SwitchArcade Round-Up: ‘Fantasy Strike’, ‘Rise: Race the Future’, and ‘High Noon Revolver’ Reviews, ‘DOOM’ Comes to Switch, Today’s New Releases, Sales, and More
Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for July 29th, 2019. Thanks to time zone wackiness, it’s extremely likely you will be reading this on what is for me July 30th. That is my birthday, and this year I am changing a tens digit. Weep for Shaun. In other news, we have some Switch news today. Some of it is a little late, but that’s how it goes. We also have three reviews, summaries of today’s new releases, and all that sales information that everyone loves to see. Let’s party!
Aritcle Table Of Contents
- 1 News
- 2 Reviews
- 3 Fantasy Strike ($29.99)
- 4 Rise: Race the Future ($16.49)
- 5 High Noon Revolver ($2.99)
- 6 New Releases
- 7 DOOM 1993 ($4.99)
- 8 DOOM II Classic ($4.99)
- 9 DOOM 3 ($9.99)
- 10 Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power ($19.99)
- 11 Catch a Duck ($4.99)
- 12 Animal Fight Club ($3.99)
- 13 Sweet Witches ($9.99)
- 14 The House of Da Vinci ($9.99)
- 15 Sales
‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ Hero Presentation Set for Tomorrow
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be getting updated to version 4.0.0 this week, but that’s not the only update fans of the game are getting. Tomorrow, Nintendo will hold a special 22 minute video presentation that shows off the next DLC character, Dragon Quest‘s Hero. The release date for Hero will be announced during this show, and I suspect it’s rather soon. You’ll have to wake up bright and early to catch it, depending on where you live. The video is scheduled to start at 6 AM PT on July 30th. Good news if you’re in Europe, at least!
The First Three ‘DOOM’ Games Surprise Release, Cheese Everyone Off, Fix Incoming
Sometimes fun things happen due to the time difference between when I submit my articles and when they get published. On Friday, as I was tucking myself into bed, Bethesda did a surprise release of the first three DOOM games on a number of platforms including the Switch. Yay! And the prices were cheap. Double-yay! But the ports of the first couple of games had some issues. Oh. And for some reason, you needed to login with a Bethesda.net account to get the first two games to start. Anger! Then Bethesda put out a statement saying they made a boo-boo and all that login business would be patched out soon. I don’t know how to feel! Anyway, the dust seems to have settled and while we’ll probably have to wait a bit for those updates, we’ve got three decent ports of DOOM games that don’t cost a fortune and can be played on the can. I’m going to call that a win.
ZX Spectrum Classic ‘Saboteur II: Avenging Angel’ Comes to Switch August 2nd
The original Saboteur was released in an enhanced form on the Switch last year, so it’s perhaps no surprise that its sequel is following it. This game features the sister of the Saboteur as its main protagonist and like the original involves infiltrating a building, finding certain items, and then making your escape. You can play the original 1987 Saboteur 2 mission in this version of the game in five different flavors: ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, MS DOS, and Special Retro VGA. Like with the Switch port of the first game, however, you can also enjoy some expanded content in the form of new levels, new enemies, more story, and a new soundtrack. Honestly, these games haven’t aged terribly well, but I had enough fun messing around with the new stuff in the Switch version of the first game that I’ll probably pick this one up as well. It will be available later this week on August 2nd.
Fantasy Strike ($29.99)
Looking around at the modern gaming landscape, it’s almost hard to remember that there was a good span of about five to ten years where fighting games were far and away the most popular video games around. While they’re not quite there yet, fighting games seem to be a few miles down the same road that shoot-em-ups rode all the way to their current niche status. There are a couple of brands that will probably always keep the genre from fading too much, but anything outside of them seems like it’s going to have to settle for serving a relatively small but enthusiastic group of players. This is obviously of some concern to both the makers and players of fighting games, and there are tons of theories as to what the problem might be and how to solve it.
As a largely lapsed fan of the genre, it’s not really my lane to discuss that stuff, however. I only bring it up because Fantasy Strike is yet another stab at trying to widen the fighting game audience, and that goal is basically what the game is built around. Crafted by David Sirlin and the folks at Sirlin Games, it’s clear that a lot of thought has been put into doing something a bit different from the norm while honoring what makes the genre so appealing to its fans. Some of its ideas are relatively common, like swapping out tricky special move commands for simple combinations of a direction and a button. Others are a bit more unusual, like removing the ability to duck. If the goal was to make it easier for anyone to have their character do what they want them to do at any given moment so that they can focus on the more strategic elements, I’d say Fantasy Strike has done a good job.
Personally, I’m not entirely convinced that special move commands are the crux of the problem, but Fantasy Strike fortunately doesn’t stop at simplifying commands the way so many other casual fighters do. The playable characters have quite a bit of variety among them, and they’re all clearly marked as to what style of play they offer. There’s a lot of content here for people like me who prefer to fluff around in single-player. For those who like multiplayer, the online play in this game is pretty much the best on a technical level that I’ve seen in any Switch fighting game. This is a complete, fully-featured fighting game and unlike some of the other recent attempts we’ve seen at newcomer-friendly titles, such as SNK Heroines or Power Rangers, there’s actually a satisfying amount of depth here.
That said, it does share at least one problem with some of those games in that it may have streamlined just a little too much. Fantasy Strike feels like it’s lacking in basic moves, and although Smash Bros. has proven that you don’t need a wide array of attacks to have an appealing and deep fighting game, I did find myself wishing I had a few more options at my disposal here even if they might have technically been superfluous. I started to feel like I was abusing the same few moves for each character again and again after a while, and while that doesn’t hurt the game’s strategy any, it did make me want to put the game down after shorter and shorter sessions. I think the developer did an admirable job with the single-player content in this game, but you really do need to have people to play with if you want to get long-term fun out of Fantasy Strike.
Still, when you take into consideration that this is the first fighting game to come from this development team and this IP, Fantasy Strike is quite impressive. All the more so when you think about how many risks the game takes with its design. When looking at recent games that have tried to break the fighting game mold, this is easily at the head of the class. I have no idea if Fantasy Strike will reach the greater audience that it’s making overtures towards, but I can at least say that if it doesn’t, it’s not going to come down to a lack of quality in the game itself.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Rise: Race the Future ($16.49)
Developer VD-dev has a long history of pulling off minor miracles on Nintendo hardware, mostly with regards to racing and driving games. Admittedly, its accomplishments have mostly been in the realm of technical excellence rather than mechanical. The games look amazing, sometimes a full generation ahead of its peers on the hardware, but when it comes to the gameplay, VD-Dev’s efforts are often decidedly mediocre. Interestingly, Rise: Race the Future splits the difference. The game looks fantastic, but not particularly beyond what the Switch has shown itself capable of doing. While the gameplay takes a bit of wrangling to get used to, once you do it’s pretty solid.
Let’s get the important thing out of the way first: the default controls in this game are absurdly sensitive. The slightest touch at the wrong moment will send you into wild spins. Throw in merciless CPU opponents and you have a game that demands near-perfection. I frequently had to step away from Rise when a great race was thrown completely in the trash on the last stretch by a small mistake. It’s been a while since a racing game made me this irritated at my own failings. Is that good? Is that bad? I suspect it depends on the player. All I can say is that this game requires a great deal of skill and isn’t particularly interested in holding your hand.
The course layouts take a while to get used to, as well. The game basically uses four large areas as canvasses to create multiple tracks from, and some of them are more intuitive in their layouts than others. Expect to bounce off the walls quite a bit while you learn how each course is set up. This isn’t a problem with every track, but the speeds you tend to be traveling at, the wide open areas some of the tracks cut through, and some of the visual effects all make it a bit hard to see the signs directing you where to go. The harsh punishment for mistakes means it’s hard to take your eyes off the road for even a short section to check the mini-map.
If you can get around all of its quirks, Rise: Race the Future has a lot to offer. The game looks really good, and the sense of speed is excellent. You’ll eventually unlock 10 different cars, 64 challenge races, and time attack options for each course. Similar to Namco’s Ridge Racer, you can choose different methods of charging up your boost. There are day, night, fog, and sunset versions of each world that are combined with different track types to create quite a bit of variety from somewhat limited ingredients. There are tons of options and you can even adjust steering sensitivity to try to somewhat mitigate the “cow on ice skates” feel of the cars. The biggest thing it’s missing is any sort of multiplayer. This is a single-player game through and through, and one that you’ll have to bang your head against in order to fully unlock everything.
The Switch could definitely do with a few more outstanding racers. I wish I could say Rise: Race the Future is one of those, but in the end it’s really just pretty good. The heavy demands it places on the player mean this may be a hard pill to swallow for people who are used to racing games with a lot of rubber-banding. With just four worlds to build its tracks from, some of the courses can feel quite indistinct after a while. The track layouts are also sometimes rather confusing. All that said, after you get through some of the teething pains, Rise can be a reasonably good time. There’s lots to do, and the feeling of exhilaration you get when you finally pull off a race that has been giving you trouble is something else. In that sense, it’s like a slightly less forgiving Ridge Racer. Not for everyone, but there’s certainly a place for it on the platform.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
High Noon Revolver ($2.99)
I kind of bounced off this game the first time I tried it, but after I spent a little time with High Noon Revolver, I really got into it. It’s a side-scrolling arcade-style action game with some roguelite elements, and its moderately high initial difficulty and fuzzy collision detection can make a bad first impression. Stick with it for a bit and you’ll find a great “one more go” game that feels like it could have come from the golden age of iOS gaming. It’s even priced like a game from that era.
You start each game by choosing your character. It’s an easy choice at first because there’s only one, but you’ll eventually unlock four more. Each of them has different stats in categories like hit points, speed, and power, and each also has his or her own unique weapon. Characters are unlocked by reaching specific accumulated score thresholds, so even if you’re terrible at the game, you’ll be able to get them all if you keep at it. The different weapons really do make a clear difference in how you should play, so each character requires slight adjustments on the player’s part. I think the toughest character to use is the first one, interestingly enough.
Anyway, after selecting a character, you’re off on your first bounty. Each level in High Noon Revolver is procedurally generated and consists of several auto-scrolling sections broken up by short arena-style battles against groups of enemies. At the end of the stage, you’ll face off against a boss, and should you take them down, you’ll move on to the next level. Run out of hearts and it’s back to the beginning of the whole thing. There’s a good variety of enemies, and many are unique to particular stages. Your only reliable means of defending yourself is your gun, but you also have a limited supply of bombs that will clear all the bullets from the screen. You can also do a quick dash when you need to get out of the way in a hurry. The levels themselves have multiple planes that you can hop between with ease, similar to Capcom’s SonSon and SNK’s Psycho Soldier.
Defeated enemies will sometimes drop coins and hearts. The hearts refill your life meter, and the coins can be used to buy items. You’ll have a chance to do so after certain arena battles, when a chest presents you with three items to pick from. You can only buy one, so you’ll need to choose carefully. These items and the perks they give you will stay with you until you die, and some of them can really make things a lot easier for you. Since the assortment you’re offered is randomly selected, you never quite know what you’re going to get in each playthrough. Standard roguelite stuff, but it works.
I mentioned at the beginning that the game doesn’t make a great first impression. The first character is the least exciting, with a relatively boring weapon and middling stats. The game teaches you nothing, so you may not even realize you can dash or what exactly the bombs do, both of which are critical to the enjoyment of the game. And while the collision detection on bullets is mostly fine, it sometimes feels like you’re taking damage from touching enemies that you didn’t actually touch. Birds are a particular problem since they can approach from many angles. It takes time to get used to the way your character jumps and how the kickback from weapons affects you. Once you get a handle on things, however, zipping around shooting baddies feels pretty great.
Considering the low price of High Noon Revolver, this is an absolute steal of gem. The gameplay is fun, varied, and challenging. The unlockable characters make a real difference in how you play. The stages actually feel quite different from one another. The roguelite elements help keep things fresh, and the fact that it’s able to drag a few elements in from bullet hell shooters and drop them into a side-scrolling platformer is certainly interesting. I didn’t even touch on the game’s co-op mode, but if you have a friend or family member who wants to join in with you, that’s something you can do here. The collision detection has some minor issues and it would be nice to jump ahead to later stages if you’ve already proven yourself capable of beating the earlier ones, but overall, High Noon Revolver is a surprisingly enjoyable game at a very reasonable price.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
DOOM 1993 ($4.99)
It’s the original DOOM, and apparently nobody told Bethesda about the Switch tax because it’s at an absurdly low price. That said, there are an unfortunate couple of caveats here. The first is that this port is incredibly bare-bones. Not much in the way of extra options, no online play, no accessible cheat codes, no gamma adjustment, and not even any way to remap your controls. Even the audio sounds a little bit off. On top of that, you have to log in to a Bethesda account to even play the game for the first time, and it’s going to try to log you in every time you start it up after that. You can still play it offline after you’ve done that first log in, mind you. It seems Bethesda didn’t think this through properly and will apparently be addressing this with a patch, but for now, be aware it’s a thing.
DOOM II Classic ($4.99)
Second verse, same as the first. DOOM II is here in all of its glory, and even brings the Master Levels along for the ride. It’s still an awesome game and the price is excellent. That said, every caveat I mentioned for the first game applies here. It’s as straight and simple a port as you could possibly imagine, lacking all kinds of basic options and even features like online play. And yet, you have to do that Bethesda account song and dance to even get it to work. As with the first game, Bethesda has indicated they will be patching this stuff out, but it’s here for the time being. Well, do whatever your conscience tells you is right. I bought the games because I love both of them so much, but I don’t blame anyone for walking away from such a slipshod effort.
DOOM 3 ($9.99)
Surprisingly, the least popular DOOM got the best treatment. Panic Button, the developer behind the Switch ports of DOOM 2016, Wolfenstein II, and Warframe did the chores on this version of DOOM 3, and as a result it looks and runs like a dream. It’s the BFG Edition, in case you were wondering, and includes both the Resurrection of Evil and Lost Missions expansion packs. Sadly, no multiplayer of any kind on this one, local or otherwise, but I feel like DOOM 3 has always been more of a single-player thing anyway. So yeah, this is a great version of a somewhat mixed game at a really good price. Once again, do what you have to. Not sure if this one requires the Bethesda sign-in or not as it hasn’t popped up in the Japanese shop yet.
Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power ($19.99)
The Trine series made a big jump to 3D visuals with this installment, and it certainly looks nice. Unfortunately, the game itself is somewhat simplified compared to the previous installments, making for a less enjoyable experience overall. As before, you have to guide a trio of characters who each have their own abilities and skills, solving puzzles and making your way through a variety of locales. I think it’s still an okay game, and if you liked the first two you will probably still appreciate this one for its story-building aspects if nothing else, but it’s definitely not on the level of the others.
Catch a Duck ($4.99)
What a fantastic title. Evocative and perfectly descriptive of the game’s contents all at once. I wish the game was as perfect as its title. Oh well. It’s neat in some ways. You play as a fox who needs to evade wolves, hunters, bears, and more en route to catching the duck in each stage. This is a top-down puzzle-action game, and not a particularly bad example of such. Nothing fancy, but there’s a goofy sense of humor to it all that somehow makes it work. I mean, it’s five dollars. If you go in for this genre, you don’t have a lot to lose by giving this a go.
Animal Fight Club ($3.99)
Generally speaking, reviewers don’t like to talk about price because such things are rather fluid, but so are the games themselves these days. I’m not sure where that leaves us. Personally, I think it’s sometimes worth bringing it into the discussion. It’s a case-by-case thing. I mention it here because Animal Fight Club is not a game that will entertain most people for a very long time. You mix and match animal parts to create new animals that you recruit to your army and then watch them all battle. It’s hilarious for a short while. After that, you may never play it again. This is exactly the kind of game that kind of works when it’s priced the same as a Double Whopper but not so much when it’s priced the same as a Double Whopper meal, you know? There are probably better ways to blow four bucks on the Switch, sure. But do they have shark-headed hummingbirds? I think not.
Sweet Witches ($9.99)
This game starts off ridiculously easy but soon ramps up to a more pleasing level of challenge. You have to walk across all the marked blocks on each screen to make flowers appear. Once you’ve stepped on all of them, you’ll be able to move on. You have an attack, but it sometimes doesn’t do much more than stun enemies. You also have the ability to make magic ladders that you can use to get around the various platforms. What you can’t do is jump, so you have to be pretty creative to avoid enemies and other hazards. You can play by yourself or with a friend as you tackle more than 50 levels set across five different worlds. There’s also a four player versus mode with its own arenas. I’ll be doing a review of this one in a bit, but it kind of reminds me of classic games like Crazy Castle or Mappy.
The House of Da Vinci ($9.99)
The Switch has a version of The Room on it, but so far there hasn’t been any sign of its more substantial sequels. If you’re looking for something along those lines, The House of Da Vinci might suit your needs. You play as Da Vinci’s apprentice as you explore his mysterious and bizarre domicile. It’s a 3D adventure game with lots of different kinds of puzzles to fiddle around with and plenty of odd mechanisms to gawk at. This one came out a couple of years ago on mobile and PC, but if you missed it at that time, this Switch version isn’t a bad way to go about playing it. It’s a pretty solid adventure game, if somewhat obvious in its inspiration.
Looks like Limited Run is doing another deep sale on its line-up of games, and that’s good news for us. Other highlights include the pre-order discount on Pillars of Eternity, and a nice launch sale on the port of Raptisoft’s delightful Hoggy2. As for the outbox, it’s the last call for the pre-order discount on Oninaki and the deep sales on the One Piece games. Do what you have to. We say that a lot around here, but that’s only because it’s the super-best advice in any situation.
New Games on Sale
Pillars of Eternity: Complete ($39.99 from $49.99 until 8/15)
Classic Games Collection Vol.1 ($3.49 from $4.99 until 8/16)
Space War Arena ($1.49 from $14.99 until 8/5)
Flowlines VS ($0.99 from $4.99 until 8/15)
Animal Fight Club ($2.59 from $3.99 until 8/2)
Hoggy2 ($3.99 from $4.99 until 8/11)
Garage Mechanic Simulator ($5.94 from $6.99 until 8/13)
Croc’s World Run ($4.79 from $5.99 until 8/12)
Doodle God: Evolution ($4.54 from $6.99 until 8/8)
Revenge of the Bird King ($0.99 from $4.99 until 8/9)
Night Trap – 25th Anniversary ($5.99 from $14.99 until 8/9)
Cosmic Star Heroine ($5.99 from $14.99 until 8/9)
Saturday Morning RPG ($2.99 from $9.99 until 8/9)
Dead Fun Pack: Penguins and Aliens ($0.97 from $6.99 until 8/15)
Brawl ($0.99 from $9.99 until 8/16)
oOo: Ascension ($6.49 from $9.99 until 8/8)
Tactical Mind ($0.99 from $2.99 until 8/6)
Mad Carnage ($0.99 from $4.99 until 8/6)
FunBox Party ($0.99 from $1.99 until 8/6)
Mech Rage ($1.49 from $2.99 until 8/6)
Cinderella – An Interactive Fairytale ($4.79 from $5.99 until 8/13)
Megaton Rainfall ($11.99 from $15.99 until 8/9)
Soap Dodgem ($0.99 from $1.99 until 8/8)
Soulblight ($10.49 from $14.99 until 8/17)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, July 30th
Automachef ($13.49 from $14.99 until 7/30)
My Hero One’s Justice ($23.99 from $59.99 until 7/30)
One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 Deluxe ($15.99 from $39.99 until 7/30)
One Piece: Unlimited World Red Deluxe ($15.99 from $39.99 until 7/30)
Oninaki ($44.99 from $49.99 until 7/30)
Shadow Bug ($3.59 from $8.99 until 7/30)
The Lost Light of Sisu ($6.99 from $9.99 until 7/30)
That’s it for today’s novella. I made this one extra-big because tomorrow’s may well be smaller than usual. I am going to somewhat take the day off for my birthday, so I’m not sure exactly how much time I’ll have to put the article together. There will be something, of course. But if it’s small, please remember today’s was super-sized, okay? See you all next time, and as always, thanks for reading.