Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for March 30th, 2020. In today’s article, we’ve got a full review of Animal Crossing: New Horizons along with Mini-Views of a few other titles including Panzer Dragoon Remake. We look at today’s sole new release, then go into a rather robust list of new sales. The news was a bit light over the weekend, but there’s still plenty to read. Let’s get into it!
Animal Crossing: New Horizons ($59.99)
If ever there was a game for the current situation we find ourselves in, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is it. We all need to be somewhere better right now. A nice island filled with friendly animals and nothing but peaceful days sure sounds great. And hey, it is. A lot of the usual things that make Animal Crossing games so good are present and accounted for, a new crafting system has been added, and it all has never looked as good as it does in this game. I get the sense that Nintendo intends to keep on adding to the game as time goes on, so I’m sure it will only keep on getting better.
Instead of moving into a town in some walled-off forest like usual, in this game you and a few other characters decide to start up a new little town on a desert island. You’ll be doing a lot of the same things as usual though, like fishing, collecting fruit, catching insects, and trying to pay back your home loan. The Mayor job from the previous game is out, but you play as an Island Rep who is effectively in charge of a lot of the things the Mayor was in New Leaf. You’ll pick where people’s houses are, where shops are built, and what kind of infrastructure is created. Well, as long as you’re the first person to play the game on your console.
That’s one of the issues with the game, though. For many players, Animal Crossing is a single-player game or a game with an online multiplayer component. But some players enjoy playing with multiplayer players in one village on their console, and they’re going to find that everyone after the first player has a much more limited experience. This isn’t different from the last game in principle, but the way it interacts with some of the new systems makes it a lot more annoying in practice. Specifically, the crafting system.
Crafting is the new hotness in Animal Crossing. The shops still sell a number of items, and even some rudimentary tools, but some items can only be gotten by crafting them. And to craft those items, you’ll need the recipes for them. How do you get them? Well, some of them are sold in the shops. You’ll get a few others randomly from other villagers or bottles that wash up on the beaches. But some of them are tied with progression through the game’s content, something that is only available to that first player.
On its own, the crafting system is alright. It gives you more chores to do each day, and you’ll have to mind the durability of your tools as they will break pretty often and need to be replaced. A bit annoying, though not terribly so given that the materials are fairly easy to come by after the first day or two. It feels like the durability mechanic is only here to make sure the player engages with the crafting system, but at least in my case building tools ended up being almost the only reason I engaged with it. That, and fish bait. I imagine the crafting system will blossom as the game grows, but right now it feels a bit underwhelming.
Indeed, the game really feels like it needs more time to fill itself out. Many of the usual characters are nowhere to be seen or relegated to minor cameos, and fun activities like the mini-games on Tortimer’s Island in New Leaf aren’t included here at all. Customization and decoration options have never been better, and being able to place items outside of your house is a genuine game-changer, but at least at the moment it feels like the online multiplayer doesn’t involve much more than exchanging fruit and checking out each other’s design sense. My son and I spent countless hours playing mini-games in New Leaf, but we’re already running out of things to do together in New Horizons.
As a single-player experience, however, it’s as enjoyable as ever. There are lots of fish and insects to collect, and decorating your house and the island at large is great fun. I’m happy that elevated terrain has returned, and the Nook Miles system is a nice way to reward players for the time they put in. The dialogue is as sharp as ever, with some amazing lines waiting for those who spend enough time talking to everyone. You’ve got some new tools to help you navigate the island, which is nice. But it’s also another reason to have to switch tools, adding some minor busy work to getting around. The UI has a lot of new aspects that make various tasks easier, but there are some quirks like not letting you craft in batches that got on my nerves.
I’ve spent a lot of this review on my complaints, but Animal Crossing: New Horizons still has most of the things that make this series so special. If you need a little cheer in your life right now, it can be a very soothing experience. But for all of its additions and new elements, I can’t help but notice it feels a little thin in some areas. There’s no doubt you will find more to do in Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the 3DS if you were to start it today, and while I expect New Horizons to grow considerably over time, I can’t review the future. Even with its flaws, however, this is still a wonderful little get-away.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Panzer Dragoon Remake ($24.99)
I hemmed and hawed about doing a full review of this one as I have many thoughts about it. But ultimately, I think I can sum things up briefly and save us all some time. A lot of effort and passion went into this remake, and it shows in a lot of ways. Remaking a game like this could not have been easy given the scale the team was working at and the nature of the original Saturn version. The art style and resulting atmosphere of the game are quite different from the original, but how you feel about that is quite subjective. In my opinion, some of the re-built stages lose some of the original game’s mystique while a couple really shine.
The controls are a bit troublesome but not frightfully so, and I’d imagine future patches will help iron some things out. Loading times are dreadful, but that’s Unity for you. That said, in terms of content this is quite faithful to the original, which means it’s a bit shallow mechanically and you can finish it in about an hour. Beating it on Hard Mode unlocks an art gallery and a nice Pandora’s Box-style cheat menu, but that’s really the only incentive to come back to the game. I appreciate the attempt, even if I’m not fully happy with it. Hopefully things line up a bit better for the remake of Panzer Dragoon Zwei.
SwitchArcade Score: 3/5
Game Boy throwbacks: they’re sure a thing the last few years. From a visual standpoint, it’s easy to see where Dogurai is drawing inspiration from. In terms of gameplay, it’s a bit like playing a Mega Man X game as Zero. It’s not a terribly long game and there are certainly some frustrating parts, but for the price I found it to be an enjoyable romp. You can run through in an hour or so, but it’s a good hour. You’re mostly just running, jumping, and slashing through tricky platforming set-ups, but the boss battles punch things up a notch and there’s an extended sequence on a bike that stands out, for better or worse.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
This is a really pretty game, of that there is no doubt. There are parts of the game that may have your jaw on the floor thanks to the gorgeous art. Outside of those good looks, unfortunately, this is a rather unremarkable platformer. It uses a mechanic where you swap between realms to progress, and depending on how well you can wrap your head around that idea this game is either over too soon or extremely aggravating. Technical performance also struggles at times, which certainly hurts the visual splendor. Solid controls and the lovely sights keep this from being a complete scratch, but it’s hard not to imagine how much better this could have been.
SwitchArcade Score: 3/5
What the Box? ($1.99)
This is an online multiplayer shooter where everyone plays as a box. I mean, you even have a box cutter as a weapon. The trick is that while up to 10 of the boxes can be other players, there are many more boxes that don’t look any different. So if you hunker down and stay still, no one will suspect you aren’t just a harmless box. There are apparently six different modes, but I’m very suspicious of the features touted by the current eShop listing for this game as it appears to just be copied from the Steam listing of the game, right down to mentioning Steam workshop integration. Naturally, you’ll need a Switch Online subscription to play this in multiplayer, and there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of single-player content.
(North American eShop, US Prices)
A whole lot of new games went on sale over the weekend, with a bulk of it being the usual weekly members of the club. NIS America has a sale on some of its lesser-known titles, including Happy Birthdays, God Wars, and Touhou Genso Wanderer. AeternoBlade II has a slight discount, and the cool Smash TV homage Galaxy Champions TV has a nice sale happening as well. In the outbox, Capcom’s latest sale is drawing to a close and the discounts on shooters Psyvariar and Caladrius Blaze are also wrapping up. Take a look through the lists and see if there’s anything you want.
Select New Games on Sale
The Caligula Effect ($24.99 from $49.99 until 4/6)
God Wars The Complete Legend ($15.99 from $39.99 until 4/5)
Yomawari: The Long Night ($19.99 from $39.99 until 4/6)
Touhou Genso Wanderer ($24.99 from $49.99 until 4/6)
Happy Birthdays ($19.99 from $39.99 until 4/6)
Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory ($15.99 from $39.99 until 4/6)
Penny-Punching Princess ($15.99 from $39.99 until 4/5)
The Longest Five Minutes ($15.99 from $39.99 until 4/5)
Clumsy Rush ($0.99 from $4.99 until 4/4)
AeternoBlade II ($24.99 from $29.99 until 4/10)
Battleship ($3.99 from $19.99 until 4/4)
Clue ($14.99 from $29.99 until 4/4)
Please, Don’t Touch Anything ($4.99 fom $9.99 until 4/17)
Please, Don’t Touch Anything Classic ($2.49 from $4.99 until 4/17)
Akuto: Showdown ($3.99 from $7.99 until 4/7)
Guilt Battle Arena ($4.99 from $9.99 until 4/17)
Soulblight ($5.99 from $14.99 until 4/11)
Doughlings: Arcade ($3.49 from $6.99 until 4/5)
Funny Bunny Adventures ($1.99 from $4.99 until 4/7)
Drawngeon: Dungeons ($3.49 from $4.99 until 4/7)
Space Pioneer ($3.99 from $9.99 until 4/7)
Tactical Mind 2 ($1.49 from $4.99 until 4/6)
Race with Ryan ($27.99 from $39.99 until 4/1)
Spirit Roots ($2.09 from $6.99 until 4/7)
Pixel Gladiator ($1.75 from $6.99 until 4/7)
Ice Age Scrat’s Adventure ($27.99 from $39.99 until 4/1)
Island Maze ($1.49 from $2.99 until 4/7)
Atomic Heist ($1.49 from $7.99 until 4/6)
Wreckin’ Ball Adventure ($0.49 from $4.99 until 4/7)
UglyDolls ($5.99 from $39.99 until 4/1)
Not Not ($0.39 from $1.99 until 4/7)
Tardy ($1.99 from $9.99 until 4/6)
DreamWorks Dragons ($19.99 from $39.99 until 4/1)
Koloro ($0.99 from $9.99 until 4/7)
Mana Spark ($0.99 from $9.99 until 4/7)
PAW Patrol: On a Roll! ($19.99 from $39.99 until 4/7)
Crayola Scoot ($4.49 from $29.99 until 4/1)
Exorder ($1.29 from $12.99 until 4/17)
Adventure Time: Pirates ($15.99 from $39.99 until 3/31)
Hotel Transylvania 3 ($11.99 from $29.99 until 3/31)
Dream Alone ($0.99 from $9.99 until 4/17)
Pirates: All Aboard! ($0.49 from $5.99 until 4/17)
Ben 10 ($7.99 from $19.99 until 3/31)
Duck Souls+ ($3.99 from $4.99 until 4/13)
Repressed ($6.79 from $7.99 until 4/3)
CopperBell ($5.94 from $6.99 until 4/3)
Corridor Z ($3.99 from $7.99 until 4/3)
Speedway Racing ($6.99 from $9.99 until 4/16)
Not Tonight: Take Back Control ($19.99 from $24.99 until 4/10)
Windmill Kings ($0.99 from $9.99 until 4/13)
Galaxy Champions TV ($1.39 from $6.99 until 4/6)
Anode ($0.19 from $1.99 until 4/3)
Seeders Puzzle Reboot ($0.11 from $9.99 until 4/13)
Captain Cat ($0.99 from $6.99 until 4/13)
Crypt of the Serpent King ($0.99 from $2.99 until 4/16)
Circuits ($0.99 from $4.99 until 4/13)
Flowlines VS ($0.04 from $4.99 until 4/15)
Son of a Witch ($5.99 from $14.99 until 4/13)
Ludomania ($0.40 from $4.00 until 4/15)
The Lost Child ($19.99 from $49.99 until 4/5)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 31st
Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 ($11.99 from $29.99 until 3/31)
Battlesloths ($7.49 from $9.99 until 3/31)
Bohemian Killing ($6.79 from $7.99 until 3/31)
Bug Academy ($11.04 from $12.99 until 3/31)
Caladrius Blaze ($12.49 from $24.99 until 3/31)
Colorgrid ($0.49 from $0.99 until 3/31)
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen ($19.99 from $29.99 until 3/31)
Dreaming Canvas ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/31)
Evoland Legendary ($7.99 from $19.99 until 3/31)
Figment ($6.79 from $19.99 until 3/31)
Gear.Club Unlimited ($9.98 from $14.90 until 3/31)
Hyper Sentinel ($0.95 from $7.99 until 3/31)
Hyperspace Delivery Service ($8.99 from $9.99 until 3/31)
Legendary Fishing ($4.99 from $29.99 until 3/31)
Mega Man 11 ($14.99 from $29.99 until 3/31)
Never Again ($11.89 from $13.99 until 3/31)
Northgard ($24.49 from $34.99 until 3/31)
Okami HD ($11.99 from $19.99 until 3/31)
Penguin Wars ($7.49 from $14.99 until 3/31)
Psyvariar Delta ($20.00 from $29.99 until 3/31)
Resident Evil 4 ($19.99 from $29.99 until 3/31)
Switchy Road ($0.99 from $4.99 until 3/31)
The Office Quest ($2.39 from $11.99 until 3/31)
Toki ($9.98 from $14.90 until 3/31)
Zombie Army Trilogy ($29.74 from $34.99 until 3/31)
That’s all for today, friends. Tomorrow we’ll have a bunch of cool new releases to look at including Operencia, Bubble Bobble 4 Friends, and Ty the Tasmanian Tiger. We’ll also check out whatever news and sales come along in the next day, and probably have at least one review to dig into. I hope you all have a decent Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!