Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for March 2nd, 2020. In today’s article, we’ve got two full-length reviews for you, a Mini-View, summaries of all of the latest releases, and of course the usual list of sales. News has been a bit flat, likely due to the unusual circumstances the world finds itself in at the moment, but there’s still plenty to read, friends. Let’s dive on in!
Samurai Shodown ($49.99)
One of the fun things about being a Switch owner and/or follower is seeing some truly impressive ports hit the system. Games like The Witcher 3, Alien: Isolation, GRID Autosport, and Dragon Quest XI among many others stand as outstanding feats of squeezing every ounce of power out of some fairly humble hardware. Even knowing what can be done, however, I was still a bit worried about Samurai Shodown. Fighting games rely on smooth technical performance more than most genres, and SNK frankly dropped the ball pretty hard with SNK Heroines.
Thankfully, the company has done a far better job with Samurai Shodown. While it’s not hard to spot the differences in terms of visual quality between this version and the game on other consoles, especially in handheld mode, the game runs very well. Performance has clearly been prioritized with this port, which is definitely a good thing. In docked mode, the game appears to hold fairly steady at 60 fps except during certain special attacks. The resolution and geometry have seen some sacrifices to get there, but it still looks pretty good on the TV.
It’s a bit less consistent in handheld mode, and the resolution and overall visual clarity take a pretty big hit when you play on the go. The smaller screen helps disguise some of the visual flaws, but the lower framerate is noticeable and may well wreak havoc for more serious players. Loading times are quite lengthy in places regardless of the mode you’re playing in, which is not great but something I suppose I’ve gotten used to. Suffice it to say, if you have a choice you’ll want to go with another version of the game, but if you don’t you’ll probably find this quite playable.
As to the game itself, it’s quite good. It feels very true to the classic Samurai Shodown games, with a lot of weightiness to moves and a tendency for momentum to swing based on a single well-placed attack. The base roster of 16+1 characters offers a lot of variety and features many favorites from previous entries in the series. Those who want to expand the roster can buy additional characters a la carte or in Season Pass bundles. If you find yourself really enjoying Samurai Shodown, these extra characters are a good investment, but I never felt like the base game was missing anything important without them.
The game includes a variety of modes, but the best of these are geared towards the multiplayer experience. That’s not exactly surprising for a one-on-one fighter, but I do wish more developers would take notes on how to make a satisfying single-player experience from the folks at Netherrealm and their Mortal Kombat/Injustice games. You can have it both ways! Those striking it out on their own can enjoy the rather bare-bones story mode with each character or engage in battles against a series of CPU opponents in various configurations. You can also do offline battles against human opponents, of course.
There are also a couple of modes that involve online play. There’s an asynchronous online mode where you train a ghost CPU player that can do battle against others online, or in turn battle against other players’ ghosts. Naturally, there’s a standard online play mode where you battle against a live opponent. In my experience, the online play works quite well when you can find an opponent. But there’s the rub: the online community hasn’t exactly been bustling even after launch, and I often found myself waiting a long time for anyone to come along. That may change at any point, but I feel like most of the crowd around this game is playing on another platform. As such, if you’re in it for the multiplayer mode and can’t provide your own opponents, you may not be happy with the current situation.
Samurai Shodown is a solid port of an excellent game, one that checks off all of the necessary boxes in terms of modes and options but doesn’t go too much farther. While this Switch version fares far better than earlier SNK fare on the platform, it’s plain to see where the sacrifices have been made and as such those with the option to pick up the game on other platforms would be advised to do so. Taken within the context of the Switch library, however, it’s easily among the best fighters on the system. The gameplay mechanics call to mind the better games in the franchise, and everything that made Samurai Shodown special back in the good old days is present in this revival. So long as you have some friends to cross swords with, you’ll have a fantastic time with this game.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Double Dragon & Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle ($39.99)
I’ll be up-front about this: I have a lot of love for both the Double Dragon and the Kunio-kun series, particularly the NES installments of each. Sure, the arcade Double Dragon and 16-bit Super Double Dragon are good and the Super NES Kunio-kun game is like a blueprint for the Yakuza series, but overall my personal highlights with both franchises happened on Nintendo’s 8-bit box. As such, this particular retro collection is aimed directly at my heart, and it wouldn’t take a psychic to know that I of course love it.
But even setting my personal feelings aside here, I think this is a rather excellent compilation for several reasons. At $39.99, the price is certainly on the upper-end of retro game collections on the Switch, but I think it’s worth it for fans of classic beat-em-ups. You get eighteen games in total, fifteen games from the Kunio-kun series and the three NES Double Dragon games. In actuality, those fifteen Kunio-kun games are really eleven distinct titles, with both Japanese and Western versions included for some of them.
Five of the Kunio-kun 8-bit games made their way to the West under various titles, with the most famous of the bunch being Super Dodge Ball and River City Ransom. Four of those five localized versions are included in the fifteen Kunio-kun games in this set, with Nintendo World Cup soccer being left out for obvious reasons. Some of these localized versions are quite different from the original games, while others are almost the same. But hey, if only four of those English releases are included, what about the other seven games? Amazingly, Arc System Works has translated all of these previously Japan-only 8-bit games. They even re-translated the five that were already localized, giving you the choice, for example, of the more Japan-flavored Nekketsu Downtown Story over the Americanized River City Ransom if you so desire.
Just on that count alone, this collection is a step above most. We’ve seen the odd vintage game get translated well after the fact before. SEGA and M2 localized Monster World IV more than a decade after its initial Mega Drive release. Square Enix finally brought out English versions of Seiken Densetsu 3/Trials of Mana and the Romancing SaGa games. But eleven games in one go? Sure, Kunio-kun games aren’t as text-heavy as a 16-bit Square RPG, but they’re not light on text either. Western players can now fully enjoy the wild Kunio-kun take on sports like hockey and basketball, as well as the samurai-era spin-off of River City Ransom. Simply marvelous.
On top of that, this collection also includes the option to play the games as they existed on the original hardware or to enjoy new enhanced versions. Games from Technos Japan were known for pushing hardware farther than it was comfortable going, even in the arcades. Their NES games often suffered from tremendous slowdown and sprite flicker, along with the occasional bug that would slip in. The enhanced versions included in this set greatly reduce those issues in most of the games, enabling them to run smoother and with fewer technical issues. These versions also fix some bugs, like the infamous wall-climbing glitch in the first stage of Double Dragon. If you don’t want these changes, you can choose to play the original versions.
As for the games themselves, they run the gamut in quality. I think all of them can be a lot of fun under the right conditions, but said conditions often include having another player or two to enjoy them with. The sports games especially benefit from having a buddy to play against. They’re wild takes on the sports in question, with all the rough-and-tumble action you would expect from a bunch of cartoonish hooligan high-schoolers. River City Ransom remains a stone-cold classic, and the samurai spin-off is a great brawler along a similar line. Two of the Double Dragon games are excellent, and that third game certainly tries to make something decent out of an awful arcade game. It fails, but bless it for trying.
My issues with the set are minor. I would have liked it if the Japanese versions of the Double Dragon games were included alongside the Western versions. I wish there were more historical materials and bonus content in general. Some of the games really need better instructions. You can look stuff up on the internet but you really shouldn’t have to. While I’m generally content with the options, I would have appreciated a rewind feature. Still, with lots of audio/video options, online play, full button remapping, and four save states per game, I’m not going to gripe too much about that.
Double Dragon & Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle is an excellent compilation of some genuinely excellent classics. It goes above and beyond what we usually see with this sort of thing and is a must-have purchase for fans of Technos Japan’s classics and retro game fans alike. If you only know Kunio-kun from River City Ransom or Super Dodge Ball, this is your chance to see the rest of the franchise in English for the first time in an official release. You’re also seeing these games at their best thanks to the included enhanced versions, and a nice suite of options helps round things out. If you can’t get on with NES games or don’t like brawlers, you’ll want to give this set a pass, but otherwise this bundle is pure gold.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales ($19.99)
This game has been out for a while, so I apologize for being a bit late with my thoughts. To tell the truth, Thronebreaker has basically been living in the background of my gaming since its release. It’s the game I’ve fired up whenever I have a spare bit of time and want to chew on something. While it lacks the epic feel of The Witcher 3, in some ways it’s easier to fall into. There’s just enough exploration to satisfy, while the main dish that is the card-based combat is great. All of this is tied together with a rather compelling story that helps fill out the world of The Witcher, particularly if your only experience with the franchise is with the third game. Don’t sleep on Thronebreaker; it’s excellent.
SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5
This is a short but enjoyable Metroidvania-ish game with a striking visual style and a rather mysterious feel. It’s not a terribly long game, wrapping up in about four or five hours, but it’s a good ride. At a price of only five dollars, it seems like an easy pick-up for fans of the genre looking for a light bite in between tackling bigger games. I could say more, but this one is more enjoyable if you just jump in and try to sort it out yourself.
The Story Goes On ($5.00)
It’s pretty easy to see where The Story Goes On draws inspiration from, but while it has a lot of aspects similar to The Binding of Isaac, it leaves out much of the punishing difficulty. Whether that leaves the game in a better or worse place is an exercise best left to the reader. Setting that contentious topic aside, it’s important to realize that this game is priced relatively low and content-wise more or less lives up to that tag. Amusing enough, to be sure. Something to hack away at if you’re bored and don’t want anything that requires too much concentration. Not much more than that, in my opinion.
Okay, so in this one you play as a cute little avocado who has to rescue its mate after it gets captured and taken away in a space ship. To that end, you have to make use of firepower such as rifles and sub-machine guns to blow away your enemies. Sure, why not? It’s a side-scrolling action game that promises an emotional experience and “all the modern parallax effects". All of them. There are five planets to explore, seven weapons to collect, and plenty of actions to perform. Some light puzzles are scattered around, and so is Limon Currency, which is used to buy items and upgrades. Is this game weird? Yes, it’s very weird. Is this game good? Well, it’s very weird.
Flight Sim 2019 ($14.99)
Well, don’t come into this expecting something on the level of Microsoft Flight Simulator or anything. You get a decent selection of planes, big and small, and a big world map to explore. Fly between a number of cities around the globe, taking off and landing at real airports. Throw in some weather and a day/night cycle and you’ve got the essentials in place. Beyond that, I wouldn’t hope for a lot. Flight simulators are notorious for having rather complex controls, something that is necessary for giving a properly realistic piloting experience. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to get right, and trying to do it on a controller is even harder.
(North American eShop, US Prices)
It’s a whole lot of cheap games of dubious value today, friends. That said, there is one game from the ultra-cheapies that I will stand up for. Hyper Sentinel is a spiritual successor to the classic computer game Uridium, and it is plenty of fun for less than a quarter. Reventure is also a good bit of fun for a couple of bucks. In the outbox, Bandai Namco’s latest sale is wrapping up. It’s also your last chance to get DOOM 2016 at its latest discount price. Buy what you must!
Select New Games on Sale
Hyper Sentinel ($0.15 from $7.99 until 3/5)
Clue: The Classic Mystery Game ($14.99 from $29.99 until 3/7)
Battleship ($3.99 from $19.99 until 3/7)
Robots Under Attack! ($1.99 from $5.99 until 3/20)
Yet Another Zombie Defense HD ($0.99 from $4.99 until 3/20)
Clumsy Rush ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/7)
Green The Life Algorithm ($5.99 from $14.99 until 3/19)
Rack N Ruin ($9.99 from $12.99 until 3/13)
Farm Expert 2018 ($20.99 from $29.99 until 3/19)
Animal Rivals ($0.55 from $3.99 until 3/18)
Defunct ($0.49 from $14.99 until 3/19)
Saboteur! ($0.05 from $8.00 until 3/19)
Saboteur II: Avenging Angel ($0.05 from $8.00 until 3/19)
Mad Age & This Guy ($0.05 from $4.99 until 3/19)
X-Morph: Defense ($5.99 from $19.99 until 3/19)
Safety First! ($0.98 from $2.99 until 3/14)
Truberbrook ($19.49 from $29.99 until 3/14)
Preventive Strike ($0.05 from $1.99 until 3/19)
Zombie Driver Immortal ($5.99 from $14.99 until 3/19)
Silk ($7.79 from $12.99 until 3/6)
Dead End Job ($11.89 from $16.99 until 3/14)
Ganbare! Super Strikers ($7.99 from $9.99 until 3/16)
Spartan Fist ($12.74 from $14.99 until 3/19)
Ski Sniper ($4.24 from $4.99 until 3/12)
LocO-SportS ($3.59 from $5.99 until 3/19)
Event Horizon ($1.49 from $5.99 until 3/10)
Dead Dungeon ($0.99 from $4.99 until 3/10)
Reventure ($1.99 from $7.99 until 3/3)
One Person Story ($1.49 from $2.99 until 3/9)
Breathing Fear ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/9)
Farabel ($1.99 from $9.99 until 3/10)
Grizzland ($3.99 from $4.99 until 3/20)
Skull Rogue ($1.99 from $2.99 until 3/20)
Afterparty ($15.99 from $19.99 until 3/16)
Yoga Master ($19.99 from $24.99 until 3/13)
Alder’s Blood ($14.99 from $19.99 until 3/20)
Shadow Blade: Reload ($2.99 from $9.99 until 3/15)
Boxing Champs ($3.32 from $9.50 until 3/21)
The House of Da Vinci ($4.99 from $9.99 until 3/14)
Sydney Hunter ($4.99 from $9.99 until 3/16)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 3rd
Arcade Fuzz ($0.99 from $1.99 until 3/3)
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger ($14.99 from $19.99 until 3/3)
Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Complete ($34.99 from $49.99 until 3/3)
DOOM 2016 ($29.99 from $59.99 until 3/3)
Doraemon Story of Seasons ($34.99 from $49.99 until 3/3)
Dragon Ball FighterZ ($14.99 from $59.99 until 3/3)
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 ($12.49 from $49.99 until 3/3)
Goblin Sword ($2.99 from $4.99 until 3/3)
God Eater 3 ($35.99 from $59.99 until 3/3)
Hungry Shark World ($1.99 from $9.99 until 3/3)
Koral ($4.79 from $11.99 until 3/3)
Mind: Path to Thalamus ($4.79 from $11.99 until 3/3)
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate ($19.99 from $49.99 until 3/3)
My Hero One’s Justice ($23.99 from $59.99 until 3/3)
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm ($9.99 from $19.99 until 3/3)
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 ($9.99 from $19.99 until 3/3)
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 ($9.99 from $19.99 until 3/3)
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy ($19.99 from $39.99 until 3/3)
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch ($34.99 from $49.99 until 3/3)
One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 Deluxe ($11.99 from $39.99 until 3/3)
One Piece: Unlimited World Red Deluxe ($11.99 from $39.99 until 3/3)
Storm Boy ($0.89 from $5.99 until 3/3)
Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission ($23.99 from $59.99 until 3/3)
Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet ($35.99 from $59.99 until 3/3)
Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization ($19.99 from $49.99 until 3/3)
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive ($24.99 from $49.99 until 3/3)
The Bridge ($1.39 from $9.99 until 3/3)
TumbleStone ($2.09 from $14.99 until 3/3)
That’s it for today, friends. Tomorrow will have a few new releases, though I haven’t spent a lot of time looking at them yet. The news section should return tomorrow, and we’ll naturally have the list of the latest sales to go with it. I’ve also got a review of Metro Redux cooking that may be included tomorrow. We’ll see! I hope you all have a quality Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!