Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for April 9th, 2019. Today, we’ve got a review of Bertil Horberg’s latest run-and-gun action game, Mechstermination Force. We’ve also got summaries of the two excellent releases that hit the shop today, and some news of more fun on the way. All that, plus some very good sales on select SEGA titles and FDG’s wonderful Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom. What more could you ask for?
The Next ‘Tetris 99’ Maximus Cup Event Runs This Weekend
Not long ago, Nintendo held a special event in Tetris 99 called the Maximus Cup. Players competed to see who could get the most top rank finishes, and the best of the lot earned 999 Gold Points. Well, the next Maximus Cup runs this weekend, and while the prize is the same, the rules are a little different. Now, so long as you place 80th or above, you’ll earn some event points. Obviously, the higher you rank, the more event points you’ll earn. At the end of the weekend, the 999 players with the highest amount of event points will be awarded 999 Gold Points. The 2nd Maximus Cup begins on Friday at 6:00 AM PT and runs until Sunday at 11:59 PM PT. Good luck!
Head to ‘VA-11 HALL-A’ When It Arrives on May 2nd
Are you ready for some cyberpunk bartending action on your Switch? The highly-acclaimed bartending adventure game VA-11 HALL-A finally has a release date in the West for the Switch. You’ll be able to pick it up on the eShop and start mixing drinks and solving problems from May 2nd for a price of $14.99. A physical release through Limited Run Games will also be available at a later date, with one of their extremely limited collector’s editions coming alongside a regular release. No details on when we should expect that, however, so just look forward to the digital release for now.
Mechstermination Force ($11.99)
Let it never be said that Horberg Productions can’t nail down the feel of classic games. The Gunman Clive games controlled similarly to the 8-bit Mega Man games, albeit with a different overall structure and a heaping helping of style in their presentation. And now with Mechstermination Force, we see the developer take a crack at a gameplay style more similar to Contra 3 than anything else, with a generous dollop of the arcade classic Strider thrown in for seasoning. Unlike the Clive games, this game doesn’t feature any levels to make your way through. You’ll cut right to the chase on each mission and tackle deadly multi-phase bosses that tend to come in at very large sizes. True to the games they draw inspiration from, Mechstermination Force and Gunman Clive are also quite different in terms of challenge. Clive could be tricky in places, but this game is downright fierce.
You choose one of four different characters to take into this boss rush game, and you can purchase upgrades and new equipment along the way with the spoils of your victories. But none of the character parameters or purchasable improvements will help you as much as good old-fashioned patience and skill. No matter how complex some of the bosses are, no matter how many phases they go through, these contests are classic-style battles of learning patterns and executing your actions based on them. If you can’t do that, it won’t matter how many extra hearts you load up on before heading out.
It’s the length of these battles that make them such a test, and also what makes them so satisfying to conquer. It really does feel like you’re ripping these mechanical monstrosities apart piece by piece, stripping away chunks of outer armor, blowing off various limbs and weapons, and simply trying to get at their weak points so that you can finish the job with a few solid thwacks of your melee weapon. I rather like that last mechanic. Your gun can only take the job so far, so at various points you are going to need to get up close and personal to bring the bosses down. The elation of finishing off each phase quickly fades into panic as the fight usually goes on for at least one more round than you were probably expecting.
The bosses are the stars of the show, and the game treats them as such, sometimes to the detriment of the gameplay. In any case where the camera has to choose between giving you a clear view of the boss’s attack or showing your character legibly on-screen, it will almost always choose the former. This problem doesn’t come up all that often, but it’s a little irritating when you lose where you are on the screen due to a combination of your character being so tiny and the graphics being so busy. Yet I can’t necessarily fault the game too much for trying to signpost as much as possible. This may just be an unavoidable consequence of trying to show battles between small fries and massive enemies. But it can still be annoying given just how precise you need to be to win in many cases.
That said, dying doesn’t really cost you anything. All you really lose is some of your time, and it’s hard to say if that’s even a total loss given how much strategy you can learn along the way. You’re probably going to have to make multiple attempts while you’re learning each boss anyway. Attacks and weak points are signaled quite clearly, but the sheer variety of actions each boss has combined with how speedy they can get means that you do need to have some awareness of what they’re going to do before they do it, to some extent. So yeah, if you’re the sort that gets annoyed at having to retry things a lot before finding the route to success, Mechstermination Force is probably not going to leave you a happy camper.
Once you come to grips with how things work here, the game is an awful lot of fun. Sometimes aggravating, but definitely fun. Even though it’s just a bit over a dozen bosses, the game still manages to last for a few hours. With little in the way of story to glue things together, it’s all about the gameplay itself, but that also means it’s easy to pop in and out to have some fun even after you’ve wrapped the game up for the first time. Considering the fair price it’s going for, there’s plenty here to enjoy for those who dig difficult run-and-gun games like Contra and Metal Slug. Just be ready to fight for that enjoyment, because Mechstermination Force is very much like the upcoming Cuphead in that it sets the kid gloves aside almost immediately.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy ($29.99)
I’m reasonably sure that by now this series needs no introduction. It’s been amazing watching the Ace Attorney brand grow from being a set of weird Japan-only Game Boy Advance adventure games to one of Capcom’s most well-known active brands, and this multi-platform release that finally gets the core trilogy out to the wider gaming audience is perhaps the capstone of that story. Well, I suppose for fans of Nintendo handhelds, this is just the latest way to buy these games. If you owned the trilogy on DS or 3DS, there isn’t really anything new here apart from sharper visuals, but that’s fine. Some will want to revisit the games, and others will try them for the first time. All will be entertained. Except for the part where you have to play the circus case in the second game, because woof.
Out There: Ω The Alliance ($14.99)
Here’s one that should be familiar for mobile gaming fans. I feel like Out There first got attention as something of a substitute for FTL when that game wasn’t available on mobile, but its narrative approach made it an interesting game all on its own. Further releases only expanded it, and now we have its latest and greatest form available on Switch. At its core, this is still Out There. This version adds three new spaceships, more than 30 new stories, a new ending, alien escort missions, new 3D planet environments, and new Cocoon tech. Whether you’re completely new to the game or have already played it on another platform, there’s something to check out here.
Quality, not quantity. That’s the order of today. I don’t have a lot of positive things to say about Sonic Forces and I don’t know Pet Care or Joggernauts from a hole in the wall, but every other game on that list is worth owning to some extent or another. Meanwhile, the outbox seems to mostly be games that should be on sale again before too long.
New Games on Sale
Sonic Forces ($19.99 from $29.99 until 4/15)
20XX ($10.79 from $17.99 until 4/15)
SEGA AGES Sonic the Hedgehog ($5.99 from $7.99 until 4/15)
SEGA AGES Out Run ($5.99 from $7.99 until 4/15)
Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom ($33.99 from $39.99 until 4/26)
Pet Care ($0.74 from $1.49 until 4/22)
Braveland Trilogy ($11.99 from $14.99 until 4/15)
Joggernauts ($7.49 from $14.99 until 4/17)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 10th
Brawlout ($9.99 from $19.99 until 4/10)
Miles & Kilo ($5.99 from $7.99 until 4/10)
Peace, Death! Complete Edition ($2.49 from $4.99 until 4/10)
Switch ‘N’ Shoot ($3.90 from $4.59 until 4/10)
Viviette ($7.99 from $9.99 until 4/10)
And that’ll tie a ribbon on today’s edition of the SwitchArcade Round-Up. Tomorrow we’ll have a look at a few new releases including Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!, any interesting news or sales that happen to pop up, and perhaps a review if time permits. I hope you all enjoy your Tuesday, and as always, thanks for reading!