Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for January 29th, 2019. Today we’ve got a couple of reviews for you, some fresh news involving updates a-plenty, a handful of interesting new releases, and some cool new sales. This week’s solid line-up of new releases are starting to trickle out, so fasten your seat belt and get ready for a ride. At any rate, there’s a lot to dig into today, so please take your time and enjoy it. Let’s get stable!
System Update 7.0.0 Adds New Icons, Languages, and Stability Improvements
A new system update has arrived, and we’re bumping up a whole number! I, uh, hope you aren’t expecting anything too big because of that, though. This update adds a handful of New Super Mario Bros. U icons for you to use for your account, some new language options for the main menu, and adds in some of those mysterious stability fixes that Nintendo is so very fond of. The new languages seem to be in preparation for the Nintendo eShop finally opening up in a few more major regions.
‘Mutant Football League: Dynasty Edition’ Gets ‘LA Power Pack’ DLC
If you enjoy Mutant Football League and want to keep the good times rolling, a new DLC pack is available to purchase in the game for $1.99. Dubbed the LA Power Pack, it adds a bunch of new goodies to the game. Right up front are two new teams, the Los Scandalous Damned and the Los Scandalous Volts. Both play quite differently from each other and should add a little spice to your match-ups. Also new is the Los Scandalous Shake N Bake Arena, shared by both of the Los Scandalous teams. True to the area the teams are spoofing, this arena has been prone to some pretty nasty earthquakes and has all the scars you would expect from that. Finally, there’s a new type of player called Mutant Cyborgs. You can probably figure out what they’re about.
New Songs Come to ‘Deemo’ in Its Latest Update
The Switch version of Deemo has just hit Version 1.5, and as usual, there are some new songs to enjoy that are included in the update. Specifically, Team Grimoire Collection gets five new songs to play, while the Toy-Con Collection gets a whopping ten new songs. Do you have to use the Toy-Con piano to play those? I don’t know, to be honest. But hey, it’s not like you’re paying for these updates, right?
New Content Drops for ‘Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption’ on February 19th
Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption didn’t exactly pull down scorching hot review scores when it came out last October, but the game does have its fans. And for those fans, some new content is likely sounding like a good thing right about now. So what to add to a boss battler? How about another boss? Cowardly Modic is a deadly, giant, armored chicken. Yes, that’s incredible. There are three new game modes as well, along with two powerful new weapons. Those new modes include the Trial of Speed, the Trial of Consequence, and the Trial of the Sinner. All are available in New Game+, so get on beating the regular game already. The new weapons are twin swords and a sword-and-shield combination. This content update will hit on February 19th, so you’ve got a few weeks to wait yet.
There are probably going to be more reviews included in SwitchArcade from here on out, so I’m going to make a few changes moving forward. First of all, I won’t be calling them “mini-reviews" anymore. They might still be brief, but the mini thing makes them feel like less than what they are. Second, there are going to be scores. Just like with mobile games, the score will be out of a maximum of five. I won’t be using the star graphics, however, as they don’t play well with non-iOS games. Just watch for the number at the end of the write-up. Finally, the “SwitchArcade Recommended!" tag on new releases will be changed to “SwitchArcade Highlight!" to make a clearer difference between reviews and first impressions. Phew. With that done, let’s move into today’s reviews.
Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy ($29.99)
For a variety of reasons, I spent the middle years of the sixth generation of consoles in budget mode. Surprisingly, it was good eating. Sony and Microsoft had a strong line-up of Greatest Hits and Platinum Hits respectively at reasonable prices. Prices on games would drop within a year if they were successful enough, and even quicker if they failed. And fail many of them did. Not really because of quality reasons, but because there were just so many games getting pushed out to stores that something had to give. I would pick through these graveyards on a regular basis, coming up with mostly decent games and the odd stinker.
The good side of buying games like this is that you didn’t spend a lot and often found quality games that slipped under the radar. The bad side is that if you found one you really loved, you could be quite confident there would be no sequel. Sadly, such was the fate of Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy, a genuine work of heart from a developer who largely toiled away at licensed fare for much of its now-ended existence. Indeed, this was the final original game created by Eurocom, who continued on making licensed titles for another decade before closing its doors. It was an ambitious game in its time, one of the few to make an attempt at aping Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda across multiple platforms. Not without problems, mind you, but a very good game, and one that deserved better than crashing into the bottom of the bargain bin within a few weeks of its release before being largely forgotten.
And now, here it is! THQ Nordic, the company that now bears the name and much of the IP of the original publisher of Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy, has brought the game back with a nice little HD buff-up. Not much more than that unfortunately, but hey, I’m not going to argue too much. It’s in high resolution and it fits wider displays, but the content is the same as it was back in 2003. That’s mostly a good thing, but it certainly feels of its time in a number of ways. Like, cameras were still a problem for a lot of games of this sort back then, and Sphinx struggles with that in certain situations. The original game was made for platforms that used save points and memory cards, and sure enough, you won’t be able to rely on auto-saves or being able to quickly get out of the game without losing progress even in this version. The environments are positively spartan at times thanks to the scope of the game clashing against hardware limitations of the era. Melee combat is often a chore due to a lack of sensible lock-on capabilities, as well.
That said, the things the game does right still work remarkably well more than 15 years later. The dual-character gameplay is awesome, offering a greater variety in terms of pacing, puzzle designs, and even tone than you usually see in action-adventure games. Sphinx himself comes off like an off-brand Link, looking lithe and cool as he sword-slashes, switch-presses, and zips about the environments with his ever-increasing arsenal of abilities. His reluctant partner, the Mummy, is almost absurd by comparison. Nigh-invulnerable, he solves puzzles in ways no living creature outside of perhaps Wario would ever try. Sometimes you have to light him on fire. Sometimes you have to squash him flat. Sometimes, just sometimes, you have to cut him into separate pieces and direct those pieces independently to move forward. This could be macabre, but it’s played with cartoonish aplomb, making the Mummy’s sufferings more humorous than anything else.
Now, while I compared the game to Zelda, I have to stress that this isn’t really in Zelda‘s league. Not at the time, and certainly not now. In terms of its gameplay, it often shares more in common with Soul Reaver than Zelda‘s somewhat non-linear approach. But I will say that if you love the Zelda series, you will probably find plenty to like in Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy. A few things you really won’t like, but I’m confident that you’ll enjoy yourself on the whole. While it’s really slow to get started (shocked I am that a Zelda-inspired game would have an overly-lengthy and overly-handholding tutorial), the bulk of its fifteen hour-adventure moves along at a steady pace. It feels good to play, and many of the puzzles are really nicely-designed. It’s a good game.
If you’ve already played Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy before, you won’t find much new to enjoy here at all. But I suspect most of the people reading this missed the game the first time around, and if that’s so, you owe it to yourself to make sure it doesn’t happen a second time. It’s not hard to spot the era it was built in, and you’ll have to deal with some irritating artifacts of that period, but the overall experience is worth the relatively minor cracks that have appeared over time. A forgotten treasure from a time that hasn’t even begun to be mined for nostalgia points, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is an adventure that’s well-worth taking on.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
JackQuest: The Tale of the Sword ($9.99)
There are bits of JackQuest that I really do like. The controls are a little floaty but once you get used to them, navigating around this exploratory platformer’s caves can feel pretty good. The boss battles are sometimes tough but it feels great when you get in the groove and take them out. There are lots of secrets to find, even if the rewards are sometimes paltry. And hey, it has the courtesy to not drag on too long past the point that its ideas start to run out.
But then there are things that I don’t care for. The collision detection is unkind. The variety in the surroundings is poor, to say the least. You spend the whole time in some very samey-looking caves, fighting the same handful of enemy types over and over again. The map that the game gives you about halfway through the game is awkward to use and not very helpful on the whole. It does a terrible job of teaching the player how to move forward. Managing your health gets more and more problematic as the game goes on, since there are no easy ways to fully restore your health. Scouring for potions that heal half a heart each isn’t bad when you only have a few hearts of health, but the bigger that heart count gets, the more tedious and frustrating it is to top it off.
Basically, when JackQuest works, it works pretty well. When it doesn’t, it’s irritating in all the wrong ways. It takes about three or fours to finish from start to end, and I feel like I had more of a good time than a bad one, but the fact that I have to think about that probably isn’t an encouraging sign. On a platform where there isn’t as much competition in the Metroidvania genre, JackQuest‘s flaws might be easier to forgive. On the Switch, there are so many great games in this genre that it’s very hard to give much of an endorsement to one that is probably mediocre in its best moments.
SwitchArcade Score: 3/5
I will not compare Unworthy to “that" game. I will not compare Unworthy to “that" game. This is a 2D exploratory action game that focuses on challenging battles where you need to pay careful attention to your enemy’s behavior and your surroundings to formulate the best way to tackle them safely. Everything is presented in a dark, monochrome art style, giving the world a sense of despair that is matched only by trying to come to terms with the cumbersome inventory management. This is a sort of Metroidvania, but it feels closer to something like Salt & Sanctuary than, say, Hollow Knight. And hey, it’s pretty good. Not something that everyone is going to like, but if you’re looking for another game of this genre and don’t mind a solid challenge, you’ll probably enjoy Unworthy.
Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy ($29.99)
Hey, there’s a full review of this one just a little ways up the page from here! How about that? Which leaves this paragraph a little wanting for things to say about it. Um… let’s see… well, I think it’s great that some publishers are willing to take chances on re-releasing games that weren’t major commercial hits back in the day. Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy may find its audience this time or it may not, but THQ Nordic is at least giving it a shot. That tells me that the company is at least aware of the good stuff and bad stuff in its library beyond sheer sales numbers, and hopefully bodes well for other underappreciated classics getting dusted off.
Mages of Mystralia ($19.99)
An action-adventure title with a focus on spell-casting, Mages of Mystralia is a decent if not spectacular romp. You play as an apprentice mage, and unlike many games that cast you in that role, you aren’t just going to become a better mage by leveling up. Sure, a lot of the magic is gated by which runes you’ve collected, but you’ll also have to do your homework and learn how to combine those runes to create the spells you need. Magic is used to solve puzzles, defend yourself, and traverse through the world. The story is kind of weak and there’s probably a little more backtracking involved than would be ideal, but I think the game more or less lives up to the good-but-not-great review scores it got on other platforms.
Holy smokes, Phantasy Star is on sale! Okay, you should probably already own that game because it is incredible version of a wonderful classic, but if you don’t? Now, friends. Now is the time to change that. You can save a whole two dollars, which can be used for at least one bag of chips. What an amazing world we live in.
New Games on Sale
Nine Parchments ($5.99 from $19.99 until 2/11)
SEGA AGES Phantasy Star ($5.99 from $7.99 until 2/4)
Serial Cleaner ($5.20 from $14.99 until 2/12)
Rogue Aces ($5.10 from $14.99 until 2/12)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 30th
Drowning ($2.54 from $2.99 until 1/30)
Gabbuchi ($3.99 from $7.99 until 1/30)
Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 ($34.99 from $49.99 until 1/30)
Final Light, The Prison ($2.93 from $6.99 until 1/30)
Toki ($23.99 from $29.99 until 1/30)
Tower of Babel ($2.51 from $5.99 until 1/30)
That’s all we’ve got for today. I’m not exactly sure how the day-to-day schedule for the rest of the week will go, but you can look forward to reviews of Legrand Legacy, Dragon: Marked for Death, Wargroove, and Downwell before the week is up, along with all the new release info, news, and sales you’ve come to expect from the SwitchArcade Round-Up. As always, thanks for reading!