SwitchArcade Round-Up: Reviews Featuring ‘The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow’, Plus the Latest Releases and Sales

Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for February 6th, 2023. In today’s article, we’re kicking off the week with a few reviews. The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow, ATONE: Heart of the Elder Tree, and SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake all get their time in the chair of judgement. Quite the variety of games, to say the least. We also have a number of new releases to check out, but they’re mostly dubious. Finally, the lists of new and outgoing sales. They are also here. I’ve checked and everything. Let’s get to work!

Reviews & Mini-Views

The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow ($14.99)

When it comes to modern point-and-click adventure games, you really can’t go wrong with the efforts from Wadjet Eye Games. This is the publisher’s third release on the Switch, following the excellent Unavowed and Primordia, and it’s another winner as far as I’m concerned. The premise this time sees you investigating the barrows in a small village named Bewlay. From the minute you arrive, things feel a little off. Before long, you’ll come to understand that there is more going on here than you could have expected.

Wadjet Eye has sorted out before how to make this kind of game work on a controller, and the familiar interface returns here. It has done everything it can to alleviate the pain of trying to get your cursor just where it needs to be, though I can imagine some folks still finding it a lot more frustrating than playing the game with a mouse. That’s really the only thing to be aware of if you opt to pick up and play this Switch version of the game, as it otherwise runs and plays fine.

As for the game itself, there are three main points of The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow that make it stand out. First of all, the presentation is excellent. The visuals are detailed but stylish, and for the most part they function well. I also really enjoy the animation of the characters. Combined with some strong voice acting, it helps these quirky people be as memorable as possible. The game audio in general is solid, and it will use it to freak you out or just help establish the mood as needed.

That feeds into the second point, which is just how well this game builds its atmosphere. Almost from the very start, there’s a very real sense of dread set up, and it only gets stronger as you go. It uses the unknown as a powerful element, and also revels in taking the ordinary and skewing it just enough to make it unsettling. The only downside of this is that eventually it has to pull back the curtain to resolve things, and the reality almost never matches one’s imagination. Still, it’s compelling stuff while it lasts.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the puzzles. This is the element that can make or break a game in the adventure genre. Fortunately, The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow does a nice job here. Some of the puzzles have ridiculous solutions, but the important thing is that the player can follow the logic to figure them out. I’m experienced in the genre but I wouldn’t call myself an expert, and I was able to figure out everything I needed to without looking up any help. That said, I did have to think about some of them. It’s not just a game you steamroll through. Like the last two Switch releases from this publisher, I would say that its puzzles are just right.

The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow sticks to the standards of the adventure genre enough that you have to have at least some interest in the genre to enjoy it, but provided you do it is an absolute treat. The setting is the star here, and what a star it turns out to be. Add in some reasonably challenging but fair puzzles, excellent production values, and a good interface, and you’ve got another great release from Wadjet Eye Games.

SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5

ATONE: Heart of the Elder Tree ($14.99)

For the most part, I don’t have a whole lot to add to our review of the Apple Arcade version of ATONE: Heart of the Elder Tree that we posted way back in the Before Times of November 2019. I didn’t write that review, but I agree with its praise of the story, characters, visual presentation, and music. The main difference with this version is that you can use button controls for the rhythm-based combat sequences, and that does make things slightly more awkward. You can also use touch controls, but they don’t work as well here as they did on the mobile version.

The basic idea here is that you are trying to lift a curse that befell the land, and you’ll do that by exploring the world, talking to various characters, solving some very simple puzzles, and engaging in combat. The combat is the unique gameplay element here, as it takes the form of a rhythm game that will be familiar to anyone who has played a game in that genre in the last couple of decades. Hit the buttons as the beats come down the screen and don’t miss too many of them. During the battle the note board will move over for little cinemas to play out, which is neat but also kind of distracting.

It’s good to see this game get a new lease on life after its exit from Apple Arcade. While it wasn’t a game whose name was often uttered when people listed their favorites from the service, it’s one that is well worth playing if you enjoy a good story and think you can keep up with its slightly demanding combat segments. ATONE: Heart of the Elder Tree is if nothing else a unique experience, and it’s nice to see it make a relatively unscathed trip to the Switch.

SwitchArcade Score: 4/5

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake ($39.99)

How well you enjoy SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake depends on what your expectations are for it. If you’re looking for a follow-up to Battle for Bikini Bottom that feels like it could have come out back in the day, you’re in luck. This is more or less that. If on the other hand you are looking for a SpongeBob platformer that reflects the advancements in the 3D platforming genre in the twenty years since Battle for Bikini Bottom‘s 2003 launch, you’re probably going to come away disappointed.

SpongeBob has messed things up again, though it’s certainly not all his fault this time. But he’s the one who’s going to have to fix it, so I suppose it doesn’t really matter who did what here. The important thing is that to save his friends and the fabric of reality itself, SpongeBob has to venture into seven Wish Worlds. These are places born from the wishes of his friends, and each one of them is incredibly distinct and creative in its design. Each one will have you platforming, fighting, exploring, and engaging in other amusing activities. It’s all very meat-and-potatoes, but wrapped up in that classic SpongeBob charm. The presentation is a winner here, with all of the voice actors delivering solid performances and the visuals pulling off the look of the show.

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake looks and sounds like a modern game, but it very much plays like something from the PlayStation 2 era. Fortunately, it plays like a good 3D platformer from that era. I think fans of the show or the classic SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom will be satisfied with this effort, while those hoping for something grander may be unimpressed. It’s good enough to be worth playing for fans of 3D platforming games, even if it may not thrill those who aren’t so into the genre.

SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5

New Releases

Seraph’s Last Stand ($3.99)

A fairly straightforward roguelite action game where you get a new upgrade after every wave of enemies is cleared. It has a striking visual presentation and actually plays fairly well. Easily the best of today’s dubious lot.

NCL: USA Bowl ($14.99)

This one is playable for up to four players via local multiplayer. The idea here is that you are racing your character through the obstacle course that is the field. Mildly amusing but fifteen bucks is probably a little too high for what you get. Perhaps if you have parties with football fans who want to play something silly and light.

Samurai Warrior ($2.29)

Gametry loves using Unity Asset Store templates for its games, and this may well be another one. I’m tired of looking. This is a rather poorly-playing top-down action game with the occasional simple puzzle to deal with. Personally, I’d find something better to spend a couple bucks on, but you do you.

Hentai RPG: Isekai Journey ($8.99)

A match-3 game with some light RPG and visual novel elements. Play the puzzles, get some upgrades, progress your relationship with the three different girls, and enjoy some mildly risque anime pictures. That’s pretty much all there is to it.

Foxy’s Coin Hunt ($2.99)

Gametry has another one for us today, this time an awful Super Mario Bros. knock-off starring a fox. Hit question blocks, collect coins, jump on turtles, all sorts of original stuff. I personally would not spend three dollars on this.


(North American eShop, US Prices)

I’ll level with you: the only thing jumping out at me from either list is the great sale on Wargroove and its expansion. But you should have a look through those lists yourselves, as there are certainly some solid titles in there and one of them may grab you more than it grabbed me.

Select New Games on Sale

Milky Way Prince: Vampire Star ($7.49 from $14.99 until 2/11)
Faraday Protocol ($2.49 from $24.99 until 2/11)
BeatTalk ($8.99 from $17.99 until 2/13)
Samurai Warrior ($1.99 from $2.29 until 2/20)
Super Cyborg ($2.99 from $6.99 until 2/20)
Foxy’s Coin Hunt ($2.09 from $2.99 until 2/20)
Super Shadow Break Showdown ($6.49 from $12.99 until 2/20)
Pankapu ($2.39 from $11.99 until 2/23)
Suicide Guy Collection ($2.74 from $10.99 until 2/23)
Foretales ($15.99 from $19.99 until 2/23)
Pompom: The Great Space Rescue ($7.99 from $9.99 until 2/23)
Letters A Written Adventure ($10.49 from $14.99 until 2/23)
Ruggnar ($9.79 from $13.99 until 2/23)
Piczle Cross Adventure ($4.49 from $9.99 until 2/23)
PictoQuest ($4.49 from $9.99 until 2/23)
Double Kick Heroes ($12.09 from $21.99 until 2/23)

NeuroVoider ($3.49 from $13.99 until 2/23)
ScourgeBringer ($9.34 from $16.99 until 2/23)
Hover ($6.24 from $24.99 until 2/23)
Alba: A Wildlife Adventure ($11.99 from $19.99 until 2/23)
Before I Forget ($5.59 from $7.99 until 2/23)
Souldiers ($15.99 from $19.99 until 2/23)
Run: The World in Between ($7.49 from $9.99 until 2/23)
Stack Up! (Or Dive Trying) ($6.99 from $9.99 until 2/23)
Out of Space: Couch Edition ($4.49 from $9.99 until 2/23)
Super Rocket Shootout ($1.99 from $9.99 until 2/23)
Truck Simulator 3 ($7.79 from $12.99 until 2/24)
Bridge Builder Adventure ($2.84 from $14.99 until 2/24)
Saboteur! ($4.80 from $8.00 until 2/24)
Saboteur II Avenging Angel ($4.80 from $8.00 until 2/24)

Saboteur SiO ($6.59 from $10.99 until 2/24)
Beholgar ($7.99 from $9.99 until 2/24)
Sakura Cupid ($7.99 from $9.99 until 2/24)
Build a Bridge! ($2.84 from $14.99 until 2/24)
Car Factory Driver ($9.74 from $12.99 until 2/24)
Dungeonoid ($2.09 from $6.99 until 2/24)
Cook Serve Delicious 2 ($1.99 from $12.99 until 2/25)
Cook Serve Delicious 3 ($1.99 from $19.99 until 2/25)
Cook Serve Delicious 2/3 Bundle ($2.99 from $24.99 until 2/25)
Longhead ($2.99 from $9.99 until 2/25)
Casino Golf ($2.99 from $9.99 until 2/25)
Boxer ($1.99 from $9.99 until 2/25)
Once Upon a Time on Halloween ($2.99 from $9.99 until 2/25)

Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 7th

All-Star Fruit Racing ($5.99 from $19.99 until 2/7)
EA Sports FIFA 23 Legacy Edition ($19.99 from $39.99 until 2/7)
Inukari Deluxe Edition ($1.99 from $7.99 until 2/7)
Live by the Sword: Tactics ($4.99 from $24.99 until 2/7)
Purrs in Heaven ($1.99 from $6.99 until 2/7)
Rolling Car ($1.99 from $7.99 until 2/7)
UNO ($3.99 from $9.99 until 2/7)
Wargroove ($7.99 from $19.99 until 2/7)
Wargroove Double Trouble Bundle ($7.99 from $19.99 until 2/7)

That’s all for today, friends. I have to make a little trip for administrative reasons tomorrow. I’m hoping to be back in time to write tomorrow’s column, but there is a slight possibility I won’t be able to do it. Provided I can make it, we’ll have more reviews, new releases, and sales to check out. Maybe some news, but who can really tell with this kind of thing. I hope you all have a magnificent Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!