Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round for January 31st, 2023. In today’s article, we’ve got a few more reviews for you to enjoy looking through. Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection, Trek to Yomi, and Risen all get evaluated and scored in our usual manner. After that, we have one new release to check out. It’s a good one, though. Finally, it’s the usual lists of new sales and expiring discounts. Let’s get to the business!
Reviews & Mini-Views
Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection ($49.99)
What a pickle this release is. Several months ago, I reviewed Wonder Boy Collection. It included four different Wonder Boy/Monster World games, with one version of each. In that review I mentioned the various other ways you may have already bought some of the included games, but recommended it based on whatever your particular circumstances were. At the time I noted that there was a more extensive physical collection on offer from Strictly Limited Games, but there was no digital version confirmed at the time. Well, the physical version more or less just arrived in the hands of people who ordered it, and here’s the digital version to go with it.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this kind of approach from this publisher. Space Invaders and Turrican took similar paths, and since I am a glass half-full fellow, I was able to see at least some cases where a person might want the earlier cut-back collections. I can’t say that here. There is absolutely no reason to own Wonder Boy Collection with Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection available, unless you absolutely need some Wonder Boy games right now and only have thirty bucks on you. It isn’t just about the games, you see. There are also features and improvements over the previous release that make playing the games a better experience, things that ideally ought to have been patched into that first collection. I’m not going to knock this collection for this whole rude mess, but do be aware that the previous collection should be avoided now.
Moving along, what does this collection offer over the previous one? Well, for starters, you get all six of the Wonder Boy/Monster World games instead of just four. Wonder Boy, Wonder Boy in Monster Land, Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair, Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap, Wonder Boy in Monster World, and Monster World IV are all here. You don’t just get one version of each, either. You get just about every non-Hudson version of each game, which unfortunately does mean that none of the lovely TurboGrafx 16 variants are here. Still, having the arcade originals where applicable along with ports as esoteric as SG-1000 and Game Gear makes for a really interesting picture of Wonder Boy‘s history. All up, you’ve got twenty-one different games across all the different included versions. You probably won’t be playing some of them all that often, but it’s good to have them.
You also get some extras, such as an extensive art gallery, manual scans, and maps for each game. The games themselves are emulated through Ratalaika’s usual methods, and apart from the SG-1000 audio being a little off, I can find no obvious flaws in their work. One thing to note is that some games have some gameplay enhancements that are on by default, and some of them may not be welcome depending on your tastes. You can switch them off if you like, which is something you couldn’t do in the previous collection. One neat feature allows you to give the Master System version of Monster World a richer color palette, which really underlines just how nice that game looked to begin with.
Maybe you’re not interested in ports and variants, though. Six fully distinct retro games for fifty dollars might seem like a hard sell. When you break it down to a little over eight bucks per game, however, it’s not that unreasonable. Basically Arcade Archives pricing, and four of the included games are in fact arcade titles. And they are quite good games in most cases. The original Wonder Boy is still a challenging, fun action game. Monster Land is tough but intriguing in how it tries to marry RPG mechanics to a stage-based platforming framework. Monster Lair is half shooter, half platformer. It’s okay. The Dragon’s Trap is a stone-cold classic example of an early Metroidvania. Monster World was the first console-first release in the series, and it’s another solid action-adventure game. Monster World IV is a game whose praises I’ve sung many times before. Even if you only play one version of each, this is a great set on its own.
As before, I should mention that you may already own some of these games via other means. The aforementioned Wonder Boy Collection, of course. That gets you the arcade versions of Wonder Boy and Monster Land, plus the Genesis versions of Monster World and Monster World IV. You may also already own the arcade version of Monster Land via the SEGA AGES line. There’s the notable remake of The Dragon’s Trap from Dotemu and Lizardcube, and the less notable remake of Monster World IV which includes the original version of the game as a bonus. And Wonder Boy Returns Remix, dubious though it may be, is a partial remake of the original Wonder Boy. But I think if you’re a big enough Wonder Boy fan to own all of that, you’re probably in on this set just for all the various ports here.
It’s a shame there is a bit of a cloud over this release due to the previous collection’s existence, because this really is an amazing package for Wonder Boy fans. It’s hard to ask for more without involving Konami, and I wouldn’t have expected that to happen. Having so many ports included is fantastic, the emulation is where it should be, and you get a fair amount of extra to help round out the package. It’s unfortunate that those who bought the prior collection are left with an inferior product, but otherwise this is an anniversary-worthy release.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Trek to Yomi ($19.99)
If I only gave points for style, Trek to Yomi would be getting top scores. Inspired by the films of Akira Kurosawa, its monochrome visuals and use of various camera angles create an incredibly cinematic feel. It looks great and it sounds great. At first, it seems like it’s going to play well too. And it doesn’t play badly by any means. You basically move through the story, doing some light exploration for extra goodies between fights. It’s the fights where the bulk of the gameplay is found, however. Enemies will close in and you’ll have to use your katana-wielding prowess to cut them down before they do the same to you. They don’t always play fair either, so you’ll have to keep pivoting to deal with attacks from both sides.
So yes, at first it’s all very cool. You play through a prologue set during the main character’s childhood, fight off some bandits, and see some bad stuff go down. The visuals have clearly taken a hit in the process of moving to the Switch, and the sometimes muddy nature of the graphics can make it a little difficult to read the scene. It somewhat breaks the illusion of being an old samurai movie because of these technical issues, but that’s how it goes. We’re Switch owners, we are prepared for sacrifices.
A little time skip happens and you find yourself playing the adult version of your character, surprisingly fighting mostly the same few kinds of bandits you did as a kid. Then another thing happens and you find yourself fighting through the underworld, even more surprisingly meeting those same few kinds of troublemakers. The lack of enemy variety is a major issue, and you end up really only looking forward to boss battles to spice things up. The boss battles are pretty good, though. You have some difficulty options, but they only tend to increase the tedium rather than address it.
Trek to Yomi is something I would hesitantly recommend to fans of Kurosawa flicks or those looking for a stylish action game. It plays most of its gameplay cards too early and ends up being rather tedious for such a brief affair, but it’s worth the squeeze, if only barely, to see its various sights. That said, if you have any other options besides the Switch to play it on, I’d suggest doing so there. This is a game that is all about its visual presentation and the compromises the Switch version makes detracts from that.
SwitchArcade Score: 3/5
There is a particular flavor to the games of German developer Piranha Bytes Software, and up until now it has been a flavor absent from the Nintendo Switch. The developer makes action-RPGs with a thick layer of jank and opacity to them, with more rough edges than a box of Cap’n Crunch. The games are clunky, unwieldy, and often buggy. It is very easy to paint yourself in a corner due to bad planning, so you’ll have to do some careful thinking and/or research if you mean to get into the games earnestly. But there’s a certain charm to what this developer does, a certain sincerity, ambition, and confidence that makes its games very enjoyable if you’re the right type of player.
Risen on the Switch is more or less the same as the Risen we saw on the PC and Xbox 360 back in 2009. It has been ported as directly as possible without any thought to making enhancements or alterations. Do not come into this thinking it will be approachable or friendly in any way. It was esoteric then and if anything it is more so in today’s context. You’re given very little to go on with regards to how it controls, and those controls are fairly cumbersome. It teaches you practically nothing about how its rather deep skill systems work, so you’ll have to sort that out on your own. There is relatively little direction or guidance, so you’ll have to figure out what to do and how to get where you need to go on your own.
This all may sound unpleasant to some, and if that is you, then Risen is probably not going to be your thing. For a certain type, though, the sound of that kind of chaotic freedom is probably making you salivate a little already. And Risen offers that in spades. After overcoming the initial area, you’ll soon find yourself aligning with one of the factions that vies for control of the island you’ve washed up on. The one you choose will set you on a broad course, but you have a lot of rein in how you handle even the smallest of quests. On top of that, there are all kinds of non-essential secrets and goodies to find along the way, some of which seem to be there just to stoke your imagination and help make the world feel more alive. If you can put up with its quirks, Risen is an excellent RPG.
As for the port, it’s about what we’ve come to expect from THQ Nordic fare. The framerate is wildly unstable, and you’ll get anywhere from twenty-five to sixty frames per second depending on what’s going on. As mentioned, no efforts have been made to pretty things up. It really comes down to how sensitive you are to variable framerates. If that doesn’t bother you, then it’s hard to find much to complain about with this version of the game. If it does, then you’re going to have a bad time.
Risen is certainly of its time and place, but depending on your inclinations there isn’t anything wrong with that. I do wish the framerate in this port had been locked down rather than allowed to run wild, but otherwise this is Risen on your Switch in all of its late aughts glory. It’s not a game that will make things easy on you, especially in the beginning, but if you stick with it you’ll find it gives back a lot more than what you put in.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake ($39.99)
The multiverse is so hot right now. So here’s a new SpongeBob 3D platformer, very much in the vein of Battle for Bikini Bottom. SpongeBob gets his hands on a magical item that causes a bunch of wishes to be granted in some very twisted ways. Now he has to venture into seven different Wishworlds to rescue his friends and save reality as we know it. I’ll have a review of this soon, but if you like SpongeBob or just appreciate a good 3D platformer, you’ll probably enjoy this quite a bit.
(North American eShop, US Prices)
NIS America is having a sale, presumably to commemorate its anniversary, and you can get a variety of good games at fair prices. Disgaea 6 in particular is at a new low price, so you may want to bite on it now if you haven’t before. There are a few other goodies in there, so do have a look. The outbox has a fair bit in it, with sales from Bandai Namco and others coming to a close soon. Check it while you’re at it as well.
Select New Games on Sale
Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure ($1.99 from $19.99 until 2/6)
Disgaea 1 Complete ($17.49 from $49.99 until 2/13)
Disgaea 4 Complete+ ($17.49 from $49.99 until 2/13)
Disgaea 5 Complete ($19.99 from $39.99 until 2/13)
Disgaea 6 DoD ($29.99 from $59.99 until 2/13)
Pix the Cat ($1.99 from $9.99 until 2/13)
Yomawari: Lost in the Dark ($29.99 from $39.99 until 2/13)
Yomawari: Long Night Collection ($14.99 from $39.99 until 2/13)
Dungeon of the Endless ($3.99 from $19.99 until 2/13)
The Princess Guide ($4.99 from $39.99 until 2/13)
NIS Classics Vol.1 ($29.99 from $39.99 until 2/13)
NIS Classics Vol.2 ($29.99 from $39.99 until 2/13)
NIS Classics Vol.3 ($29.99 from $39.99 until 2/13)
Void Terrarium ($9.99 from $24.99 until 2/13)
Labyrinth of Refrain: CoD ($17.49 from $49.99 until 2/13)
Prinny CIRBtH ($9.99 from $19.99 until 2/13)
Prinny 2 DoOPD ($9.99 from $19.99 until 2/13)
Liar Princess & Blind Prince ($9.99 from $19.99 until 2/13)
Cruel King & the Great Hero ($16.49 from $29.99 until 2/13)
Poison Control ($4.99 from $39.99 until 2/13)
New Terra ($2.49 from $4.99 until 2/19)
Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! ($14.99 from $24.99 until 2/20)
Primal Light ($8.99 from $14.99 until 2/20)
Warpips ($9.99 from $19.99 until 2/20)
Destropolis ($1.99 from $5.99 until 2/20)
The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav ($1.99 from $19.99 until 2/20)
The Dark Eye: Memoria ($1.99 from $19.99 until 2/20)
AER Memories of Old ($1.99 from $19.99 until 2/20)
Unrailed! ($4.99 from $19.99 until 2/20)
Tanuki Justice ($5.99 from $14.99 until 2/20)
Golden Force ($7.99 from $19.99 until 2/20)
Flippin Kaktus ($5.99 from $11.99 until 2/20)
Cyjin: The Cyborg Ninja ($5.99 from $9.99 until 2/20)
Nova-111 ($3.99 from $9.99 until 2/20)
Okinawa Rush ($7.99 from $19.99 until 2/20)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 1st
Adventures of Pip ($4.99 from $9.99 until 2/1)
B.ARK ($5.99 from $9.99 until 2/1)
Captain Tsubasa RoNC ($14.99 from $59.99 until 2/1)
Cricket 22 ($24.99 from $49.99 until 2/1)
Crossroad Crash ($1.99 from $4.98 until 2/1)
Crowdy Farm Rush ($1.99 from $5.99 until 2/1)
Crysis Remastered ($11.99 from $29.99 until 2/1)
Crysis Remastered Trilogy ($27.49 from $49.99 until 2/1)
Disney Tsum Tsum Festival ($19.99 from $49.99 until 2/1)
Dobo’s Heroes ($1.99 from $9.99 until 2/1)
Doraemon Story of Seasons FotGK ($37.49 from $49.99 until 2/1)
Doraemon Story of Seasons FotGK SE ($44.99 from $59.99 until 2/1)
Dragon Ball FighterZ ($8.99 from $59.99 until 2/1)
Huntdown ($3.99 from $19.99 until 2/1)
Hunting Simulator ($3.99 from $39.99 until 2/1)
Hunting Simulator 2: BH Edition ($14.99 from $49.99 until 2/1)
Invert ($1.99 from $9.99 until 2/1)
JoJo’s Bizarre Adv. All-Star BR Deluxe ($48.99 from $69.99 until 2/1)
Mr Maker 3D Level Editor ($1.99 from $9.99 until 2/1)
My Hero One’s Justice Deluxe ($19.99 from $79.99 until 2/1)
My Little Riding Champion ($8.99 from $29.99 until 2/1)
Namco Museum Archives Vol 1 ($4.99 from $19.99 until 2/1)
Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm ($4.99 from $19.99 until 2/1)
One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 Deluxe ($17.99 from $89.99 until 2/1)
Pac-Man 99 Mode Unlock ($9.74 from $14.99 until 2/1)
Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 Plus ($5.99 from $19.99 until 2/1)
QuickSpot ($9.99 from $19.99 until 2/1)
RazerWire: Nanowars ($1.99 from $9.99 until 2/1)
Roguebook ($12.49 from $24.99 until 2/1)
SCATch: The Painter Cat ($1.99 from $9.99 until 2/1)
SD Gundam Battle Alliance Deluxe ($59.49 from $84.99 until 2/1)
Shmup Mania ($1.99 from $9.99 until 2/1)
Striker Modes ($1.99 from $9.99 until 2/1)
Super Dragon Ball Heroes WM ($8.99 from $59.99 until 2/1)
Super Snake Block ($1.99 from $9.99 until 2/1)
Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris ($34.99 from $49.99 until 2/1)
Sword Art Online Hollow Realization DE ($7.49 from $49.99 until 2/1)
Taiko no Tatsujin Rhythm Festival Deluxe ($40.14 from $54.99 until 2/1)
Tennis World Tour ($2.99 from $29.99 until 2/1)
The Jackbox Party Pack 2 ($9.99 from $24.99 until 2/1)
V-Rally 4 ($14.99 from $49.99 until 2/1)
WRC 9 Official Game ($3.99 from $39.99 until 2/1)
That’s all for today and this month, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with more new releases, more sales, and perhaps some news. There are some rumblings that a Direct is upon us, and yes, it does seem like the right time of the year for one. I suppose we’ll see as the week goes on. I hope you all have a terrific Tuesday, and as always, thanks for reading!