feels a bit light compared to many contemporary fighting games, to be sure. There are just 14 characters to choose from here, and while that would be a healthy amount in the 1990s, we’re now at a point where twice that can feel thin next to the 50- or 70-character rosters some games sport. The different franchises they’re drawn from sometimes feel like they’re clashing, with Isaac (of Binding of Isaac fame) feeling particularly out of place. The game takes a casual approach to its mechanics that automatically disqualifies it with certain fans of the genre, as well.
I think the biggest problem that Blade Strangers ran into was that for many people, it couldn’t justify its price. $39.99 is a reasonable price as packaged Switch games go, but a brand-new name with characters from lesser-known IPs from a developer making its first fighting game was always going to struggle when set against more established franchises in a similar price range. That it seemed light on content compared to its peers only magnified that hesitancy. And hey, I can understand it. There are lots of games out there, and I’m not going to blame anyone for passing over pretty much any of them for whatever reason.
At the same time, I think Blade Strangers is a bit better than its reputation might lead you to believe. It’s true that the fighting controls are simplified compared to many other games, but any Super Smash Bros. player will tell you that simpler controls and depth aren’t mutually exclusive things. Blade Strangers controls a bit like Smash, in fact, with moves being performed by pushing a button in conjunction with a single direction. Of course, this is within a much more traditional fighting game framework, but there are still plenty of combos and strategies to make use of. It’s just a slightly more level playing field for newcomers, who don’t need to memorize a bunch of directional commands for each character.
I also think the roster is fine. We’ve gotten so used to fighting games having a ridiculous number of characters, but some of the best games in the genre have tight, well-balanced rosters with less than 20 characters. I think 14 characters is fine for the first game in a series. They’re quite varied in how they play, and since they’re taken from so many different kinds of games, you get quite the spread in terms of how they look and behave. Kawase whips at her opponents with the signature fishing line she uses as a grappling hook in her games, while Shovel Knight… well, you know what Shovel Knight does. Quote and Curly Brace have plenty of ranged attacks, while Solange is an absolute monster at close range. I’m still not sold on Isaac, but I guess cross-over fighters need at least one really weird character in the line-up.
There are plenty of modes, and you can play online if you manage to find anyone on there these days. It’s quite fun to play in the same room with friends, at the very least. There isn’t a whole ton of meat on the bone if you’re flying solo, but each character does have their own story to play through. I mean, more or less the same things happen for each character, and it’s nonsense in the way that most story modes in fighting games are, but the dialogue between fights is mostly unique to each character and sometimes pretty funny. Solange faces more or less constant trash-talk for her choice of clothing, and it’s hilarious to see the different ways her opponents come at it.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that this is the best fighting game on the Switch. There are a lot of great classics and a few good modern fighters to check out on the platform that are probably more content-rich and offer better mechanics than this. But while Blade Strangers isn’t great, it is quite good, and I think I like it better than SNK Heroines, which takes a similarly casual approach to its mechanics. It’s currently on sale for $14.99 and it’s certainly worth that price if you like any of the included characters or just want a fun fighting game to play with friends of varying skill levels.
Color Zen Kids ($3.99)
Like the original Color Zen, this game has already come out on other platforms before. It’s a simpler, more child-friendly take on the Color Zen idea, with 100 new puzzles that use larger shapes and have simpler solutions. All of the puzzles are also animal-themed, which I’m assured is a topic children find most fascinating. It’s not just for kids, though. This is a good way to ease into Color Zen‘s style of puzzles, and can be a lot more relaxing to play than the main game. Plus, it’s a hundred more puzzles.
The Raven Remastered ($29.99)
If you like a good mystery or a good adventure game, you’ll probably enjoy The Raven Remastered at least a little bit. You play as an unlikely hero who finds himself in a bit of a rivalry with a more typical protagonist, trying to uncover the identity of a masked thief. Lots of tropes of the mystery genre are included here, which are fun but also kind of hold the game back from standing on its own feet. Nevertheless, decent whodunits are a rare find on consoles, so you may want to have a look at this one even with its faults.
This one comes from the developer behind Disco Zoo, so you know at least the aesthetics are going to be good. Initially, it comes off like any of the games that flew in the wake of Trials, but it soon reveals its main gimmick. You see, there are different-colored rails, and your hover-bike thing has different colored wheels on the top and bottom. You have to use the matching wheel to ride a rail, leading to frantic mid-air re-alignments as you try not to go hurtling into the abyss. Meanwhile, you still need to be performing stunts and tricks to complete your goals, please your sponsors, and keep moving forward. It looks like fun if you like that sort of high-pressure experience.
At Sundown: Shots in the Dark ($19.99)
Well, here’s an interesting game that seems to have gone totally ignored when it released on Steam a few months back. This is an arena-based shooter where stealth is the order of the day. You are invisible to your opponents unless you dash, shoot, or slice. You’ll also want to mind any lights hanging around. So yeah, it’s like a hide-and-seek deathmatch. You can play against AI opponents if you need to, but the game does seem to have its sights set on multiplayer action. You can play online or locally with up to four players and it certainly looks like it would be a blast if you have the necessary people and/or hardware. Still, with the single-player mode looking like not much more than practice for the real thing, this isn’t going to be for everyone.
Whoa, did a tumbleweed just go by? Hunh, you don’t usually see those at TouchArcade Towers, but there you go. So we’ve got a couple of new sales, and hey, Omensight is cool. Um. Nicalis games are still on sale! And so are the Atooi games! Go buy some of those and don’t worry about this section for today.
New Games on Sale
Binaries ($6.49 from $12.99 until 2/12)
SkyScrappers ($7.49 from $9.99 until 2/12)
Omensight: Definitive Edition ($17.99 from $19.99 until 1/28)
Detective Gallo ($8.99 from $14.99 until 2/10)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 23rd
Doodle God: Evolution ($4.89 from $6.99 until 1/23)
The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human ($9.09 from $12.99 until 1/23)
That seems to be all we’ve got for today. Well, these things happen. Be sure to check back tomorrow when we’ll hopefully have some interesting news, a couple of new releases to look at, and maybe even some nice sales. And failing any of that, I’ll have another throwback review for you to pass the time with. Sounds okay, right? I’m going to pretend you agree with me, because I’m sitting in a room by myself right now and can’t wait for you to reply to my shouting. Anyway, I’ll be back tomorrow, and thanks as always for reading.