Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for December 5th, 2019. In today’s jumbo-sized article, we kick things off with news of a couple of interesting updates. We’ve got a full-sized review of Alien: Isolation, Mini-Views of a few recent releases, summaries of all of today’s new releases, and the usual list of sales. There’s plenty to get through today, so let’s get on it!
More Games Come to ‘NES Switch Online’ and ‘Super NES Switch Online’ Next Week
It’s been a few months since Super NES games were added to the Nintendo Switch Online service, and while getting 20 games in a single drop was definitely awesome, Nintendo has been pretty quiet on new updates since then. Well, today Nintendo announced that six more games will be added next week on December 12th, and they are some interesting, cool picks. The Super NES app will receive four new games: Breath of Fire 2, Super Punch-Out!!, Kirby Super Star, and Star Fox 2 (!). The NES app will receive two new games: SNK’s stellar action-RPG Crystalis and Sunsoft’s action-packed run-and-gun Journey to Silius. The music on that last one is some real A+ stuff, friends. Those are all pretty good games! I suppose if we get a drop of five or six games every few months, that’s not so bad.
‘Daemon X Machina’ Gets ‘The Witcher 3’ DLC
Mech action game Daemon X Machina has already had a few interesting cross-over DLCs, but they’ve all been limited to the Japanese release so far. Boo! We want Code Geass and Eureka Seven stuff too, Nintendo! Well, the latest DLC has hit the game and it’s already available in the Western version. As well it should be, as it is a cross-over with The Witcher 3, which recently released on the Switch. Download this pack and you’ll be able to play as either Geralt or Ciri. Sure, Geralt is like the Shovel Knight of AAA cameos, but it’s still pretty neat watching him take down a giant robot. The DLC is available right now and is free, so go ahead and grab it.
Alien: Isolation ($34.99)
There have been a lot of Alien games made over the years. It makes sense. Even in their earliest years, video games were quite fond of the idea of humans battling alien invaders and other monsters. Alien, with its confined environments, impressive weaponry, and easily-identified creature, is a natural fit for video games of any era. And yet very few of them have been able to nail down the precise feel of Ridley Scott’s critical work of sci-fi horror. By and large, video games are about empowering the player. Aliens can be tough but the player has generally been even tougher. Wins come not from clever thinking and desperation, but rather from having serious firepower.
The few that have gotten it right understood that the xenomorph monster at the core of the movie has to be absurdly more powerful than the heroes. The humans are trapped. The xenomorph plays with them like a cat batting around mice. It comes out of nowhere. You know it’s around, but you can’t be sure exactly where it is. You just know it’s going to appear and if you aren’t prepared and a bit lucky, you’re going to die quickly and without dignity. You are nothing more than wet tissue, and the only thing that keeps you breathing is that the xenomorph likes to play with its lunch. It is an almost entirely unseen entity that lurks in the darkness. If you actually get a good look at it, you’re probably already dead.
Alien: Isolation gets it right. There is one xenomorph in this game. It is practically unstoppable. It hunts you. It listens for you. It watches for you. If you give yourself away, it will not hesitate to kill you. Your only real means of detecting its position will also give away your position to the monster. Your weapons can at best delay it, no matter how well-equipped you are. It’s a force of nature, and you’d best respect it. As soon as you get a distinctive sound from your motion detector, you need to turn it off immediately and find somewhere to hide. It is unbelievable how tense it is to try to stay out of this thing’s path.
The xenomorph isn’t the only antagonist you’ll run into, however. Just as in the movie, the true villains tend to be among the humans. You’ll also run into some trouble with androids along the way. That stuff is obviously there so that you can release some of your frustrations at being so utterly impotent against the titular creature, but it serves the story well and helps break up the pace of what is probably a slightly too lengthy game. It also helps the game’s locations feel like real spaces rather than just video game sets. The developers did an outstanding job of re-creating the feel of the original movie here. The spaces, the characters, the dialogue, and the thick sense of dread are all pitch-perfect.
The core game is great, in other words. But perhaps equally impressive is the quality of this port. This game looks really good on the Switch in both docked and undocked modes. Sure, it’s essentially a last-gen game, but it’s one that really hasn’t had a strong console port until now. I wouldn’t have expected the Switch version to exceed its peers on more powerful hardware, but the developer clearly knew what they had to do here in a way that perhaps wasn’t nailed down on those ports from years back. Yes, the computer version is still the best one from a technical point of view. But you know what? This is second-best, and you can play it while huddled in your bed, hoping you won’t wake up your wife when you shriek like a little baby after the xenomorph comes right out of nowhere. And that means something, friends.
You get all of the available DLC content in this version of the game, and it still tells a pretty interesting set of stories across all of its episodes. The original actors even came back to do voice work for some of the extra episodes. There are lots of bonus challenges and additional content to tackle after you’ve finished the main story, stretching a game that is already around 20 hours long into something even bigger. Well worth its price tag. If you like Alien, enjoy survival-horror games, or just want to play something that is as atmospheric as heck, pick up Alien: Isolation. It’s really something else.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Smash Rush ($9.99)
This is a very simple game, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I think the publisher may have overestimated the value of the experience. You’re falling down a circular shaft in first-person, and you need to move left or right to move around the edges of the tunnel to avoid incoming obstacles. There are items to grab for points, but you have to be careful while going after them because they’ll often put you at risk. It’s okay for what it is but given what ten dollars can get you on the eShop, I can’t get too enthusiastic about recommending this game.
SwitchArcade Score: 2/5
EarthNight is a very pretty game and its whole premise where you’re running along the backs of dragons is really cool. There are two different characters and their playstyles are quite distinct. I love that when you reach the head of the dragon, you have to do some timed button-pressing to kill it. But to be perfectly honest, outside of the striking theme and presentation EarthNight feels like a very ordinary auto-runner. Run, collect goodies, head back to your lobby area to spend the spoils on power-ups and other useful things, then go out running again. In between those phases, a rather annoyingly lengthy loading time awaits. Buttons make this easier to play than trying to use touch controls on iOS, but in most other ways this version feels worse than the one you have access to if you’re an Apple Arcade subscriber. Really only recommended if you’re hard up for an auto-runner on your Switch.
SwitchArcade Score: 3/5
Get Me Outta Here ($4.99)
This is a fun arena shooter that most TouchArcade readers will likely remember from its mobile iteration. There are some upgrades here, most notably the new co-op mode and two brand new ships to battle through. Also, you’re playing with a stick or directional pad and buttons, and I cannot even begin to state how much better the controls feel as a result. This is definitely the best way to play Get Me Outta Here. It’s really just the much higher level of competition on the platform that keeps me from giving it a stronger recommendation, but you know what? It’s on sale for half price right now, and if you can’t get two-and-a-half measly bucks of joy out of this game, I don’t know what to say.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
Alien: Isolation ($34.99)
Holy heck, yes. Yes, yes, yes. Alien hasn’t always been treated well by video games, though I’d argue it’s had better luck than some. But this is just wonderful. It’s faithful where it should be, goes in its direction when it makes sense to, and absolutely nails the atmosphere of the original movie. It’s scary as all get-out, too. Which it should be! Somehow we got to the point where xenomorphs were treated like DOOM imps. Stupid targets to fill with the requisite amount of lead before moving on to the next batch. The xenomorph in this one? Hoo boy. Good luck. It’s smart, it’s extremely powerful, and it’s going to kill you a lot. Also awesome? This port. This is an outstanding, incredible port. Play this in your bed at night and try not to wet the sheets.
Space Blaze ($29.99)
This is a horizontal shoot-em-up, and I’m not too sure what to say about it. There isn’t a whole lot of information out there on the game, and I’m not going to drop thirty bucks on it to find out first-hand. So please accept these thoughts based on watching some footage of the game in action. First, there are a lot of poop-hot horizontal shoot-em-ups on the Switch, and most of them cost a lot less than this. There are some shoot-em-ups that cost as much as this, but they are extremely slick and high-profile affairs like Raiden V. If you’re going to charge thirty whole dollars for a seven-stage shooter, it had better be so awesome that even watching a video of it will make someone want to play it. And I can’t say that about Space Blaze. It looks like a middle-of-the-road effort, like someone’s first crack at the genre. Maybe it’s better than that, but I’m not going to be the one to find out.
Wizards of Brandel ($12.99)
Kemco and EXE-Create are at it again, with largely expected results. At least the premise on this one is amusing. You’re a mage whose house has been repossessed after he misses a loan payment. He ends up crashing at the house of an outlaw sorcerer, which begins a procession of weird yet familiar characters who come together to form a party. As for the actual gameplay? You know how this goes by now. Is it bad? No, it’s not bad. Is it good? Mmm, no. It exists, and if that is sufficient for you, do not let me stop you. At least it’s not priced too much higher than the mobile version?
Tick Tock: A Tale for Two ($5.99)
This is an asymmetrical multiplayer game where you work together with a friend to solve puzzles. It’s not your normal multiplayer game, though. Basically, you’re not actually connected in-game at all. You both play on your own devices and vocally communicate information to each other in order to overcome timed challenges. Neither of you have all the of the details you need to get the full picture on your own. It takes a couple of hours to run through the whole thing as long as your partner isn’t a total goof. Is that worth six bucks? Maybe. Just remember that you really do need another player to join in with you.
Big Pharma ($29.99)
This is a simulation game where you run a pharmaceutical company. There are several scenarios to tackle, each with a bunch of challenges. There’s also a free play mode where you can just run the game like a normal sim. Anyway, you have to make money by making medicine. Or make the world a better place by making medicine. You can do either but if you want to do them well, you probably can’t do both. The core game is fine if not particularly paradigm-shattering, but this Switch version may not be the best way to experience it. Like a lot of sims that make their way over to the console from PC, there are a lot of tech- and control-related issues that add up. That said, if you’ve been able to hang with other similar sims on the Switch, you’ll likely be okay here.
Defenders of Ekron: Definitive Edition ($13.99)
This is a twin-stick shoot-em-up with roguelite elements. Yes, it’s another one of those. It’s bit more of a bigger-scale type of adventure, but the moment-to-moment gameplay is extremely familiar. Perhaps too familiar? Anyway, this game got really lousy reviews in its original form a few years back and slightly better but still not great reviews in its Definitive Edition form on other consoles. Seems like one of those games you could go either way on, so I’m going to take the cowardly route and not give any particular recommendation for or against it.
Must Dash Amigos ($17.99)
Is this like… a top-down Sonic R or something? I’m not sure, friends. It’s a party game that involves “wacky" characters racing around colorful tracks and inflicting various woes on one another using items strewn about the track, at the very least. Up to four players can join in via local multiplayer. Seems like a good bit of joy if you enjoy doing the couch multiplayer stuff, but I’d have to put it to the test to say exactly how much fun it is. Reviews of the PC version seem favorable and compare the game to the likes of Micro Machines, Wacky Wheels, and (oddly enough) Monkey Ball, so that’s at least encouraging.
Uhh. So I guess we’re now at the point where we’ve got NekoPara knock-offs on the Nintendo eShop? The market for people who wish their cats looked like humans and wanted to smooch a lot is much bigger than even I had anticipated. Anyway, this is a visual novel that doesn’t really have any particular ambitions as far as story-telling goes. It sets up lots of opportunities to put its two cat-girl shrine maidens in sexy situations, mostly so that it can flex its reasonably well-drawn art. Fans of NekoPara should check this out, and also people who wish their cats looked like humans and wanted to smooch them a lot.
March to a Million ($14.00)
This is the latest Kairosoft port, bringing their idol business simulation game over from mobile platforms at a deal-icious 2.8 times the price. It’s a decent enough game, offering the usual appeal this developer’s games tend to carry. Build your agency, train your talent, and inevitably rise to the top. Enjoy the charming visuals that may or may not be losing said charm if this is your twentieth time seeing them. I’m very much of the mindset that these games play perfectly well on mobile devices, so I’d rather pocket the extra nine bucks to spend on tasty Snickers bars. That said, if you’re still jonesing for more Kairosoft and only have a Switch, you’ll have fun with March to a Million.
Smash Rush ($9.99)
This strikes me as something that could find a market at a lower price, but at ten bucks is a bit of a tough sell. Basically, it’s one of those games where you’re falling down a well of sorts and need to move to avoid slamming into obstacles. Score points by running into clearly marked objects and panels, and keep going until you finally hit something. You can compare your score with other players via the leaderboard, and that’s pretty much all there is to it. Not the most original thing in the world, but it’s fine enough at doing what it’s trying to do. I just can’t see dropping a tenspot on it. Try it out for free on your mobile device and see if you disagree.
Well, the big sales are all finished now. Things are probably going to be a bit quiet for a week or two until we get into some end of year sales, but I doubt they’ll have a patch on what we saw in the last week. That doesn’t mean we won’t see any decent sales in the interim, though. For example, pre-order discounts! There’s one there for the upcoming Princess Maker game. Neat. What else? Um, Akane is pretty cheap and fun. As for the outbox, there are a few interesting games but all of it will be back on sale again soon-ish, no doubt.
Select New Games on Sale
Trax – Build it Race it ($2.99 from $14.99 until 12/24)
A Duel Hand Disaster: Trackher ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/11)
Princess Maker Go!Go! Princess ($13.49 from $14.99 until 12/23)
Sacred Stones ($13.49 from $14.99 until 12/23)
Gensou Skydrift ($19.19 from $23.99 until 12/26)
Soul Searching ($4.99 from $9.99 until 12/26)
Akane ($0.99 from $4.99 until 12/26)
Unit 4 ($1.49 from $14.99 until 12/26)
Utopia 9 – A Volatile Vacation ($0.99 from $9.99 until 12/26)
Coffee Crisis ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/26)
Brawl ($0.99 from $9.99 until 12/26)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Friday, December 6th
BlazeRush ($8.39 from $11.99 until 12/6)
Caveblazers ($3.74 from $14.99 until 12/6)
Doom & Destiny ($9.59 from $11.99 until 12/6)
The Bridge ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/6)
Tumblestone ($2.99 from $14.99 until 12/6)
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine ($15.99 from $19.99 until 12/6)
That’s all for today, friends. We’ll have a bunch more new releases to check out tomorrow, and there may be more news and sales to have a look at as well. Reviews? Probably not, but who knows what can happen in this wild work-a-day world of ours? I hope you all have a thrilling Thursday, and as always, thanks for reading!