Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for August 1st, 2022. A whole new month, and one that we know will end with the absolute banger that is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cowabunga Collection. But how will we spend the month until then, beyond hiding in ice baths from the searing cruelty of the burning star that allegedly keeps us alive? With more games, of course! And ice cream! You must provide the ice cream yourself. Today we have a few reviews for you to look over, plus some new releases and lists of sales. Let’s go!
Reviews & Mini-Views
Live A Live ($49.99)
The 1990s were a great time for Square virtually from start to finish. As the 16-bit era reached its climax, Square stepped up creatively in a big way. No one could have blamed the publisher if it had chosen to play it safe and be the Final Fantasy Company, but it instead spread its wings and let its talent experiment heavily with the genre it was so popularly associated with. Over in the West, we saw almost none of the fruits of this initiative. RPGs were still seen as a very niche genre, one whose few successes were almost entirely sword-and-sorcery affairs.
As such, even back in those days where I dreamed big and didn’t care about the financial realities involved in making games, I never expected Live A Live to get a Western release. I would see screenshots with cowboys, cavemen, and ninjas, remember that whole-butt Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest installments weren’t being localized, and sigh at the heavy realization that something that odd would never see our shores. And indeed, it did not. Another one of many fish that got away.
Square Enix has been doing a lot of fishing lately. Setting right what once went wrong, so to speak. Seiken Densetsu 3/Secret of Mana 2/Trials of Mana not only got remade but saw its original release officially localized. Romancing SaGa 2 and 3 have full-on English versions. Numerous games that previously only had single releases like SaGa Frontier and Chrono Cross have been reissued across multiple platforms. And now perhaps the sweetest cherry of all, we have a fancy HD-2D remake of Live A Live. A fellow could almost find himself believing in the possibility of Bahamut Lagoon and Treasure of the Rudras being localized if he wasn’t careful.
Live A Live might well be the most experimental and successful of that amazing era of Square’s history. The directorial debut of Takashi Tokita (the lead game designer of Final Fantasy IV and one of the directors of Chrono Trigger among many other credits) had an unusual idea at its core: a multi-chapter, multi-protagonist RPG with each taking on its own highly distinct setting. The player could choose to tackle the game’s seven scenarios in any order before everything came together for the final conclusion. It wouldn’t be the last time Square would play around with that idea, either.
Each of the scenarios has a very different feel despite sharing broad mechanics with the others. Some of them feel more like mini adventure games than RPGs. Some are incredibly combat-heavy and force you to puzzle out the correct way sequence of actions to survive against overwhelming odds. One or two feel more like a standard RPG, albeit in compact forms. Some will wrap up within an hour; others will go on far longer. You can nibble on these scenarios as you like, playing parts of them and hopping over to others without losing your progress in any of them. In terms of both mechanics and storytelling this gives Live A Live a very unique flavor. It feels like an RPG game jam that somehow still manages to weave an overarching theme.
Square Enix’s remakes can be hit or miss, but the company really knocked it out of the park for this one. The presentation is gorgeous thanks to the new HD-2D visuals, some solid voice acting, and composer Yoko Shimomura’s lively new arrangement of the soundtrack. The gameplay changes have been made with a lot of wisdom, making little adjustments here and there to improve the game without sanding out any of its flavor. A few tweaks to the way the story flows and a bit of new content help the narrative pop better than ever. You’ll definitely want to see this one through to the bitter end.
The scenarios vary in quality from one to the next, and your individual tastes are probably going to influence how well you like each one. But Live A Live as a whole really cannot be denied. It’s an amazing game that was clearly ahead of its time, because all it needed was a bit of a face lift to make it feel like something that came out in the present year. With how big Xenoblade Chronicles 3‘s shadow looms over us at this time, it might be easy to overlook Live A Live. That would be a mistake, friends. If you love RPGs, don’t miss this one.
SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5
Koumajou Remilia: Scarlet Symphony ($29.99)
It’s important to keep in mind that this is effectively a remake of an indie game from around fifteen years ago. Like many Japanese indie games of the time, it’s a Touhou Project game, featuring Reimu, Marisa, and the others in a bit of a silly, albeit well-made, parody of Castlevania. Very specifically, it spends most of its eight (plus one extra) stages riffing on Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Unlike that game, Koumajou Remilia isn’t a non-linear adventure. It’s very much a straight-forward, stage-based affair. It may sometimes look like there are other routes to take, but there aren’t. Battle through the stage, fight the boss, move on to the next one.
Reimu is equipped with a whip, and you can play the game like a Castlevania game to a certain extent if that is your preference. She leans more towards the agile end of the Castlevania protagonist spectrum, with a Richter-esque slide and back flip to help you dodge enemies and traps. But Reimu also has a few tricks of her own, most notably her ability to effortlessly fly through the air. She can’t use her whip while doing this, but she can toss ofuda while her supply of soul energy lasts. Don’t abuse this ability, however. If you try to cheat by flying over the stage, you’ll find some nasty surprises.
The bosses also break from the Castlevania mold. They fly around firing out patterns of bullet hell-style shots, and if you’re playing on anything other than the easiest difficulty you’re going to need to make your moves very carefully. These fights are the most exciting parts of the game, offering some intense action that will force you make full use of Reimu’s abilities. As you play through the game, other characters will join you as support. You can unleash them as you like provided you have the souls to do so. Perhaps best saved for those boss fights.
There are a few extras here to give you incentive to keep playing after making your way through the relatively short campaign. There’s an ultra-challenging extra stage, a gallery of things to unlock and view, and a list of achievements to check off. The basic game is fun and brief enough to enjoy replaying it for its own sake, but those little bits certainly help add value to a game that feels a little expensive for what you get. On top of that, the various difficulty modes ensure that a wide range of players will find a comfortable temperature while also adding some further reasons to play the game again.
If you find yourself missing the good old days of action-based Castlevania games or are a big fan of Touhou Project, you’ll likely find some value in Koumajou Remilia. It’s not as exciting now as it was back in the day, and the novelty of paying homage to Symphony of the Night is a ship that has well and truly sailed in modern times. The fundamentals are sound enough, and the boss battles assuredly bring the heat that you may find lacking in the stages leading up to them. There are better 2D action games on the Switch at cheaper prices, but few will scratch the Castlevania itch in exactly the same way.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
Train Valley: Console Edition ($11.99)
Take the track building of Mini Metro and the routing chaos of Conduct Together, wrap it all up in an adorable model train aesthetic, and that’s Train Valley. This is a port of a PC game and has some of the issues we tend to see in such efforts, mostly to do with the controls. It was clearly designed with the idea that you would have access to a mouse, and while the developers have done their best to try to make it worth with a controller, there are times where it can be exasperating trying to do what you need to as quickly as the game would like.
If you enjoy the time management/resource management of the aforementioned games, you’ll probably find a lot to like in Train Valley. The unavoidable control issues aren’t enough to bring down the experience too much, and once you get the hang of things you’ll be juggling trains like a professional. The charming presentation is distinctive and attractive, which certainly doesn’t hurt. Between the various maps and seasons of Classic Mode and the more relaxed (but still somewhat tense) nature of Sandbox Mode, there’s plenty to dig into here for puzzle fans. A solid port of a rather enjoyable game.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Hot Lap League: Deluxe Edition ($19.99)
This sharp-looking racer makes the hop over from the mobile scene to try to woo the console crowd. It’s a bit pricier but it also includes some premium cars that the initial purchase on mobile doesn’t get you, so perhaps it balances out. Anyway, it’s a time trial-focused affair that isn’t afraid to go over the top in pursuit of thrills. There are daily events and real player ghosts to compete with, along with a live global leaderboard. You get more than one hundred and fifty tracks to race on, which is bonkers. The only catch is that you need to be connected to the internet to play, which kind of sucks if you’re a handheld player. I’ll have a review of this one soon for you.
Hey, this is neat. The idea here is that you need to get your little green guys to the exit on each of the one hundred-plus stages. They’ll move on their own, and you need to plunk down gravity arrows to make sure they fall, climb, and slide where they have to go. A clever idea executed reasonably well. Fans of stuff like Lemmings may want to give it a look.
This looks like a dollar store Urban Champion, and if there’s any game you shouldn’t aspire to be a dollar store version of, it’s Urban Champion. Not even a two-player mode. You know, there are countless NEOGEO fighters you can get for around this price. You can get individual Street Fighter and Darkstalkers games on Capcom Arcade Stadium at around half this price. A weak effort from Weakfish Studio.
Merge Your Room ($9.99)
Okay, the idea here I think is to match the pairs of items in the messy rooms. You can play alone or via local multiplayer. I don’t think it looks very interesting, but it might be decent for a younger kid.
Quarry Truck Simulator ($9.99)
Another BoomHits driving game that follows the publisher’s usual template. Drive various vehicles, complete missions, and so on. The theme this time around is quarry trucks, so you’re getting ten different big trucks and a decent-sized quarry mine area to roll about in as you wish. If you want to try it out, you can play it for free on your mobile device. It’s called Quarry Driver 3 there. Likely to be on deep discount very soon if not already.
Viki Spotter: Megapolis ($4.99)
Spot the differences between two pictures, now with a city theme. We’ll have more Viki Spotter games than Final Fantasy games before too long if this pace keeps up.
(North American eShop, US Prices)
The biggest part of the new list of sales is ININ’s latest, with plenty of cool games from Taito and others at reasonable prices. I don’t have too much to add today as I’m a bit busy trying to replace my trusty Switch, which has a bad case of the Oranges. As such, I leave these lists in your hands to sift through.
Select New Games on Sale
Good Pizza, Great Pizza ($3.99 from $9.99 until 8/11)
Bladed Fury ($7.99 from $19.99 until 8/11)
Ever Forward ($5.99 from $14.99 until 8/11)
Guts n Goals ($5.99 from $14.99 until 8/11)
Ikai ($10.49 from $14.99 until 8/11)
Hoa ($5.99 from $14.99 until 8/11)
MUSYNX ($11.99 from $29.99 until 8/11)
Squish ($12.74 from $14.99 until 8/11)
Superbeat: Xonic ($11.99 from $29.99 until 8/11)
Glitch’s Trap ($3.89 from $12.99 until 8/12)
Plunder Dungeons ($1.99 from $3.99 until 8/12)
Ampersat ($6.69 from $9.99 until 8/13)
Miner Warfare ($2.47 from $7.99 until 8/13)
Doom & Destiny ($3.71 from $11.99 until 8/13)
Doom & Destiny Advanced ($3.71 from $11.99 until 8/13)
Doom & Destiny Worlds ($9.99 from $19.99 until 8/13)
Bubble Bobble 4 Friends ($23.99 from $39.99 until 8/15)
Clockwork Aquario ($11.99 from $19.99 until 8/15)
Spelunker HD Deluxe ($9.99 from $24.99 until 8/15)
WitchSpring3 Re:Fine ($19.99 from $39.99 until 8/15)
Space Invaders Forever ($14.99 from $29.99 until 8/15)
Space Invaders Invincible Collection ($23.99 from $59.99 until 8/15)
The Ninja Saviors ($11.99 from $19.99 until 8/15)
G-Darius HD ($17.99 from $29.99 until 8/15)
Dariusburst Another Chronicle EX ($15.99 from $39.99 until 8/15)
Darius Cozmic Collection Console ($23.99 from $59.99 until 8/15)
Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade ($22.49 from $44.99 until 8/15)
Turrican Flashback ($14.99 from $29.99 until 8/15)
Ultracore ($4.99 from $19.99 until 8/15)
Umihara Kawase BaZooKa! ($5.99 from $29.99 until 8/15)
Panorama Cotton ($8.99 from $14.99 until 8/15)
Cotton 100% ($8.99 from $14.99 until 8/15)
Cotton Reboot! ($19.99 from $39.99 until 8/15)
Gigantic Army ($6.29 from $8.99 until 8/15)
Satazius Next ($4.89 from $6.99 until 8/15)
Wolflame ($4.89 from $6.99 until 8/15)
Armed 7 DX ($4.89 from $6.99 until 8/15)
Shmups Collection ($10.49 from $14.99 until 8/15)
Finding Teddy 2: DE ($6.99 from $9.99 until 8/15)
Guns of Mercy: RE ($6.29 from $8.99 until 8/15)
Car Dealer Driver ($6.49 from $9.99 until 8/19)
Farm Tycoon ($14.99 from $19.99 until 8/19)
Crypt of the NecroDancer ($3.99 from $19.99 until 8/19)
Labyrinth of the Witch ($7.49 from $14.99 until 8/20)
Menseki Genius ($3.00 from $5.00 until 8/20)
Menseki: Area Maze Puzzles ($3.00 from $5.00 until 8/20)
Crazy BMX World ($1.99 from $3.00 until 8/20)
Red Colony ($4.19 from $6.99 until 8/20)
Red Colony 2 ($4.19 from $6.99 until 8/20)
Red Colony 3 ($4.19 from $6.99 until 8/20)
Dinosaur Fossil Puzzles ($3.00 from $5.00 until 8/20)
Prehistoric Life Puzzles ($3.00 from $5.00 until 8/20)
Puzzle & Dragons ($1.99 from $4.37 until 8/21)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 2nd
Backbone ($14.99 from $24.99 until 8/2)
Citizen Sleeper ($15.99 from $19.99 until 8/2)
Framed Collection ($1.99 from $9.99 until 8/2)
Genesis Noir ($5.99 from $14.99 until 8/2)
Glitchhikers: Spaces Between ($9.74 from $12.99 until 8/2)
Gum+ ($1.99 from $7.99 until 8/2)
Kathy Rain: Director’s Cut ($10.49 from $14.99 until 8/2)
Kraken Academy!! ($10.79 from $17.99 until 8/2)
Lost Castle ($2.49 from $9.99 until 8/2)
Mosaic ($7.99 from $19.99 until 8/2)
Neo Cab ($3.99 from $19.99 until 8/2)
Night Call ($3.99 from $19.99 until 8/2)
Nirvana Pilot Yume ($1.99 from $4.99 until 8/2)
No Longer Home ($5.99 from $14.99 until 8/2)
Nova-111 ($4.99 from $9.99 until 8/2)
Out There Omega The Alliance ($2.99 from $14.99 until 8/2)
Paradise Killer ($11.99 from $19.99 until 8/2)
Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption ($3.79 from $18.99 until 8/2)
Slime Rancher: Plortable ($14.99 from $24.99 until 8/2)
Star Horizon ($1.99 from $9.99 until 8/2)
Super Mutant Alien Assault ($1.99 from $9.99 until 8/2)
Super Soccer Blast US vs EU ($4.99 from $9.99 until 8/2)
Super Sports Blast ($7.49 from $24.99 until 8/2)
Suzerain ($8.99 from $17.99 until 8/2)
The Big Con: Grift of the Year ($11.99 from $14.99 until 8/2)
The Longest Road on Earth ($7.49 from $9.99 until 8/2)
West of Dead ($5.99 from $19.99 until 8/2)
Wolfstride ($11.24 from $14.99 until 8/2)
Ziggurat ($7.49 from $14.99 until 8/2)
Ziggurat 2 ($19.99 from $24.99 until 8/2)
That’s all for today, friends. As mentioned, my Switch is on its way out. Fortunately, some kind folks have ensured that I will transition to a new Switch rather smoothly. I hope you all have a magnificent Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!