Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for November 15th, 2022. Today I have another three reviews for you to enjoy. SNK’s NEOGEO Pocket Color Selection Vol.2, Thunderful’s Jurassic World Aftermath Collection, and Microids’ Oddworld: Soulstorm all get their time in the ol’ chair of judgement. After that, it’s time for the new releases. There are more of them than I expected, and we’ve got summaries of the lot. Finally, the usual lists of new and outgoing sales. Let’s get to it!
Reviews & Mini-Views
NEOGEO Pocket Color Selection Vol.2 ($39.99)
The numbering on the first NEOGEO Pocket Color Selection made it clear that SNK was going to be doing at least one more, and here we are. After seeing what is here, however, I’m not sure if we’ll be seeing a third volume. There just doesn’t seem to be enough gas left in the tank unless SNK splashes out for more of the third-party stuff, and I’m not even sure how much of that is possible. Well, problems for another day.
With two very notable exclusions, the first volume of NEOGEO Pocket Color Selection felt like it hit most of the well-known notes of the short-lived handheld. A bevy of excellent handheld fighters, a couple of Metal Slug games, the renamed NEO Turf Masters, and even an RPG for some extra spice. Fighter-heavy to be sure, but so was the NEOGEO Pocket Color. So where does that leave this second volume? Friends, we’re heading into the wacky zone, and that’s always a fun place to be.
First up, there isn’t a single traditional fighting game on here. SNK exhausted all of those in the first collection. You’ve got the four separate releases that have been put out since the first volume came out: SNK vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash, Big Bang Pro Wrestling, Biomotor Unitron, and Mega Man: Battle & Fighters. So that’s a card-battling RPG of sorts, a wrestling game, a Monster Rancher-ish RPG, and an arcade arena battler. The selection is filled out with six more games: Ganbare Neo Poke-kun, The King of Fighters: Battle de Paradise, Baseball Stars, Neo Geo Cup ’98, Pocket Tennis, and Puzzle Link 2. Three sports games, a party/board game, a virtual pet/mini-game collection, and a puzzle game. Certainly a variety pack.
I won’t dwell too much on the wrapper as it hasn’t seen too many changes from previous releases. There’s a new game selection menu with a catchy remix of the NEOGEO Pocket Color’s start-up jingle, but otherwise it’s all very familiar. You can look at the packaging, read full manual scans, play different region versions of each game where available, play on the hardware model of your choice, and make use of rewinds and resume saves as needed. Still no standard save states you can use to scum, but that’s probably not going to change. The emulation remains on-point. The Code Mystics do nice work and this is not going to buck that trend.
There is one major let-down with this package, however. Three of these games never saw release outside of Japan back in the day. Exciting! New games for us! Except that SNK for whatever reason has decided to give us these games as-is, which is to say in Japanese only. The manuals have been translated, which is a nice gesture, but The King of Fighters: Battle de Paradise in particular is very hard to enjoy if you can’t read the text. If the West is a good enough region to sell into, it should be a good enough region to localize for, SNK.
Alright, that’s my main gripe. On to the games. Card Fighters’ Clash is the highlight here. One of the best games on the console, and if you didn’t buy it separately it can carry a lot of price of this set alone. You get both Capcom and SNK flavors here, and can keep separate save files for each. Neat. The other three separately released games are… fine. Good to have on a set. I wouldn’t have strongly advised buying any of them on their own. Mega Man is a port of both arcade games, and just like those, it’s a bit thin on content. Biomotor Unitron feels like the bones of a solid RPG, but bones are all you get. Big Bang is fun, but hardly the greatest example of its genre.
Over to sports. Baseball Stars is excellent. One of those baseball games that even non-fans can enjoy, and fans will really enjoy. Neo Geo Cup ’98 and Pocket Tennis are decent takes on their respective sports, though not terribly outstanding. I think I enjoy the tennis game more than the soccer game, but I would. I’m just not that into soccer. Still, fun games with a good handheld vibe to them. They may all be sports games but they play very differently from each other and offer distinct experiences.
Finally, the potpourri category. Ganbare Neo Poke-Kun is a quirky game. You’re sort of taking care of a virtual pet, but also just messing with it and observing it. Neo Poke-Kun does all kinds of things, and sometimes it works on making games. Very simple games. When it finishes each one, you can play it. This one is Japanese only but you should be able to muddle your way through. I can’t promise you’ll understand it, though.
Puzzle Link 2 is a solid matching puzzle game. It reminds me of games like Puzzle Bobble and Magical Drop, though I wouldn’t say it’s quite as good as either of them. You basically have to make connections between matching pieces to remove them from the board. Every handheld needs its own puzzle game, and I suppose this can be the NEOGEO Pocket Color’s. Then we’ve got The King of Fighters: Battle de Paradise. It’s a Mario Party-style board game with mini-games, but unless you can read Japanese you won’t be able to understand what the items do or be able to read the many other messages that come up during events. Fire this one up on the monochrome model for a fun surprise.
I have my share of issues with NEOGEO Pocket Color Selection Vol.2. The untranslated games are a bummer. It’s extremely likely that if you’re interested in this, you’ve already bought some of the separately-released games. But as a whole, even counting out a few games for lack of translation or double-dipping, this is still a really strong set of games that show what the road less-traveled looked like on the handheld. The oddball nature of the line-up gives it a strong appeal for those looking for something a little different, warts and all.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Oddworld: Soulstorm ($49.99)
In previous reviews of Oddworld games here at TouchArcade, I think I have painted the picture of my past with the series fairly well. At the time of its release, I didn’t really get into the original Abe’s Oddysee. I skipped on playing Abe’s Exoddus as a result. I wasn’t very into Munch’s Oddysee, and I thought Stranger’s Wrath was an absolute top-shelf game. I rather enjoyed New ‘n’ Tasty, and I don’t know how much of that came down to the quality of the remake or just my tastes changing over the decades.
Here we have the latest Oddworld game, Oddworld: Soulstorm, making its way to the Switch after debuting on other platforms a while back. It retells the story of Abe’s Exoddus, but it wouldn’t be correct to call it a remake because it really is doing its own thing almost across the board. And you know what? I respect that. Oddworld is going to get to a new chapter in the story at some point here, and the more practice the team picks up doing these revamps, the better. That said, at its core this is still a puzzle-platformer similar to the original two games and New ‘n’ Tasty. You’re once again playing as Abe, and you’re going to need to guide your fellow Mudokans to keep them safe from those who would prey on them.
So yes, lots of slightly awkward platforming, some stealthing about, and plenty of puzzles to solve. The story carries the usual Oddworld themes about the dangers of excessive consumption, environmental destruction, and exploitation. Well told, and sadly more resonant as time goes on. But this is also a more personal story about Abe and how he fits into everything. A way to solidify his character before the series moves into installments that aren’t just about him. The plot is easily the strong point of the game, even if it can be a bit heavy-handed at times.
On the less pleasant side of things, this game is sometimes hard for the wrong reasons. The controls are unwieldy, Abe’s movement is a bit stiff, and the AI is just sort of horrible. I don’t mind that the game makes some tough asks, but when you rise up to the challenge only to lose because of something stupid that was outside of your control, it’s not great. The Oddworld games of this style have all tended to suffer from this stuff to some degree or another, but it’s particularly bad here. Throw in a few of the expected technical issues that come from the transition to Switch, and you’ve got something that’s really just for the hardcore Oddworld fans with no other platform options.
I enjoyed Oddworld: Soulstorm more often than I didn’t. The moments of frustration were intense, but most of the time I was just having a good time rolling through this adventure. The performance issues are both expected and unfortunate, but I suppose it could have been a whole lot worse. This is still just about as playable as the other versions of the game. That said, if you have the option of a more powerful platform, I would take it. A decent enough game to not let down the series, but not one I would recommend to anyone but those who are all-in on the Odd.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
Jurassic World Aftermath Collection ($29.99)
I hope I’m not saying anything too controversial if I say that VR games thus far tend to lean heavily on the gee-whiz factor inherent to the technology. A game doesn’t need to be complicated to be fun when you’re playing with the kind of immersion VR offers. Indeed, sometimes it’s an issue if a game is too complicated. I suppose that is an ominous set-up for a review of a former VR game that has made its way to the Switch, but I think we need that to be out there. Being inside Jurassic Park/World is an amazing novelty that many fans have dreamed of for the last few decades, and this game does a good job of that. Take away the VR elements, and it loses a lot of its shine.
That being said, I think if you’re a big fan of the brand you might enjoy this anyway. Its stylish comic book-style visuals look great, the voice acting is top-notch, and you definitely get the feeling of being on a Jurassic Park adventure. What hurts the game is the overall lack of variety in the gameplay and how far it tries to spread what is here. The gameplay is just too simple. The cheap scares get a little old, and the cheap deaths get very old. Not a complete disaster, but ultimately only of interest to fans.
SwitchArcade Score: 3/5
RWBY: Arrowfell ($29.99)
WayForward is the developer behind the latest game based on the RWBY franchise. Take control of all four main members of the team and use their unique skills in this side-scrolling action game. There are some light adventure elements here and the areas are fairly non-linear with some extra upgrades and such to find. I’ll be doing a full review of this one soon.
The Oregon Trail ($29.99)
The rather excellent Apple Arcade rendition of The Oregon Trail makes its way to the Switch. I’m happy to report that it did not die from dysentery along the way. I’m fond of this one, as I find it builds on the original game thoughtfully and respectfully. Is it worth buying for thirty bucks here over just subscribing to Apple Arcade and playing it there? I’ll be doing a review soon to let you know my thoughts on the matter.
Let’s Sing 2023 ($39.99)
It’s about that time of the year for another Let’s Sing, and here it is right on schedule. As always, you can download the smartphone app to use your phone as a mic if you don’t have one handy. You get thirty songs including hits from Ed Sheeran, Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish, BTS, and even Canadian Queen Avril Lavigne herself. Hard to get a more known quantity than this, which is why I won’t be reviewing it, but if it works it works.
The Bounty Huntress ($4.99)
A fairly middling Metroidvania-style action game. I’ve played worse, I’ve played significantly better, but this one is only five dollars so perhaps it’s the right one for you today. Explore a castle with seven different areas and rescue the kidnapped townspeople.
Garfield Lasagna Party ($39.99)
I suppose if one feels the need to shovel out a Garfield game, making it a party game isn’t the worst choice of genres. Up to four players via local multiplayer can enjoy thirty-two different mini-games featuring the popular characters from the long-running comic. There are three different modes of play, and the winner takes all (the lasagna).
Smurfs Kart ($39.99)
I suppose if one feels the need to shovel out a Smurfs game, making it a kart racing game isn’t the worst choice of genres. Up to four players via local multiplayer can enjoy twelve tracks of Smurfy racing action featuring the popular characters from the long-running comic. There are twelve different Smurfs to choose from, each with their own kart and special ability to use. I’m being a little cute here but this is actually a decent kart racer. Not a great one, barely a good one, but decent.
The Kingdom of Gardenia ($7.99)
Here’s another farming game. This one is coming in at the lower end of the price spectrum, at least. You take a job as the groundskeeper and interim steward of the West Garden of the Kingdom of Gardenia. The people are counting on you to grow plants and serve up some tasty food, and maybe show off a little of your decorating skills along the way. It seems to have a few fans over on Steam, so I suppose if you’re looking for a cheap life sim fix this could be what you’re after.
Martial Knight ($6.43)
That guy looks kind of like Marshall from How I Met Your Mother. Maybe this is actually Marshall Knight? Anyway, this is a rather shabby fitness game. You can’t play in handheld mode, like with most exercise games. Put the money towards Ring Fit if you don’t already have that. If you do… go play that instead of wasting your cash on this.
(North American eShop, US Prices)
Some little lists today. Euro-shmup fans can get the Jets’n’Guns games at very low prices, and Kao the Kangaroo is as cheap as it has been since launch. In the outbox, dungeon crawling RPG fans should think about adding Demon Gaze to their library, while those who are riding a Platinum high from Bayonetta 3 may want to give The Wonderful 101 Remastered a go.
Select New Games on Sale
Jets’n’Guns 2 ($5.99 from $14.99 until 11/22)
Jets’n’Guns ($2.79 from $6.99 until 11/22)
Silent Sector ($11.04 from $12.99 until 11/22)
Attentat 1942 ($7.74 from $15.49 until 11/22)
Svoboda 1945: Liberation ($12.59 from $17.99 until 11/22)
Evoland Legendary Edition ($4.99 from $19.99 until 11/28)
Depth of Extinction ($3.74 from $14.99 until 12/2)
Kao the Kangaroo ($20.99 from $29.99 until 12/5)
Kao the Kangaroo DLC ($5.59 from $6.99 until 12/5)
Knights & Guns Extended Edition ($1.99 from $16.49 until 12/5)
Project Highrise: AE ($7.99 from $39.99 until 12/5)
Warhammer 40k Mechanicus ($9.99 from $39.99 until 12/5)
Outbreak: Contagious Memories ($10.49 from $29.99 until 12/5)
Outbreak: Endless Nightmares ($6.99 from $19.99 until 12/5)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Wednesday, November 16th
3000th Duel ($4.49 from $14.99 until 11/16)
Battlloon ($3.49 from $6.99 until 11/16)
Chiki-Chiki Boxy Racers ($4.99 from $9.99 until 11/16)
Demon Gaze Extra Deluxe ($38.99 from $64.99 until 11/16)
Halloween Shooter ($1.99 from $9.99 until 11/16)
Logic Pic ($5.19 from $7.99 until 11/16)
Necrosphere Deluxe ($3.99 from $7.99 until 11/16)
Ravenous Devils ($3.49 from $4.99 until 11/16)
Romeow: To the Cracked Mars ($1.99 from $2.99 until 11/16)
Supaplex Squares ($4.49 from $14.99 until 11/16)
Super Mabus Mania ($7.10 from $7.89 until 11/16)
The Wonderful 101 Remastered ($17.99 from $39.99 until 11/16)
Tiny Metal ($7.49 from $14.99 until 11/16)
Tokyo Dark Remembrance ($9.99 from $19.99 until 11/16)
That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with more new releases, more sales, and perhaps a bit of news. No more reviews from me for this week, I need to rest my eyes. I hope you all have a great Tuesday, and as always, thanks for reading!