Reviews Featuring ‘Pinball M’ and ‘EGGCONSOLE Yokai Tantei’, Plus the Latest Sales – TouchArcade


Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for January 30th, 2024. This is quite the unlikely Tuesday, friends. There isn’t a single new release in the eShop today, and that’s not a situation that happens very often. I do have the usual lists of new and expiring sales for you, but before that there are three reviews to check out. I take a look at the Death Save Bundle DLC for Pinball M, the Star Trek Pinball DLC for Pinball FX, and the latest EGGCONSOLE release, Yokai Tantei. Let’s get to it!

Reviews & Mini-Views

Pinball M – Death Save Bundle ($19.99)

I’m a pretty big fan of pinball, and given the relatively scarcity of the real thing (especially here in Japan), I’m also a pretty big fan of video game pinball. Many different developers have taken their shot at bringing a very tactile experience to flat screens, but none have been as all-around successful as Zen Studios. For a long while, its output came in the form of fully original tables, ones that never (and often couldn’t have) existed in the real world. Zen had a knack for landing hot licenses to make the tables from, and it was and is always interesting to see what the developers do with them.

Several years back Zen landed the license to the Williams catalogue of tables, but it ran into one little issue in trying to bring them into its Pinball FX apps. Namely, a few of those tables presented as-is would have resulted in the app’s ESRB rating being raised, and that wasn’t something Zen wanted to do. In the end it edited the tables in question, a decision that some fans weren’t fully happy with. I don’t know if that is why Pinball M exists, or if it’s that the team wanted to play with some properties that weren’t going to be much fun with a Teen rating, or some other reason. But regardless of the why, we now have Pinball M, a home for tables that lean more towards an M for Mature rating.

Pinball M launched last month as a free app that allowed you to play one table as much as you like. It also had four paid table add-ons, available individually or as this Death Save Bundle pack. This review covers both the app itself and these tables, though that is somewhat awkward given the circumstances. You see, I happen to think the tables included in Death Save Bundle are very good. I particularly enjoyed Duke Nukem’s Big Shot Pinball, which does a great job of capturing the essence of Duke Nukem 3D, and Chucky’s Killer Pinball, which has a lot of fun shots and a really good structure. The Thing Pinball and Dead by Daylight Pinball were also rather good, though the former is quite a challenge at times.

The problem is that the app itself is really poor in this Nintendo Switch form. No matter what I did, the game had serious performance issues. Like, to the point that that ball would sometimes teleport around the board because the framerate was stuttering so badly. Look, Pinball FX on Switch doesn’t run as nicely as Pinball FX3 does, but I’ve never seen performance issues this bad in it. Dead by Daylight was the worst-afflicted of the lot, but Duke Nukem also took a bad hit at times. I have to believe this can be addressed because, again, Pinball FX doesn’t have nearly as severe of issues as Pinball M seems to.

I suppose the lucky thing is that you can download Pinball M for free and try out the included table to see how much the heavy technical issues bother you. It hits some tables worse than others, but you’ll at least get a taste for the situation. As for the Death Save Bundle, I would heartily recommend picking up these tables elsewhere. Here on the Switch, I found them to be scarcely playable with the app in its current form.

SwitchArcade Score: 2.5/5

Pinball FX – Star Trek Pinball DLC ($14.99)

And now, over to Star Trek Pinball, one of the more recent DLC packs to hit Pinball FX on the Switch. It includes three tables: Star Trek (Kelvin), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Discovery. All are fully original tables, and they truly run the gamut in terms of creativity and quality. Unfortunately, there is one thing they all have in common. They all lack the real voices of the actors from the respective properties, and none of the familiar theme music is here either. This takes a lot of the fun out of the license, to be sure. You won’t hear the iconic theme music from Deep Space Nine, for example, and you’ll be left guessing which character is supposed to speaking since nobody sounds even close to the real thing.

Stepping past that issue and moving into the tables themselves, I think it’s really interesting how they’ve been set up. Deep Space Nine feels like the most conventional of the lot, but it uses the source material as well as it could. You get lots of call-outs to specific episodes and storylines, and the way the wormhole works is cool. Mechanically, it’s a little repetitive since it most involves hitting the same few shots and then aiming at targets in similar positions, but I still had a good time with this one. I really wish the real actors and music were present, though.

Star Trek: Discovery is a really fun table once you get the hang of it. You have a lot of extra flippers in weird positions on the board, and it does a lot of cute things with the whole Star Trek motif. It’s presented as a training simulation, allowing it to set up some interesting missions. I’m not as familiar with the source material for this one as I’ve lost touch with the shows after moving to Japan, but I suspect fans of Discovery will be as disappointed by the lack of authentic voices and music as I was with Deep Space Nine in that regard.

I had a bit of trouble getting a handle on Star Trek (Kelvin), which is based on the trilogy of movies in the rebooted Kelvin timeline. Kirk is your main link to everything here, and he of course doesn’t look or sound a thing like Chris Pine. They didn’t even put the actors’ faces on the table here, giving it a very generic Trek feel. With it not being based on any one movie, it’s kind of all over the place thematically. It’s also a bit confusing in how it works, but I think veteran pinball fans might be able to find some joy in its quirks. Quirks and Kirks, that’s this one. My least favorite of the trio, but I still enjoyed it.

Overall, this is a decent pack of tables if not a great one. Mechanically, they try some interesting things that sometimes work and sometimes don’t, but the creativity is appreciated. It terms of the themes of each, I feel like some do a better job of adapting the material than others, but they all suffer badly from the lack of authentic voice acting and soundtracks. Budgets only go so far, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t severely bummed out the minute I fired up Deep Space Nine and didn’t hear that theme song. Fine enough, but I’d recommend grabbing Zen’s take on the Williams Star Trek: The Next Generation table ahead of this pack.

SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5

EGGCONSOLE Yokai Tantei PC-8801 ($6.49)

Part of the fun of the EGGCONSOLE line is that some of these games are almost fully unknown to me. Indeed, I think Yokai Tantei is the biggest example so far. I’ve never heard of this game before in any capacity, and I had no idea what I was getting into when I fired the game up. Given the platform (PC-8801), year (1984), genre (maze action), and publisher (Bothtec), I was keeping my expectations low. Imagine my surprise when I found a rather cool game here, and perhaps my favorite of this line-up so far. Yokai Tantei is a fun arcade-style game, and one I would absolutely love to see a modern take on.

The game’s basic set-up sees you trying to defeat a set number of enemies in each stage. They’ll spawn in at certain intervals and set locations in the maze, and you’ll want to make sure you aren’t spawn-killed by them, for starters. One touch, and you lose a life. So how do you fight back? You can shoot a fireball that you can then guide around the maze. Enemies can be taken out if you hit them with it, but the real cheddar comes from detonating it and taking out a bunch at once. Just make sure you don’t blow yourself up in the process. Some extra challenge comes from the fact that while you are controlling the fireball, your character will also move according to your input. You have to keep an eye on both. Learning to master this unconventional attack is very satisfying.

That said, this is an old computer game, and it’s not exactly running at great speeds. After every lost life or cleared stage, you have to wait for the game to slowly clean up the sprites from the field and then slowly redraw them. You can use the fast-forward feature to speed that process up, but be careful to let up before the action starts again. The audio is also very rough. My son found it to be pure noise, and I suppose I can’t much argue with that. The game is wrapped up in the familiar EGGCONSOLE package, with save states and some built-in checkpoints you can start from, plus some interesting scanned documentation to look at.

On the one hand, I think Yokai Tantei is my favorite game from this line so far. On the other hand, it also feels like an old computer game more than most of the others. That said, I assume that if you’ve taken any interest at all in EGGCONSOLE, you’re willing to accept some of the cruft that comes with games of this time and place. If so, I invite you to check out Yokai Tantei. It’s a great take on some familiar concepts, and one you’ve likely never experienced before.

SwitchArcade Score: 4/5

Sales

(North American eShop, US Prices)

If I had to pick out a highlight from the list of new sales today, it would probably be SteamWorld Build hitting a new low price. Otherwise, it’s a lot of familiar faces who will be back around next month if you miss them this time. The outbox is pretty big, with games like Cult of the Lamb and Demon Turf finishing up their latest discounts. Have a look through both lists as usual, chums.

Select New Sales

Stardash ($2.99 from $9.99 until 2/6)
Heroes of Loot ($2.39 from $7.99 until 2/6)
Heroes of Loot 2 ($2.99 from $9.99 until 2/6)
Gunslugs 2 ($2.39 from $7.99 until 2/6)
Residual ($5.99 from $19.99 until 2/6)
Meganoid ($2.69 from $8.99 until 2/6)
Groundskeeper2 ($1.99 from $4.99 until 2/6)
The Pinball Wizard ($1.99 from $7.99 until 2/6)
Snake Core ($2.69 from $8.99 until 2/6)
Daardoa ($1.99 from $3.49 until 2/9)
Parasomnia Verum ($1.99 from $3.49 until 2/9)
Timore Redo ($10.44 from $18.99 until 2/9)
Timore 5 ($7.14 from $12.99 until 2/9)
Daemonum ($2.46 from $4.49 until 2/9)
Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption ($3.99 from $19.99 until 2/12)
Brotherhood United ($1.99 from $8.99 until 2/12)


Demon’s Rise: War for the Deep ($1.99 from $6.99 until 2/12)
The Awakening of Mummies ($1.99 from $2.99 until 2/12)
Zombo Buster Advance ($1.99 from $3.99 until 2/12)
Potata: Fairy Flower ($2.16 from $12.00 until 2/18)
SteamWorld Build ($23.99 from $29.99 until 2/19)
The Myth Seekers: Legacy of Vulcan ($1.99 from $14.99 until 2/19)
The Myth Seekers 2: Sunken City ($1.99 from $14.99 until 2/19)
Eventide 3: Legacy of Legends ($1.99 from $14.99 until 2/19)
Traumatarium ($2.39 from $3.99 until 2/19)
9 Clues 2: The Ward ($1.99 from $14.99 until 2/19)
Paratopic ($1.99 from $5.49 until 2/19)
Jenny LeClue: Detectivu ($1.99 from $24.99 until 2/19)
Ankora: Lost Days ($7.49 from $14.99 until 2/19)
Summer in Mara ($9.99 from $19.99 until 2/19)
Koa & the Five Pirates of Mara ($11.99 from $19.99 until 2/19)
Airport ($4.99 from $9.99 until 2/19)

Sales Ending Tomorrow, January 31st

A Tale For Anna ($6.59 from $10.99 until 1/31)
Alba: A Wildlife Adventure ($6.99 from $19.99 until 1/31)
Astria Ascending ($17.99 from $39.99 until 1/31)
Astrologaster ($3.99 from $9.99 until 1/31)
Astronomical Club For Queers ($1.99 from $9.99 until 1/31)
Big Dipper ($2.24 from $4.99 until 1/31)
Cult of the Lamb ($14.99 from $24.99 until 1/31)
Demon Turf ($12.49 from $24.99 until 1/31)
Demon Turf: Neon Splash ($3.49 from $4.99 until 1/31)
Double Kick Heroes ($8.79 from $21.99 until 1/31)
Fireball Wizard ($7.99 from $9.99 until 1/31)
Forest Guardian ($6.59 from $10.99 until 1/31)
Gravity Circuit ($16.49 from $21.99 until 1/31)
Guild of Ascension ($7.64 from $16.99 until 1/31)
Into a Dream ($2.79 from $13.99 until 1/31)


Kaichu: The Kaiju Dating Sim ($4.49 from $9.99 until 1/31)
Kargast ($4.49 from $9.99 until 1/31)
Mechanic 8230 Escape From Ilgrot ($1.99 from $14.99 until 1/31)
Memorrha ($2.99 from $19.99 until 1/31)
Merrily Perilly ($2.24 from $4.99 until 1/31)
NeuroVoider ($2.79 from $13.99 until 1/31)
Pankapu ($2.39 from $11.99 until 1/31)
Piczle Cross Adventure ($1.99 from $9.99 until 1/31)
Potion Party ($1.99 from $9.99 until 1/31)
Rage in Peace ($2.59 from $12.99 until 1/31)
Revita ($11.89 from $16.99 until 1/31)
ScourgeBringer ($5.94 from $16.99 until 1/31)
She and the Light Bearer ($1.99 from $9.99 until 1/31)
Skul: The Hero Slayer ($9.99 from $19.99 until 1/31)
Souldiers ($11.99 from $19.99 until 1/31)


Spirit of the Island ($19.99 from $24.99 until 1/31)
The Lost and the Wicked ($5.99 from $9.99 until 1/31)
The Red Lantern ($4.99 from $24.99 until 1/31)
They Always Run ($11.99 from $19.99 until 1/31)
Vanaris Tactics ($5.99 from $9.99 until 1/31)
Vengeful Heart ($1.99 from $9.99 until 1/31)
Vernal Edge ($15.39 from $21.99 until 1/31)
Vision Soft Reset ($5.99 from $9.99 until 1/31)

That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with at least one more review, plus some new releases, sales, and maybe even a bit of news. Another day where I didn’t finish nearly as much as I wanted to, but I suppose that’s January in a nutshell for me. I hope you all have a terrific Tuesday, and as always, thanks for reading!



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