Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for July 22nd, 2019. We’re heading into the hotter bit of the summer now, and I know many of you reading this are feeling the heat. Stay hydrated, stay cool, and maybe find a good place in the shade or directly under an air conditioner to enjoy some Switch games. We’ve got a couple of reviews for you today to go along with the usual news, sales info, and new release summaries. Let’s dive in!
Chaos Rules in the Final Splatfest of ‘Splatoon 2’
The last Splatfast is all finished, and the results have been tallied. Pearl and Team Chaos took a complete victory, winning 3-0 over Marina and Team Order. What does this mean? Well, we’ll have to see. The results of the Final Splatfest in the first game fed directly into the story of Splatoon 2, so this may be part of the set-up for the inevitable Splatoon 3. For now, all participants can pick up their prizes in the main square. Although there won’t be any further Splatfests for this game, there’s still plenty of fun to be had. The real question is whether or not we’ll be seeing another Splatoon game on the Switch, or if it will follow the usual route of Nintendo franchises and sit things out until the next generation of hardware.
Marvel Knights Make Their Way to ‘Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3’ in September
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is finally out and many players are eagerly tearing through it as I type this. The fun doesn’t stop with what’s already in the game, though. The Expansion Pass for the game will add three extra chunks of content based on Marvel Knights, X-Men and the Fantastic Four. The first of the bunch, Marvel Knights: Curse of the Vampire is scheduled for a fall release but Nintendo UK seems to have given a more specific date of September 30th on its website. This pack will add Blade, Moon Knight, the Punisher, and Michael Morbius to the playable roster. Yeesh, that would be the worst group to join up with, ever. But all of those characters are pretty cool, so sure, send them on in.
Accursed Monkey’s Paw Strikes Again in Update for ‘Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night’
Good news, everyone! A new update for the Switch version of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has been submitted and should go out to players soon enough. While the game itself is great, the Switch version suffers from a number of issues including input lag, crashing, and extremely variable framerates. The developer almost immediately after launch put out a statement that it would be working hard to whip the Switch port into better shape, and that’s probably a good thing since it’s the best-selling of the lot. So yes, here we are, the first patch. And it contains… no performance improvements whatsoever? I see. In fact, most of the update seems to involve nerfing various elements to make the game more difficult. There are a few bug fixes, it seems, but I think it’s safe to say this wasn’t the kind of update that Switch Bloodstained owners were hoping for. Oh well, maybe next time.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 ($59.99)
Dragon Quest has had pretty good results with its spin-offs. Dragon Quest plus Pokemon yielded the entertaining Dragon Quest Monsters series, Dragon Quest plus Rogue got us the entire Mystery Dungeon family of games, and so on. The latest experiment saw the JRPG luminary combined with one of the most popular games around, Minecraft. Using the first game in the series to create an interesting premise, Dragon Quest Builders combined RPG, survival, and building elements to great success. With success comes sequels, and so here we are with Dragon Quest Builders 2. It uses the second game in the main series as its kick-off point and in broad strokes isn’t terribly different from the first Builders. There are plenty of little changes, however, and they add up to a slightly different experience that will likely please most and potentially disappoint some when stacked up against its predecessor.
At least for me, Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a more enjoyable experience than the first. One of the big changes from the first Dragon Quest to the second was that you had a party of characters rather than just one hero. Builders 2 makes a similar shift in various regards. You’ll have a partner with you most of the time, and he helps handle some of the combat and gathering chores. The members of your makeshift communities will assist with larger building projects, and can actually do a number of things autonomously to help things run more smoothly. The game removes some of its survival aspects and replaces them with bits that would be more at home in a simulation game, such as taking care of the basic needs of residents. You won’t starve to death in Builders 2, but you will have to provide toilets and use the villager poop to grow grass. It’s a living.
The overall structure is a little different as well. Instead of each chapter being a discrete experience, here the different towns come by way of new islands. You have an island of your own, and each “chapter" sees you sailing off to another island. You can’t bring most of your stuff with you when you go to another island, so you do have to start off somewhat fresh each time. But it feel more contiguous than it did in the original game, making it a lot less disheartening when you finish each chapter and head to the next. That said, once you’ve arrived at each location, things play out somewhat similarly to the first game. Take villager requests, build up a town, find new people, do a little side exploring for extra goodies, and so on. Some new features have been added to make building easier this time around, and it’s just a little bit more flexible in a lot of ways.
Sadly, the combat is still just as dull this time around as it was last time. Having your partner Malroth around takes some of the edge off, but fights in this game rarely get more complicated than wailing on the attack button and running away when it looks like the monster is charging something big. Well, it’s better than fighting in Minecraft, I suppose. Everything else feels a lot better, though. I’ve touched on the improved building controls, but there are a lot of improvements to traversal as well. You can now dash, for instance, making it easy to cover ground more quickly. Fast travel is a thing now, which helps a lot. Oh, and you can swim.
The Switch version of the game isn’t coming late this time around, hitting at the same time as its PlayStation 4 counterpart. Naturally, it loses a bit on the graphical end of things when compared to the PS4 version, but the Switch Dragon Quest Builders 2 stands up quite well when compared to its peers on the platform. The initial loading time is a bit long, but once you’re into the game, that’s not a problem. The framerate is decent most of the time, though some of the more visually busy sections can slow things down. The art style of Dragon Quest and the cube-based nature of the terrain in Builders means it doesn’t really need a lot of graphical oomph to look okay, and that’s sort of how it works here. Oh, I should also mention that the camera behaves itself a lot better in confined spaces in this game when compared to the first.
If you’re a fan of JRPGs but just can’t seem to get on with open-ended building games like Minecraft, you should probably give the Dragon Quest Builders series a try. A little guidance goes a long way, and with the slight changes to the formula in the sequel, the game can easily be played more like a quirky action-RPG than a sandbox game if you want. I wasn’t really all that excited to play Dragon Quest Builders 2 as I had believed I had had my fill after finishing the first game, but it somehow managed to charm its way into being one of my favorite games of 2019 so far.
SwitchArcade Score: 5/5
Super Mutant Alien Assault ($9.99)
It’s been a while since Super Crate Box was announced for the Switch, and there’s currently no sign of the game. While we wait for Vlambeer to finish things up with that, there’s a new game that seeks to offer a similar experience. Super Mutant Alien Assault doesn’t try to hide its source of inspiration, even referring to it in its own shop description. This is certainly a game that would not exist if Super Crate Box hadn’t been made. But don’t worry, it’s no mindless copy, either. While it shares many of its basic principles with that game, Super Mutant Alien Assault brings enough of its own idea and character to the table that it’s clearly a descendant rather than a clone. It trades some of the immediacy of the game it pays homage to for a touch more complexity, and it makes for a fairly different experience in the end.
Basically, you play as a robot (with other characters unlocked as you go) who has to battle against aliens in small stages (with more unlocked as you go) using a small assortment of guns, grenades, and items (you guessed it: more of these unlock as you go). There are different goals that may need to be accomplished, like moving fuel cells from one station to another or periodically releasing the pressure on a couple of machines, but in the end they all come down to survival. Defeat all of the enemies, accomplish any additional goals that the stage may have, and don’t die along the way. Every fourth stage is a boss battle that will likely exhaust whatever resources you’ve managed to hold on to. If you die, that’s that. There are three worlds in the main gameplay mode and you’re able to start from the beginning of the farthest one you’ve reached, so making your way through the game isn’t too tough.
Unlocking things in this game comes by completing stages. It doesn’t necessarily matter which stages for a lot of them, as it’s more about the total quantity that you accumulate over multiple play sessions. You’ll get new guns, new items, new abilities, new characters, and so on. Your next unlock is always just around the corner, so it has that hook working in its favor. Its other main hook is in allowing a second player to join in on the fun. It’s almost a bit too chaotic at times, but it sure is enjoyable. Finishing the main mode doesn’t take very long, but there’s an unlockable endless mode that will keep the thrills coming for those who don’t want to stop.
Perhaps the biggest way the game diverges from its source of inspiration is in how many moves you have at your disposal. There’s a certain brilliance in Super Crate Box‘s simple controls. You can jump, and you can shoot. That’s it. In Super Mutant Alien Assault, you can also throw grenades, use items, use evasive abilities, and activate a special moves. Those added options certainly add some texture to the gameplay, but it also means you have to think a lot more about what you want to do in any given situation, pushing things away from the pure reflexive play of Super Crate Box. Another difference is that weapons and grenades are distributed from set locations in each stage rather than popping in randomly, which means you can plan your routes in advance to an extent.
Super Mutant Alien Assault is a pretty good time and I appreciate that it takes the framework of Super Crate Box and tries to push it in different directions. Its greater complexity makes it slightly less suitable for pick-up-and-play sessions, but if you want something with the vague aroma of Super Crate Box on your Switch, this is close enough to scratch that particular itch. If you have someone to play it with, you’ll get even more out of it, but even as a single player experience this is reasonably satisfying for fans of arcade-style action games.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
Rise: Race the Future ($16.49)
This game is a bit of a looker in motion. It’s really fast, the framerate is nice and smooth, and there are plenty of neat effects. I’ve spent a bit of time playing it in anticipation of a review, and it’s not too bad. The controls are really sensitive and the challenge is quite stiff, but if you spend a bit of time with it, both of those things are surmountable. If nothing else, it’s great to see VD-dev put out another racing game on Nintendo hardware. If you don’t know who they are, this team was responsible for some of the most jaw-dropping, hardware-whipping racing games ever released on Nintendo’s handhelds. Go look up V-Rally 3 on the Game Boy Advance or COP: The Recruit on Nintendo DS if you want to see some real wizardry in action. These people know their stuff, basically. This game has a fair bit of content with a few different modes, but sadly no multiplayer at all. For a racing game, that’s a weird way to go.
Hm, it’s an interesting bunch today. Mostly new or newer releases, along with a few popular older games like 99Moves and 99Seconds. Even the outbox isn’t all that interesting. That’s just how it goes some days. I don’t have any particular recommendations from today’s lot, so maybe keep those dollars in your wallet for the rather expensive week to come. From a certain point of view, it’s kind of a blessing?
New Games on Sale
Laser Kitty Pow Pow ($1.99 from $2.99 until 8/9)
Pianista ($19.99 from $24.99 until 8/9)
Ludomania ($0.99 from $3.99 until 8/8)
Sausage Sports Club ($6.00 from $15.00 until 7/26)
Mochi Mochi Boy ($3.99 from $4.99 until 8/5)
Robot Squad Simulator ($7.49 from $14.99 until 7/31)
99Moves ($1.97 from $2.99 until 8/8)
99Seconds ($1.97 from $2.99 until 8/8)
Abyss ($1.97 from $2.99 until 8/8)
Darts Up ($1.97 from $2.99 until 8/8)
Sweet Witches ($4.99 from $9.99 until 8/10)
Fobia ($6.99 from $9.99 until 8/1)
Bad North ($10.49 from $14.99 until 7/29)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, July 23rd
Bargain Hunter ($10.61 from $12.49 until 7/23)
Fishing Star World Tour ($17.99 from $29.99 until 7/23)
High Noon Revolver ($2.39 from $2.99 until 7/23)
Run the Fan ($2.79 from $3.99 until 7/23)
Sky Ride ($0.70 from $7.00 until 7/23)
The Rainsdowne Players ($2.63 from $3.99 until 7/23)
That’s all we’ve got for today, friends. Tomorrow has a few new releases to check out, and we’ll naturally fit in whatever interesting news and sales come our way as well. If things look a little light and I have the time to spare, there may even be a review. All things are possible with the power of imagination. As always, thanks for reading!