Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for October 24th, 2023. We’ve got a few more reviews for you to digest today, with Sonic Superstars, Wild Card Football, and Haunted House in the chair of judgement. There are also a number of notable new releases today, with Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 leading the charge and Just Dance 2024 not far behind it. After summarizing those, we head into the lists of new and expiring sales for the day. Let’s get to the games!
Reviews & Mini-Views
Sonic Superstars ($59.99)
I’ll give Sonic Superstars this much: it’s a 2.5D game that actually plays like the classic 2D Sonic games, a feat that has heretofore evaded SEGA’s best efforts. I think even if a person can’t get on with the game, that much has to be appreciated. If you’re a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog CD, I think you’ll also enjoy how frequently this game evokes the design sense of that title. That’s no coincidence, as the game was developed by Arzest, a studio headed by one of Sonic’s creators, Naoto Ohshima. Ohshima was in charge of development on Sonic CD while Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was being developed in the US under the care of some of Sonic’s others creators, Yuji Naka and Hirokazu Yasuhara. The two games, while sharing a lot of fundamentals, had completely different flavors to them.
Right, so, Sonic Superstars. Sometimes I really loved this game, and sometimes I absolutely hated it. After embracing the Sonic CD-ness of it, I had a generally better time, but there are still some aspects of it that keep me from outright adoring it. The levels are big, full of things to find, and don’t really flow in the way you might expect Sonic games to. You’re meant to explore a bit more than usual, and that means you’ll want to properly slow down and have a look around from time to time. Note: you should be doing that in most Sonic games. Don’t hold right, that’s just a silly meme. You may go fast as needed if the situation calls for it.
Anyway, if you like exploring big levels that sometimes don’t make a lot of sense in how they are laid out, you’ll enjoy Sonic Superstars. There are things to put up with, to be sure. The plethora of bonus levels that take you out of the stage and back in can come a little too quickly in succession, and after a while I just straight-up ignored the goal post bonus stages. The rewards weren’t bad, but I got very tired of playing ten seconds of main level, getting whisked away to a bonus area, then playing another ten seconds of main level before getting sent to the next bonus area. Slow the roll, Arzest.
I’m not in love with the boss battles, either. My least favorite kind of Sonic boss battle is the one where you have to survive a lengthy phase of boss invincibility before getting a chance to get in a single hit before repeating the process, and that happens to be Sonic Superstars‘ most favorite kind of Sonic boss battle. At best a slog, at worst frustrating in an unpleasant way. Having played a lot of games by Arzest and its previous incarnation Artoon, it’s a consistent issue in many of its titles. If you don’t mind that, you’ll have a better time of it than I did.
The new Chaos Powers are interesting but I found myself almost forgetting they were there most of the time. I suppose it’s an additional incentive to get your hands on the Chaos Emeralds if you need one. The powers are useful enough, but you never really need to make use of them. More boosts than anything else. Catching the Chaos Emeralds was more fun than using the powers, as you do a minigame that sees you swinging through space in a Spider-Man like fashion. Anything that allows me do things in a Spider-Man like fashion is cool in my books.
Oddly, I also wasn’t thrilled with the soundtrack. Sonic games usually have great tunes, and while this one has its moments, it’s well below what I would expect. The best tracks are the ones provided by Tee Lopes, but even his stuff is hit or miss here. None of it is bad by any means, but it’s kind of muted and not up to the standards of a franchise that tended to have great music even at its low points. It’s a bummer because the presentation is otherwise great, with vibrant colors and great animations. The game runs well on Switch, thankfully. Some loading times that can be a bit vexing, but the gameplay is smooth.
I guess I should touch on the multiplayer, which is as disastrous as I feared it would be. The gameplay of Sonic the Hedgehog just isn’t a good fit for having four players making their way through stages together. I was only able to test single-system multiplayer, as my attempts to go online and play the Battle Mode didn’t work at all. I don’t know if it was a lack of players trying, or if something just wasn’t functioning properly. I suspect it would have the same issues as the local multiplayer, though. 2D Sonic is just too chaotic and multidirectional to handle multiplayer the way, say, New Super Mario Bros. does. Maybe someone will figure this out someday, but that day isn’t today.
Take it as a single-player Sonic, and you’ve got a fairly agreeable game that occasionally hits some very real highs but also stumbles over a few fences on the way. It feels a little over-designed at times and the limp soundtrack is a real disappointment. The multiplayer side of it is a total swing and miss, in my opinion. If Sonic Superstars was meant to reinvent 2D Sonic, I think it missed the mark. But it’s a good, solid entry in a series that is always in need of such, and that counts for a lot.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Wild Card Football ($39.99)
I’m more of a hockey guy than a football one, but I can get into a lot of sports games as long as they’re good. I used to really enjoy the NFL 2K series back in the day, and NFL Blitz was an arcade favorite of mine. It’s my enjoyment of the latter that caused Wild Card Football to catch my eye. It’s developed by Saber, who were behind the NBA Playgrounds and WWE Battlegrounds games, and it’s clearly trying to throw back to games like Blitz in the same way its NBA games called back to Jam. Here on Switch, it’s in a rather unique position. With no Madden on the platform, Wild Card‘s NFLPA license may be the closest Switch owners get to an NFL game. Heck, we’re not exactly swimming in good football games of any kind.
It’s a bit of shame then that Wild Card Football feels more like the set-up for something great than, you know, something great on its own. I think there’s a future for this series, a world where it can properly scratch that Blitz itch, but it’s just not here yet. You’ve got a seven-on-seven set-up, cartoonish characters, simplified plays, and over-the-top animations. The Wild Card system that the game is named for adds a bit of strategy to the game but also ruins the arcade purity of it in some ways. Each player can play the cards they have in their deck to give themselves boosts or sabotage the other player. It adds a random element to the game that makes it feel more party-like, but I’m not sure it’s something I enjoyed a whole lot. I tended to prefer playing with them turned off, and that’s an odd sentiment to have for a feature that’s in the title.
As for the football action itself, it’s… fine. Games like NFL Blitz or NBA Jam are lightning in a bottle, and even the teams behind those games sometimes had trouble replicating what they had done so well in the first place. It’s not fair to expect any given game to hit that sweet spot. The passing game is fun enough, the running game is kind of so-so, and it does an okay job overall of riding the line between approachable and having sufficient depth. As you might expect with a cross-platform game at this point, this Switch version has some technical issues when the gameplay gets hot. Saber has done its best here I’m sure, but things can get choppy at the exact moments when you want smooth gameplay the most. Luckily, the CPU is an idiot of the highest caliber, so if you’re playing the single-player modes these bits where the performance chokes aren’t likely to lose you the game.
That said, it can be hard to see the game’s good qualities if you aren’t up against another human. As with most arcade sports games, there isn’t a whole lot to do in single-player anyway. If you have someone local, you can have some quick fun playing against them. Still, you’re meant to head online as soon as possible and get to the Ultimate Team-style grinding. You’ll need to grind against the CPU for a bit to earn enough to get your team into fighting shape, but eventually you’ll want to wade into the pool of human intelligence. Of course, heading online presents you with an awkward choice. There is cross-play support here, but the Switch version’s performance issues might impact your gameplay when matched up against players on other platforms. If you opt not to use cross-play, you’ll be stuck with trying to find other Switch players online to go up against. Neither of these is ideal.
I think Wild Card Football is a decent starting point towards filling the void left by the long absence of NFL Blitz, but as it stands it doesn’t quite have what it takes to fulfill that role. This Switch version in particular struggles with some technical issues that will hobble anyone looking to take advantage of the online cross-play feature, which is a major problem when so much of the game’s experience rests on that mode. I think you can have a good time here, but you would likely have a better time on another platform. This might be the best football game the Switch has, but that speaks less for this game’s quality and more for the sad state of the genre on the platform.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
Haunted House ($19.99)
Normally this is where I would ramble on about a retro game, but I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about the original Haunted House here. It’s a great game for the Atari 2600 that leans into the console’s strengths and weaknesses to create a highly unique and enjoyable experience on the platform, one that I feel gets more due these days than it did back in the day. This new game carries the same title, but beyond a few hat tips and story bits it doesn’t have much to do with that game. This is a roguelite action game played from an isometric perspective, one with more of an emphasis on stealth than we usually see in this genre.
You’ve entered the Graves House, which turns out to be haunted. Good, the title checks out then. You can’t escape until you gather all of the pieces of the urn scattered throughout the house, and you’ll need to rescue your friends along the way. Main character Lyn and her friends need not only worry about the obvious spirits in their path, but also the house itself. Every time they pass out, they wake up in the entryway of the house. The house will shift its rooms around to confuse them on their next attempt. There’s your procedural generation.
You have little in the way of useful ways to attack the spirits, which is a bit of an issue early on before you’ve picked up some permanent upgrades. As you make your way through the rooms, you’ll be tasked with a variety of missions that you’ll need to complete to move on. At least one of those has you defeating all the monsters in a room under a time limit, which is extremely difficult to pull off when all you have is a silly flashlight and some dubious collision detection. Unless the game directly pits you against the monsters, you’re better off just trying to avoid them.
You can collect a variety of items that help with that, but if all else fails you can just try to sneak past. Just hope that the awkward viewpoint doesn’t cause you to bump into any noisy furniture. As you play, you’ll collect some permanent collectible goodies that you can exchange for equally permanent upgrades. You won’t have much of a shot at finishing the game unless you load up on these boosts, and that means you’re going to be doing a whole lot of grinding. It’s not wholly unpleasant grinding, but the best roguelites are built so that the grind doesn’t outlast the fun. Haunted House is skating dangerously close to line of boredom and annoyance even if it doesn’t quite cross over it.
On the whole, Haunted House isn’t bad. Its greater focus on stealth gives it a bit of distinction compared to the typical roguelite action game, and the presentation is quite good. It doesn’t quite nail the pacing of its grind, and the isometric perspective can cause serious and fatal visibility issues at critical moments. Still, there’s something here that kept me coming back, even if it took more than a few gameplay sessions to push through it all. Hardly a homerun for the genre, but if you’re looking for something spooky to play during this Halloween season, you could do a lot worse.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 ($59.99)
Metal Gear makes its Nintendo Switch debut in a big way with this collection. You get quite a few games in here, with some of them making their debut on Nintendo hardware. Sure, the GameCube had a remake of Metal Gear Solid with Twin Snakes, but this is the first time the original is on a Nintendo console. The same can be said for Metal Gear Solid 2. Metal Gear Solid 3 was released on the Nintendo 3DS, but who’s going to complain about it being here? The package is rounded out with the MGS1 VR Missions & Special Missions, Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake for the MSX, Metal Gear and Snake’s Revenge for the NES, and a few other odds and ends. If you like Metal Gear, this is a must-have. If you’ve never played Metal Gear, this is a great way to get into it. And if you don’t like Metal Gear, I’m frankly surprised you made it through this paragraph. You… you like Castlevania, don’t you?
Just Dance 2024 Edition ($59.99)
Well, it’s another Just Dance. It has forty new songs to dance to, including hits from the likes of Miley Cyrus, Bad Bunny, BLACKPINK, and Whitney Houston. There’s a new workout mode where you can watch yourself burn the calories as you play, a new challenge mode with leaderboards to compete on, and the promise of regular updates throughout the year. Subscribe to Just Dance+ and you’ll have more than three hundred additional songs to play. I’m sure you’ve already got an opinion on Just Dance, so I’ll leave you to it.
Oh, a FuRyu game. Alright. To tell the truth, this isn’t too shabby by the standards of that company’s usual output. It’s a stylish action-RPG with a reasonably interesting story and functional mechanics. It’s also extremely repetitive, but for the right mood and at the right price, that might not be a major issue for some. I’m going to do a proper review of this one soon-ish, so look forward to some expanded thoughts there.
Archetype Arcadia ($29.99)
A sci-fi visual novel about a post-apocalyptic world where people are suffering from a mysterious disease that drives them mad. Once afflicted, the only way they can mitigate their symptoms is by playing a virtual reality game called Archetype Arcadia. The main character of this game is resistant to the disease, but his sister suffers from it. When she becomes unresponsive one day while in the game, he has no choice but to enter the virtual world to try to help her. What will he find? And will he be able to escape? Play the game in the game to see what happens.
Pickleball Smash ($39.99)
Pickleball seems to be a thing that sprung up after I left North America, so I’m not very familiar with it. I mean, it looks like tennis. Maybe it’s tennis? Do you hit a pickle? Anyway, Game Mill has a pickleball game for us. It allows up to four players to join in via local multiplayer. It offers support for motion controls, and has some mini-games to play if you want to mix things up. Surely Game Mill can handle something like this without biffing it up? I’m not the person who’s going to drop the money to find out, though.
Dreams of a Geisha ($19.99)
The usual overpriced match-3 stuff from Green Sauce Games. This one has one hundred and twenty levels and features some extra puzzles to solve. I don’t have much to say here other than that you can probably find a ton of games similar to this for free on your mobile device. I’d keep that twenty and go for one of those, but that’s just me.
The Bin Bunch
Springtime Hike ($4.99)
Golf: Hole in Two ($2.00)
Car for Sale Simulator 2023 – Car Mechanic, Wash, Car Flipper ($14.99)
(North American eShop, US Prices)
Nothing too exciting in the list of sales today, in my opinion. I love the The Room games, but we’ve seen better prices on those. The outbox isn’t very big or exciting, but the games in it are unlikely to go on sale again anytime soon. Check the lists carefully and see if something grabs you, however.
Select New Sales
Lifeslide ($9.74 from $14.99 until 11/1)
The Room ($3.99 from $9.99 until 11/4)
The Room Two ($3.99 from $9.99 until 11/4)
Tales of Mathasia ($6.79 from $7.99 until 11/6)
HyperParasite ($1.99 from $17.99 until 11/6)
Crowded Mysteries ($2.59 from $3.99 until 11/6)
Birfia ($1.99 from $2.99 until 11/6)
Cultist Simulator ($3.99 from $19.99 until 11/6)
Turmoil ($1.99 from $14.99 until 11/6)
Kingdom Rush ($2.99 from $9.99 until 11/6)
Kingdom Rush Frontiers ($2.99 from $9.99 until 11/6)
Kingdom Rush Origins ($4.49 from $14.99 until 11/6)
Ravenous Devils ($2.49 from $4.99 until 11/6)
Bright Lights of Svetlov ($6.99 from $9.99 until 11/13)
LEGO City Undercover ($5.99 from $29.99 until 11/13)
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes ($9.99 from $39.99 until 11/13)
LEGO Jurassic World ($7.99 from $39.99 until 11/13)
Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate ($8.99 from $59.99 until 11/13)
Summer Party Time ($6.65 from $9.50 until 11/13)
MistWorld the After ($6.99 from $13.98 until 11/13)
Creepy Tale: Ingrid Penance ($6.99 from $9.99 until 11/13)
Liberated ($2.99 from $19.99 until 11/13)
Liberated: Enhanced Edition ($3.99 from $19.99 until 11/13)
Astro Flame: Starfighter ($6.99 from $9.99 until 11/13)
Party Party Time ($3.50 from $5.00 until 11/13)
Moon Dancer ($13.29 from $18.99 until 11/13)
Star Gagnant ($22.80 from $38.00 until 11/13)
CosmoPlayerZ ($7.69 from $10.99 until 11/13)
Witch Explorer ($11.99 from $19.99 until 11/13)
GyroGunner ($5.76 from $7.20 until 11/13)
Yes, Your Grace ($2.99 from $19.99 until 11/13)
Obakeidoro ($13.99 from $19.99 until 11/13)
Crowd City ($1.99 from $4.99 until 11/13)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, October 25th
Air Traffic Controller: Airport Hero Haneda ($24.99 from $49.99 until 10/25)
Crash: Autodrive ($1.99 from $9.99 until 10/25)
Landing Hero Hanedax787 ($1.99 from $29.99 until 10/25)
No Place Like Home ($16.74 from $24.99 until 10/25)
Waku Waku Sweets ($3.99 from $39.99 until 10/25)
That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with more new releases, more sales, perhaps a review, and perhaps some news. We’ll see. I got my latest vaccine shot today so I might be in rough condition tomorrow. How bad I am will determine how big the article is. That’s science! I hope you all have a terrific Tuesday, and as always, thanks for reading!