Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for July 20th, 2021. We’ve got a touch of news to look at before we head on to the main course of today’s article, a full review of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD. We’ve also got a small handful of new releases to look at, with two notable ones in the form of Cris Tales and Cotton Reboot!. Naturally we cap it all off with the lists of incoming and outgoing sales for you to dig into. Let’s check it all out!
Switch Online Has a New Game Trial, and It’s Pretty Sus
This is a perk I wish Nintendo of America would make more use of, but what can we do? Nintendo Switch Online subscribers will have access to a full trial of the hit Among Us from July 21st to July 27th. Download the trial and you can play as much of the game as you want for free during this period, and if you want to keep the game you can buy it at a discount from July 21st to August 1st. Yeah, it’s not an overly expensive game by any stretch, but it’s nice to get a chance to try out the Switch version and see how you take to it without dropping those Snickers bars first.
Reviews & Mini-Views
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD ($59.99)
We used to talk a lot about the idea of the Zelda Cycle. Basically how it went was that players tended to dislike the newest Zelda game until the next one came out, at which point their negativity would shift to that game and the reputation of the previous game would rise up considerably. It was by no means a hard and fast rule, of course. Even at their worst, Zelda games tend to receive fairly sunny receptions even if that brings criticisms along for the ride. But it was amusing to see Zelda games that were at one time ranked quite low slowly rehabilitated in the eyes of the fans. Like clockwork, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword got a sharp blowback soon after its release on the Wii in 2011. Well worry not, little fellow. Your time will come when the next game arrives.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword‘s time never came. The Zelda Cycle was mercilessly broken by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Not that there weren’t criticisms of that game, but it has continued to enjoy a largely positive reception even years after its release, and rightfully so. It’s an astonishing achievement for the series, flipping almost every convention on its head without knocking the whole thing on the floor. But without the fans turning on the game, there was no need to go back and reevaluate Skyward Sword. Ten years have passed, and many players would still consider it one of the worst entries in the series if not flat-out the worst.
Perhaps this is its time, then. Just as the original game commemorated the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, Skyward Sword HD has been offered up as a big part of the 35th anniversary celebrations. The challenges ahead of it are numerous. To bring a Wii game that relied heavily on motion controls to a system where many players can’t make use of them. To attempt to improve a game with no small amount of flaws. To satisfy those that were hoping for a bit more of a bang for the birthday of the series. And ultimately, to try to turn around some of the negative sentiment towards a game that carries a considerable burden in that regard. A very tall order, indeed.
Skyward Sword HD has a lot of improvements over the original game, and when you get into the nuts and bolts of them you can really see why that game frustrated many players. So many of the changes here are aimed at making the game’s UI and overall player experience less irritating. You won’t get repeated messages every time you pick up a rupee or item you’ve already seen before. Link’s helper Fi won’t bother you nearly as much with hints to puzzles you haven’t even started to solve yet. You can fast-forward the text. There are auto-saves, and you can save to any of the three available slots. You can skip many of the cutscenes even on your first playthrough. We’ve got camera controls! Very welcome improvements, all of these. Arguably things that should have been there to begin with, even by 2011 standards.
Then there are bigger, but more expected changes. The visuals have been improved, especially with regards to the framerate. While you can still use motion controls (albeit with the considerably less capable Joy-Cons), a full set of button controls have been implemented that actually work very well for the most part. Amiibo compatibility. Not good Amiibo compatibility, but it’s here. Solid attempts to modernize the game and make it fit in the library of a console that is quite different from its original home. Well, with all these fixes, upgrades, and improvements we should be in good shape, right?
The thing is, there are some systemic issues with Skyward Sword that nothing short of completely ripping up the carpet and starting over can fix. The motion controls weren’t ever really the big problem. The UI annoyances certainly were a pain, but many other Zelda games suffered from them. No, there’s something more here. And when I really think about it, I’m afraid it’s one of the most difficult problems to point out. This game wants to be something it isn’t, and in reaching for that, it’s just not as good at being what it is. There are so many steps towards the ideas of Breath of the Wild that I strongly feel this game walked so that Breath could run. One can almost imagine a version of this game where Link falls through the clouds into the fabled Surface at the beginning of the game and finds himself in a similarly sprawling open world to the one we saw in its successor.
But that’s not this game. That’s the road it would not or indeed could not travel on hardware of the Wii’s level. Instead we get sectioned-off areas that are certainly quite large but also feel like they’re not exactly connected. We get a huge sky area that is a treat to explore but doesn’t always reward you appropriately for doing so. And then in the back half of the game we go back to those areas, to those dungeons we’ve already visited, and explore the rest of them. I can see how the idea may have looked good on paper, but for a game that paints such a large world, Skyward Sword can feel incredibly small. It feels artificial and gamey in a way that considerably smaller Zelda games didn’t. Toss in a few other irritations, and you can see why things landed the way they did.
It’s a shame, because what it does right, it does really right. A few different choices could have made Skyward Sword among the best in the series. The characters and world design are excellent. The art style is spectacular. The dungeons and their puzzles are some of the most well-designed in the series. The emphasis on motion controls in the original game gave even familiar items some new twists. Soaring through the sky is even more exhilarating than sailing the seas in Wind Waker. The swordplay has a lot more variety to it, and that’s a good thing. There’s a lot of tasty Zelda gameplay to chew on here, and we’ve even got a halfway decent story to enjoy. There is a fair bit of tedium in the game, but this HD version has less of it than before. If you can forgive it, there’s plenty to appreciate here.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD is a great way to play a game that still carries quite a few flaws. I think the motion controls aren’t quite up to the original version, but the button controls work great and make it suitable for portable play. Outside of locking a somewhat (though not incredibly) useful feature to a hard-to-find Amiibo, every change made in this version is a positive one in my books. Being someone who appreciates a good Zelda dungeon, I’ve never been quite as down on Skyward Sword as some. I’ll say it again: the puzzles in this game are absolutely A+. At the same time, I think it’s safe to say that if you were down on it, all of the little changes made for this version probably aren’t going to change your mind about its broader issues.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Cris Tales ($39.99)
Cris Tales is a very pretty JRPG-style game with some very good ideas driving it. It weaves time travel into both its story and its mechanics in very smart ways, and while I still have some ways to go with it, I’ve immensely enjoyed what I’ve played of it so far. There’s just one very big proviso that I’m sure many Switch owners are used to by now. Yes, tech issues. In this case, it’s the loading times. They are frequent and lengthy. Like, a legit ten seconds every time you fight. This is easily the worst loading I’ve seen in a JRPG-style game on the Switch, and I could see it turning some players off. But if you think you can deal with that problem, the game itself is really high-quality.
Cotton Reboot! ($39.99)
You may or may not have heard of Cotton before, but something tells me Switch owners are going to get to know her fairly well in the next little while. Cotton is a relatively small but popular series of horizontal shoot-em-ups starring a cute witch who is wild for a special kind of candy called Willows. The games tend to be challenging and most of them frankly command absurd prices on the aftermarket. This particular version offers up the excellent X68000 port of the original arcade game along with a brand new remake with some new mechanics, spiffy new visuals, and a remixed soundtrack. If you like shoot-em-ups you really can’t go wrong with this one. I’ll have a review of it soon, but I can already tell you this is a winner. Coin!
Steam: Rails to Riches Complete Edition ($19.99)
This is a solid video game version of a fun little board game of the same name. Up to six players can play together, each one taking control of a railway company. Build your railroads, make deliveries, issue stock, and all the other things a railroad baron would do. It’s all about scoring those sweet shipments and maximizing your profits. There is even online multiplayer support, though if you want to play alone the CPU opponents aren’t too shabby. It’s a good alternative to buying the real thing, or as a supplement for when you don’t feel like cleaning up the board or calling friends over.
Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound and Debriefed ($39.99)
Haha, oh boy. Okay, this is a remaster of Akiba’s Trip, a silly beat-em-up set in Tokyo’s famous Akihabara district. Behind the lights and maid cafes, supernatural creatures are stalking the streets of Akiba. You’ve been turned into one of these vampires, but you were spared from being turned all the way. Now you hunt these creatures by using their greatest weakness to reveal them: sunlight. You see, they’re out and about during the daytime, but they’re protecting themselves from the sunlight by covering themselves with clothing. So you… well, you know where this is going right? You have to fight them until they are tired, then strip them down to their underwear so that they melt in the sun. Or you can choose to spare them? Anyway, I suggest you not think too hard about all of this and just enjoy yourself.
This is a puzzle-platformer where you play as a drop of water. You need to move along the surfaces of platforms and transport yourself around twenty-seven stages, collecting water droplets to open the exit and move on. There are three worlds in total, and each one is capped off with a boss battle. Besides sliding about and blobbing over to other platforms, you can also make use of bombs you find laying about. Not a bad little game if you’re itching for something new in the genre to play. Not a must-have, mind you. But not bad.
Mind Maze ($4.99)
Publishers, I am begging you: if you make a puzzle game whose mechanics are not apparent from screenshots or videos, please explain the mechanics in the game description. After a bit of research, this is basically Dots and Boxes with a fancy skin on it. You may or may not have played this when you were a kid. You have a grid of dots and players take turns drawing lines, with the person who finishes each “box" by placing the fourth wall putting their initials in it to claim it. Whoever has the most boxes when all the lines are drawn wins. You can play alone in a single-player game or compete with others in an eight-player local hotseat mode, and the latter mode is really the only way to enjoy this because the computer AI is a complete fool. Personally, I’ll stick to ballpens and a piece of looseleaf.
(North American eShop, US Prices)
Hey, the Gunslugs games are on sale. Those are some fun little action games. Aside from those, there isn’t a whole lot to get too excited about in the list of new sales. Check them anyway. Have a look at the outbox while you’re at it, especially if you’re collecting Kairosoft sims for whatever reason.
Select New Games on Sale
Gunslugs ($1.99 from $7.99 until 7/25)
Gunslugs 2 ($1.99 from $7.99 until 7/25)
The Game of Life 2 ($23.99 from $29.99 until 7/26)
Clue: The Classic Mystery Game ($14.99 from $29.99 until 7/26)
Battleship ($9.99 from $19.99 until 7/26)
DreamWorks Dragons ($19.99 from $39.99 until 7/26)
Jumanji: The Video Game ($19.99 from $39.99 until 7/26)
Ben 10 ($9.99 from $19.99 until 7/26)
Ben 10: Power Trip! ($23.99 from $39.99 until 7/26)
Zoids Wild Blast Unleashed ($15.99 from $39.99 until 7/26)
Transformers: Battleground ($19.99 from $39.99 until 7/26)
Hotel Transylvania 3 ($14.99 from $29.99 until 7/26)
Adventure Time: Pirates ($19.99 from $39.99 until 7/26)
Trollhunters: DoA ($19.99 from $39.99 until 7/26)
Ice Age: Scrat’s Adventure ($19.99 from $39.99 until 7/26)
PAW Patrol: On a Roll! ($23.99 from $39.99 until 7/26)
PAW Patrol: Mighty Pups ($23.99 from $39.99 until 7/26)
Gigantosaurus The Game ($19.99 from $39.99 until 7/26)
Street Basketball ($1.99 from $5.99 until 7/26)
Bubble Cats Rescue ($1.99 from $3.99 until 7/26)
Gangsta Paradise ($1.99 from $9.99 until 7/26)
Colorfall ($1.99 from $4.99 until 7/26)
Fantasy Checkers ($1.99 from $7.99 until 7/26)
AnimaLudo ($3.99 from $9.99 until 7/26)
Classic Games Collection Vol.1 ($1.99 from $4.99 until 7/26)
Freecell Solitaire Deluxe ($1.99 from $8.99 until 7/26)
Solitaire Deluxe Bundle 3 in 1 ($1.99 from $14.99 until 7/26)
Urban Flow ($1.99 from $14.99 until 7/26)
Perfect Traffic Simulator ($1.99 from $9.99 until 7/26)
Fantasy Tower Defense ($1.99 from $4.99 until 7/26)
Royal Tower Defense ($1.99 from $7.99 until 7/26)
Among Pipes ($1.99 from $7.99 until 7/26)
Food Truck Tycoon ($1.99 from $4.99 until 7/26)
Salad Bar Tycoon ($1.99 from $4.99 until 7/26)
The Legend of Ninja ($1.99 from $4.99 until 7/26)
Real Drift Racing ($1.99 from $4.99 until 7/26)
S.N.I.P.E.R. Hunter Scope ($1.99 from $14.99 until 7/26)
Fall Gummies ($1.99 from $7.99 until 7/26)
My Magic Florist ($1.99 from $6.99 until 7/26)
Minute of Islands ($15.99 from $19.99 until 7/27)
Super Volley Blast ($4.99 from $9.99 until 8/1)
Super Tennis Blast ($7.49 from $14.99 until 8/1)
Super Soccer Blast ($3.99 from $7.99 until 8/1)
Super Sports Blast ($12.49 from $24.99 until 8/1)
Super Soccer Blast: America vs Europe ($5.99 from $9.99 until 8/1)
10 Second Ninja X ($7.99 from $11.99 until 8/3)
My Little Fast Food Booth ($1.99 from $3.99 until 8/3)
Collapsed ($8.25 from $15.00 until 8/8)
World of Solitaire ($2.99 from $14.99 until 8/9)
Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden ($2.09 from $14.99 until 8/9)
Scarlet Mysteries: Cursed Child ($2.09 from $14.99 until 8/9)
Summer Sports Games ($12.49 from $24.99 until 8/9)
Winter Sports Games ($12.49 from $24.99 until 8/9)
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger ($9.99 from $19.99 until 8/9)
Blood Will Be Spilled ($2.99 from $14.99 until 8/9)
Werewolf Pinball ($2.00 from $2.99 until 8/9)
Mummy Pinball ($2.00 from $2.99 until 8/9)
Halloween Pinball ($2.00 from $2.99 until 8/9)
Pirates Pinball ($2.00 from $2.99 until 8/9)
Feudal Alloy ($3.39 from $16.99 until 8/9)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Wednesday, July 21st
1001 Ultimate Mahjong 2 ($4.99 from $9.99 until 7/21)
1912: Titanic Mystery ($4.99 from $9.99 until 7/21)
Aerial Knight’s Never Yield ($10.79 from $11.99 until 7/21)
Ankh Guardian: TotDT ($3.99 from $7.99 until 7/21)
Bloo Kid 2 ($1.99 from $4.99 until 7/21)
Bocce ($5.99 from $7.99 until 7/21)
Bridge Constructor Ultimate ($5.99 from $14.99 until 7/21)
Colt Canyon ($5.99 from $14.99 until 7/21)
Crazy Strike Bowling EX ($4.99 from $9.99 until 7/21)
Dead End Job ($1.99 from $16.99 until 7/21)
Deadly Days ($3.79 from $18.99 until 7/21)
Doodle Derby ($1.99 from $7.99 until 7/21)
Earth Atlantis ($1.99 from $14.99 until 7/21)
Epic Astro Story ($8.40 from $14.00 until 7/21)
Faircroft’s Antiques: HfC CE ($4.99 from $9.99 until 7/21)
Faircroft’s Antiques: ToT CE ($4.99 from $9.99 until 7/21)
Family Vacation: California ($6.99 from $9.99 until 7/21)
Fate of the Pharaoh ($6.99 from $9.99 until 7/21)
Fobia ($1.99 from $9.99 until 7/21)
Ghost: Elisa Cameron ($4.99 from $9.99 until 7/21)
In Between ($1.99 from $11.99 until 7/21)
Induction ($6.29 from $8.99 until 7/21)
Jewel Wars ($3.99 from $9.99 until 7/21)
Kaptain Brawe: A Brawe New World ($2.49 from $9.99 until 7/21)
Kingdom Tales ($2.49 from $9.99 until 7/21)
Kingdom Tales 2 ($2.49 from $9.99 until 7/21)
Leisure Suit Larry: WDDD ($7.99 from $39.99 until 7/21)
Leisure Suit Larry: WDDT ($29.69 from $44.99 until 7/21)
Mina & Michi ($3.99 from $4.99 until 7/21)
Monster Prom: XXL ($6.39 from $15.99 until 7/21)
Ninja Buddy Epic Quest ($3.99 from $4.99 until 7/21)
Outbuddies DX ($7.19 from $17.99 until 7/21)
Power Racing Bundle 2 ($7.64 from $16.99 until 7/21)
Pumpkin Jack ($17.99 from $29.99 until 7/21)
Shakes on a Plane ($3.99 from $19.99 until 7/21)
Shinobi Spirits S ($4.89 from $8.99 until 7/21)
Silver Chains ($14.99 from $24.99 until 7/21)
Starship Avenger Operation TBE ($2.49 from $4.99 until 7/21)
Suicide Guy ($1.99 from $7.99 until 7/21)
Suicide Guy: Sleepin’ Deeply ($1.99 from $5.99 until 7/21)
Sweet Sugar Candy ($3.39 from $3.99 until 7/21)
Team Troopers ($2.99 from $15.50 until 7/21)
The Innsmouth Case ($3.74 from $14.99 until 7/21)
The Lost Days ($2.49 from $9.99 until 7/21)
The Sushi Spinnery ($8.40 from $14.00 until 7/21)
Throw It! Animal Park ($4.13 from $4.59 until 7/21)
Welcome to Hanwell ($2.99 from $14.99 until 7/21)
Western 1849 Reloaded ($3.99 from $7.99 until 7/21)
WRC 9 The Official Game ($29.99 from $49.99 until 7/21)
Zotrix Starglider ($2.49 from $9.99 until 7/21)
That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with the usual Wednesday plate. Some news, some new releases, some sales, and that’s about it. Probably, anyway. If I have time there may be a Cotton Reboot! review, but I’d peg that at a low chance right now. I hope you all have a terrific Tuesday, and as always, thanks for reading!