Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for July 2nd, 2019. We’ve got a full little satchel of words today, with some news, a few reviews, a couple of new releases, and a healthy dose of sales to keep us company as we toddle through the first half of the week. While there’s nothing on the level of a Super Mario Maker 2 this week, those who seek to be parted from their money will still find lots of ways to do so. Let’s have a look at the myriad ways one can make that happen, shall we?
Earn a ‘Splatoon 2’ Theme in the Next ‘Tetris 99’ Maximus Cup
The final Splatoon 2 Splatfest is coming up, and we’re seeing the event commemorated in various ways already. Tetris 99 is tying it in with its next Maximus Cup event, which seems to be more or less taking after the Game Boy Maximus Cup one we saw a little while ago. That is to say, you’ll probably be able to get the prize here if you put in a little time. That prize, naturally, is the ability to keep that nifty Splatoon 2 theme and use it as you like. Simply get 100 points during the event and the theme is yours to keep. The event runs from July 12th at 12:00 AM PT to July 15th at 11:59 PM PT.
‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ Will Hold a ‘Splatoon’ Event from July 12th
Hey, wait a minute! It’s not Wednesday yet! Well, since Nintendo and others are rolling out Splatoon plans, I suppose it’s only natural that we find out now about the event Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is holding from the end of next week. Splatoon-related spirits will appear more often for a limited period of time, and beating them down will get you more SP than usual. This event starts on July 12th and presumably will run through the weekend. As for what we’ve got to look forward to this week? I suppose we’ll find out tomorrow.
‘NBA 2K20’ Announced for Switch and Other Platforms
Unlike certain other sports video game publishers, 2K Sports is all about keeping the Switch in the loop as far as releases go. The quality of those releases? Well, let’s not dwell on the negative. Anyway, it’s not as though it’s much of a surprise, but NBA 2K20 will be releasing later this year. On September 6th, to be precise. And the Switch is included among the platforms it will be released on, also as usual. Completing the “no surprise" trilogy is that the game will be coming in three different editions, each more expensive than the last. But if you want to stock up on those virtual currencies, I suppose you might want to grab one of the more expensive versions. Or if you’re a Dwayne Wade fan, I guess, as he’ll only be appearing on the cover of the Legend Edition.
‘Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega 39s’ Announced for Switch
It’s been a long while since SEGA last released a game in its line of rhythm titles based on vocoloid idol Hatsune Miku, to the point that some fans were speculating that the company had given up the license. Well, it looks like they’re not quite done yet. Yesterday, SEGA put out a video celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA. It capped off with an announcement of a new release in the series titled Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega 39s for the Nintendo Switch, set to come out in early 2020. If you’re wondering about the title, ‘39‘ in Japanese can be read as ‘Mi-Ku‘, so the title reads as ‘Project DIVA Mega Mix‘. True to that name, this will be a compilation of past Miku content, with a total of 101 songs, 300 costumes, and some new modes. The game has only been announced for release in Japan so far, but previous games have made it to the West, so I’d say the prospects are good we’ll be seeing it localized.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night ($39.99)
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a really awesome game. It’s the exact game I was hoping we would get from Koji Igarashi, the man most famous for his contributions to the Castlevania brand in titles such as Symphony of the Night, Aria of Sorrow, and Order of Ecclesia. He also made an absolutely thumping multiplayer Castlevania from cobbled-together assets that didn’t get anywhere near the attention it should have, but that has nothing to do with this game, so let’s move on. Ritual of the Night at various times feels like all of the best bits of the Castlevania titles Igarashi worked on. The bombastic story and fluid movement of Symphony. The compelling ability collection of Aria. The side quests and character work of Ecclesia. The chairs of Harmony of Dissonance. I love Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.
I don’t love the Switch version of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. It’s not quite “botched Ecce Homo restoration" levels of messing up a fine work, but it’s close enough that I felt like I had to refer to that situation. Is the Switch version of Bloodstained still worth playing with all of its flaws? Sure. You’ll still have fun with it. The core remains intact despite the best efforts of some cruel god of crappy ports. Should you go for the Switch port if you have access to literally any other machine that can play Bloodstained? No, not unless portability is make-or-break for you. This is a familiar enough tune for the Switch. It’s never going to match up to more powerful hardware in these kinds of straight comparisons. But Bloodstained is an especially bad example as it looks pretty poor compared to other titles on the system, never mind other platforms.
Should you choose to bite on this version, here’s what you’ll have to deal with. Slightly longer loading times, which if I’m honest are probably not that big of a deal. A resolution hit and lower-quality textures and geometry are to be expected, and most of the time didn’t bother me too much either. Sometimes it looks, I don’t know, muddy? The water really has an odd look to it. Lighting and shadows aren’t working the same way as other platforms, and that makes some areas look a little different from how they were likely intended. The framerate is generally a totally tolerable 30 fps, but there are a lot of areas where things get very dicey indeed. All of these technical problems are worse in handheld mode, but the smaller screen also obfuscates some of it so it’s kind of a wash.
The biggest problem in my book is the input lag. It’s not too bad if you’re playing in handheld mode, but it’s definitely there. If you’re using an external controller like the Switch Pro Controller, you’re going to have a bad time. It’s nasty. As bad as the SNES games in the Mega Man X Collection or the initial release of the SEGA Genesis Classics Collection. You tap the jump button, and Miriam’s feet won’t even leave the ground until your finger is already off the button. If the game were designed around this limitation, it might not be as bad as it is. But it’s not. There are some tough sequences in here that demand quick reactions, and this input lag totally mucks things up. If the developers can only fix one thing, I sure hope it’s this.
Bah. I hate that the development team completely duffed this port but I still want to recommend it anyway. It doesn’t deserve a recommendation. But it’s nevertheless a lot of fun. There’s just something in the movement, the rhythm of an Igarashi Castlevania that is present here and absent in so many homages and spiritual successors. Collecting enemy shards to earn and beef up new abilities is the kind of stupid grinding I want to do on a handheld. The cheeky sense of humor and silly fourth-wall breaking bits that cropped up in Igarashi’s previous games are both proudly on display here, as is the overwrought story that you’ll probably stop caring about by the third or fourth dialog box. Secrets are plentiful and fun to suss out. Bosses are cool and interesting to fight. I really love this game, and even if Iga personally came to my house and smeared chunky peanut butter all over my Joy-Cons, I’d probably have a good time playing this wacked-out Switch port anyway.
If you have another means of playing this game, I’d heartily endorse that option. Going for the Switch port of multiplatform games often involves some sacrifices, but rarely to this extent. The developer promises it’s going to be fixed but to paraphrase the second-best character in Spider-Man 2, if promises were crackers, my son would be fat. Hope for the best, assume the worst, and grab the game on another system if you can. However (and I say this with the deepest of angsty sighs that can only be reserved for such grave topics as video game purchases), if a Switch is all you’ve got and you have even the smallest bit of love for the ‘Vanias that made the label ‘Metroid-like’ into ‘Metroidvania’, you should buy this terrible port anyway. Enough of the real thing comes through intact that it’s a pretty enjoyable experience on the whole.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
War Tech Fighters ($19.99)
Giant robots in space! Political intrigue, but in space! With robots that have giant swords! This is the stuff that dreams were made of in the 1980s, and it’s still a well-liked idea today. So well-liked, in fact, that video games based on the staple of that genre, Gundam, release in Japan with reliable regularity even today. Relatively few of those games come out outside of Japan, however, which presents a real opportunity for someone else to slide in. Enter: War Tech Fighters, a game that probably thought it was being awfully clever with its initialism.
On paper, it has most of the things you’d look for in a game like this. There’s a campaign with a story that spreads out over a bunch of missions. There are varied goals, and you can customize your giant robot as you go along. The action is easy to pick up but has enough options that it’s not too simple, and it even has cool finishing moves. And hey, it’s an okay game. If I said I didn’t have any fun with it, I’d be a nasty little liar. But at the same time, I can’t help but feel like it could have been a lot more than just an okay game. A lot of that is down to simple realities: this game doesn’t have a Bandai Namco-level budget. It’s an indie game, really. It’s just too bad, because after playing this I feel like this developer could really go to town on this concept if it had more resources.
As is often the case in these reviews, my faults with the game come in two neat packages. First, the port. Loading times are lengthy. I can deal with that issue to an extent because, again, reality. But I definitely felt like some of the loads in WTF were conspicuously long. Has the game locked up? No, it was still loading. Well, okay. Aside from that, the game runs really well on the Switch, with a good, steady framerate in general and a high enough resolution that everything that needed to be clear, was. Well, except for one little thing. If you’re playing in handheld mode, the text in this game is ridiculously tiny. This isn’t an especially text-heavy game, and there are usually voices reading that which you may not be able to. But once you’re back home in the base, it’s an issue. I had a lot of difficulty in the customization area where you can build your robot as you like.
Setting aside the port, the game itself has a few things that hold it back as well. It’s a fairly ambitious game in a lot of ways, but you can feel just about every wall the budget ran into. Some stilted animations here. A whole lot of asset recycling there. The way the gameplay works means you’ll want to make use of the execution moves as often as possible to keep your stamina up, but they look stiff to begin with and don’t get especially better the fiftieth time you’ve seen them. The customization is great in that it allows you to shape your robot to fit your play style, but the cosmetic differences between the various parts aren’t where they could be. The story is also kind of dopey and hard to care about, but that’s probably not a budget problem.
If you’re playing on your TV or have really sharp eyes, and you don’t mind some lengthy load times, War Tech Fighters may well scratch your giant robot combat itch. The core action is fine even if it doesn’t really do anything surprising, and I loved seeing how much more powerful I got over the course of the game through the customization. But the game really does feel like it’s reaching farther than it can grasp at times, and while that is commendable from a philosophical point of view, the game comes off a little rickety at times as a result. Probably worth it if you love the theme, but easy enough to skip if you don’t.
SwitchArcade Score: 3/5
Spell Casting: Purrfectly Portable Edition ($9.99)
When I first loaded up Spell Casting and got to playing it, my first thought was to wonder if this was really all there was to it. This game is about a cat who wants to learn to be a wizard. Our feline sorcerer-to-be gets some magic books and immediately gets to work practicing so that they can pass the tests and become a full-fledged master of the mystic arts. Each spell is done by drawing a particular pattern on the screen with one continuous line. The practice sections give you a line to trace and focus on one spell at a time. The tests only give you a few points to guide you and include a handful of spells in one go. Pass the test, and you’ll get another magic book with more complicated spells to learn.
Anyway, what that means is that the game basically starts and ends with memorizing a bunch of shapes and drawing them as accurately as possible. It’s something I’ve seen as a mini-game in other games before, and if it’s done right, it’s not without its charms. At the same time, it’s a very thin idea in terms of depth and as such may best be paired with the younger set who don’t mind the repetition and are still developing their motor skills. The game’s presentation seems to back up this notion as it’s almost reminiscent of a children’s storybook. That said, there are some bits of this game that seem to be aimed at an older crowd, so it wouldn’t surprise me if people representing all ages found something to like here. Each page of each magic book has doodles all over it in addition to the spell, and much of the humor found here is aimed squarely at people who grew up in the 1980s or 1990s.
There are a few problems that greatly diminish the experience, however. The biggest one is in how fussy the game is about how you write the spells. Sometimes I had trouble even getting a line started in such a way that the game didn’t chirp angrily at me. The more complicated the patterns get, the more issues this sensitivity causes. Sharp corners and vague directions are constant sources of aggravation, as you really need to draw the shape in just the manner the game expects if you don’t want it to get mad at you and make you start your line over. The tests are even worse as without the tracing lines the more difficult patterns are hard to write in a way the game likes. The PC version of this game uses the mouse, and I can’t help but think that would make for a far more pleasant experience.
I like the idea of Spell Casting and its presentation is really charming and funny. It’s a game I really wanted to love. But the game not only fails to build on its core mechanic in a satisfying way, it also fails to nail down the singular concept it does contain. The lack of precision in the controls causes a lot of trouble when combined with how strict the game can be, making for a difficult and frustrating experience. It’s weird because I feel like the narrow focus of the gameplay makes this a great choice for younger kids, but the high level of challenge may well put them off. Not without its value, and it’s almost worth the trip to see all the silly pictures and jokes alone, but I suspect more people will be turned off by the Switch version of Spell Casting than pleased by it.
SwitchArcade Score: 2.5/5
Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered ($29.99)
Open world games have come a long way since Red Faction Guerrilla first launched ten years ago, but in spite of it certainly feeling its age in places, I think there’s still quite a bit of value in the game. First, its setting is still quite unique. It takes place across various colonized areas on Mars, and it really does feel like a hostile and alien place. I also feel like the game really sells its core idea well. You really are a guerrilla, using unconventional tactics against a far stronger, bigger, and more organized force. It’s actually pretty hard at times as a result, but you would expect it to be, wouldn’t you? Finally, the GeoMod system that allows you to destroy structures and other things allows each player to come up with their own ideas for tackling situations. The Switch port is really nice, and like its stable mate Darksiders allows you to choose between performance and quality settings depending on your priorities. I’ll be doing a full review of this one as soon as I can, so keep an eye open.
Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator ($14.99)
Dream Daddy is, as it says on the tin, a dating simulator where all of the potential romantic interests are dads. Also, your main character, whose look you customize yourself, is a dad. Just… dads everywhere, making dad jokes as dads are wont to. It has its tongue planted firmly in its cheek a lot of the time, which may be why I’m not as enamored with it as some are. Like, it’s funny and that is a good thing, but sometimes I wished it could take things just a touch more seriously in places. Well, it is what it is. Lots of people liked this one when it came out on other platforms, and I’m sure it will find a similar audience on the Switch. Not that there was any reason to suspect otherwise, but it’s a good port that feels quite at home on a handheld system like the Switch.
DrinkBox Studios sale time? DrinkBox Studios sale time. All of that developer’s games are worth playing, whether it be the Guacamelee! games, Severed, or Tales From Space. I’ll also throw in a recommendation for both kuso and LOVE, a pair of pure platforming pleasures. There isn’t too much of note in the outbox, so if you feel like splurging on any of the aforementioned games, you can more or less do so guilt-free. For today, anyway.
New Games on Sale
Kentucky Robo Chicken ($0.99 from $2.49 until 7/22)
Severed ($7.49 from $14.99 until 7/8)
Nine Parchments ($5.99 from $19.99 until 7/15)
Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship ($8.99 from $14.99 until 7/8)
Guacamelee! 2 ($11.99 from $19.99 until 7/8)
Roarr! Jurassic ($3.99 until $4.99 until 7/11)
Trine Enchanted ($10.49 from $14.99 until 7/15)
Trine 2 Complete Story ($11.89 from $16.99 until 7/15)
kuso ($3.99 from $4.99 until 7/8)
LOVE ($2.39 from $2.99 until 7/8)
Apocalips Wormwood ($3.99 from $4.99 until 7/11)
Ancient Rush 2 ($4.99 from $9.99 until 7/12)
UNI ($0.79 from $7.99 until 7/15)
Circuits ($4.39 from $4.99 until 7/15)
Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack ($7.49 from $9.99 until 7/8)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Wednesday, July 3rd
Bad Dream: Fever ($4.99 from $9.99 until 7/3)
Danger Mouse: The Danger Games ($3.99 from $4.99 until 7/3)
Diggerman ($0.49 from $4.99 until 7/3)
Flowlines VS ($0.99 from $4.99 until 7/3)
Guilt Battle Arena ($3.99 from $9.99 until 7/3)
Hollow ($1.99 from $19.99 until 7/3)
I, Zombie ($2.49 from $4.99 until 7/3)
Mainlining ($12.74 from $14.99 until 7/3)
OVIVO ($6.29 from $6.99 until 7/3)
Phantaruk ($0.49 from $4.99 until 7/3)
Photon Cube ($6.82 from $13.64 until 7/3)
Pizza Parking ($1.49 from $5.99 until 7/3)
Rally Rock ‘N Racing ($7.99 from $9.99 until 7/3)
Sparkle 2 EVO ($0.49 from $4.99 until 7/3)
Surfingers ($0.49 from $4.99 until 7/3)
Teddy the Wanderer: Kayaking ($0.99 from $9.99 until 7/3)
Teddy the Wanderer: Mountain Hike ($4.99 from $9.99 until 7/3)
The Childs Sight ($4.49 from $4.99 until 7/3)
Viviette ($7.99 from $9.99 until 7/3)
Zombillie ($0.49 from $4.99 until 7/3)
That’s what’s good for today, friends. Surprisingly, we’ve got a few new releases to look at tomorrow, so that’s something to look forward to. Other than that, it’s the usual news and sales stuff, and if time permits, perhaps a review or two. As ever, we’ll have to see how things go. At any rate, I thank you as always for reading and wish you a good day!