Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for October 18th, 2023. In today’s article, we’ve got a thin slice of news before we head into more reviews. Our pal Mikhail has taken a long hard look at Long Gone Days and has his thoughts, and I’ve been fighting fires in Firefighting Simulator – The Squad and hanging with an alien in A Boy and His Blob: Retro Collection. After that, we’ve got a few new releases to look at. They all seem decent enough. Finally, sales. New ones! Expiring ones! Lists! You like ’em, we write ’em out. Let’s get to work!
‘F-Zero 99’ Gets Updated Today with New Courses and More
Just a quick hit of news here today. F-Zero 99 is getting another update today and it will see the addition of the last new tracks, at least for the time being. It adds the King League to Grand Prix mode, and three new courses to race on. While Nintendo has indicated more updates will be coming, it doesn’t seem like new courses are going to be part of them. I guess we’ll have to see what comes, but at least for now there is some new stuff to chew on.
Reviews & Mini-Views
Long Gone Days ($24.99)
Long Gone Days is an emotional blend of an adventure game, turn-based RPG, and politics. It deals with the human aspect of war, forging unlikely friendships, hope, loss, and more. I’ve been a big fan of shorter turn-based RPGs, but I soon realized that Long Gone Days doesn’t actually focus on its combat. The real draw is the narrative and characters.
I ended up liking the story despite thinking it might not resonate for me with its focus. The characters are well-written, and I was surprised at how well the combat encounters felt perfectly interwoven in the narrative. This doesn’t have random encounters, and since combat isn’t a focus, it isn’t as fleshed out as the rest of the game. If you’re coming here for the turn-based RPG, you might find that element lacking. You should be playing Long Gone Days for its story, art, music, and characters.
On Switch, Long Gone Days looks and runs well. There are some frame pacing issues with movement, but nothing game breaking right now. The load times are fine, and it looks good both docked and handheld. The aesthetic really benefits from the OLED model screen as well.
I quite like the blend of pixel art for characters with anime-esque portraits and some cut-scenes. The two styles mesh together well here. Music is also a big highlight in Long Gone Days. The soundtrack isn’t what I expected, but the unnerving yet catchy tunes really elevated parts of the story and characters.
Long Gone Days sometimes feels a bit too ambitious, but when it hits hard, the few issues I have with certain aspects don’t matter as much. This is a special game that pulls from a few genres, but one that manages to tell an interesting story that is worth your time. It might not be for everyone, but I am excited to see more from the developer going forward. -Mikhail Madnani
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Firefighting Simulator – The Squad ($34.99)
Sincerely, I didn’t expect much from Firefighting Simulator – The Squad. After years of covering Switch games, I flinch reflexively when I see a game titled (Job) Simulator. There are a lot of them on the eShop, and most of them are quick and dirty ports of quick and dirty PC games. I expected about the same of this game, but got something I think a lot of people could enjoy. Not without its flaws, but it works. And as for the port? Well, it does suffer from some usual problems like an interface clearly designed for a larger display than the handheld has to offer, and as an Unreal Engine game it isn’t running anywhere near the word ‘smooth’ on this aging hardware. Playable enough, but you’ll have to forgive some faults.
I think this game does a nice job of riding the line between being complex enough to feel like a simulation without being so complex that you get exhausted with banal tasks. You have to watch over a decent-sized town, riding out to fires in your fire engine and completing whatever mission awaits. Most of the time, you’re arriving at a house or building of some kind where you need to rescue trapped people and put out the blaze, but there are other missions here and there to break things up. You’ll have to make use of tools to gain entry to places, manage smoke by opening windows, carry people out, and of course hose down a lot of things with a lot of water. It can take a while to resolve some missions, and you might find yourself wishing for an auto-hose option to give your finger some relief like I did. Still, it’s satisfying to slowly snuff the flames as you work your way through the structure.
The title gimmick hints at the best way to play the game. There’s support here for up to four players online, and you can go through the whole campaign co-oping the missions. This cuts down significantly on how long things take, making for a far more manageable experience on the whole. On your own, you can order the other three squad members to do various tasks, but the computer is a complete idiot and needs to be fully babysat in any mildly dangerous situation. By and large I ended up not making use of my CPU squad except for the safest of tasks. Not that humans won’t do stupid things sometimes, but it’s less frustrating somehow.
If you’re interested in the idea of fighting fires and are open to playing with others online, I think you’ll have a good time with Firefighting Simulator – The Squad. It plays well and figuring out how to work together to put out a fire is a change of pace from the usual multiplayer fare. If you’re planning to go it alone, it’s a slightly tougher call. With the AI squad not being very helpful, things take a lot longer and the missions can start to feel just a little tedious as a result. Still, that core idea and its implementation has a fair bit of water in the hose.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
A Boy and His Blob: Retro Collection ($9.99)
One thing I’ve really enjoyed about this generation of gaming is that we’re seeing more than the usual classic games resurface. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see games like Mega Man, Castlevania, and Gunstar Heroes every time they pop up. But gaming history runs a lot deeper than the usual crew, and I think we’ve gotten to see a lot of that on the Switch. Some of those games aren’t all that great, but it’s all part of the tapestry. Other games are surprisingly fun and just got left behind for a variety of silly reasons. Where exactly does A Boy and His Blob fit?
David Crane’s place in gaming history is hard to overstate. He was one of the four ex-Atari employees who left the company to found Activision, effectively the first third-party console game company. At Activision he created Pitfall, building a large part of the foundation for the platforming genre in the process. Pitfall II: Lost Caverns was a massive game for its time, and you could make a case for it being an early prototypical Metroidvania. But like a lot of the designers of the Atari era, he couldn’t quite keep pace with the ground moving under his feet. Games were getting bigger, deeper, and more complicated. To Crane’s credit, he had at least a few more punches left in him.
I am of course speaking of Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit!. No, sorry. I’m being a sassy boy. I’m actually talking about A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia, a game that builds on Crane’s work in Pitfall II. You play as the Boy, and you’ve got a Blob friend who needs your help. You’re given a fairly open world and a bag of jelly beans, and it’s up to you to figure it out from there. Each bean will cause your Blob to transform in some way, and you have to use those abilities to make progress through the environment. It’s a bit of a platformer, a bit of an adventure game, and a bit of a puzzler. I don’t know that it’s a particularly elegant example of any of those things, but I have a lot of respect for the big swing Crane took here. And hey, walkthroughs are easy to find in the modern age.
You also get the Game Boy follow-up in this collection, and it offers more of the same basic structure in a slightly more linear format. Only slightly, mind you. And it’s as good of a game as the first one, if not a little better. It’s a whole new adventure, and if you enjoyed the first game you won’t have a bad time here. As an added bonus, you also get the Japanese versions of both games in this set. They feature some graphical changes and some interesting attempts to adapt the pun-heavy nature of the jelly bean transformations to another language. I’d imagine most readers will largely stick to the Western versions of the games, but it’s a cute little bonus anyway.
As you can probably guess from the price point, you’re not getting a big fancy treatment of the games. No interviews with Crane, or concept art, or anything like that. This is the Carbon Engine from Limited Run Games, and it features similar options to other games that use it. You can save and quit and then resume that save later in each game. There’s a CRT filter for the NES games and a Dot Matrix filter for the Game Boy games. You can pick from a selection of borders or turn it off, adjust the screen size/ratio, and choose between a handful of languages for the wrapper’s menu. The one above-and-beyond extra here is the inclusion of an option to view the entire map for each game. This is an amazing addition, and makes it a lot easier to tackle the games on your own if you choose to.
While the two games in A Boy and His Blob: Retro Collection were and are a bit clunky, if you learn to take them on their own terms they’re both a lot of fun to figure out. Both games are well-emulated and while the list of features isn’t very big, the wrapper has what you need. Those who want less friction in their adorable Boy-Meets-Blob game should probably look to the previously-released reboot title, but if you’re willing to put up with some quirks for the sake of adventure, this set is worth looking into.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Hellboy Web of Wyrd ($24.99)
Wow, that really looks cool. You probably know Hellboy. He’s a comic character, he’s had a couple of movies, and I think he’s had a game or two in his time. Well, here’s another game. This one is a roguelite 3D beat-em-up adventure, and it certainly showcases Hellboy’s brutal fighting style. You can’t just mindlessly pound away on your foes. You have to play defensively and find your chances to get some blows in, dodging and parrying before counter-attacking with some devastating blows of your own. The roguelite elements seem integrated in the usual way, with perks to find and procedurally-generated levels. This looks really promising, and I hope it can realize the potential it seems to carry.
Kona II: Brume ($29.99)
All the way back at the end of the Switch’s first year, a curious adventure game called Kona was released on the platform. It was a detective story set in Northern Canada with a supernatural twist, and while it was pretty short it was also rather interesting. Well, here we are at what I would surmise are the twilight years of the Switch, and we’ve got a second chapter to dig into. And yes, it’s a deeper dive into that story set up in the first. You’re Detective Carl Faubert and you need to investigate the unusual happenings in a small town where a mist is having an odd effect on the state of reality. What is this Brume, really? You’ll have to do the investigative work to find that out.
Ball laB II ($4.99)
Another fifty levels of challenging platforming action. Make your way around the single-screen stages, each packed densely with hazards and traps, to reach the exit. Pretty standard as this kind of thing goes, but it’s well-made enough for a fiver.
(North American eShop, US Prices)
Some Namco stuff, some indie stuff, and some Pinball FX stuff. Not too bad all around. Do you have Mr. Driller DrillLand yet? It’s five dollars. You’ll even get some change after that. C’mon, now. Not too much to fuss about in the outbox, but give it a look anyway while you’re doing that looking thing.
Select New Games on Sale
Return of the Obra Dinn ($9.99 from $19.99 until 10/24)
Pinball FX: Twilight Zone DLC ($6.69 from $9.99 until 10/24)
Pinball FX: Marvel Collection 1 DLC ($8.15 from $23.99 until 10/24)
Pinball FX3: Williams Vol. 3 DLC ($3.39 from $9.99 until 10/24)
Pinball FX3: Aliens Vs. Pinball DLC ($3.39 from $9.99 until 10/24)
Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris DE ($39.59 from $89.99 until 10/30)
Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythmic Adv. 2 ($14.99 from $29.99 until 10/30)
Dragon Ball Z Kakarot ($14.99 from $59.99 until 10/30)
Tales of Vesperia DE ($9.99 from $49.99 until 10/30)
Namco Museum Archives Vol 1 ($4.99 from $19.99 until 10/30)
SD Gundam Battle Alliance DE ($38.24 from $84.99 until 10/30)
Doraemon Story of Seasons: FotGK ($24.99 from $49.99 until 10/30)
God Eater 3 ($9.59 from $59.99 until 10/30)
Mr. Driller DrillLand ($4.79 from $29.99 until 10/30)
We Love Katamari Reroll+RR ($19.79 from $29.99 until 10/30)
Ace Angler: Fishing Spirits ($23.99 from $39.99 until 10/30)
Dragon Ball: The Breakers SE ($14.99 from $29.99 until 10/30)
.hack//G.U. Last Recode ($14.99 from $49.99 until 10/30)
Disney Magical World 2 EE ($19.99 from $49.99 until 10/30)
Pac-Man Museum+ ($9.99 from $19.99 until 10/30)
Pac-Man World Re-Pac ($11.99 from $29.99 until 10/30)
Digimon Survive ($29.99 from $59.99 until 10/30)
Digimon World: Next Order ($35.99 from $59.99 until 10/30)
Johnny Turbo’s Arcade, Assorted ($1.99 from $7.99 until 11/1)
Gravity Circuit ($17.59 from $21.99 until 11/1)
Anarcute ($2.99 from $14.99 until 11/1)
Pankapu ($2.39 from $11.99 until 11/1)
Accidental Queens Collection ($3.74 from $14.99 until 11/1)
Bombslinger ($2.39 from $11.99 until 11/1)
Ashwalkers ($9.99 from $19.99 until 11/1)
Vernal Edge ($16.49 from $21.99 until 11/1)
Ruggnar ($9.09 from $13.99 until 11/1)
Elypse ($15.99 from $19.99 until 11/1)
Skabma: Snowfall ($19.99 from $24.99 until 11/1)
NeuroVoider ($2.79 from $13.99 until 11/1)
ScourgeBringer ($6.79 from $16.99 until 11/1)
Astrologaster ($4.49 from $9.99 until 11/1)
Piczle Cross Adventure ($2.49 from $9.99 until 11/1)
PictoQuest ($2.49 from $9.99 until 11/1)
West of Loathing ($5.50 from $11.00 until 11/6)
Shadows Over Loathing ($17.48 from $23.00 until 11/6)
Favela Zombie Shooter ($4.79 from $7.99 until 11/7)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Thursday, October 19th
Backbeat ($18.74 from $24.99 until 10/19)
Blocky Farm ($1.99 from $9.99 until 10/19)
Depth of Extinction ($2.99 from $14.99 until 10/19)
Dredge ($19.99 from $24.99 until 10/19)
Finding Paradise ($7.19 from $11.99 until 10/19)
Fishing: North Atlantic ($4.99 from $24.99 until 10/19)
Front Mission 1st: Remake ($27.99 from $34.99 until 10/19)
Goroons ($6.00 from $10.00 until 10/19)
Half Past Fate ($3.99 from $19.99 until 10/19)
IIN ($6.00 from $10.00 until 10/19)
Panzer Dragoon: Remake ($2.49 from $24.99 until 10/19)
Sherlock Holmes & The Hound of the Baskervilles ($2.07 from $12.99 until 10/19)
Spectrolite ($6.99 from $13.99 until 10/19)
Super Trunko Go ($4.99 from $9.99 until 10/19)
To The Moon ($7.19 from $11.99 until 10/19)
Viki Spotter: Complete Bundle ($17.49 from $24.99 until 10/19)
That’s all for today, friends. Tomorrow is Thursday, so I imagine we’ll have more than a few new releases to sort through. I imagine some games are trying to dodge the elephant that is dropping on Friday, so it might not be the most exciting of crops. We’ll summarize it all anyway. Throw in whatever sales and big news roll in during the next twenty-four hours, and that’s about the size of it. I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday, and as always, thanks for reading!