Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for September 25th, 2023. In today’s Monday edition, we’ve got a pair of reviews for you to enjoy. I take a look at the first part of the Pokemon Scarlet & Violet DLC, The Teal Mask, and then follow it up with a review of retro re-release Cyber Citizen Shockman 2. After that, we have several new releases to look at. A couple of decent ones, but a largely dire list. The Bin is almost filled to capacity today. After that, it’s sales time! The new sales! The expiring sales! Let’s get to all of it!
Reviews & Mini-Views
Pokemon Scarlet/Violet: The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero – Part 1: The Teal Mask ($34.99)
Back when I reviewed the base Pokemon Scarlet & Violet game, I said that it was best to operate under the assumption that its many technical issues would not be fixed. Almost one year later, I’m not happy to have been right. Those hoping that the DLC would bring some improvements in that regard will not be satisfied with at least this first part, The Teal Mask. It feels just as glitchy as ever, with the same framerate and texture issues seen in the main game. I can’t say it’s unexpected, but it’s probably the thing I need to make you all most aware of. If the technical problems of Scarlet and Violet turned you off of the games, you’re not going to fare any better with The Teal Mask.
Now, I will admit here and now that I’m not a person that is easily dissuaded by technical problems as long as I enjoy the rest of the game. I really did enjoy my time with Pokemon Scarlet & Violet, and I’ve been looking forward to this DLC. After all, the expansions to Pokemon Sword & Shield were excellent. Well, after putting in the ten or so hours it took to get through The Teal Mask, I can say that I’m slightly disappointed. Only slightly, though. I had a nice time playing through it, collecting more Pokemon, seeing some new sights, and following the stories. The new setting, Kitakami, is interesting and reasonably well-realized. The new characters are hit or miss, but that’s nothing new for Pokemon.
Despite the island setting being on paper just as open as Paldia, The Teal Mask is a considerably more linear experience. There is some good in that, as you’ll spend a lot less time aimlessly wandering from one end of the map to the next. But it’s also weirdly restrictive at times even when there would be no harm in letting the player make some choices about the order of things. The smaller map size is probably a benefit, as it means Kitakami avoids having as many stretches of nothingness between points of interest as Paldia has. Indeed, this is a rather fun map to explore. It makes clever use of some its spaces, and poking your head into every corner looking for all the Kitakami Pokemon is rewarding.
One new gameplay element I want to mention is the photography, which I really enjoyed. At a certain point of Pokedex completion, you’ll be approached to help someone with their goal of photographing a particular Pokemon. It basically serves as the secondary major storyline, and it feels like a mini Pokemon Snap of sorts. It’s another excuse to head around the Kitakami region, and it’s cool to observe the setting from a different mechanical perspective. Just having something new to do is welcome on its own.
Ultimately, The Teal Mask isn’t going to change anyone’s mind about Pokemon Scarlet & Violet. If you were able to get past the technical flaws of the base games, you’ll probably enjoy yourself well enough here. The main story isn’t as good and there’s something lost with the more linear structure, but the photography is fun and the basic loop of Pokemon remains as entertaining as ever. We’ll have to see how the second part of The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero goes to make any final judgements, but for now this is really just for those who loved their time with Scarlet & Violet and want to keep the good times rolling.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
Cyber Citizen Shockman 2: A New Menace ($5.99)
The original Cyber Citizen Shockman was a rather odd and frankly kind of poor side-scrolling action game, even for its era. Still, it must have sold fairly well to PC Engine owners because it ended up getting a sequel. It’s a sequel that kind of throws the baby out with the bathwater though, reimagining the action as a more straightforward Mega Man-style affair. This follow-up was released for the Western TurboGrafx-16 back in the day under the name Shockman, and I don’t think it made many waves at all. I’m probably not spoiling anything by telling you that it doesn’t live up to even the worst of the NES Mega Man games. Which, to be fair, not a lot of action-platformers of the era do. But Cyber Citizen Shockman 2 isn’t even particularly good judged on its own merits.
It controls a lot better than the first game, if nothing else. Less slippery all around, even if it’s still a little slow. It’s a linear romp through a pre-set sequence of stages, at least half of which are almost completely bereft of any interesting design elements. You won’t earn any new weapons, there aren’t any cool power-ups, and while you can continue as much as you want, there aren’t any checkpoints in the stages. The level designs pick up a bit later in the game, but that comes with the game’s difficulty cranking up. It can’t decide if it wants to be too boring or too hard.
Ratalaika has done its usual job with the emulation and features, and that means you can avert most of the game’s frustrating points if you’re okay with cheating a little. You can play three different versions of the game: the Japanese original, the Shockman translation from back in the day, and a newly localized version that is consistent with the localization of the first game. You can also view some extra materials like scans of the instruction manuals and some promo art. Nothing too fancy, but more than suitable for the product and price.
Cyber Citizen Shockman 2 is, to me, clearly more enjoyable to play than the first game. The problem is that to get there it had to ditch everything unique about its predecessor, and it still ended up being a rather middling affair. Was it worth it? I’m not sure. That’s a question for the past. Here in the present, the question is whether this rerelease is worth it for you. It’s too different from the first for me to fall back on the reliable “if you liked the other one, you’ll like this" spiel. So instead I’ll rely on the old faithful “this one is really only there for the students of gaming history, and those who have nostalgia for it". I’m glad Ratalaika is releasing these, but they’re hard to recommend in the modern age.
SwitchArcade Score: 3/5
This game feels like the convergence of a lot of cool things. Basketball is cool, and dunking is maybe the coolest part of it. So how about a basketball game where you only score points by dunking? Robots are cool, and customizing those robots with modifications is even cooler, so why not make the players robots and give the game some roguelite-style perks between rounds? You can enjoy this one alone or with up to three other players via local multiplayer. It looks promising, but I’ll have to put some time into it to see if it can deliver on that.
The Crisis Zone ($4.99)
A pretty basic exploration game, with very little to recommend it. But it seems to be an earnest effort, and that’s more than I can say for most of the other new releases today.
The Bin Bunch
Humvee Assault: War 3D FPS ($9.99)
The Jelly Adventure ($4.99)
Sudoku for Kids ($9.99)
Crazy Bus ($0.99)
Puzzle Balls ($0.99)
Battle Sea ($7.99)
Playroom Racer ($4.00)
AirJet Fighter Sky Dominators: Aerial Assault ($13.99)
(North American eShop, US Prices)
Well, that’s a list alright. Shovel Knight Dig, Eastward, and the Team17 games are worth consideration. There are lots of sales expiring in the outbox, with a particular focus on Square Enix games. Grab what you want, as they probably won’t be on sale again for a couple of months.
Select New Games on Sale
RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 CE ($10.49 from $29.99 until 9/28)
Running Fable ($6.79 from $7.99 until 9/30)
Camped Out! ($9.99 from $19.99 until 10/1)
Shovel Knight Dig ($14.99 from $24.99 until 10/1)
Windstorm Double Pack ($35.99 from $44.99 until 10/5)
Pill Baby ($3.00 from $15.00 until 10/8)
Machinarium ($4.99 from $19.99 until 10/8)
Happy Game ($4.59 from $13.13 until 10/8)
Pilgrims ($2.44 from $6.99 until 10/8)
Unspottable ($5.99 from $11.99 until 10/10)
Eastward ($12.49 from $24.99 until 10/11)
Cyber Citizen Shockman 2 ($4.79 from $5.99 until 10/13)
Cry Babies Magic Tears: The Big Game ($33.99 from $39.99 until 10/13)
Lies as a Starting Point ($5.60 from $8.00 until 10/14)
Killer Frequency ($16.74 from $24.99 until 10/15)
Hokko Life ($9.99 from $19.99 until 10/15)
Worms WMD ($5.99 from $29.99 until 10/15)
Neon Abyss ($5.99 from $19.99 until 10/15)
Overcooked All You Can Eat ($15.99 from $39.99 until 10/15)
My Time at Portia ($5.99 from $29.99 until 10/15)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 26th
ABZU ($4.99 from $19.99 until 9/26)
Actraiser Renaissance ($14.99 from $29.99 until 9/26)
Anuchard ($3.74 from $14.99 until 9/26)
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night ($11.99 from $39.99 until 9/26)
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons ($2.99 from $14.99 until 9/26)
Chocobo GP ($24.99 from $49.99 until 9/26)
Chrono Cross Radical Dreamers ($9.99 from $19.99 until 9/26)
Clouzy! ($4.49 from $14.99 until 9/26)
Collection of SaGa FF Legend ($9.99 from $19.99 until 9/26)
Coromon ($9.99 from $19.99 until 9/26)
Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII ($34.99 from $49.99 until 9/26)
Dark Deity ($9.99 from $24.99 until 9/26)
Dragon Quest Treasures ($35.99 form $59.99 until 9/26)
Dust & Neon ($9.99 from $19.99 until 9/26)
Final Fantasy VII ($7.99 from $15.99 until 9/26)
Final Fantasy VIII ($9.99 from $19.99 until 9/26)
Final Fantasy X/X-2 Remaster ($24.99 from $49.99 until 9/26)
Final Fantasy XV Pocket ($11.99 from $29.99 until 9/26)
Ghostrunner ($8.99 from $29.99 until 9/26)
Grow: Song of the Evertree ($12.49 from $24.99 until 9/26)
Harvestella ($29.99 from $59.99 until 9/26)
Hello Goodboy ($10.49 from $14.99 until 9/26)
Horace ($5.99 from $14.99 until 9/26)
Indivisible ($7.49 from $29.99 until 9/26)
Jenny LeClue: Detectivu ($2.99 from $24.99 until 9/26)
Monorail Stories ($5.99 from $14.99 until 9/26)
Octopath Traveler II ($44.99 from $59.99 until 9/26)
Paranormasight ($13.99 from $19.99 until 9/26)
Romancing SaGa 3 ($5.21 from $28.99 until 9/26)
Romancing SaGa Minstrel Song ($19.99 from $24.99 until 9/26)
Ruin Raiders ($4.99 from $19.99 until 9/26)
Subnautica ($9.89 from $29.99 until 9/26)
Subnautica: Below Zero ($9.89 from $29.99 until 9/26)
Super Impossible Road ($9.99 from $19.99 until 9/26)
Super Mega Zero ($4.99 from $9.99 until 9/26)
Tactics Ogre: Reborn ($29.99 from $49.99 until 9/26)
Terracotta ($7.99 from $19.99 until 9/26)
Terraria ($11.99 from $29.99 until 9/26)
The Diofield Chronicle ($29.99 from $59.99 until 9/26)
The Red Lantern ($4.99 from $24.99 until 9/26)
Theatrhythm FBL Digital Deluxe ($52.79 from $79.99 until 9/26)
Theatrhythm FBL Premium DD ($65.99 from $99.99 until 9/26)
Theatrhythm Final Bar Line ($32.99 from $49.99 until 9/26)
To The Rescue! ($4.99 from $19.99 until 9/26)
Various Daylife ($14.49 from $28.99 until 9/26)
Voice of Cards Trilogy ($39.99 from $49.99 until 9/26)
Voice of Cards Trilogy + DLC ($51.99 from $64.99 until 9/26)
That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with more new releases, more sales, some reviews, and perhaps some news. I’m still sifting through all of this Tokyo Game Show stuff. The actual recovery from the show is taking me longer every year. I hope you all have a wonderful Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!