Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for February 28th, 2023. In today’s article, we’ve got a little bit of Pokemon-related news to catch up on. After that, we slide into a couple of reviews. Akka Arrh and Planet Cube: Edge are the games in question, and they’re both pretty decent. Then it’s new release time, and there are several games to look at today. We finish things up with the usual lists of new and outgoing sales for you to consider. Let’s get to the party!
‘Pokemon Scarlet & Violet’ Expansion ‘The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero’ Announced
Right, there was a Pokemon thing yesterday. I didn’t remember until I was back home for the evening, hence the lack of hype in yesterday’s article. There were a few different things shown, but the main point of interest for Switch owners was the announcement of the expansion to Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, titled The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero. As with the expansion to Sword and Shield it’s a two-part affair, with the first part dropping in the Fall and the other coming in the Winter 2022 window. I’m sure we’ll get more details as the release approaches, but you can already buy it and rock some new uniforms in the base game if you’re sold sight-unseen. It costs $34.99, and you will have to buy it separately for each version. Don’t grab the wrong one.
Reviews & Mini-Views
Akka Arrh ($19.99)
Akka Arrh is a game that is at its best as a concept. Take a long-lost Atari arcade game from the company’s peak years that never quite made it to release, hand it to Jeff Minter to do his thing that he did so well with Tempest 2000, and enjoy the results. Once you start playing it, things start to unravel a bit. Those who already played Atari 50 might be familiar with the original Akka Arrh as the prototype was included in that collection. It’s an odd game that was probably too complicated for its own good, as it never made it through its market test back in the day. Certainly a more challenging starting point than Tempest.
I think Jeff Minter has done what he could here to remain true to the spirit of the original game while trying to make it into something a bit more appealing. The visual and audio elements are likely little surprise to anyone who has played a Minter game before. Lots of flashing lights and psychedelic colors, random bits of text floating about, a farm animal or two, and trippy music that somehow seems precisely tuned to bop along with the gameplay. He can’t not do it at this point, folks. A cool trick even if we’ve seen it many times before by now.
In terms of gameplay, Minter’s Akka Arrh maintains the basic idea of protecting a tower in the middle of the field from incoming invaders. The areas around the tower have different sections, and you have to attack enemies in those sections separately. If anything gets too close, you have to go into the tower to stave them off in a last-ditch effort to avoid destruction. Minter’s take uses those elements and adds a few extras. Power-ups, of course. Enemies who stay above the play field that need to be taken out with a different weapon from the one you use on the “ground" forces. Best of all, there’s a combo system in play here that turns it into a very interesting score attack.
Here’s how it works. Throw a bomb on the field and it’ll blow up in particular shape that differs from stage to stage. Any enemies caught up in that blast will be destroyed and make their own blast radius which can catch even more enemies. A well-placed, well-timed bomb can keep a chain reaction going for ages. As it goes on, you’ll earn more points per enemy. The minute you drop another bomb, the points drop back down. Your standard gun can’t hurt ground-based enemies, but it’s necessary for taking out the aerial foes. You can fire it as you like without it affecting your score, but the amount of ammo you have is limited and can only be replenished by taking out the ground-based enemies. Bit of a push and pull between the two weapons and your score, it is.
There are fifty levels to play through, and each one presents a different shape and a different challenge to overcome. If you get into what it’s laying down, Akka Arrh will keep you busy for a while. Not just in beating the levels, but also in improving your scores. The tricky thing is whether or not you will get into it, as it’s a lot more demanding than the likes of Tempest 2000 without really being more fun. Atari and Minter fans will probably enjoy it well enough, and those who want to play a very unconventional shooter might dig it too. Others may find its complicated gameplay mechanics just a little too much for a little too little.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
Planet Cube: Edge ($14.99)
There aren’t a whole lot of novel ideas in Planet Cube: Edge, but it does what it does very well. This is a precision platformer with a striking art style and excellent controls. You get eight levels to play through, but they’re very long levels. Probably best to think of them as a bunch of smaller challenges stitched together. You have a very small set of moves, and none of them are unique. The levels throw in a few gimmicks along the way to keep things fresh, but this ultimately is just a well-executed platformer that is as conventional as it gets outside of its visual presentation.
Despite the lack of any compelling, original features, I had a really good time making my way through Planet Cube: Edge. It has its fundamentals down pat and the level designs are pleasantly challenging without getting too ridiculous. Checkpoints are frequent and restarts are swift, so even when it turns up the heat it never feels too unfair. Definitely worth a look if you’re a fan of platformers where you die a few hundred times, but unlikely to change any minds on the matter.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
void* tRrLM2(); //Void Terrarium 2 ($39.99)
NIS’s virtual pet-meets-Mystery Dungeon returns with this sequel. Toriko is in danger yet again, and it’s up to Robbie to find the answer to her illness by time traveling into the past. More or less the same idea as last time. You go into the procedurally generated dungeons, gather stuff, bring it back, and use it to take care of the girl in the terrarium. The first game wasn’t too shabby, and I’m looking forward to bringing a review of this one to you soon.
This game describes itself as an arthouse platformer. It has fifty six levels with eight boss battles, and it puts an emphasis on its story which it hopes will leave you thinking about it after. There are some fancy tricks in your arsenal that help keep things nice and spicy the whole way through. Once you master how the various moves work, you can pull off some absolutely bonkers speedruns. It’s fairly well-liked over on Steam and it isn’t too hard to see why.
An unusual puzzle game where you need to solve puzzles on each side of cubic planets to create music. Just eyeballing some videos, it looks like you have to make paths for the little balls to hit all of the points on each side? It’s not immediately obvious, the description doesn’t try to explain how the puzzles work, and I haven’t been able to play it yet to sort it out. But you also get some musical toys as extras, and I do love getting little toys as extras in games. I’ll have to try this one out and report back if it turns out to be something special.
Lucy Dreaming ($18.99)
This is a nifty looking point and click adventure game about a girl who is trying to get rid of her nightmares but uncovers a family secret in the process. It’s very British, and that gives it a bit of flavor to distinguish it from the many Lucasarts-inspired adventure games out there. You’ll spend a fair bit of time inside Lucy’s mind, and there are tons of interesting puzzles to solve. I’ll be doing a review of this one soon, so do look forward to that.
Choice of Life: Middle Ages 2 ($6.99)
Like the other games in this series, you’re just making a bunch of binary decisions that lead to one ending or another. It promises ninety-nine ways to die, and that isn’t a bad selling point at all. I suppose if you enjoyed the previous Choice of Life games, here’s one more for you.
Hentai: Japanese Goblins ($2.49)
Sigh. Alright. This is one of those puzzle games where you have to put the tiles in the right places to make the picture. A jigsaw puzzle without the jig. You get to see some risque pictures of goblin ladies as a reward, but they’re not really goblins so much as anime girls with pointy ears and a fang. I have to believe you can find better things to do with two and a half bucks than buying this, but you do what you have to.
Self gunsbase ($1.99)
This is a simply dreadful run-and-gun game. The visuals are trying to evoke a similar feel to Cuphead but the gameplay is just no good. The only thing it has going for it is that it’s cheap, but I don’t think it’s anywhere near cheap enough to make up for its issues.
(North American eShop, US Prices)
Not a lot in the inbox today unless you’re interesting in picking up LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga at a new low price. The DLC is also at its deepest discount yet. In the outbox, that very rare sale on Portal Companion Collection is wrapping up. No telling when it will be on sale next, so grab it if you want it.
Select New Games on Sale
Vereda Escape Room Adventure ($2.24 from $8.99 until 3/6)
Irresistible Mistakes ($20.99 from $29.99 until 3/10)
Seduced in the Sleepless City ($20.99 from $29.99 until 3/10)
Kissed by the Baddest Bidder ($12.49 from $24.99 until 3/10)
BOT.vinnik Chess 2 ($1.99 from $2.99 until 3/13)
Aeterna Noctis ($20.99 from $29.99 until 3/20)
Amazing Princess Sarah ($4.00 from $8.00 until 3/20)
Take Off The Flight Simulator ($9.74 from $14.99 until 3/20)
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga ($17.99 from $59.99 until 3/20)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 1st
Biker Garage Mechanic Simulator ($11.24 from $24.99 until 3/1)
Children of Morta ($5.49 from $21.99 until 3/1)
Children of Morta Ancient Spirits DLC ($2.49 from $4.99 until 3/1)
Children of Morta CE ($7.99 from $26.99 until 3/1)
Darker Skies ($7.19 from $17.99 until 3/1)
Demon’s Tilt ($9.99 from $19.99 until 3/1)
Detective Di: Silk Rose Murders ($2.89 from $12.99 until 3/1)
DREAMO ($2.24 from $14.99 until 3/1)
Galacticon ($3.99 from $4.99 until 3/1)
Gem Wizards Tactics ($1.99 from $12.99 until 3/1)
Gunpig Firepower for Hire ($3.99 from $4.99 until 3/1)
Legends of Amberland TFC ($4.99 from $19.99 until 3/1)
Lord Winklebottom Investigates ($15.19 from $18.99 until 3/1)
Lost Snowmen ($4.24 from $4.99 until 3/1)
Moonlighter ($3.74 from $24.99 until 3/1)
Moonlighter CE ($4.34 from $28.99 until 3/1)
Portal Companion Collection ($11.99 from $19.99 until 3/1)
ValiDate Struggling Singles ($4.64 from $14.99 until 3/1)
That’s all for today and this month, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with more new releases, more sales, and perhaps some news. No more reviews as I need to do more playing of what I have coming up before I write anything. I hope you all have a terrific Tuesday, and as always, thanks for reading!