SwitchArcade Round-Up: Reviews Featuring ‘Contra: Operation Galuga’, Plus Today’s Releases and Sales

Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for March 18th, 2024. It’s a fairly quiet day for new releases, but we’ve got a healthy bunch of reviews for you to enjoy. I take a look at Contra: Operation Galuga, Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties: Definitive Edition, and Match Village. Our pal Mikhail is also here with his impressions of Inkulinati, too. After that, we navigate into the treacherous waters of today’s new releases. They aren’t pretty. Then, it’s sale time! We shall look at lists and maybe spend some money, if we have any. Let’s get going with the week!

Reviews & Previews

Contra: Operation Galuga ($39.99)

Contra is a series that can’t escape its legacy. The decent arcade games gave way to a series of absolute top-tier console games all the way through the end of the 16-bit generation. Unlike its Konami stablemate Castlevania, it had a great deal of trouble finding its feet after that. A couple of mediocre 32-bit games outsourced to Appaloosa Interactive failed to make much of an impact, and a pair of PlayStation 2 outings improved the quality but certainly didn’t turn many heads with their sales. Since then, most of the time when the Contra name pops up it’s as much about reminding players of the good old times as it is about carving a new path forward.

Contra 4, the 2007 Nintendo DS game by WayForward, was perhaps the start of that era. It stuffs a bunch of concepts and stage themes from previous games in the franchise into one ridiculously hard celebration of the franchise. A very good game, and one that seems to have done well enough for itself even if not quite to the point of commanding an immediate follow-up. Following the, er, not-so-hot last outing Rogue Corps, it’s perhaps not surprising to see Konami return to WayForward to give the series another shot in the arm. Contra: Operation Galuga is something of a remake of the first game’s story, and it’s once again something of a pastiche. Is that a bad thing? Yes and no, I suppose.

Bill and Lance (and friends) are once again jumping and gunning their way through a jungle and into the heart of an alien base, bringing with them all kinds of elements from later installments. Two guns you can switch between as needed, like in Contra III? Sure. Inclined ramps with enemies in towers like in Super C? Yes. The ability to power-up weapon pick-ups with a second icon as seen in Operation C? Naturally. Those cool jet bikes from Contra III? Here too. Hit points, as seen in the Japanese version of Contra: Hard Corps? Yes, if you want. Double-jumps and air dashes return from Hard Corps Uprising. Even the grappling hook from Contra 4 is here. Characters from across the series turn up in various capacities, too. It’s all very familiar.

There are some new things here too, however. You can now sacrifice a held weapon for a super attack, which can sometimes be useful. There are also perks you can purchase using credits you accumulate by playing. This aspect can be a little grindy if you want to unlock everything, though you can make a good dent in it by completing the game’s various challenges in the aptly-named Challenge Mode. You’re going to have to be pretty good to do that, though. It’s probably wiser to get your bearings in either the Story Mode or Arcade Mode. Both take you through the same eight stages, but the former has a lot more chatting along the way. The Arcade Mode cuts the chatter, but there is still some dead space in many of the stages where it would have been. You can customize the challenge somewhat either way, with a choice of difficulty levels and the ability to use hit points or keep the classic one-hit kills.

No matter how you choose to play, the difficulty curve is a lot kinder than that of Contra 4. That’s a good thing, I think. It’s still plenty hard, but not ridiculously so. You’re also given more ways to mitigate the challenge. That isn’t the only way this deviates from WayForward’s previous outing. Instead of using pixel art for the graphics, it’s a 2.5D affair. The music also leans more orchestral than the chip-tune powered music of Contra 4‘s soundtrack. Whether you prefer those aspects or not is up to you, though I can honestly say I prefer the look and sound of the DS game.

Less of a matter of preference is the poor technical performance on the Switch. The framerate is all over the place, clearly stressing whenever there’s too much going on on-screen. This too could be seen as retro, I suppose. But the worst thing is how laggy the controls are. I think Contra: Operation Galuga has some of the laggiest controls I’ve encountered on the Switch, and that is often lethal in a game like this one. You can see a bullet coming from the other side of the screen and still get nailed as the game takes its sweet time processing your button presses. It’s bad enough that I would advise playing this game pretty much anywhere else if you have the option.

Contra: Operation Galuga is a really good run-and-gun action game, one worthy of the name it bears even if it feels somewhat crushed under it at times. I think it’s a Contra game that Contra fans will enjoy, and we don’t see those all that often anymore. The biggest problems here are specific to this version, with an inconsistent framerate that never gets as high as you would like and input lag that makes an already tough game harder in the worst possible way. If all you have is a Switch, there is still some enjoyment to be had here, but those with literally any other option should probably exercise it.

SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5

Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties: Definitive Edition ($19.99)

I feel like in some ways this game isn’t really something you can stick a score on, but I’ll try. Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties is of course an infamously bad 3DO title that gained quite a bit of notoriety when the Angry Video Game Nerd covered it fifteen years back. Many call it the worst game ever made, and while I don’t think I would go that far, it certainly fits better than many other games offered up for that title. It is a genuinely bad game in just about every way, and had I paid full price for it back in the day I think I would have been pretty upset about it. Even the raunchiness that it advertised itself on amounts to some innuendo and a few pictures of nipples and butts. Those pictures are censored here, by the way, and I don’t think there is any way to uncensor them. But, you know, you have the internet. Plenty of nipples and butts out there.

Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties is essentially a choice-based narrative adventure. The whole story takes place over the course of a day, and there are maybe five or six decision points. If you make a wrong choice, the narrator will chastise you and send you back to the decision point to make the right one. So yes, you can conceivably see everything in a single playthrough, and there’s really no way to avoid seeing the best ending short of giving up. The plot, such as it is, tells the meeting of two young, attractive people who are being pressured by their parents to settle down. After bumping into each other in a parking lot, a sequence of events plays out that will eventually lead them to a happy ending with each other. Many good stories have been told with similar frameworks, but this isn’t one of them. It’s badly acted nonsense whose best quality is in how bizarre it is.

Well, you can find lots of detailed breakdowns on Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties elsewhere. It’s a garbage game, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t crack a smile at just how stupid it is. I will never play it again, but I doubt I’ll ever forget it. Is it worth twenty bucks? Absolutely not. It’s horrible and has no replay value at all except to subject someone else to it. I’m fond of saying that all earnestly-made games deserve to be loved by someone, but this one is really pushing it. So how does Limited Run Games sweeten the pot for a rerelease of such questionable value? Well, it tries.

The UI is done up to look like an old Windows interface for some reason. You get a wealth of extra material, mainly in the form of videos, but you’ll have to unlock most of it via the Plumbing the Depths minigame. In that, you’ll navigate a retro-style first-person maze, using plungers to take out wandering Threshers and searching out unlockables that you can add to your collection by spending the Plumber Bucks you earn in the main game. Don’t worry, you don’t need many of said Bucks to get it all. It’s cute, but also a minor chore.

As for the unlockable videos, far more of them involve Limited Run’s people (and some influencer friends) talking about making the remaster than those who worked on the original game talking about how it came together in the first place. While it is interesting to get some insight to what goes into getting a reissue like this from the idea stage to the finish line, it feels less about Plumbers and more about Limited Run itself. I enjoyed the video interviews with the original actress who played Jane, and seeing James Rolfe candidly reflect on his part in this game’s legacy was worth a watch. While I would have loved more insights into the making of the original, I can appreciate that it was probably hard to track people down and convince them to participate. But I think in failing to do that, we’re left with a lot of people telling us this game should be brought back without showing us why.

I agree with the sentiment of Limited Run Games on Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties: Definitive Edition. We shouldn’t only preserve and make accessible the good games from gaming history. The bad stuff has its place too, at least in the context of the medium as an art form. But this is also a product, and taken in that context I have a really hard time recommending this. The game itself is as awful as advertised, and while there has been a good effort made here to provide a lot of extra material, I didn’t come away from this with any real insight into how this whole mess happened or even really why we should care about it specifically. There’s probably a story here, but it’s one this release doesn’t do a good job of telling.

SwitchArcade Score: 2.5/5

Match Village ($4.99)

While the aesthetics in Match Village call to mind things like Dorfromantik, this is really more of a basic merging puzzle game. You’re given a little island and some tiles to place on it, and your goal is to place them such that they merge into bigger things, which will add more tiles to your pile and extend your game. You also need to be careful about what’s around them, as certain combinations will add or subtract from your score. Once you’re out of tiles, the game is over and you’re given your final score. In terms of presentation it’s fine enough, and the mechanics are as enjoyable here as they are in any other merging game.

It’s nothing fancy, but if you’re in the mood for a simple yet engaging puzzle game, Match Village might be what you’re after. It suffers from having very little identity of its own and it gets a bit repetitive once you’ve worked out the basic flow, but I’d imagine at this price point people are willing to accept a game that will only provide a temporary and quickly forgotten engagement.

SwitchArcade Score: 3/5

Inkulinati ($24.99)

Originally in Steam Early Access, Inkulinati from Yaza Games and Daedalic Entertainment saw its 1.0 launch hitting consoles and PC last month. I was always interested in Inkulinati because of its aesthetic and it being a different turn-based strategy experience. It also helps that you can have Pentiment‘s Andreas as a master in-game. Turn-based strategy games always feel best on handhelds, and I’ve been playing Inkulinati on both Switch and Steam Deck.

What sets Inkulinati apart is how it slowly reveals its layers of depth once you get going. Each stage in Inkulinati is set on a page of a medieval manuscript where you have a blend of gorgeous animations for each character and also some actual drawing happening when you play a turn or do something of note. The visual style feels like you’re controlling a tabletop RPG battle with a great rendition of a manuscript setting. The 2D perspective is what threw me off initially. When getting the game, I foolishly thought I’d jump into a run and learn from experience after a few minutes in the tutorial. Do not do that.

I’ve seen some people criticize the tutorial for being a bit too long, but I think the developers did a fantastic job with it to introduce players to Inkulinati while also preparing them for what’s coming in the main journey mode. The tutorial, under Academy, is split up into three kinds of tutorials. Once you’ve cleared them, the journey mode with multiple difficulty options is where you will spend the most time. You can skip the tutorial, but I don’t recommend it as I’ve said above. It will make you feel like you’re wasting time during the actual journey if you don’t click with the mechanics. As you progress through the runs, you also unlock more options for your next run. These include faculties, talents, hand actions, and more. I’ve been thinking about how I wish Inkulinati had a demo, but that would probably just be the tutorial given you can spend a few hours in it.

Having played Inkulinati on both Switch and Steam Deck, I have no complaints with the handheld mode on either system. When playing docked on Switch, the visuals are soft though. I’d recommend sticking to handheld if you want to play Inkulinati on Switch.

It has a local dual mode as well, but I didn’t think that was anything special. Don’t buy this for that mode specifically because the single player campaign and replayability are more than worth the price of admission.

Inkulinati is a very interesting and challenging game at higher difficulties that asks a lot from the player, but those who put in the effort will enjoy the depth and replay value here. The medieval manuscript aesthetic is gorgeous and I ended up loving the blend of roguelite and turn-based strategy gameplay after spending time with the tutorial. If you do plan on getting Inkulinati don’t skip the lengthy tutorial available. I’m glad it finally hit consoles and also has a great Switch port now. –Mikhail Madnani

SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5

New Releases

The Bin Bunch

Jello Run ($0.99)

Truck and Forklift Logistic Simulator ($14.99)

Dog Racing – Lovely Pet Friends Paw ($11.99)

Sky Runners Infinite: Parkour ($12.99)


(North American eShop, US Prices)

Oh hey, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is already on sale at a deep discount. It’s a good one. Otherwise, there isn’t a whole lot to talk about in the inbox and even less to say about the outbox. Check those lists?

Select New Sales

Hatchwell ($2.99 from $9.99 until 3/23)
Furi ($9.99 from $19.99 until 3/26)
Squids Odyssey ($3.74 from $14.99 until 3/26)
Thunder Ray ($8.99 from $14.99 until 3/29)
Kovox Pitch ($1.99 from $6.99 until 3/30)
Chickenoidz Super Party ($2.49 from $9.99 until 3/30)
Choice of Life: Middle Ages 2 ($1.99 from $6.99 until 3/30)
Devastator ($2.09 from $6.99 until 3/30)
Jack ‘n’ Hat ($1.99 from $7.99 until 3/30)
Luckslinger ($1.99 from $9.99 until 3/30)
Inferno 2 ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/30)
The Bug Butcher ($1.99 from $7.99 until 3/30)
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown ($29.99 from $49.99 until 4/1)
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown Deluxe ($35.99 from $59.99 until 4/1)
Boaty Tanks 2 ($4.99 from $9.99 until 4/1)
Orion Haste ($4.79 from $5.99 until 4/5)
Bit.Trip Collection ($2.39 from $9.99 until 4/6)
Saboteur ($5.60 from $8.00 until 4/6)
Saboteur II: Avenging Angel ($5.60 from $8.00 until 4/6)
Saboteur SiO ($7.69 from $10.99 until 4/6)

Sales Ending Tomorrow, March 19th

Party Treats ($1.99 from $2.49 until 3/19)
Whateverland ($5.99 from $14.99 until 3/19)

That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with more reviews, more new releases, more sales, and perhaps some news. I can’t believe I gave up my Sunday to Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties. I should have become an accountant. Anyway, I hope you all have a magnificent Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!