Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for October 7th, 2019. In today’s article, we’ve got a review of The Alliance Alive HD Remastered by yours truly, and a guest review of Daemon X Machina by TouchArcade’s resident mech expert Mikhail Madnani. We also take a look at a trio of new releases, check out a brief bit of news, and run through the usual lists of sales information. Let’s get to it!
‘SEGA AGES Columns 2’ and ‘SEGA AGES Ichidant-R’ Come West October 17th
It’s been a bit touch and go, but thanks to a couple of delays on the Japan side it seems that the Western SEGA AGES releases are finally going to catch up to the Japanese releases. SEGA has announced that Columns 2: A Voyage Through Time and Puzzle & Action: Ichidant-R will release in Europe and North America next week. Neither game has ever seen wide release in the West before, though Ichidant-R did have an English localization prepared for it. Both games include internet multiplayer, and by chance both also include a bonus Genesis/Mega Drive mode. Columns 2 features a slightly stripped-down version of the Genesis port of Columns, and Ichidant-R includes the Mega Drive version in addition to the arcade original. Sadly, the Mega Drive version of Ichidant-R is completely in Japanese, but hey, a bonus is a bonus. The two games will release on the North American eShop on October 17th.
The Alliance Alive HD Remastered ($49.99)
A lot of great games often come out in the period between when a system’s successor releases and the death of said system, and it’s a sad fact that many of those games don’t get nearly as much attention as they deserve. Some of the lucky ones get re-releases on other consoles, saving them from tragic obscurity. I’m happy to say that The Alliance Alive is one of those fortunate children. Originally released in Japan on the Nintendo 3DS in 2017, the game made its way to the West through Atlus in early 2018. By that point, the Switch was good and running, so a lot of people slept on the game. It didn’t help that it had all the markings of being a direct follow-up to The Legend of Legacy, which was a bit of an odd duck that didn’t go over well with some.
With all that in mind, I’m happy that The Alliance Alive is getting a second chance through The Alliance Alive HD Remastered, which releases tomorrow on the Switch and other consoles from the good folks at NIS America. Content-wise there’s very little new here, but the graphics have been nicely spruced up and the interface has been completely redesigned to account for the single-screen nature of the platforms it’s coming to. And you know what? That’s just fine. This is a really enjoyable JRPG on its own merits, and adding extra cruft doesn’t always make for a better game. The talent involved in this game is impressive, going so far as to tap the director/writer of the first three Suikoden games to pen the story. It’s not as original as The Legend of Legacy, but I think most people will find it a better game.
The game takes place in a fantasy world where humans live under the rule of two other races. The Daemons control the world and act as something of an aristocracy, while the Beastfolk who serve them are kind of like the middle-management types who keep their boots firmly on the throats of the human race. The world has been divided, the sky is dark every day, and oceans may as well be impenetrable walls. As things tend to go in these situations, there is a resistance and you’ll be following a number of its members. In total there are nine main characters, and they’re introduced in different scenarios before they all meet up later in the game.
When compared to the previous game, The Alliance Alive is a much more standard JRPG experience. You’ll visit towns, travel on an overworld map, and explore dungeons. You’ll find new gear, earn points that you can use to unlock new abilities and skills, and fight monsters in turn-based battles. Aside from retaining a similar art style, the battle system in this game retains some aspects from The Legend of Legacy. Most notably, you’ll occasionally learn new skills in the middle of battles, an element which itself was an homage to the Square Enix SaGa series. Aside from the points you earn that can be allocated as you wish, you’ll also receive stat level-ups here and there based on what happens in battles. This blend of SaGa-esque random elements and more traditional JRPG mechanics hits a real sweet spot.
All told, you’re looking at a solid 30-hour adventure with brisk pacing and a really interesting story. It doesn’t exactly break any molds, but that doesn’t keep it from being a highly enjoyable experience. Its 3DS origins are somewhat evident thanks to the relatively simple 3D models, but the visual improvements are real and welcome. Nintendo Switch owners certainly aren’t starving for solid JRPGs at this point, but do try to make some space in your diet for this one if you haven’t played it before. The Alliance Alive HD Remastered is an entertaining adventure with a well-written story and an intriguing setting, and this version presents that experience in its absolute best form.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Daemon X Machina ($59.99)
(Guest Review by Mikhail Madnani)
Daemon X Machina has been an interesting game to follow ever since it was revealed for Nintendo Switch over a year ago. It looked like a mech action game that would be more than just a flashy experience and one that had some big talent backing it. It eventually saw a time limited demo release that showed potential but had quite a few issues. Thankfully, just like Octopath Traveler before it, we had another demo for Daemon X Machina that showcased all the changes made for the final game and this is what got me really excited for the full game. Gone were the interface concerns and the in game massive frame drops and the final game seemed like it would deliver on its promise of being a mech action game worth your time.
Over the last few years, fans of mech games know better than to trust the pedigree of the staff working on a game for said game’s quality. Situations like that have ended up with us getting Left Alive where the only thing of value is the box art and the mech designs. Thankfully, Daemon X Machina is a surprise in the best ways possible. Not only is it a great mech action game with third person shooter-looter elements, but it also has one of my favorite soundtracks of the year.
Daemon X Machina is set after the fall of the moon that caused femto to drop all over the place. Femto is a material that grants people power and your aim is to defend what is left of the world from corrupt machines. The story isn’t mindblowing and it serves its purpose by being engaging enough to not make you want to skip cutscenes to get into the action. The aspect of the story that surprised me is that the localisation and voice acting are both great.
The core gameplay loop has you equipping weapons and customizing your mech that you pilot and then setting out on one of the multitudes of missions available in either the story or in the free missions. Missions aren’t just about killing a number of enemies and moving on. Just like Earth Defense Force that has you salvaging and looking for new weapons and armor, looting plays a huge role in Daemon X Machina. You can even grab random things like street signs and use them as weapons here which is unexpected and nice. If you enjoy co-operative gameplay, both online and local wireless are supported here. The online mode is alive and well weeks after release. I had no trouble getting into games near instantly.
One of the most striking aspects of Daemon X Machina is definitely the stylized visuals. Instead of opting for realism, Marvelous has gone for a cel-shaded aesthetic that looks gorgeous for the most part. A lot of the particle effects for attacks and explosions look great. Character designs are also very good with Yusuke Kozaki (Fire Emblem, No More Heroes) responsible for the human designs while Shoji Kawamori (Macross) handled mech designs. The only areas where the visuals feel lacking, are in character facial animations during dialogue and in the aliasing. Expect a lot of jagged edges which is sadly the norm for a lot of Switch games since good anti aliasing in a Switch game is rarer than a gacha game worth your time in 2019. Animations on the other hand are slick and movement always feels great. This may be my favorite mech game ever when it comes to movement and traversal. The rumble feedback is a welcome addition as well. Junichi Nakatsuru and Rio Hamamoto’s score is superb which is expected given they both worked on Ace Combat game music which has always been great even when the actual game quality wasn’t amazing in some cases.
My biggest annoyance with Daemon X Machina is the performance. Even though the final build and the demo available today are both massive upgrades over the original timed limited demo, larger scale fights and some random segments see noticeable frame drops. Another problem you might run into if you end up buying one of the new Switch systems is that Daemon X Machina does not support cloud save backup. This is beyond annoying and I hope it gets patched soon.
Overall, Daemon X Machina is one of the best mech action games in years. That isn’t saying much given the state of those games but if you’ve been craving a good meaty mech experience that blends in the a good amount of loot based games and mech action games. It isn’t often a demo sells me on a game to the point of making me importing the collector’s edition but here we are. Daemon X Machina fills a niche but it does it brilliantly. I can’t wait to play more of it when the content updates arrive in the next few months.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Double Switch – 25th Anniversary Edition ($14.99)
This is a spiffy remaster of the 1993 spiritual successor to Night Trap. Like that game, this is an FMV-based game where you’re using switches to trap bad guys and keep the residents of a building safe. The cast is largely comprised of has-been and never-was types, but on the whole the story and acting is a big step up from Night Trap. Gameplay-wise, it’s a bit more involved than that game, and whether that’s a good or bad thing seems to depend on the individual. What’s less contentious is this version’s treatment of the source. Limited Run and company did a stellar job remastering the video and added some cool bonus content on top of it. This type of game isn’t my cup of tea, but if it’s yours I think you’ll be happy with what you get here.
Crazy Mini Golf Arcade ($4.99)
Hunh. So this is a renamed port of Kidz Sports: Crazy Mini Golf 2, which released on the Wii in 2009 as a proper retail release. Kind of weird to see something like that selling for five dollars on the Switch, but I get the impression it wasn’t exactly a barn-burner in its original form so that could be one reason. In terms of content, it looks pretty good. You get 72 holes spread across four courses, a single-player championship mode, and local multiplayer modes for two players. The game also features a Mii-style editor that lets you create your own golfer with a fair amount of detail. It doesn’t look very good, but on the other hand, it’s only five bucks. I mean, golf is pretty hard to mess up, isn’t it? Isn’t it?
Junior League Sports ($4.99)
Well, imagine that. This is also a port of a Wii game, and from the same developer as Crazy Mini Golf. Although it lacked the Kidz Sports branding, it’s certainly of the same line. You can customize your character here just like in the golf game, then take them into three different sports: soccer, basketball, and ice hockey. You can play on your own against a cheat-tastic AI opponent or play with another person in local multiplayer. I haven’t put my hands on this game myself, but I did find a review of the Wii version from a magazine called Nintendo Gamer that called it “an utterly soulless collection… that will make everyone hate everything", so that’s… not promising. On the other hand, it’s five bucks and we don’t have a whole lot of options for ice hockey games on the Switch, do we? Ehn, you still probably shouldn’t buy it.
To tell the truth, this isn’t the most exciting list of sales we’ve seen here. Not that there aren’t any good games in there, but it’s nothing that isn’t on sale all that often. The outbox is equally uninteresting, sadly. On the other hand, tomorrow’s list of new releases is absolutely bananas, so maybe we should be thankful for the chance to save a bit of money. Yay, frugality?
New Games on Sale
Clue: The Classic Mystery Game ($19.49 from $29.99 until 10/13)
Airfield Mania ($4.19 from $5.99 until 10/25)
Super Street: Racer ($44.99 from $49.99 until 10/12)
Grand Prix Rock ‘N Racing ($4.99 from $9.99 until 10/24)
Skies of Fury DX ($9.99 from $19.99 until 10/18)
Party Trivia ($1.99 from $9.99 until 10/24)
Trax – Build it Race it ($2.99 from $14.99 until 10/18)
Doom & Destiny ($9.59 from $11.99 until 10/18)
X-Morph: Defense ($9.99 from $19.99 until 10/21)
Quest for the Golden Duck ($0.19 from $9.99 until 10/21)
Super Arcade Soccer ($4.61 from $6.99 until 10/24)
Miner Warfare ($6.39 from $7.99 until 10/18)
Zombie Driver Immortal Edition ($9.99 from $14.99 until 10/21)
Neverlast ($4.99 from $9.99 until 10/18)
One Night Stand ($3.99 from $4.99 until 10/21)
Binaries ($1.29 from $12.99 until 10/28)
Chicken Range ($0.99 from $16.99 until 10/21)
Old School Racer 2 ($1.59 from $7.99 until 10/28)
Crash Dummy ($0.99 from $21.99 until 10/21)
Moto Rush GT ($11.24 from $14.99 until 10/28)
Adrenaline Rush – Miami Drive ($2.99 from $11.99 until 10/28)
Deadly Fighter 2 ($2.99 from $3.99 until 10/28)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, October 8th
A Winter’s Daydream ($5.09 from $5.99 until 10/8)
Call of Cthulhu ($35.99 from $39.99 until 10/8)
Classic Games Collection Vol. 1 ($2.74 from $4.99 until 10/8)
Double Cross ($11.99 from $19.99 until 10/8)
Final Light, The Prison ($2.09 from $6.99 until 10/8)
Joggernauts ($7.49 from $14.99 until 10/8)
Lanternium ($8.99 from $9.99 until 10/8)
Pizza Parking ($1.79 from $5.99 until 10/8)
Reventure ($7.49 from $9.99 until 10/8)
Shalnor Legends ($7.49 from $9.99 until 10/8)
SlabWell ($3.99 from $9.99 until 10/8)
The King’s Bird ($11.99 from $19.99 until 10/8)
Tower of Babel ($1.79 from $5.99 until 10/8)
Vosaria: Lair of the Forgotten ($7.49 from $9.99 until 10/8)
Xtreme Club Racing ($2.96 from $9.89 until 10/8)
That’s all we’ve got for today, friends. Tomorrow has a bunch of new releases to check out, and indeed there are almost as many as we usually see on a Thursday or Friday. It’s going to be one of those weeks, alright. We’ll also be covering whatever news and sales hit in the next 24 hours, and perhaps have a review or two for you to peruse. I hope you all have a great day, and as always, thanks for reading!