Reviews Featuring ‘Mario vs. Donkey Kong’, Plus Today’s Releases, News, and Sales – TouchArcade


Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for February 20th, 2024. The week is barely underway and things are already getting hot. A Nintendo Direct Partner Showcase announced! A Pokemon Presents announced! Some great new games hitting the eShop today, a couple of reviews from yours truly, and the usual lists of new and outgoing sales to consider. Yes, it’s a wild Tuesday this week, so let’s tie up our laces and head out!

News

A Nintendo Direct Partner Showcase Will Air Tomorrow


We’ve all been hearing rumors for the last month. The nice thing is that if you keep predicting a Direct is coming “next week”, you’ll eventually be right. Nintendo has announced a Partner Showcase for tomorrow (February 21st), but those in North America will have to get up bright and early to watch it in real time. It’s scheduled to start at 6 am PT, and it will run for about twenty-five minutes. The focus will be on Switch games from third parties set to arrive in the first half of the year. No idea what games will be there, but it could be anything from jockeying to deep sea diving. We’ll review the main points in the following edition of the SwitchArcade.

And Also, A Pokemon Presents Is Coming Next Week


The Pokemon Company is pretty reliable about doing a presentation at this time of the year, and that pattern isn’t breaking in 2024. The next Pokemon Presents will air next week at 6 am PT on February 27th on Pokemon’s YouTube channel. Now, there’s no guarantee there will be Switch-related video game stuff there, but there’s a pretty good chance of it. Well, you know what to do if you’re curious.

Reviews & Mini-Views

Mario vs. Donkey Kong ($49.99)

You know, 2004 doesn’t feel like it was that long ago for me. Time gets weird the older you get. Back when Mario vs. Donkey Kong was set to release in May of that year, I was in university and working nearly full-time at an EB Games. I was friends with most of the people who worked there with me, plus a few others who had started at that shop and moved to other locations over time. We all stayed in touch using MSN Messenger, as was the style at the time for Canadians. Since we all worked at game shops, we naturally loved games. But we all had different tastes, and it was fun seeing different people get hyped for various releases.

I never could quite get the hang of Phil’s tastes. He was a few years older than me, and a real professional. It was little wonder he quickly moved up to assistant manager of our location and then manager of the busiest store in the city. He wasn’t locked to any particular genres the way most of us were, but his eye for quality was hard to argue with. And let me tell you, Phil was excited something fierce for Mario vs. Donkey Kong. Even had it in his MSN screen name. I couldn’t really understand it at the time, and I didn’t have the free income then to explore every interesting thread I found laying about. But the game came out, and Phil seemed quite happy with it. You have to love a good ending. I wonder what Phil thinks of that game being remade like this? I’ll have to shoot him a message later (not on MSN) and find out.

While Mario vs. Donkey Kong was something of a sequel to Donkey Kong ’94 on the Game Boy, it ended up spawning its own sub-series that seemed to get further and further away from that original spin on Nintendo’s classic with each new installment. The Mini Mario toys started occupying the spotlight more and more, with puzzles leaning hard on the Lemmings-ish challenges they offered. This wasn’t really to my tastes, though I know many loved just about all of those follow-ups. Personally, I hold Donkey Kong ’94 in extremely high regard, and I suppose if I had my pick that would be the remade game I’d be reviewing right now. Well, it’s fine as-is.

And so it seems is Mario vs. Donkey Kong, at least in the main. Nintendo hasn’t really changed the core of the game terribly much beyond the obvious modernization of the presentation. The returning levels are pretty much the same and the basic mechanics are as similar as it gets. A comfy pair of shoes for fans of the original release, though perhaps too comfy. There’s a new Casual difficulty setting that gets rid of the timer and gives you a lot more latitude in how much damage you can take, a great option for those who just want to take their time and enjoy things at their own pace. On the other side of that coin, there is a new Time Attack mode for all you speed demons out there. There’s also a new co-op feature that allows a second player to join in as Toad. It’s pretty fun!

You also get two new worlds to play, and that makes for a rather interesting flow. These new worlds benefit from twenty years and several games’ worth of experimentation, and they feel a little out of place as a result. Still, it’s some proper meat for those who have played the original game and are looking for something new here. While it might have been nice to see some kind of level editor in here since they were adding things, a couple of worlds’ worth of new levels to play will have to suffice. Is it enough? It’s really hard to say.

If you’ve never played Mario vs. Donkey Kong before, then sure! There’s a lot here to enjoy between the main game, the unlockable expert stages, and the Time Attack mode. If you have someone to play with, more’s the better. Veterans will have to make the call themselves. The game is as good as it ever was, but there isn’t a whole lot of new stuff here that is geared towards those who played the original back-to-front. Do you want to play the game again, but prettier and with a handful of new levels in tow? Do you have fifty bucks you’re willing to part with for that experience? Follow your heart.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong is as charming as it ever was, and the various additions and improvements to this remake certainly make it a definitive experience for those coming to the game for the first time. Those who got their fill of the original might find there isn’t enough new here to justify the purchase. For my part, I’m happy to see this game come back, but I can’t help but wonder if I wouldn’t have been just as satisfied with the oringal game being added to Nintendo Switch Online instead. Perhaps a new installment is in order?

SwitchArcade Score: 4/5

EGGCONSOLE Ys PC-8801mkIISR ($6.49)

This is a tricky release to review. I’ll generally recommend the original Ys to anyone, because despite its age it is still a very approachable and enjoyable action-RPG. You just have to learn to love the bump combat, and the secret to the bump combat in Ys is that everyone learns to love it eventually. I hadn’t played this version before, which happens to be the very first version, and I’m somewhat surprised to discover that it’s excellent. The scrolling is choppy, per the limitations of the platform, but the gameplay is solid, the art design is great, and the audio is outstanding. If I had played this back in 1987, my mind would have been blown.

So why is it hard to review? Well, like every other EGGCONSOLE release, this is presented exactly as it was originally. And originally, this game was mainly in Japanese. You get a few English words here and there, but the story and NPC dialogue is all in Japanese. The emulation wrapper is in English, but this is a game where you need to understand what people are saying to progress. If you’re very familiar with Ys already or are willing to play with a walkthrough, you can still have fun with this. But I can’t give it a strong recommendation because that isn’t going to work for everyone.

Ys is a great game, and this EGGCONSOLE release allows Western players their first chance to see just how much it immediately got right. The lack of in-game English dialogue means the fun will be limited to those who can read Japanese, know the game already like the back of their hand, or don’t mind using a guide to carry them through the game. If you’re okay with that, this is a rather enjoyable trip to the past. Otherwise, it might be best to get your Ys on via other means.

SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5

New Releases

Balatro ($14.99)

Here’s what I know about Balatro. First, it’s some kind of roguelite poker thing. Second, Mikhail won’t let me play it because he thinks I’ll get so addicted to it that I won’t do my work. That’s not something he would do lightly, so I have a feeling we might have a real winner on our hands here. I’ll probably try it out later when I have some free time set aside, but you can go ahead and give it a shot now if you’re less prone to ignoring your whole life for a video game than I am.

qomp2 ($19.99)

What happens to the ball in Pong when the paddle misses it? A question I myself had never pondered, but one that qomp2 seems to answer. It turns out that ball goes off on its own big adventure, a stylish puzzle action game loaded with hazards, traps, and secrets. The ball moves as it does in Pong, bouncing off of any surfaces it hits. But you can change its direction with the press of a button, and you can also charge up some energy for a dash move that can break certain objects. With these two moves in your bag of tricks, you have to get through a seriously tough thirty levels of gameplay. I’ll have a review of this soon, but it’s another fascinating title from Atari and one that plays on its past in a very clever way.

Hopping Bunny ($0.99)

This isn’t fancy dining by any means, but it’s a buck. You have to keep your expectations realistic here. You have to make the rabbit jump to collect the keys and make its way to the exit on each of the twenty stages. You can stop time in mid-air and will have to at times in order to make changes in your trajectory.

Sales

(North American eShop, US Prices)

The main things I’ll call out in today’s sales is that you can get some Cave shoot-em-ups, along with Radiant Silvergun, at good prices, and those who like to buy Capcom arcade games a la carte have a chance to stock up at half-price. There are a few good things in the outbox like Sumire and Sydney Hunter, so make sure you check both lists before you move on.

Select New Sales

Skater XL ($35.99 from $39.99 until 2/26)
Cynthia Hidden in the Moonshadow CE ($17.43 from $21.79 until 2/26)
This War of Mine ($1.99 from $39.99 until 2/27)
Mushihimesama ($11.99 from $19.99 until 3/4)
Espgaluda II ($11.99 from $19.99 until 3/4)
Dodonpachi Resurrection ($11.99 from $19.99 until 3/4)
Radiant Silvergun ($9.99 from $19.99 until 3/4)
Among Us ($3.00 from $5.00 until 3/4)
SUPERHOT ($9.99 from $24.99 until 3/4)


Strike Team Gladius ($4.99 from $9.99 until 3/4)
Capcom Arcade Stadium, Assorted ($0.99 from $1.99 until 3/5)
Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium, Assorted ($0.99 from $1.99 until 3/5)
Cook Serve Delicious ($6.49 from $12.99 until 3/7)
Cook Serve Delicious 2 ($2.00 from $12.99 until 3/7)
Cook Serve Delicious 3 ($2.00 from $19.99 until 3/7)
Dungeons of Dreadrock ($1.99 from $10.00 until 3/11)
Tropico 6 ($24.99 from $49.99 until 3/11)
Dungeons 3 ($31.99 from $49.99 until 3/11)
Railway Empire ($19.99 from $39.99 until 3/11)
Jet Kave Adventure ($1.99 from $19.99 until 3/11)
Port Royale 4 ($19.99 from $49.99 until 3/11)

Sales Ending Tomorrow, February 21st

Alicia Griffith: Lakeside Murder ($2.24 from $14.99 until 2/21)
Brightstone Mysteries: The Others ($2.24 from $14.99 until 2/21)
Chinese Parents ($6.49 from $12.99 until 2/21)
Choju Giga Wars ($1.99 from $6.99 until 2/21)
Christmas Tina ($13.49 from $26.99 until 2/21)
Detective Agency: Gray Tie ($2.24 from $14.99 until 2/21)
Detective Agency: Gray Tie 2 ($5.99 from $14.99 until 2/21)
Get Me Out, Please ($20.99 from $29.99 until 2/21)
Godstrike ($1.99 from $14.99 until 2/21)
Hell’s High Harmonizers ($4.79 from $11.99 until 2/21)
HyperParasite ($3.59 from $17.99 until 2/21)
Idle Zoo Park ($3.99 from $9.99 until 2/21)
LUNA The Shadow Dust ($9.99 from $19.99 until 2/21)
Mail Time ($13.99 from $19.99 until 2/21)
My Lovely Pets ($2.24 from $14.99 until 2/21)


Necrobarista: Final Pour ($10.99 from $21.99 until 2/21)
One More Island ($1.99 from $19.99 until 2/21)
Ravenous Devils ($3.49 from $4.99 until 2/21)
Rhythm Fighter ($8.49 from $16.99 until 2/21)
So Much Stuff ($4.49 from $14.99 until 2/21)
Sumire ($1.99 from $9.99 until 2/21)
Sydney Hunter & the Curse of the Mayan ($6.99 from $9.99 until 2/21)
The Rumble Fish + ($7.19 from $7.99 until 2/21)
Twin Mind: Murderous Jealousy ($10.49 from $14.99 until 2/21)
Twin Mind: Nobody’s Here ($8.99 from $14.99 until 2/21)
Twin Mind: Power of Love ($10.49 from $14.99 until 2/21)
Tyrant’s Blessing ($1.99 from $19.99 until 2/21)

That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with more new releases, more sales, and perhaps some news. I’m not sure about any reviews, but anything is possible. I took my wife out for lunch today to celebrate her new job. We hadn’t been to the place in a few years and the quality of the food has taken a hit, but it was still nice. I hope you all have a terrific Tuesday, and as always, thanks for reading!





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