Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for February 11th, 2019. It was a bit of a quiet weekend as far as news goes, and only one new release missed our round-up on Friday. There are a few interesting new sales, at least, but the bulk of today’s column is focused on a couple of reviews. Let’s enjoy the quiet times while we can grab them, friends, as Thursday is only ever a few days away. Here we go!
Image & Form Shows More of ‘SteamWorld Quest’ Off in Latest Video
Developer Image & Form has released the latest episode of The Engine Room, its sort of fireside chat where it discusses current and upcoming projects. It’s been a while since the last one, but with the veil lifted off of the company’s upcoming RPG SteamWorld Quest, the team now has plenty to talk about. In this video, Julius and Brjann have a lot to say about the game, including how it came about, when it was started, and so on. They also show off some new footage of the game, which still doesn’t have a firm release date announced. Anyway, the game looks great, so be sure to check out the above video to soak in all of the new info.
‘Tangledeep’ Sees Big Success on Switch So Far
Tangledeep recently made its debut on the Nintendo Switch, and the results thus far have been quite impressive for its developer, Impact Gameworks. According to the developer, Tangledeep‘s launch-week sales on the Switch have exceeded the first six months’ worth of sales of the Steam Early Access version. Now, we’re not talking about millions of copies sold here or anything, but it certainly speaks to there being a hungry audience for this sort of game on the platform. Surprisingly, the biggest sales have so far been in Japan, with the country accounting for 33% of sales on its own. The developer has indicated that if the game continues to perform well on Switch, it will bring the hefty expansion Legend of Shara to the platform as well. Good news all-around.
GameStop Germany Listing Suggests ‘Spyro Reignited Trilogy’ is Coming to Switch
Okay, well, this is a rumor at this point. I just want to say that right away, because I don’t usually like spreading wishful thinking and long shots. That said, I’m starting to think there’s fire at the source of all of this smoke, so let’s go ahead cautiously. After the Crash Trilogy hit the Switch, most people assumed that the Spyro Reignited Trilogy would be joining it at some point. Nintendo UK even accidentally had it up on their site for a short bit. Well, the game has now shown up on the German GameStop site, which even goes as far as listing a potential release date: August 16th. Could be nothing. Might be something. Do with it what you will.
Evoland Legendary Edition ($19.99)
I absolutely adore the idea and ambition behind the Evoland games. These are, for the most part, action-RPGs that switch between multiple styles to represent the progress of the medium or, in the case of the second game, the progress of time itself. While each style isn’t precisely accurate to the period it’s trying to ape, the amount of effort involved in making so many different looks is likely substantial. Evoland Legendary Edition brings both games together, and as much as they’re about the genre as a work-in-progress, the two games show a series itself progressing on top of that. Packing them together was a great idea, and makes the price tag on the game even more enticing.
The first game feels more like a magic trick than a proper game of its own. You start off in a monochrome world with only the ability to move right. Each chest you open potentially opens up a new mechanic or presentation upgrade. In the end, it’s a little bit Zelda-style action-adventure and a little bit Final Fantasy-style turn-based JRPG. You’ll go from simple sprites to fully polygonal battle scenes, and it’s always impressive when you pop open a chest and something in the world changes. There’s a story happening here, but it’s hard to care much about it between the evolution of the world and the many cute references. The game moves at a steady clip and although not everything about it works the way you’d hope, I find it ends before it starts to drag too much. You’re looking at four or five hours to get to the end of the first game.
The second game focuses more on outgrowing its gimmick and becoming a full game that stand on its own two feet. That’s not to say that evolution is no longer part of the game, nor that it doesn’t make plenty of references and jokes about other games. There’s plenty of both. But it feels like there’s a concerted effort here to make a story that matters without added context, and gameplay that satisfies without being overly referential. It’s a far more substantial game, running between 15 and 20 hours depending on how thorough you want to be. You’re no longer opening chests to build the game piecemeal. Instead, the changes in presentation happen in big chunks, serving as a sign that you’ve traveled to a new period in time.
Yes, this is a good old-fashioned time travel yarn, and it’s not hard to spot the source of inspiration for many of the broad strokes of the story. You start the game in a rather nice time period, where everything seems to be going rather well. Later, you’ll visit a past where a war is being waged between humans and demons, showing you the cost of that peaceful present you just came from. You’ll also end up in the future, and suffice it to say, something went very bad at some point between the present and then. Can you change the past? Should you change the past? Do you even have a choice in the matter? It’s not a plot that’s likely to stick with you for very long after you’ve finished it, but it’s certainly engaging in the moment and a big step up from the first game.
Each of these periods naturally has its own style of presentation. The past looks like something from the 8-bit era, while the present has more of a late 16-bit console look to it. The future goes for a polygonal look, and a more complex and impressive one than what we saw in the first game. That said, while things may look different depending on where and when you are, the gameplay is a lot more focused this time around. No matter which period you’re in, the core mechanics are mostly in the manner of games like The Legend of Zelda or, perhaps more accurately, Secret of Mana. Combat is action-based, with special abilities that can be activated by charging. You’ll have to make your way through areas filled with spatial puzzles, battle bosses, earn new abilities that open new paths, and so on.
The combat system isn’t much to write home about, but that’s often the case in this sort of game. It works fine, and that’s probably good enough. The puzzles can actually be quite devious, especially when it starts mixing in Professor Layton-style logic puzzles. Navigation stays fresh by alternating fairly regularly between top-down action and side-scrolling sections, though the former certainly work a lot better than the latter, in my opinion. Neither one is bad, mind you. It’s all very functional, and it feels more solid than it did in the first game. I’m less thrilled with the side-quests, which all too often amount to tiresome fetch quests and backtracking. Could be intentional commentary, but either way, it slows the game down.
That gets at the biggest problem with Evoland 2: the pacing. While Evoland might be too short for its own good, I’m more confident about Evoland 2 being too long. This isn’t so much a function of hours spent, but I will point out that the game is longer than The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and can be longer than Secret of Mana. Rather, it’s about the pace. The game moves forward in fits and starts, with the dungeons generally being quite entertaining and the stuff between them less so. The story is fine, but the hit-or-miss nature of the mini-games and side-quests can quickly suck away your motivation to keep playing. It doesn’t sink the game by any means, but it would be better with most of that stuff gutted out, even if it meant there were fewer opportunities to riff on other games.
Unfortunately, the second game also suffers from some bugs in its current build. Quite regularly in the future map, I would exit an area to the overworld only to find the whole thing garbled. Quitting out to the main menu and restarting usually fixed this problem, but in at least one case, this garbled map also caused the game to slow down to a crawl, leaving me wondering if I was even going to be able to call up the game’s menu to quit. It eventually came up and I was able to get things going again, but I’m baffled as to how this slipped through given how regularly it happened during my playthrough. I’ve no doubt it’ll be fixed in a patch, but it’s something you’ll probably want to know about at the moment.
The original Evoland is an interesting game to play thanks to its gimmick, but there isn’t much to it past that. The follow-up is a pretty good action-RPG that works a lot better as a game, but fumbles a little in the execution. It’s a good thing the two games are packed together, as I think they work quite nicely as a one-two punch. The first game is more of an appetizer, but the second game is a lengthy, well-rounded release that sits comfortably among the upper class of the surprisingly large number of Zelda-inspired indie games on the Switch.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Heroes Trials ($5.99)
I decided to take a gamble on this one because the price was decent and the screenshots looked promising. Sadly, while I can see the skeleton of a decent game here, Heroes Trials just isn’t very good. In this game, you take control of a pair of young adventurers as they try to tackle the trials laid out before them. It’s an action-adventure game where each mission is timed, and you have to complete whatever the goal is before you hit the limit. One of the characters uses a sword for melee attacks, while the other uses long-range magic. You’ll have to make use of both of them if you want to succeed.
The game almost immediately feels off. The controls are functional but it never really feels good to play. Swordplay is very stiff, while the magic user has trouble aiming while dodging. I found the best way to deal with some enemies was to use the magic user’s charge attack, which sends out a circle of bullets that will probably hit the enemy. Unfortunately, this takes forever to kill most things, and you simply don’t have the time to waste in most missions. So you’ll have to face up to the clunky controls and wonky collision detection that comes with the melee combat for at least part of each battle, and that makes for a pretty unpleasant time.
It doesn’t help that the game’s world feels like it was built for something more typical than this speed run style the game landed on. There are all kinds of points of interest you might want to check out, but you just won’t have the time to spare in many cases. Even if you do take the time to accomplish some of the side tasks, there’s very little reward in it. Honestly, there’s very little reward in anything in this game. Unless you specifically need to kill an enemy for a key or because they’re a boss, you’re almost certainly better off just running past them.
The game looks about as well as it plays. The rather spartan look wouldn’t bother me that much if the game played well, but taken in conjunction with the weak mechanics, the whole thing just feels kind of shoddy. Caves are far too dark, areas share too many features, and animations are really stiff. The enemy variety is quite minimal, so you should expect to be killing a whole lot of spiders, wasps, and weird little critters that remind me of L.B. from Teddy Ruxpin. I hate that this game is so boring that I’m remembering Teddy Ruxpin. Ugh.
I’ve played worse games than Heroes Trials, but friends, that’s not much of a compliment given some of the mud I’ve rolled around in. Like, the game functions and I suppose you could probably get something out of it if your expectations are low enough. But on the whole, I found it to be short, unpleasant, flawed in almost every aspect, and just sort of straddling the line between irritating and dull for most of its run. At least it doesn’t crash?
SwitchArcade Score: 2/5
Mimic Hunter ($4.99)
This is a puzzle-platformer whose chief gimmick revolves around towers. It’s a 2.5D game and you’ll naturally be looping around and up the towers as you go. The visuals are okay, and hey, who doesn’t like a mouse adventurer? On the other hand, what few reviews I could find for the PC version of the game, which released more than a year ago, were mostly negative. It seems like the game suffered from issues with its controls, physics, and difficulty balancing when it first hit computers. Now, that was a year ago, so things may have changed here. Curiously, it’s priced lower here than it is on Steam, so I suppose if you’re curious about it, this is the cheapest way to find out for yourself.
It’s a decent list of new sales today, albeit with plenty of familiar faces. Still, you’ve got some discounts on new releases like Oniken and Odallus, the not-terribly-rare but still welcome sales on the Scribblenauts games, and a great price for 2064: Read Only Memories Integral. Cattails is an interesting RPG that you might want to check out, and the Atelier Arland Series Deluxe Pack gets you a ton of crafting RPG goodness at a very nice price. There are still tons of sales going on from last week, too. Good time to be low on money, I suppose.
New Games on Sale
Cars 3: Driven to Win ($19.99 from $39.99 until 2/16)
Scribblenauts: Showdown ($19.99 from $39.99 until 2/16)
Sausage Sports Club ($9.99 from $14.99 until 2/17)
Scribblenauts Mega Pack ($19.99 from $39.99 until 2/16)
Soulblight ($11.99 from $14.99 until 2/24)
Heart&Slash ($7.49 from $14.99 until 2/18)
Drift Legends ($4.99 from $9.99 until 3/1)
Quest for the Golden Duck ($4.99 from $9.99 until 2/22)
Puzzle Puppers ($2.99 from $4.99 until 2/18)
2064: Read Only Memories Integral ($10.32 from $20.64 until 2/18)
Never Stop ($3.99 from $4.99 until 2/15)
OkunoKA ($12.00 from $15.00 until 2/15)
Oniken: Unstoppable Edition ($7.99 until $9.99 until 2/27)
Odallus: The Dark Call ($9.59 from $11.99 until 2/28)
Glass Masquerade ($9.59 from $11.99 until 2/28)
Access Denied ($3.99 from $4.99 until 2/23)
Atelier Arland Series Deluxe Pack ($76.49 from $89.99 until 2/25)
Atelier Meruru DX ($33.99 from $39.99 until 2/25)
Atelier Rorona DX ($33.99 from $39.99 until 2/25)
Atelier Totori DX ($33.99 from $39.99 until 2/25)
Cattails ($11.24 from $14.99 until 2/19)
Next Up Hero ($9.99 from $19.99 until 2/19)
InnerSpace ($9.99 from $19.99 until 2/19)
Beholder: Complete Edition ($9.99 from $14.99 until 2/17)
V.O.I.D. ($3.39 from $3.99 until 2/28)
Green Game: TimeSwapper ($1.49 from $2.99 until 2/14)
Red Game Without a Great Name ($1.49 from $2.99 until 2/14)
Disc Jam ($7.49 from $14.99 until 2/21)
Kentucky Robo Chicken ($0.99 from $2.49 until 3/1)
Madorica Real Estate ($12.99 from $14.99 until 2/19)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 12th
Car Quest ($1.99 from $9.99 until 2/12)
Overcooked! 2 ($18.74 from $24.99 until 2/12)
That’ll do it for today, friends. Looking at the week ahead, tomorrow will have the usual Tuesday mini-release day, and a big batch of goodies is set to drop on Valentine’s Day, including Modern Combat, OlliOlli: Switch Stance, and for the lonelier folks out there, Nekopara Vol. 2. We’ll see how things play out as the week goes on, especially if the rumored Nintendo Direct happens on Wednesday. Anyway, thanks as always for reading!