Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for February 18th, 2020. In today’s article, we’ve got two full-length reviews for you. One is for a brand-new game! The other featured game is a few weeks old, but better late than never. We’ve also got a little news, a summary of today’s new release, and a list of sales to check out as usual. Let’s go for it!
Super NES Controllers Back in Stock for Switch Online Subscribers
I get the sense that the NES controllers Nintendo offered to Switch Online subscribers didn’t exactly set the world aflame, leading Nintendo to underestimate the demand for the far more versatile Super NES controller once it arrived. The darned thing has been out of stock virtually since its launch apart from a few brief minutes. Well, Nintendo has finally restocked the controllers, but who knows how long they’ll last. Switch Online subscribers can buy up to four Super NES controllers for $29.99 each. They’re meant to work with the Super NES Switch Online app first and foremost, but they can be used for a lot of other games too. If you want to grab one or more, simply head to Nintendo’s site and make your order. I wouldn’t wait too long.
Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo ($39.99)
A few weeks ago, we reviewed the first of NISA’s collections of Psikyo shoot-em-ups, Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha. That set collected half of the Psikyo classics that have been released on the Switch, including the Strikers 1945 trilogy, Dragon Blaze, Sol Divide, and Zero Gunner 2-. A mixed assortment, to be sure. Today sees the release of Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo, which collects the remaining six Psikyo classics that have been ported to the Switch. Like before, whether or not this set is worth it is largely contingent on whether you want at least five of the included games, as it is otherwise cheaper to buy them a la carte on the eShop.
This time, the set includes Gunbird, Gunbird 2, Gunbarich, Samurai Aces, Tengai (Samurai Aces 2), and Samurai Aces 3: Sengoku Cannon. While you might think having a whole set comprised of just two series would result in less variety than the first collection, it’s actually the opposite. While Gunbird, Gunbird 2, and Samurai Aces are vertical bullet-hell shoot-em-ups in the style that Psikyo is perhaps best known for, Samurai Aces 2 and 3 are rather unique horizontal shoot-em-ups. And Gunbarich? It’s not really a shoot-em-up at all, at least in the traditional sense. Instead it’s an odd hybrid of Breakout, pinball, and Gunbird.
The closest thing to a dud here is Samurai Aces 3, which was originally released on the PSP and created by ex-Psikyo staffers after the company went belly-up. It’s a bit of a weak sequel, and the 3D backgrounds really haven’t aged well. Even so, it’s not that bad. The other five games are genuine gold in my books. Gunbird and its sequel are two of the finest bullet-hell shooters ever made. Samurai Aces doesn’t shine quite as brightly but is still excellent. Tengai/Samurai Aces 2 is fresh in its design and thrilling to play. Gunbarich is just plain fun. All five of these games are worth having in your collection, so you might as well take Samurai Aces 3 with them.
Outside of the game selection, everything I said about the Alpha set follows here. Each game has its own set of options, and they are fairly extensive. I have no real complaints in that regard. Unfortunately, like the eShop versions of all of Psikyo’s games, there’s a bit of input lag here beyond what you would normally expect. It’s extremely unlikely the average player will notice it or be bothered all that much by it, but veterans of the arcade versions are going to be frustrated.
If for whatever reason you’ve committed to buying one and only one of these Psikyo Shooting Stars collections, I’d absolutely recommend Bravo over Alpha. The included titles are more enjoyable and varied, and I think that gives it the edge. But really, if you like playing shoot-em-ups, dropping eighty bucks to have twelve Psikyo classics at your disposal is a no-brainer. The quality from title to title may vary, but each game has something to offer shooter fans. Psikyo may not have been around for a long time, but while they were around they burned brightly. Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo clearly shows off why.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore ($59.99)
Okay, yes. This review is coming in a little late, and that’s on me. I was on vacation when this came out and didn’t really have a chance to get started on it until I returned. With this being a full-length RPG, it took me a little while to finish it. But even though this is coming in a bit after the fact, I still wanted to write about this game because I feel like a lot of people are sleeping on a truly excellent RPG for whatever reason.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is a Switch port of a Wii U game that began its life as a crossover of Atlus’s Shin Megami Tensei series and Nintendo’s Fire Emblem series. In the end, it’s a lot more like the former but has enough of the latter to engage fans. This enhanced port features new dungeons, new costumes, a new music video, and some new battle elements. Are the new goodies enough to play the game again if you already ran through it on the Wii U? Well, probably not. But realistically, how many people reading this have already played through Tokyo Mirage Sessions on the Wii U? Right, let’s move on then.
Ever since Joker was introduced as a playable character for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Switch owners have been asking when Persona would come to the platform. Rumors have come and gone, but as of yet there is no concrete sign that a mainline Persona game will ever hit the Switch. Well, I’ll tell you what: if you want to play a game that scratches most of the same itches as a modern Persona game, you need to get Tokyo Mirage Sessions. In terms of mechanics, it falls somewhere between modern Persona and modern Shin Megami Tensei. It is undoubtedly Atlus-designed, for better or worse. Thematically, it is very much along the lines of the last few Persona games with a healthy sprinkling of Fire Emblem elements to give it a flavor of its own.
The premise sees you controlling a group of teenagers who find themselves in possession of special abilities that they use to protect Tokyo and the world from mysterious supernatural beings called Mirages. The kids have Mirages of their own that give them powers, and those Mirages come in familiar guises. Chrom, Caeda, Tharja, and others from the Fire Emblem series are the faces of the good Mirages, and although they’re a bit different from how you may remember them, there’s enough of the original personality and look in there that Fire Emblem fans should be pleased. You’ll split your time between real-world Tokyo and an extradimensional space called the Idolasphere.
With the characters and their team hiding behind an idol agency as a front of sorts, you can expect plenty of commentary and tropes dealing with the pop music business over the course of the game. The music is quite good, though some players may find it all a bit too much for their sensibilities. If you’re turned off by media that leans into the whole Japanese youth culture end of things, you may want to pass on this game. While the game isn’t afraid to fall face-first into some goofy situations that have been rehashed a million times in various manga and anime series, it also hits on some interesting points when it decides to get serious. If you aren’t pumping your fist at the wild finale, I don’t know what to say.
As ever, the themes are only half of the fun of this Atlus RPG. It’s also a mechanically-rich, highly satisfying game from a gameplay point of view. Character building works in a manner somewhat similar to other Atlus RPGs, where you learn new abilities by leveling up your Mirage and make fusions to gain access to new, more powerful skills. Rather than having you hunt for additional monsters to fuse, you’re instead looking for materials to forge new equipment. Functionally, it works similarly enough to other Atlus games that you’ll be able to slide right into it without any headaches if you’ve played one before.
The combat system takes after other Atlus RPGs in some ways but has a few cool ideas of its own. As with most other games from the developer, the emphasis here is on discovering and exploiting enemy weaknesses while trying to cover your own. Hitting an enemy weakness not only deals extra damage but will also potentially trigger a free attack from other party members. Line things up right and you can create a devastating chain of attacks that the game refers to as a Session. There are also Performance attacks where your Mirage will step in to strike and Ad-Lib Performances that have a chance of occurring when you use certain abilities. It’s just complex enough to keep you engaged without going too far over the top, and the challenge level is just about right.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is a solid example of the kind of RPG that has made Atlus the company that it is today. There’s nothing else quite like it on the Switch, and there may not be anything else like it until Shin Megami Tensei V finally shows its face. Even then, I suspect the effervescent pop feel of Tokyo Mirage Sessions will be something it keeps as its own. It’s certainly something you’ll want to play if you’ve enjoyed any of Atlus’s other recent releases. As for the Fire Emblem fans, you’ll have to settle for a healthy dose of somewhat shallow accoutrements as there isn’t a whole lot of gameplay influence from that series. But hey, if the end result is a great game, who’s to argue about the proportions of the ingredients?
SwitchArcade Score 4/5
Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo ($39.99)
Well hey, you probably already read the review up above. Or maybe you thought it looked too long and skipped down here. Let me help you out with the crib notes either way. This is the second of NISA’s releases of the Psikyo Shooting Stars collections. It includes Gunbird, Gunbird 2, Gunbarich, Samurai Aces, Tengai/Samurai Aces 2, and Samurai Aces 3: Sengoku Cannon. That’s four vertical shoot-em-ups, two horizontal shoot-em-ups, and a hybrid shoot-em-up/Breakout game. It’s a nice mix of games and you get plenty of options for each. A bit of input lag is the only real fly in the ointment here, but it’s not so bad that it will disturb the average player, I think. Definitely worth picking up for shoot-em-up fans.
(North American eShop, US Prices)
A fair number of new discounts today, though it’s an exercise for the reader whether any of them are all that exciting. One thing is for sure: if you’re interested in the Desktop games, you’ve got plenty to be happy about. There are assuredly some good games in the outbox, though, so one way or another I’m sure we can all find a way to spend our hard-earned money if we’re inclined to do so.
Select New Games on Sale
Aragami ($14.99 from $29.99 until 3/1)
The Walking Vegetables: Radical ($1.94 from $12.99 until 3/1)
Cast of the Seven Godsends ($1.29 from $12.99 until 3/1)
The Long Reach ($2.99 from $14.99 until 3/1)
Goat Simulator: The GOATY ($7.49 from $29.99 until 2/23)
Our Flick Erasers ($9.07 from $12.96 until 3/9)
Desktop Bowling ($5.17 from $7.39 until 3/9)
Desktop Table Tennis ($5.18 from $7.41 until 3/9)
Desktop Baseball ($5.10 from $7.29 until 3/9)
Desktop Rugby ($5.20 from $7.43 until 3/9)
Desktop Soccer ($4.97 from $7.11 until 3/9)
Desktop Dodgeball ($5.21 from $7.45 until 3/9)
Voxel Sword ($4.90 from $7.00 until 3/9)
Voxel Shot ($5.60 from $8.00 until 3/9)
Chalk Dash Carnival ($1.00 from $7.09 until 3/9)
Shadow of Loot Box ($4.79 from $7.99 until 3/2)
InkSplosion ($2.49 from $4.99 until 3/2)
Devious Dungeon ($4.79 from $7.99 until 3/2)
Midnight Deluxe ($2.99 from $4.99 until 3/2)
Twin Robots: Ultimate ($3.99 from $7.99 until 3/2)
One More Dungeon ($4.79 from $7.99 until 3/2)
Plantera Deluxe ($2.99 from $4.99 until 3/2)
Squareboy vs Bullies: Arena ($2.49 from $4.99 until 3/2)
36 Fragments of Midnight ($1.79 from $2.99 until 3/2)
League of Evil ($3.99 from $7.99 until 3/2)
Hexologic ($1.49 from $2.99 until 3/2)
I and Me ($4.99 from $9.99 until 3/2)
Lost Castle ($6.99 from $9.99 until 3/2)
Save the Ninja Clan ($1.49 from $4.99 until 3/8)
Where Are My Friends ($1.01 from $5.99 until 3/8)
State of Anarchy: Master of Mayhem ($2.39 from $7.99 until 3/8)
Grab the Bottle ($1.49 from $4.99 until 3/8)
Energy Cycle Edge ($1.49 from $4.99 until 3/8)
Blood Waves ($5.99 from $9.99 until 3/8)
Awesome Pea ($2.99 from $5.99 until 3/8)
ibb & obb ($12.69 from $14.99 until 3/5)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 19th
3000th Duel ($10.49 from $14.99 until 2/19)
Adventures of Elena Temple: Definitive ($3.99 from $4.99 until 2/19)
Blossom Tales ($7.49 from $14.99 until 2/19)
Bot Vice ($4.99 from $9.99 until 2/19)
Crush Your Enemies! ($0.80 from $8.00 until 2/19)
Crypt of the NecroDancer ($3.99 from $19.99 until 2/19)
Dead Cells ($17.49 from $24.99 until 2/19)
Heroes of the Monkey Tavern ($4.99 from $9.99 until 2/19)
High Noon Revolver ($1.49 from $2.99 until 2/19)
Horse Farm ($14.99 from $19.99 until 2/19)
Just Black Jack ($0.99 from $1.99 until 2/19)
Lydia ($3.00 from $4.00 until 2/19)
Oceanhorn ($7.49 from $14.99 until 2/19)
Overwatch: Legendary ($29.99 from $39.99 until 2/19)
Plague Road ($0.75 from $15.00 until 2/19)
Red Siren: Space Defense ($4.99 from $9.99 until 2/19)
Sparkle 4 Tales ($8.99 from $9.99 until 2/19)
Super Star Path ($2.49 from $4.99 until 2/19)
Super Tennis ($4.49 from $5.99 until 2/19)
Venture Kid ($1.99 from $9.99 until 2/19)
Vortex Attack EX ($5.99 from $9.99 until 2/19)
Worlds of Magic: Planar Conquest ($12.74 from $16.99 until 2/19)
Yooka-Laylee ($13.59 from $39.99 until 2/19)
Yooka-Laylee & the Impossible Lair ($20.09 from $29.99 until 2/19)
That’s everything for today, friends. We’ll be back again tomorrow with summaries of whatever new releases come along, some news and sales information, and perhaps a review or Mini-View as time allows. I hope you all have a terrific Tuesday, and as always, thanks for reading!