Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for October 31st, 2019. It’s Halloween, so I am of course offering up two reviews of fluffy, silly RPGs. We’ve also got summaries of all of today’s many new releases, including the excellent Luigi’s Mansion 3. Finally, we’ve got the usual list of sales information that is here to threaten your wallet and maybe your heart? Probably just the wallet, though. But enough talk, friends. Let’s have it!
Disgaea 4 Complete+ ($49.99)
I have to admit that I’m now a little bit puzzled as to NIS’s strategy with releasing Disgaea games on the Switch. I get that Disgaea 5 was kind of a Hail Mary to test the Switch market, and when that sold well beyond expectations, it made sense to head back to the first game and release Disgaea 1 Complete on the platform. So you would think the second game would be next. But no, we’re heading to the fourth game. Well, it doesn’t matter that much, I suppose. Disgaea 4 stands on its own quite well. The original PlayStation 3 version of the game had some issues that saw it receive a cooler reception than previous games, but this Switch port builds on the far better Vita package. In this form, it’s another great entry in the popular series.
You can count on the same things from Disgaea 4 Complete+ that you usually get with a Disgaea game. Excellent tactical battles, a wild amount of optional content for those who like to really dig into this sort of game, and a goofy story that is perhaps a little too over the top for its own good at times. The main character this time is Valvatorez, an ex-tyrant who was once feared by all until he made an ill-advised agreement that put a cap on his powers. Some time has passed since then, and he’s now working a crappy low-level job in Hades. When the Corrupternment gives an order that Valvatorez can’t agree with, he puts together a rebellion. And so it goes.
Rebellions generally involve a lot of fighting, and that’s a lucky thing as the game wouldn’t have a whole lot to it without that. At its core this isn’t terribly different from the turn-based battle style established in Quest’s Tactics Ogre so many years ago, but Disgaea always has a few tricks up its sleeve to make things interesting. Like the other games in the series, you can pick up and toss other characters for fun and profit, but in this game you can keep on picking up allies to make a big old tower of destruction. Neat. There’s also the Magichange system, which allows you to transform friendly creatures into weapons, and Demon Fuse, where two creatures merge to create one bigger creature. Which you can then Magichange to create a massive weapon, and well, this is how Disgaea gets you.
What makes this series so good is that there’s always another layer of depth you can get into if you want. You don’t have to engage with most of it if you don’t want to, but that same compelling aspect of Final Fantasy Tactics that sees you running random battles again and again just to beef your team up a bit more is alive and well in this franchise. Even when the stories fall flat, the characters and humor are at least amusing enough to not get in the way of the fun. Truth be told, Disgaea 4‘s plot isn’t quite as good as the first couple of entries in the series, but I don’t think it’s any worse than its nearest neighbors.
Now, if you’ve played Disgaea 4 before on either platform, I don’t think there’s anything in the Switch version that would make you want to do it all again. That’s especially so if you happened to play the Vita version. In terms of content and gameplay this is miles beyond the PlayStation 3 original, but I’m still not sure I’d recommend a replay unless you’re really dedicated to the series. Something tells me that for a lot of Switch owners, Disgaea 4 is going to be a completely new experience, and in that context it’s an easy game to recommend. I’ve always felt this was a series that worked better on portable machines, but being able to play on the TV and take it with you as necessary is better still. Grind everywhere, grind every time. Keep these great Switch ports coming, NIS.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout ($59.99)
The Atelier games are such odd ducks. At first glance, you might think they’re going to be fanservice-heavy RPGs of dubious quality. Go in a little deeper and you’ll find they’re actually surprisingly wholesome tales of bonds between friends and family. Zoom in a little more and you’ll quickly realize that the underlying mechanics are ridiculously deep and perhaps more complex than almost any other active JRPG franchise today. And it’s that last point that has served as something of a double-edged blade for the games. Long-time fans and those who love to dive Scrooge McDuck-style into esoteric RPG systems love it. More casual players pulled in by the fluffy exterior run away screaming. Is it possible to split that difference and come out clean?
Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout makes a strong attempt at just that, and I’d argue that it pulls it off for the most part. To start with, Atelier Ryza kicks off a whole new story and sub-series. If this is your first game in the series, the narrative won’t leave you feeling lost. As you would expect, this game leans heavily on alchemy and crafting, but it’s a lot easier to understand in Atelier Ryza than it is in other games on the series available on the Switch. Here, you improve your item synthesis skills by building out branching trees of recipes. It eventually becomes quite complex, but it intentionally limits your choices early on to make it less overwhelming. Some series veterans may chafe at this, and I suppose I can’t blame them. For newcomers, however, it’s a godsend.
The battle system sees some massive changes as well. The biggest of those is that you’ll now be fighting in real-time. You can swap between characters to choose their actions when their turns come up, or you can let the AI babysit them while you focus on one. It feels a bit like Final Fantasy‘s Active Time Battle system, and its quick pace livens up what was probably the dullest part of the older Atelier titles. It’s actually fun to fight in Atelier Ryza, making for a more well-rounded experience on the whole.
The titular secret hideout is a workshop that you can fully customize and decorate, adding another enjoyable element to the game. This is also where some of the game’s paid DLC comes in, giving you extra goodies to use in your workshop. Apart from that, there are also some extra costumes you can pick up. Nothing too major in terms of gameplay impact, in other words. The world itself is reasonably large and filled with lots of interesting dungeons and towns to explore. Everything runs quite well on the Switch, even in handheld mode, and it looks quite good thanks to its solid art style.
All of that is great, but I believe that the heart of Atelier Ryza is the protagonist herself. Ryza is a fun, fresh character for the series, and she’s discovering the world of alchemy at the same time we are. She’s an adventurous sort with a heart of gold and a brave spirit, and she makes for a very likable and relatable protagonist. This series has always had excellent characters at the core of each game, so the bar has been set quite high here. Even so, I think Ryza is my favorite main character of any Atelier game, and her supporting cast is pretty great as well.
In terms of gameplay, Atelier Ryza is as accessible and interesting as the series has been in a long time. That’s not to knock on the older games, and if you enjoy yourself with Ryza I would certainly advise seeking out some of the other Atelier games available on the Switch. And I’m fully aware that some veteran fans of the brand might not be happy with some of the changes made here, but I’d recommend sticking with it because while it starts off quite limited, it does eventually open up nicely. For those who haven’t played an Atelier game before and are looking for a good game to jump in with, Atelier Ryza is easily the best choice. It’s a genuinely refreshing new start for a very long-running series that was sorely in need of some kind of mix-up.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Luigi’s Mansion 3 ($59.99)
Poor old Luigi keeps on getting dragged into these wild ghost stories. He once again has to don his ghostbusting gear to save Mario and friends from some nasty spirits. This time, the setting is a spooky hotel. The result is probably the best game yet in this series, with the team at Next Level obviously picking up a few lessons from the enjoyable but occasionally rough 3DS installment. There’s not much I can say about this that you probably haven’t already seen in the many reviews that are already out there, but if you’re looking for something Halloween-appropriate that isn’t too intense, it’s hard to imagine a better choice.
Oh, now this one I like. Your goal is to survive for 64 seconds, and with that short timer in mind you can probably guess that your progress in this game will be measured in tenths of seconds. Your character stands in the middle of a room that has entrances to the north, south, east, and west. Characters will rush in, and you need to shoot the ones whose colors match the background before they reach you. Be careful, though, as if you shoot an innocent, you’re through. Sounds easy enough, until the background color starts changing. You have to have very fast reflexes to stay on top of this one. Definitely worth a few bucks if you like this sort of ultra-challenging experience.
Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders 2 ($19.99)
By now, I’m sure Switch owners know what’s up with the Sky Gamblers games. These are enjoyable aerial combat games that let you hop into the cockpits of several real fighter planes and go on all kinds of missions that largely boil down to shooting down enemy craft. As with the other installments, this one released on mobile a while ago and the only real addition to this Switch port beyond physical controls is a cranked-up price tag. This one takes things back to World War II after the previous release went with a more modern setting. If you really want to play Storm Raiders 2, I’d personally recommend doing so for five bucks on mobile rather than twenty on Switch, but I know some people are willing to pay a premium to have it on their game platform of choice.
Mononoke Slashdown ($6.99)
This game first released on PlayStation Mobile and the Vita more than six years ago, where it cost four and a half bucks and eventually was given away for free. Well, inflation is a thing I suppose. This is an incredibly mindless action game that wears out its welcome pretty quickly. Clear stages by defeating bad guys, use the money you earn to buy upgrades, repeat until you’ve cleared all 35 stages, then try to do it all again on a harder difficulty. I feel like there are better games on Switch that scratch a similar itch, and at a lower price to boot. But the art style is cool and I suppose it’s alright in short bursts.
Well, searching the internet for information on this game certainly presents interesting results. Luckily, I remembered that this game came out on mobile a while ago. It’s one of those relatively straightforward platformers that relies heavily on its attractive presentation to carry it. It’s a decent little game that certainly benefits from having physical controls on the Switch, but this is yet another case of a game that sold for a few bucks on mobile cranking the price up for the port. This one launched at a price of four bucks and hopped all over the pricing spectrum, seemingly settling in at three bucks until a few months ago when the price went up to an all-time high of six dollars. Somehow, this Switch port is still more than double that doubled price, and I’m sorry to say that it just isn’t worth that much.
A short and somewhat basic action game, Flan sees you playing as both a girl and a black knight. The girl has woken up in an unknown place and the two need to work together to help her understand the nature of the world she has found herself in and get back home. The knight can’t venture very far away from the girl, while the girl can’t fight without the knight, so you have to manage both characters as you go. It’s a couple of hours long at best, but it’s probably a good thing that it falls on the briefer side of things because the gameplay mechanics just don’t have a lot of crunch to them. It’s a pretty game and it’s not bad to play by any means, but ultimately it’s just a little too flat mechanically for my liking.
The Big Journey ($4.99)
This one came out a couple of years ago on mobile, and our very own Eric Ford compared it favorably to the likes of Rolando and Leo’s Fortune. Like those, it’s one of those platform games where you’re controlling a round character, with much of the game involving taking advantage of how they roll around. You get thirty levels set across six different worlds, and the whole game has a really good sense of charm about it. A little on the short side, but I feel like it gives a decent value for its reasonably low price. Not a bad choice if you’re looking for a snack-sized game, but not really anything to go running down the street shouting about either.
Ghost Parade ($39.99)
This is a side-scrolling platformer of sorts where you play as a character who has to team up with a rather large amount of ghost characters in order to make your way through the mysterious worlds you find yourself lost in. There are some light adventure elements, and the platforming definitely seems to be on the floatier end of things. One cool thing is in how it incorporates Indonesian mythology and folklore, giving everything a rather unusual feel when compared to more frequently mined cultural touch points. On the whole the game seems okay, but I’m not sure if it’s “forty dollars" okay, if you know what I mean.
This first-person horror game has some really cool art, but it’s hard to find much else nice to say about it. You play as a soul wandering around in Hell trying to figure out how to escape. You’ll take over the bodies of demons and other such things to accomplish this rather tricky task. It’s mostly a lot of stumbling around in confusing layouts trying to figure out where to go without dying on the way. Agony was generally panned on the other platforms it released on, and the Switch version certainly isn’t going to change anyone’s mind.
What in the heck am I looking at here? You play as a muscular dude in a fundoshi who flies over a historical city that is loosely based on Edo-era Tokyo. There are fires around the city, and you need to put them out by shooting water at them. I mean, the game’s title means “Man Water", so… yeah. I’m going to give this one a wide berth, but if you really feel like playing Near-Naked Iron Man Who Shoots Water to Protect Historical Japanese Town, I am definitely not going to get in your way. Or shake your hand.
Yes, the usual Thursday proviso applies: there are certainly going to be a ton more sales that pop up between when I write this and when it gets posted, and we’ll catch up on those tomorrow. For now, we have a few interesting sales on titles that rarely go on sale, along with a few pre-order discounts. The outbox is a bit more interesting. If you haven’t grabbed A Robot Named Fight and Horizon Chase Turbo yet, wait no longer. The deep discounts on Atooi’s titles are coming to an end as well, so if you want some Mutant Mudds or Xeodrifter in your life, do that little thing. There are other good games in the list, so make sure you check it carefully as usual.
New Games on Sale
Surgeon Simulator CPR ($7.79 from $12.99 until 11/8)
Horizon Shift ’81 ($0.99 from $9.99 until 11/13)
Snow Battle Princess Sayuki ($10.50 from $15.00 until 11/6)
Cyber Protocol ($2.99 from $9.99 until 11/5)
Perils of Baking ($3.99 from $4.99 until 11/21)
Tokyo Dark – Remembrance ($15.99 from $19.99 until 11/14)
Soulslayer ($6.99 from $9.99 until 11/10)
Gurgamoth ($2.49 from $9.99 until 11/21)
Sweet Witches ($2.99 from $9.99 until 11/17)
Dexteritrip ($2.99 from $6.99 until 11/18)
Gaokao.Love.100Days ($7.79 from $11.99 until 11/10)
Miles & Kilo ($1.59 from $7.99 until 11/21)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Friday, November 1st
#RaceDieRun ($4.99 from $9.99 until 11/1)
A Robot Named Fight ($1.94 from $12.99 until 11/1)
Amnesia: Collection ($19.49 from $29.99 until 11/1)
Batman – The Telltale Series ($7.49 from $14.99 until 11/1)
Batman: The Enemy Within ($7.49 from $14.99 until 11/1)
Blazing Beaks ($7.49 from $14.99 until 11/01)
Bury me, my Love ($2.49 from $4.99 until 11/1)
Death Road to Canada ($8.99 from $14.99 until 11/1)
Evoland Legendary Edition ($4.99 from $19.99 until 11/1)
Feudal Alloy ($10.19 from $16.99 until 11/1)
Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle ($6.79 from $19.99 until 11/1)
Horizon Chase Turbo ($11.99 from $19.99 until 11/1)
Mini Trains ($2.99 from $5.99 until 11/01)
Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae ($5.95 from $11.90 until 11/1)
Mutant Mudds Collection ($1.49 from $14.99 until 11/1)
n Verlore Verstand ($8.39 from $13.99 until 11/1)
Night in the Woods ($13.99 from $19.99 until 11/1)
Puzzle Book ($2.99 from $3.99 until 11/01)
Shipped ($4.49 from $8.99 until 11/01)
Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment ($4.99 from $9.99 until 11/1)
Slender: The Arrival ($4.99 from $9.99 until 11/1)
Soccer Slammers ($0.99 from $9.99 until 11/1)
Stranger Things 3: The Game ($9.99 from $19.99 until 11/1)
The Jackbox Party Pack 3 ($18.74 from $24.99 until 11/1)
The Mummy Demastered ($11.99 from $19.99 until 11/1)
Tied Together ($0.99 from $14.99 until 11/1)
Totes the Goat ($0.49 from $4.99 until 11/1)
Truberbrook ($20.99 from $29.99 until 11/1)
Warlocks 2: God Slayers ($5.99 from $17.99 until 11/01)
Windscape ($13.99 from $19.99 until 11/1)
Wreckin’ Ball Adventure ($2.49 from $4.99 until 11/01)
Xeodrifter ($0.99 from $9.99 until 11/1)
That’s all for today, friends. The week isn’t finished yet, however, and we’ve got several more games on the schedule for tomorrow. As usual, we’ll have summaries of all of those, along with any interesting news and whatever sales come our way. Probably no reviews, going by how previous weeks have gone, but hey, that’s how it goes sometimes. Are you buying anything today? What are you playing? I hope you all have a great Halloween and, as always, thanks for reading!