Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for December 11th, 2023. We’ve got quite the assortment for you today. We start off with a hands-on preview of Capcom’s upcoming Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy from yours truly, then head into an epic review section. Our pal Mikhail has reviews of Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince and TEVI, while I’ve got my takes on Gothic II Complete Classic, Orten Was The Case, Rogue Glitch Ultra, and DREDGE‘s latest DLC, The Pale Reach. Then we have some dubious new releases to look at, followed by the new and expiring sales of the day as usual. Let’s get to work!
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy (Coming January 25th)
We’ve had the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy on the Nintendo Switch for what feels like ages. It’s a decent set, including the well-loved first three games in the Ace Attorney series in their shiniest form yet. They look pretty spiffy for games born on the Game Boy Advance, to say the least. We also got the pleasant surprise of the two Great Ace Attorney games on Switch, and they’re just great. But there’s still plenty of cases left for the court to hear, and at the top of the list is the franchise’s second numbered trilogy. Capcom was kind enough to let us take an early look at Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy ahead of its Switch release on January 25th of next year.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy collects the fourth, fifth, and sixth games in the series. The fourth game was initially released on the Nintendo DS under the title Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, while the other two were Nintendo 3DS releases under the names Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice. Despite the Phoenix Wright bit in two of the titles, this storyline starts and ends with Apollo Justice and his development as a character. Phoenix has a strong presence in all of the games in some form or another, but the title of the set is certainly apt. On top of the main games, this collection also includes the DLC for the fifth and sixth games, adding an extra case and some fun costumes to the mix.
I was expecting this to follow in the footsteps of the original trilogy’s release on the Switch, offering the games and not much more than that. I was surprised to see that this has gotten a much nicer treatment. The three games are here, of course. You can pick them from the menu and they all have nice little animated scenes that play on their respective pages. There’s also a museum mode where you can listen to music in the Orchestra Hall, check out art and movies in the Art Library, and even set up your own scenes with the different characters and animations in a limited Animation Studio. There are achievements called Accolades, and each game includes a wide array of options you can toggle. There’s even an option called Story Mode that automatically solves puzzles and answers questions for you, effectively turning the game into a visual novel.
Getting into the games, they look and sound terrific. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is a 2D game, but its origins being on the Nintendo DS means its art was already a step up in terms of detail and resolution compared to the Game Boy Advance entries. Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice used 3D models to start with, and they look really clean here. The games play well, of course. You can use the buttons or touch screen as you like to play, just like on the original consoles. While this second trilogy got a slightly more mixed reception than the first, I’ve always been a fan of the bold swings of the fourth game and the follow-up games seemed to be more crowd-pleasing in general.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy will release on the Nintendo Switch on January 25th, 2024. That’s next year, but it’s not so far away. It’s almost Christmas, after all. We’ll have a full review of the game when the time comes, but I think things are already looking very good for this set.
Reviews & Mini-Views
Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince ($59.99)
My experience with Dragon Quest games has been weird over the years. I actually finished Dragon Quest Heroes on PS4 before any mainline entry in the series, and then ended up loving Dragon Quest VIII on 3DS which I consider one of my favorites of all time. I’ve also played every single Dragon Quest game on PS4 and Nintendo Switch now, with Dragon Quest Builders 2 and Dragon Quest XI S being my favorites. On the mobile side, I’ve been dipping my toes in the older games through the ports that Shaun has reviewed over the years, but I hadn’t really tried the Monsters series.
Last year, Square Enix released Dragon Quest Treasures on Nintendo Switch which many told me was Dragon Quest Monsters Lite. I ended up loving that despite its flaws, and replayed it on Steam Deck a few months later. Now, Square Enix has released Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince for Nintendo Switch worldwide, and it feels weird to even consider this a spin-off. I feel like it is a middle ground between a big main game and a spin-off because of how much of the main games it includes, but has a different focus that I’ll get to in a bit.
I wasn’t sure what to expect in the narrative, but I found Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince‘s story to be memorable and ended up liking the major characters a lot. Having some context from Dragon Quest IV helps elevate this, but it isn’t essential for newcomers. I almost stopped focusing on the story to build my dream party of monsters in Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince, and that’s where the gameplay comes into the picture.
I’m floored at how well thought out the mechanics feel here. It is very much Dragon Quest, but the season mechanic in locations (that act like large sandboxes), hundreds of monsters including new ones, and combat make me want to keep playing it or have it suspended on my Switch so I can get some synthesis or combat in when I have some free time. Synthesis in Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince is like Shin Megami Tensei, and there is just so much you can do with skills here.
While the game doesn’t have the same scope as Dragon Quest XI or even VIII, the areas you can explore are quite massive. The season mechanic is interesting because the biomes you’re in have seasons change without loading as you’re exploring or battling. A new season brings new points of interest, changes to the map, and more. As an example, a water body will freeze in winter letting you explore further.
Combat is turn-based, and the focus of Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince is actually letting your monsters use tactics (like in Persona 3 before Persona 3 Portable) rather than direct commands. You can issue commands, but the game pushes to go for a more auto battle approach initially or at least against fodder enemies. During battles, instead of just focusing on defeating enemies, you should scout them so they can join your party making you stronger overall with more monsters on your side. Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince includes online multiplayer, but I haven’t been able to test it much. If I end up spending some time on it in the future, I’ll write about it separately.
Visually, Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince is a mixed bag. It can be gorgeous and looks superb on the OLED screen, but it can also look very dated and inconsistent even by Dragon Quest standards. If you were ok with Dragon Quest Treasures, this will be fine for you. Just expect performance issues, slightly long load times, and animation culling in addition to a low draw distance. These aren’t remotely as bad as modern Pokemon games, but they are noticeably annoying and bring down an otherwise spectacular game from getting a higher score.
On the audio side, Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince doesn’t have too much voice acting, but the little it does have is very good. The music seems almost completely reused from older games with the same midi songs included. One day Square Enix will give us orchestral versions in a modern non mainline game. That day is not today, sadly.
If you’re completely new to Dragon Quest, let alone Dragon Quest Monsters, I’d recommend trying the free demo. If you already did that and are set to buy it, in this case I feel like the Deluxe Edition content is really good so I’d recommend considering it if you’re planning to min max and want to do as much as possible in this game. It is a good time saver if you buy two of the DLC packs. They aren’t essential, but they help.
Since Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince has DLC available, I hope it does get some updates to address performance issues. Barring that, I look forward to dipping into it for a long time, and playing any potential ports it gets. This one is special.
Despite my issues with the performance, and I’m more annoyed by technical issues than most, I ended up adoring Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince. It joins Monster Hunter Stories 2 as my two favorite monster collecting games. It has heart, charm, and one of the best gameplay loops in a monster collecting game. I hope we see some patches improving the performance though, because that’s the only thing holding this back. -Mikhail Madnani
SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5
I loved CreSpirit’s Rabi Ribi, so I was excited to play the newest game from them in TEVI. I didn’t follow much of TEVI, but a few of my friends praised the demo quite a bit. I didn’t bother playing it since I knew I’d be reviewing it, but I was curious about how the team would follow-up Rabi Ribi in depth and quality. It turns out TEVI was everything I had hoped for, and more. Not only did it surprise me constantly, but it feels so good to play on Switch.
TEVI blends action games, Metroidvanias, and visual novels together, but in a very unexpected way. When I started playing, I found it quite slow and pretty standard with its flow. I soon started discovering how awesome the action and combat focus was, then how the story is an important part of the experience. If you’re here to just explore on your own and not pay attention to the plot, I’d recommend against TEVI right now. You will need to progress the story to play more of the game.
While the combat is awesome, boss battles are full on bullet hell mayhem, and amazing. I couldn’t believe how well TEVI managed to hold my attention for dozens of hours. There are loads of upgrades and you constantly unlock more. The controls are intuitive and I was surprised at how well TEVI runs on Switch. You might wonder why I would be worried about a game that looks like this having issues, but I’ve been burned too many times on bad Switch ports of 2D games. Thankfully, I have no complaints with how TEVI looks and runs on Switch in both handheld and docked mode.
The one complaint I have, barring the opening hours feeling a bit slow and some levels not making it obvious when something is breakable or climbable, is the font size of certain elements. In handheld mode, the game’s UI needs a bit of work because even elements during dialogue are a bit too small. Some folks might not like the aesthetic, but I liked it and the character portraits all the way.
TEVI has only Japanese voice acting, but it is very good. This is complemented by the excellent soundtrack that is quite varied through the game. The team did a really good job here.
While the asking price might seem high for some, TEVI is absolutely worth it. There are a few issues holding it back like some visual clarity ones for certain parts of levels or the slow opening hours, but this is a superb Metroidvania experience that I hope gets a physical release. I adored it on both Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch. -Mikhail Madnani
SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5
Gothic II Complete Classic ($29.99)
Piranha Bytes games have a certain style to them, and it allures some people and repels others. You could, if you were being uncharitable, call them B-game takes on things like The Elder Scrolls, but I’m not really fond of that approach. Certainly, not as many resources went into Piranha Bytes’ games as the big AAA games of their era, and there are a lot of rough elements to them. The visuals are generally where you can spot this the most, and I think that’s the area of least concern when we’re looking at a rerelease of a twenty year old game. In terms of gameplay, I think you get a very earnest effort in each Piranha Bytes game, and in the context of their time I think they hang well in this regard with their peers. Of course, that’s the part where the age of the games can be more strongly felt. Tank controls, here we go.
Gothic II was the second game released by Piranha Bytes and it’s where the developer really broke out. The Big Bad of the first game, the Sleeper, has been vanquished. Unfortunately, with his dying breath he summoned pretty much every evil creature around. Even worse, your character has lost most of his power laying near-dead in the ruins of the Sleeper’s temple. Xardas pulls him out of there, explains the situation, and we’re off to the races. Your main goal is to get your hands on a powerful artifact called the Eye of Innos, and it’s quite the goose chase. A very fun goose chase, mind you. One that feels every bit of its two decades of age, but one worth embarking upon.
The Switch port of Gothic II delivers the game more or less as-is, plus the Night of the Raven expansion. There are some new motion controls here but I wouldn’t really recommend them. For better or worse, this is the game. If you enjoyed the port of the first game, you’ll like this even more. If you didn’t, you might want to step cautiously. There are a lot of things you’ll have to deal with in this game to properly enjoy it, and only some of those are due to it being a game from the turn of the millennium. If you can get used to the quirks endemic to this series, however, the rewards are many.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Orten Was The Case ($14.99)
This game took turns intriguing me and infuriating me. At a fundamental level, this is an adventure game that involves taking advantage of time loops to unravel the ultimate mystery it presents one step at a time. You can reset the loop anytime you like, and given you only have less than a half hour to sort things out, you’ll be doing that a lot. The whole thing is set in a town (district?) called Orten, and people will be going about their business as you go about yours. Going back in time naturally reverses anything you did, but you keep your knowledge and any clues you might have figured out. The course of the game will see you spending some time with each of the many colorful characters in the neighborhood, and the whole thing wraps up within a few hours depending on how quickly you can sort out what you need to do.
Figuring that out can be tricky at times, but that’s the usual business with adventure games. You can only carry two items at a time, and that can be annoying at times since it can result in required backtracking. The real issue here is that the game tries its hand at some action bits, and it’s never good. There was one combat sequence early on that almost had me quit the game right on the spot because of how poor the collision detection was. Adventure games don’t need action, so unless it can be done well I’d prefer it just be left out. There are several mini-games in here, and I actually don’t mind that. It makes the world feel more alive. But when it’s required to complete one for progression, that’s when things can get rough.
If you enjoyed doing time loops to help out all the people in Clock town in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, you’ll probably have some basic appreciation of how Orten Was The Case is set up. It’s certainly an interesting game, and it does a great job of investing you in its little neighborhood and the oddballs who reside there. Some awkward puzzles pull the experience down a little, but what hurts it the most is the unnecessary addition of action sequences that just fall flat. Those who can forgive a few serious rough edges might find this a decent evening’s entertainment.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
Rogue Glitch Ultra ($11.99)
This game feels loose and messy a lot of the time, and I often don’t get on well with games like that. The procedural generation can result in some very awkward level layouts and enemy placements, and it’s really easy to take hits when you think you’re safe. And yet somehow I had a good time anyway. It’s an easy game to dip in and out of, and I’ve always got room for those in my life. Since your character auto-attacks, it starts to feel like there’s some Vampire Survivors chocolate in the bite-sized platforming peanut butter. There is a ridiculous amount of weapons to find and use, and some unlockable characters to provide that meta-progress flavor all the kids enjoy.
Rogue Glitch Ultra is in a lot of ways as standard a roguelite platformer experience as you could imagine. That isn’t to say it doesn’t have distinct elements, but it scratches the same itch that most games of this sort do. I like how easy it is to get into, and the online mode certainly adds some extra spice if you can set it up. It can be frustrating when you take some hits that feel unavoidable due to the way things are generated, and it can sometimes be too chaotic for its own good, but I enjoyed Rogue Glitch Ultra well enough.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
DREDGE: The Pale Reach DLC ($5.99)
The Pale Reach gives you a little more DREDGE to enjoy. An hour or two, which isn’t too shabby for the price. It adds another island to the game, more or less, and that means more fish to catch and a few more quests to complete. The gimmick here is that it’s very frosty, and you’ll have to break through the ice. You can do this content at any time, but it’s best to do it before the end game if you can. The rewards don’t mean a whole lot otherwise. What’s here is well-done, with the same slightly sinister atmosphere that makes the main game stand out.
I can’t help but wish there was a little more meat on the bones of The Pale Reach, especially with this being the first proper paid add-on for the game and all. I don’t mind its brevity this time, but if this is what we can expect from any future expansions, I’m not sure how many I’d be up for. just doesn’t feel essential or substantial, and I like to see at least one of those two in any expansion I pick up. Still, if you want to extend your enjoyment of DREDGE with another slice of well-made stuff, The Pale Reach will do that much for you.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
The Bin Bunch
Zumaji Delux ($9.99)
City Bus Driver Simulator ($11.99)
Bulldozer Tycoon: Construction Simulator ($9.99)
(North American eShop, US Prices)
The folks behind the Piczle games have a new one coming out soon, and I imagine this latest sale is in anticipation of that. Why not catch up on them, if you’ve got some time and money? I recommend the Puzzle & Watch one for its really cool presentation. Over in the outbox, the latest Arcade Archives sale is wrapping up. As usual, most of these games will never be on sale again. Even the ones that repeat might be years before seeing another sale. Shop accordingly.
Select New Sales
Super Cyborg ($2.09 from $6.99 until 12/25)
The Medium: Cloud Version ($27.49 from $49.99 until 12/29)
Fearmonium ($10.39 from $12.99 until 12/29)
Piczle Colors ($2.49 from $12.00 until 12/29)
Piczle Cells ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/29)
Piczle Lines DX ($2.99 from $14.99 until 12/29)
Piczle Lines DX 500 More Puzzles ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/29)
Piczle Lines 2: Into the Puzzleverse ($7.99 from $14.99 until 12/29)
Piczle Puzzle & Watch Collection ($1.99 from $7.99 until 12/29)
Murder on the Marine Express ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/29)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, December 12th
ACA NEOGEO Real Bout Fatal Fury 2 ($3.99 from $7.99 until 12/12)
ACA NEOGEO Shock Troopers 2nd Squad ($3.99 from $7.99 until 12/12)
ACA NEOGEO The King of Fighters 2001 ($3.99 from $7.99 until 12/12)
ACA NEOGEO Top Player’s Golf ($3.99 from $7.99 until 12/12)
ACA NEOGEO Zed Blade ($3.99 from $7.99 until 12/12)
Arcade Archives Frisky Tom ($3.99 from $7.99 until 12/12)
Arcade Archives Penguin-Kun Wars ($3.99 from $7.99 until 12/12)
Arcade Archives Super Volleyball ($3.99 from $7.99 until 12/12)
Arcade Archives Task Force Harrier ($3.99 from $7.99 until 12/12)
Arcade Archives Thunder Dragon ($3.99 from $7.99 until 12/12)
Chasm: The Rift ($7.99 from $19.99 until 12/12)
Farming Simulator 23 ($34.99 from $44.99 until 12/12)
Growbot ($13.99 from $19.99 until 12/12)
Headbangers: Rhythm Royale ($14.99 from $19.99 until 12/12)
Lamplight City ($10.49 from $14.99 until 12/12)
Mutropolis ($12.99 from $19.99 until 12/12)
Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet ($9.99 from $19.99 until 12/12)
Sonority ($13.99 from $19.99 until 12/12)
The Longing ($11.24 from $14.99 until 12/12)
Unforeseen Incidents ($13.99 from $19.99 until 12/12)
Venba ($11.99 from $14.99 until 12/12)
That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with more reviews, more new releases, more sales, and perhaps some news. I actually fell asleep holding my Switch last night, which is about the state of trying to catch up on my reviews. I’ll get there soon enough. I hope you all have a magnificent Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!