Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for February 18th, 2019. Last week was a bit of a rough one for me, but I’m ready to tackle the new week with renewed vigor. As such, I’ve got as many as three reviews for you today, along with some news, new release information, the usual sales list, and more. Let’s dig in!
Kawase from ‘Umihara Kawase’ Has Been Revealed for ‘Crystal Crisis’
Given the roster of Nicalis’s cross-over fighter Blade Strangers, this isn’t exactly a surprising reveal, but Kawase from Umihara Kawase has been officially unveiled as a member of the roster of Crystal Crisis. For those who don’t remember the title, Crystal Crisis is a cross-over puzzle game set to release on May 28th. The roster includes many characters from Blade Strangers, including Solange from Code of Princess EX, Quote and Curly Brace from Cave Story, Isaac from Binding of Isaac, and others. It also features a couple of famous characters from Tezuka Productions in the form of Astro Boy and Black Jack. And it has Johnny Turbo for some reason. In all, 20 characters have been revealed, and it seems like that’s the full roster, barring any secrets.
‘SEGA AGES Alex Kidd in Miracle World’ Hits Japan February 21st
The SEGA AGES release of Alex Kidd in Miracle World kept getting punted down the line as SEGA kept announcing new additions to the schedule, but the company finally announced it was nearing release last week. Originally, it seemed like the next game released would be Puyo Puyo, something that seemed even more likely when SEGA announced it would be coming to the West along with Gain Ground in February. Well, we’re running out of February, so I’m not sure what’s going on with Puyo Puyo. But Alex Kidd? It seems like he’s ready to roll. The game will come out in Japan this Thursday, in fact. Presumably a Western release won’t be too far behind, and I suspect it’s going to be taking Puyo Puyo‘s place in the schedule following Gain Ground.
City of Brass ($19.99)
It’s easy to see why roguelike elements have become such a popular part of indie games over the years. When done right, they can dramatically increase the replay value of a game without ballooning the amount of time or money it takes to make a game. While pure roguelikes can be hard to pull off on systems that don’t have keyboards for a variety of reasons, it turns out that you can separate out many parts from the whole and use them as valuable ingredients in other kinds of games. City of Brass is one such fusion, adding things like permadeath and random generation to the familiar first-person action genre.
We’ve seen this sort of mix before in games, however. Even on the Switch, I could gesticulate wildly in the direction of Immortal Redneck. City of Brass has two interesting gimmicks to its name, and they’re both rather important to any assessment of its quality. First is its setting, pulled straight from the Arabian Nights stories. The City of Brass is a great place to set a game about curses and traps, and although it gets a little repetitive after a while, it fares better than most settings that would have to carry a game on their own. The other gimmick is the whip that your character clutches in one hand. Other items come and go, but that whip will always be with you, allowing you stun enemies, pull them off their feet, grab far away treasure, swing, and just generally do Indiana Jones things.
While the mechanics are very much in line with first-person action games, the basic structure doesn’t venture far from most roguelite spins. Pick a character, head into a procedurally-generated “dungeon", and try to collect as much loot as you can while also surviving. There are bosses and an ending, but you’ll probably die a lot before you can worry about those. Worry not, as every run will potentially unlock more stuff for you to play with the next time. It’s not super-difficult as these sorts of games go, so as long as you’re reasonably careful and learn how enemies and traps behave, just about anyone should be able to see the game through eventually.
While the set-up is great and the sense of place is quite good, I found myself wishing there was a bit more to the story than what you get. If you’ve read about the City of Brass before, you can probably fill in a bunch of context on your own, but it would have been nice to see the game really embrace its setting. The whip is awesome and surprisingly versatile, but it being such a central, universal component of the game makes the characters feel fairly indistinguishable at times. In the end, the good times in City of Brass seem to last about as long as the setting and whip gimmick work for you.
City of Brass is pretty fun even if it does go stale a little quicker than I would have preferred. It certainly looks a treat, and its briefer play sessions make it a good fit for a handheld, if nothing else. Even after finishing it, I could certainly see myself loading it up now and then for a run just to play around with the whip a bit, but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t rather see both its setting and its main weapon in a more typical first-person game.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
Minesweeper Genius! ($5.99)
I didn’t really pay much attention to this game when it released on mobile, so when I saw it appear in the list of Switch releases, I pretty much took it at face value. Which is to say, I thought it was just a straight Minesweeper game with a cute interface. Now, don’t get me wrong: this absolute takes a ton of cues from Minesweeper, and just like that seminal desktop classic, you do need to sort out where mines are located on a grid using logical deduction. But instead of clicking on squares to reveal numbers indicating adjacent mines, you instead use Picross-style clues to determine where the mines are in each row and column.
Instead of trying to make a picture, however, you’re trying to find a safe path to the exit of the level. That means that there is one continuous route through each level that is safe, with every step off of that path leading to doom. As you make your way through the game’s 180+ pre-built stages, new gimmicks will appear that add a twist to how those paths are formed. The familiar flags that show how many mines are near without saying where come into play, along with pieces that move the grid around, jump your character about, and so on. Once you’ve beaten all of the stages the game comes with, you can also generate random stages to keep the party going. It’s a very compelling game that feels just different enough from its inspirations to stand on its own.
If you enjoy doing logic puzzles, you will definitely want to pick up Minesweeper Genius!. It’s a fun, original take on the genre with plenty of ideas to keep things fresh even after you’ve done more than a hundred puzzles. I’m not super-keen on the presentation, as it feels a little plain in places and just weird in others, but aside from that, I have no real gripes with this great puzzler. Well-worth both the purchase price and your time.
SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5
Alchemic Dungeons DX ($7.99)
I’m a fan of the original Alchemic Dungeons. It takes the familiar Mystery Dungeon framework and adds a crafting system to it, which has a couple of good effects. First, there’s an even greater incentive to thoroughly explore each floor of the dungeons, as the materials will almost certainly be useful. The other nice thing it adds is an element of customization and control over what your found treasure will yield. Since you’ll find materials far more often than you’ll find completed items, it’s up to you to decide what you really need. While the crafting system does make for an easier game, that decreased difficulty comes from trading a bit of randomness for a bit of player choice. It’s not a bad trade.
Unlike a lot of Switch ports of games that were previously on 3DS or mobile, Alchemic Dungeons DX actually adds a substantial amount of content. The original roster of four characters has been doubled to eight. The new characters are the Valkyrie, the Ninja, the Elf, and the Kunoichi. They’re all just as cute as the original four, with distinct sprites and animations. Each also has its own parameters, resulting in a slightly different experience depending on who you choose. There are also some new dungeons, which is a very welcome addition as it extends the actual length of the game. Finally, there are a bunch of new items, which gives a bit more variety to each playthrough. Basically, this version expands the game in every way it could be expanded.
If you have a fondness for Japanese-style roguelikes such as Pokemon Mystery Dungeon or Shiren the Wanderer, you’ll want to check Alchemic Dungeons DX out. It’s definitely the best game of this specific type on the Switch so far, and even if you already bought it elsewhere, the significant amount of new content makes it worth a look. It’s a little on the easy side as this genre goes, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for everyone.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Dungeon Stars ($9.99)
As far as I can remember, I think Dungeon Stars was originally planned as a mobile game. It nevertheless released on Steam first, where it got a very chilly reception. I guess I can sort of see why, as the game really is best enjoyed in small bursts when you’ve got a little time to kill. Sit down for a longer session and you’re just asking to get bored from sheer repetition. So what is this? Most an auto-runner, albeit one with some RPG and beat-em-up elements. Personally, I still far prefer to play games like this on my phone, but if your Switch experience contains healthy portions of fire-and-forget titles, you might have fun with Dungeon Stars.
Car Mechanic Simulator ($14.99)
This series has been around for a few years now on other platforms. It certainly has its fans. You take apart the cars. You put the cars together. You fix the cars. You maintain the cars. It’s probably more educational than most games, but not as educational as you would like. If this is your kind of jam, I will not judge you, but I’m not a big fan of these mostly straight-laced takes on regular old jobs. Now, if this were Crazy Car Mechanic? Sign me up. But I know lots of people will be quite happy to have this on their Switch machines, and now they can make that happen.
Trine 2: Complete Story ($16.99)
When it comes to multi-character puzzle-platformers, the modern standard-bearer has been the Trine series. The original game came to the Switch late last year, so it was only a matter of time before the follow-up would appear. And here we are! Trine 2: Complete Story is the ultimate version of the surprisingly strong sequel that originally released all the way back in 2011. This Complete Story version naturally includes both expansions, so you get the full experience here. The third game should be along before too long, and there are rumors of a physical copy of the trilogy as well. This is all leading up to the release of the fourth game, which is supposed to arrive at some point in 2019.
Nothing really unusual in today’s list, at least at the time of this writing. We’ve got a couple of pre-orders, some sales on recent releases, and a lot of the usual members of the sale club. The most unusual one there is probably Nekopara, which is almost certainly on sale to coincide with the release of Nekopara Vol. 2. Honestly, I’m not sure I feel strongly about anything in this particular bunch, which isn’t to say there aren’t some good games in there. Just nothing that gets me really excited, you know?
New Games on Sale
Nekopara Vol. 1 ($9.89 from $14.99 until 3/1)
Paper Wars: Cannon Fodder Devastated ($4.99 from $9.99 until 2/22)
Pirates Pinball ($1.97 from $2.99 until 3/1)
Space Lift Danger Panic! ($3.99 from $4.99 until 2/23)
Circle of Sumo ($7.99 from $9.99 until 2/25)
The Bug Butcher ($6.39 from $7.99 until 2/28)
The Gardens Between ($9.99 from $19.99 until 2/25)
The Lion’s Song ($7.99 from $9.99 until 3/7)
Dimension Drive ($6.49 from $12.99 until 2/28)
Awesome Pea ($5.39 from $5.99 until 3/1)
Creepy Road ($11.69 from $12.99 until 3/1)
Klondike Solitaire ($3.99 from $8.99 until 2/28)
Swords and Soldiers 2 Shawarmageddon ($12.74 from $14.99 until 3/8)
Tardy ($4.99 from $9.99 until 3/8)
Treasure Stack ($17.99 from $19.99 until 3/1)
Zombie Panic in Wonderland DX ($5.84 from $8.99 until 3/1)
Photon Cube ($6.82 from $13.65 until 3/1)
Soap Dodgem ($1.48 from $3.49 until 3/9)
Doodle God: Evolution ($5.24 from $6.99 until 3/2)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 19th
Anima: Gate of Memories ($13.99 from $19.99 until 2/19)
Anima: Gate of Memories Arcane Edition ($26.99 from $29.99 until 2/19)
Anima: Gate of Memories The Nameless Chronicles ($13.99 from $19.99 until 2/19)
Awe ($4.49 from $4.99 until 2/19)
Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today ($7.49 from $14.99 until 2/19)
Demon’s Crystals ($11.99 from $14.99 until 2/19)
Diablo 3: Eternal Collection ($39.59 from $59.99 until 2/19)
Freaky Awesome ($10.39 from $12.99 until 2/19)
Ginger: Beyond the Crystal ($9.99 from $19.99 until 2/19)
Leopoldo Manquiseil ($5.39 from $5.99 until 2/19)
Mars: Chaos Menace ($7.99 from $9.99 until 2/19)
Nightmare Boy ($5.49 from $9.99 until 2/19)
Pato Box ($11.99 from $14.99 until 2/19)
Uurnog Uurnlimited ($6.49 from $9.99 until 2/19)
And that’ll do it for today. Tomorrow we’ll have a look at some interesting new releases, along with recent news, any sales that pop up, and even a review or two. So yes, make sure you check back in tomorrow as we move forward into yet another busy week in the world of Switch. As always, thanks for reading!