Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for September 4th, 2023. I think it’s a holiday today in the United States? I’m not sure. I’m working, at least. I have four reviews for you to check out, covering Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles, Taito Milestones 2, Gourmet Warriors, and Virgo Versus the Zodiac. There are some new releases, but don’t get too excited about them. It’s all bins today. After that, we have a ton of new sales to check out. Let’s get to the games!
Reviews & Mini-Views
Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles ($49.99)
They don’t make them like this anymore. They didn’t make them like this before these games came out either, come to think of it. The Rhapsody series, consisting of three mainline games and a couple of puzzle game spin-offs, is an odd little duck that ran its entire course within the span of two years. Only the first game ever saw a Western release up until this collection. And yet the importance of the Rhapsody series in the history of Nippon Ichi Software cannot be overstated. Up until the release of Rhapsody, the company was largely known for making forgettable mahjong, jigsaw puzzle, and playing card games. Rhapsody was a big swing for NIS, and one that paid off handsomely.
Following the third and final game in the Rhapsody series, a tactical RPG set in the same world named La Pucelle Tactics was created. That led to yet another tactical RPG, also suggested to be set in the same world, called Disgaea. And the rest, as they say, is history. Everything Nippon Ichi Software is today has grown from the seeds of the Rhapsody games. That’s part of why I’m so excited to see the games not only get a modern rerelease, but also a global rerelease. Taken with the NIS Classics Vol. 3 set, Western players can now easily and affordably play this lovely little trilogy.
Beyond the historical, the other reason why I’m glad to see this release is because these are a pair of really nice RPGs. Like in the first game, there are plenty of musical numbers in Rhapsody II: Ballad of the Little Princess and Rhapsody III: Memories of Marl Kingdom. Unlike the first game, the battle systems here don’t have that tactical RPG flavor to them. It’s more straightforward RPG combat, though the third game’s support character system allows you to bring an absolute bonkers number of participants to the fights. Both of the included games feature largely cheerful stories and a relatively low level of difficulty, so don’t come around looking for a stiff challenge. These are more games to chill with.
Like the original game, Rhapsody II released on the PlayStation. It came out in Japan in late 1999, and is set twelve years after the events of the first adventure. The main character of the first game, Cornet, married her love Prince Ferdinand, and they have a daughter named Kururu. She’s got her mother’s adventurous spirit and desire for a fairy tale romance. Luckily, she also has her mother’s ability to use puppet magic. In this game, puppets serve as support rather than direct participants in battle. You’ll be battling using human characters this time. Kururu soon gets pulled into some bigger events, as is the style in RPGs. This is a very breezy game, and by some measure the easier of the two.
Rhapsody III was originally a PlayStation 2 game, releasing in the console’s first year on the market. Don’t expect it to flex that ol’ Emotion Engine much, though. You get some 3D backgrounds, but the characters are still 2D sprites. The structure of this game is a little different from the norm. You’ve got six distinct chapters here that bounce around in the Marl Kingdom timeline, telling stories with different sets of characters. As such, the narrative is mainly about fleshing out certain characters or events, sometimes offering closure or explanations where none existed in the previous two games. If you played the DS remake of Rhapsody, a couple of these stories will likely be familiar to you. It’s a good bit shorter than Rhapsody II, but the challenge level is higher. The battle system has again been adjusted here, and puppets are back on the menu. Enjoyable on the whole, even if it feels more like an appendix than a full sequel.
Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles is an easy recommendation for anyone who enjoyed the first game. If you liked it, you’ll love these two games. I would probably recommend newcomers play the original Rhapsody first even if it isn’t totally necessary to enjoy these sequels, if only so that you can fully appreciate all the little character nods and connections. Those who are looking for an RPG with teeth will want to keep moving, but I think if you’re in the mood for some pure low-friction fluff there aren’t many better choices in the Switch’s RPG selection.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Taito Milestones 2 ($39.99)
Taito Milestones 2, like the first set, brings together ten of the legendary arcade company’s classic titles. These are based on the Arcade Archives releases, but have had some features like Caravan Mode removed. The presentation is as no-frills as it gets, and Hamster’s menus feel almost clinical in their design. You do get access to online leaderboards for the main play mode in each game, so you’re not totally blanked out of the enjoyable competitive jostling of the Arcade Archives games. The emulation quality is great, and you can still mess with all of the options to customize your experience. With the package itself being this bare bones, it all falls on the games. Let’s talk about those, then.
The oldest of the included games, Ben Bero Beh, released in 1984. It’s a quirky game where you’re tasked with fighting fires as you make your way through floors of a burning building to rescue someone trapped by the blaze. It’s a bit slow and clunky, but if you have a fascination for these off-beat early arcade games that were fumbling in the dark trying to find new genres, you might get into it. I liked it but didn’t love it.
The Legend of Kage, which hit arcades in 1985, is probably one of the more well-known titles in this set. You play as a ninja that can catch amounts of air that would make Michael Jordan blush. You’ve got an endless supply of shuriken and your handy blade at your disposal to defeat the countless enemy ninjas that assail you. Battle through the stages and rescue the princess, then do it all over again. The character’s movement takes some getting used to, but once you do this is a really good time.
Representing 1986, Kiki Kaikai is a top-down multi-directional shooter that kicked off the series known to Western players as Pocky and Rocky. You play as a shrine maiden who has to use her talismans and staff to ward off supernatural enemies and save the land. Sure, the sequels turned up the heat significantly, but this first game is quite enjoyable all on its own.
Another of the more famous names from this collection, The NewZealand Story (sometimes known as Kiwi Kraze) came out in 1988 in arcades but is probably best known for its wide array of home console and computer ports. You play as a little kiwi bird named Tiki who must make his way through a variety of multidirectional scrolling stages to, you guessed it, save his girlfriend. It’s as tough and varied as it is cute, and my friends, it is very cute. It’s hard not to have a good time here, even if the challenge level is aggravating in places.
It’s all a matter of tastes of course, but for my money Darius II is the highlight of this set. This is the three-screen version of the 1989 shoot-em-up, which was left out of the Darius Cozmic Collection. Well, here it is, and it is glorious. This is one of the three games in this set that is not yet available via the standard Arcade Archives line. Anyway, what can be said? Fly your ship through trippy stages and battle space sea monsters. Enjoy some odd banter from your navigator, who always wanted a thing called tuna sashimi. A terrific, atmospheric shooter.
Liquid Kids, released in 1990, is the best sleeper game in the set. It’s not a big name, but I can’t imagine anyone not having at least some fun with it. You play as a hippo named Hipopo that can throw water bombs at enemies. You have to work your way through a variety of side-scrolling stages in order to (yes) rescue your girlfriend from an evil fire demon. It has a lot of that Bubble Bobble energy to it, and if you haven’t played it before you are in for a treat.
Gun Frontier also came out in 1990, and it kicked off a loose trilogy of games from more or less the same team at Taito. This is a vertically scrolling shooter set in a world where everything is gun. Guns are everywhere, pick-ups are bullets, your super move is fueled by your ammo, and the enemies take the form of various guns stapled to other things. It is gun wild. A gun bonanza. Pretty decent game all-around, one that should please shoot-em-up fans well enough.
The following year saw the release of Metal Black, a side-scrolling shooter from the team that did Gun Frontier. The main gameplay gimmick in this one comes from your beam attack. Pick-ups will increase the power of your weapon, but you can choose to discharge it whenever you like. That will bring your weapon back down to its default state, but it will do that by letting out a beam that increases in size based on how many pick-ups you’ve grabbed. You can use this beam to push back the beams of bosses if it’s big enough. Another fun game with an odd theme, and one that was important in the progression of future Darius games. Again, shoot-em-up fans should be happy.
Solitary Fighter is the second of the three games in this set that you can’t find yet in Arcade Archives. It’s a fighting game that came out in 1991, which means it ran directly into the freight train known as Street Fighter II. The presentation is quite good in this game, but the gameplay itself is rather poor. You can have a little fun with another player, but I don’t think I’d subject any of my friends or family to that.
That brings us to the latest and last game in the set, 1992’s Dinorex. This is a one-on-one fighter from the folks who created Gun Frontier and Metal Black. All of the playable characters are dinosaurs, and they are indeed some savage beasties. The T-Rex is purple, so you can make Barney jokes that no one will get since Barney was a million years ago. I wanted to like this. I tried so hard to like this. I approached it on its own terms instead of trying to play it like Street Fighter II. But it’s just not very good. Nothing works the way you want it to, and if you take the time to learn it, you’re rewarded with very little indeed. It’s weird as heck, and that is the main thing it has going for it. Some startling revelations in the ending, to be sure. I can’t imagine many people will spend much time with it though.
So where does that leave Taito Milestones 2 as a whole? Its more modern selection of titles will probably appeal better than the first volume, and shoot-em-up fans in particular will find a lot to like here. There are a couple of outright clunkers in the selection, but I’ll at least grant that they are interesting clunkers. Certainly more good than bad, and if you enjoy playing arcade classics I think you’ll get your kicks here. That said, if only a few games in the list appeal to you, there might be some merit in checking out the individual Arcade Archives releases instead.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Gourmet Warriors (QUByte Classics) ($9.99)
QUByte has been bringing us a variety of retro games from Piko Interactive’s extensive catalog of odds and ends for a while now, to mixed results. Sometimes emulation issues bring down the experience. Sometimes the games themselves just aren’t all that good or interesting. I think Gourmet Warriors represents something of a “best of both worlds" for this line. The game in question is relatively obscure, pretty good, and charmingly bizarre. The wrapper is the same plain brown bag QUByte uses every time, with the same limited set of options. It is perhaps my inexperience with the original game in question here, but I didn’t notice any obvious emulation issues. QUByte has always been hit or miss with Super NES games, but this one seems fine.
Gourmet Warriors is a side-scrolling beat-em-up originally released on the Super Famicom back in 1995. At the time, it had no overseas release. Piko Interactive picked up the rights to the game and brought it out globally a few years ago with a full English localization. The main gimmick here is that you pick up ingredients from defeated enemies which you can then mix up into tasty dishes between stages. The secondary gimmick is that there is a button that makes your character flex and pose. It doesn’t do anything for you, but it’s funny. Otherwise, this is a fairly plain brawler in the mechanical sense. The bonkers theme and wild enemies help it stand out, and I appreciate that it doesn’t really drop the ball in any serious ways.
If you enjoy a good classic beat-em-up and appreciate it when games don’t take themselves too seriously, you might want to look into Gourmet Warriors. I think there’s still a lot of room for improvement here in terms of how these QUByte Classics are packaged, but if you just want to enjoy the game this more than gets the job done.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Virgo Versus the Zodiac ($19.99)
I really enjoyed the main character in this game. She’s such a pain in the neck for everyone who has to put up with her, and that’s a lot of fun. There’s a lot of personality in Virgo Versus the Zodiac, and that’s probably its best quality. Otherwise, what you get here is a rather ordinary indie RPG that uses the lively timing-based button-pressing combat stylings of games like Paper Mario. I’m not a huge fan of that kind of thing at the best of times, but it’s a lot worse here than usual because of the spotty performance of this Switch version. It wants you to have good timing, but it’s hard to swing that when the game is stuttering unpredictably.
I could see myself recommending Virgo Versus the Zodiac if it weren’t for the technical issues in this Switch version, but they’re the worst sort as they interfere with the gameplay in a very real way. Perhaps the developer will patch it some day, but in its current form as of this writing, I can only commend the writing and suggest players perhaps check it out on other platforms.
SwitchArcade Score: 3/5
The Bin Bunch
The Thief Simulator 2023 – From Crook to Boss ($13.99)
Truck Simulator 2023 – Driver Europe ($13.99)
Farming Tractor Simulator 2023: Drive Combine & Trucks ($14.99)
(North American eShop, US Prices)
Not long after I put the Friday edition to bed, a massive sale popped on the eShop. The following is just a selection of the many games on offer, so check your wishlists to see if anything you’ve been waiting for popped up. Given the size of the list, I don’t really have any special call-outs. Scan it carefully, friends. And check the little outbox list while you’re at it, too.
Select New Games on Sale
Full Quiet ($8.99 from $9.99 until 9/9)
F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Tech ($14.99 from $29.99 until 9/10)
Saint Kotar ($12.99 from $34.99 until 9/11)
We Love Katamari Reroll ($19.79 from $29.99 until 9/11)
Seduction: A Monk’s Fate ($3.19 from $7.99 until 9/11)
Hentai vs. Evil ($3.99 from $9.99 until 9/11)
Train Valley ($4.19 from $11.99 until 9/11)
Starlink: Battle for Atlas Deluxe ($11.99 from $79.99 until 9/11)
Alchemist Adventure ($6.99 from $19.99 until 9/11)
Raiden III x Mikado Maniax ($23.99 from $29.99 until 9/11)
Skelattack ($2.99 from $19.99 until 9/11)
Gal*Gun Double Peace ($19.99 from $39.99 until 9/11)
Taiko no Tatsujin Rhythm Festival DE ($29.69 from $54.99 until 9/11)
Super Chicken Jumper ($2.99 from $4.99 until 9/11)
Delicious! Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire ($2.99 from $5.99 until 9/11)
Aztech Forgotten Gods ($8.99 from $29.99 until 9/11)
Prison Tycoon: Under New Management ($17.49 from $24.99 until 9/11)
TLoH: Trails to Azure ($29.99 from $39.99 until 9/11)
TLoH: Trails to Zero ($27.99 from $39.99 until 9/11)
Lemon Cake ($14.99 from $29.99 until 9/11)
Bunny Park ($7.99 from $19.99 until 9/11)
Process of Elimination ($27.99 from $39.99 until 9/11)
Shadowrun Returns ($4.99 from $19.99 until 9/11)
Shadowrun Dragonfall ($4.99 from $19.99 until 9/11)
Shadowrun Hong Kong ($4.99 from $19.99 until 9/11)
QuickSpot ($4.99 from $19.99 until 9/11)
World Championship Boxing Manager 2 ($10.49 from $14.99 until 9/11)
Adventure Academia: Fractured Continent ($27.99 from $39.99 until 9/11)
Monark ($29.99 from $59.99 until 9/11)
The Cruel King & the Great Hero ($14.99 from $29.99 until 9/11)
Minit Fun Racer ($2.00 from $2.99 until 9/11)
Super Mega Baseball 4 ($29.99 from $49.99 until 9/11)
Captain Tsubasa RoNC ($9.59 from $59.99 until 9/11)
Skycadia ($6.99 from $9.99 until 9/11)
Pirates Outlaws ($10.19 from $16.99 until 9/11)
The Pillar: Puzzle Escape ($1.99 from $9.99 until 9/11)
Yurukill: The Calumniation Games ($19.99 from $39.99 until 9/11)
The Last Friend ($5.99 from $14.99 until 9/11)
Parkasaurus ($16.24 from $24.99 until 9/11)
Yomawari: Lost in the Dark ($19.99 from $39.99 until 9/11)
Retro Machina ($6.99 from $19.99 until 9/11)
JoJo’s Bizarre Adv. All-Star Battle R DE ($34.99 from $49.99 until 9/11)
Breathedge ($7.49 from $24.99 until 9/11)
Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris DE ($44.99 from $89.99 until 9/11)
McPixel 3 ($3.99 from $9.99 until 9/11)
Last Command ($13.99 from $19.99 until 9/11)
MLB The Show 23 ($20.39 from $59.99 until 9/11)
MLB The Show 23 Digital Deluxe ($29.99 from $99.99 until 9/11)
Charon’s Staircase ($12.99 from $34.99 until 9/11)
Lost in Random ($4.49 from $29.99 until 9/11)
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning ($19.99 from $39.99 until 9/11)
Chronos: Before the Ashes ($14.99 from $29.99 until 9/11)
SpongeBob SquarePants: BfBB ($13.49 from $29.99 until 9/11)
Moero Crystal H ($19.99 from $39.99 until 9/11)
Loop Hero ($5.24 from $14.99 until 9/11)
Sea Horizon ($9.74 from $14.99 until 9/11)
Death’s Door ($7.99 from $19.99 until 9/11)
Rogue Legacy 2 ($17.49 from $24.99 until 9/11)
Hot Wheels Unleashed ($7.49 from $49.99 until 9/11)
Hot Wheels Unleashed GotY Edition ($13.49 from $89.99 until 9/11)
Vagante ($5.99 from $14.99 until 9/11)
Dragon Ball Z Kakarot ($14.99 from $59.99 until 9/11)
Inscryption ($11.99 from $19.99 until 9/11)
Supermarket Shriek ($2.99 from $19.99 until 9/11)
Zengeon ($6.59 from $19.99 until 9/11)
Get-A-Grip Chip ($5.99 from $9.99 until 9/11)
Oxide Room 104 ($7.49 from $24.99 until 9/11)
Sailing Era ($21.24 from $24.99 until 9/11)
Mr. Driller DrillLand ($4.79 from $29.99 until 9/11)
Strayed Lights ($17.49 from $24.99 until 9/11)
Peppa Pig: World Adventures ($27.99 from $39.99 until 9/11)
Sifu ($23.99 from $39.99 until 9/11)
Ys VIII Lacrimosa of DANA ($19.99 from $39.99 until 9/11)
Zero Strain ($1.99 from $9.99 until 9/11)
Active Life Outdoor Challenge ($9.99 from $49.99 until 9/11)
.hack//G.U. Last Recode ($14.99 from $49.99 until 9/11)
Digimon Survive ($29.99 from $59.99 until 9/11)
Seven Doors ($3.49 from $4.99 until 9/11)
Chained Echoes ($19.99 from $24.99 until 9/11)
The Red Strings Club ($4.49 from $14.99 until 9/11)
Angelo & Deemon: One Hell of a Quest ($3.74 from $14.99 until 9/11)
Ten Dates ($11.19 from $15.99 until 9/11)
Among Us ($3.00 from $5.00 until 9/14)
Sky Mercenaries Redux ($1.99 from $15.00 until 9/18)
Octo Curse ($5.99 from $9.99 until 9/21)
Clutter 12: It’s About Time ($4.49 from $14.99 until 9/21)
Astalon: Tears of the Earth ($9.99 from $19.99 until 9/21)
Faircroft’s Antiques: Mountaineer’s Legacy ($1.99 from $9.99 until 9/21)
Finding America: The Heartland ($2.99 from $9.99 until 9/21)
Match Ventures ($3.59 from $11.99 until 9/21)
Puzzle Vacations: Ireland ($3.59 from $11.99 until 9/21)
Chronicles of Albian TMC ($3.59 from $11.99 until 9/21)
Package Inc ($2.49 from $4.99 until 9/21)
First Time in Paris ($1.99 from $9.99 until 9/21)
First Time in Rome ($3.59 from $11.99 until 9/21)
I Love Finding Birds ($8.99 from $14.99 until 9/21)
I Love Finding More Pups ($1.99 from $9.99 until 9/21)
Montgomery Fox & TCotMB ($4.49 from $14.99 until 9/21)
Montgomery Fox & TRoVD ($4.49 from $14.99 until 9/21)
Montgomery Fox & TCotDN ($4.49 from $14.99 until 9/21)
Onion Assault ($3.19 from $7.99 until 9/22)
Gastro Force ($5.59 from $6.99 until 9/22)
Suicide Guy: The Lost Dreams ($5.59 from $7.99 until 9/22)
TT Isle of Man RotE 3 ($29.99 from $49.99 until 9/23)
Chef Life: A Restaurant Sim ($19.99 from $39.99 until 9/23)
WRC Generations ($15.99 from $39.99 until 9/23)
Roguebook: Deluxe Edition ($6.99 from $34.99 until 9/23)
V-Rally 4 ($4.99 from $49.99 until 9/23)
WRC 8 Deluxe Edition ($5.99 from $59.99 until 9/23)
Street Power Soccer ($2.99 from $29.99 until 9/23)
Train Life: Orient Express Edition ($15.99 from $39.99 until 9/23)
RiMS Racing: EM Deluxe Edition ($11.99 from $59.99 until 9/23)
RiMS Racing: JM Deluxe Edition ($11.99 from $59.99 until 9/23)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 5th
A Little Golf Journey ($4.00 from $19.99 until 9/5)
A Little to the Left ($10.49 from $14.99 until 9/5)
Blossom Tales II: The Minotaur Prince ($9.74 from $14.99 until 9/5)
Chants of Sennaar ($17.99 from $19.99 until 9/5)
Demon Turf ($12.49 from $24.99 until 9/5)
For The Warp ($3.59 from $17.99 until 9/5)
Lil Gator Game ($11.99 from $19.99 until 9/5)
Swords & Bones 2 ($1.99 from $9.99 until 9/5)
The Oregon Trail ($23.99 from $29.99 until 9/5)
Wildfrost ($17.99 from $19.99 until 9/5)
Xiaomei & the Flame Dragon’s Fist ($10.49 from $14.99 until 9/5)
Yooka-Laylee ($3.99 from $39.99 until 9/5)
That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with more new releases, more sales, a review or two, and maybe some news. We shall see what the day brings. I hope you all have a marvelous Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!