Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for January 24th, 2023. We’ve got a few more reviews for you today, all of which were written by yours truly. The main star is Persona 4 Golden, and backing it up are the decent Void Prison and the not-so-decent Motorcycle Mechanic Simulator 2021. After that, we’ve got a couple of new releases to look at, one of which is rather intriguing. Finally, the lists of new and outgoing sales are waiting for you to sift through. Let’s get to it!
Reviews & Mini-Views
Persona 4 Golden ($19.99)
I mean, yes. I’m going to do it. If this isn’t a full five out of five, what is? While Persona 3 lost as much as it gained in its transition from PlayStation 2 to PlayStation Portable, Persona 4‘s jump from PlayStation 2 to PlayStation Vita was, well, nothing short of golden. It had everything the original game had, plus a whole lot more. And not only did it not have to compromise its visual presentation in the process, it actually was able to improve it. This Switch version uses the Vita Persona 4 Golden as its base, upscaling and upgrading the graphics where it can, adding the option to choose between English and Japanese voices, putting in more granular difficulty options, and including a highly-welcome quick save feature. It’s a total win.
In broad strokes, the gameplay of Persona 4 is similar to that of Persona 3. By day, you’ll do normal teenager things like attend school, hang out with your friends, and study. By night, you’ll explore dungeons and engage in turn-based battles against evil creatures using the power of your Persona. It’s largely up to you how you want to spend your time each day, and it’s important to make the most of it. You have to decide whether you want to devote more time to building relationships or fighting evil, but whatever you choose you’ll have to overcome hurdles at set points on the calendar.
In the particulars, there are a lot of differences between the previous game and this one. The setting is in the countryside rather than the big city, which itself sets a different mood. While Persona 3 saw you trying to explore the massive dungeon of Tartarus to get to the bottom of a mysterious mind-destroying phenomenon, Persona 4 has you trying to solve a series of mysterious murders. The main link between them seems to be televisions, and you’ll soon find yourself venturing into the TV World to battle evil demons and monsters. Instead of exploring one big dungeon, you’re dealing with several smaller ones, each with its own theme. I’ve heard people say that if Persona 3 is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then Persona 4 is Scooby-Doo, and I can’t really argue with that.
Like its immediate predecessor and successor, Persona 4 is an exceptional JRPG experience. The low-pressure time management and relationship side of the game blends perfectly with the role-playing bits, playing off of each other in ways that make sense and bring out the best in both. Pursuing the social links with characters not only rewards you with some satisfying mini-stories, but also strengthens you in the role-playing side. The overall plot is fantastic, and the characters in this game really stand out. There are some character bits that perhaps don’t land as well as one would hope, but on the whole it’s hard not to get attached to this wacky crew. People tend to love these characters even above those in other Persona games, and that’s not for nothing.
The gameplay also holds up its end of things. While it’s down to preference as to whether you like Persona 3‘s single giant dungeon or Persona 4‘s many smaller dungeons more, it’s hard to deny that the latter’s have more personality. I also think that Persona 4 has a marginally fairer difficulty curve, but that might just because Persona 3 trained me well. By default it’s a relatively challenging affair that forces you to actually use your brain a little bit in battles and make some proper preparations for boss battles, but there are so many tweaks and toggles in this version that you can make it as easy or hard as you want it to be. The core loop of leveling up, fusing, and gradually building a powerful team of Personas to use is also a winner.
Persona 4 Golden is shining its absolute brightest in this Switch port, and it was already a truly brilliant game that any fan of the genre should play. The fact that you can get an RPG this great for such a low price is wild, and Persona 4 has always been a great game to enjoy on a portable. If you already played through it on the Vita, I’m not sure you’ll find enough here to make it worth another scoop, but if this is your first time tuning in to the Midnight Channel the Switch version is an incredible way to experience it.
SwitchArcade Score: 5/5
Void Prison ($2.99)
Void Prison feels a lot like the kinds of amusing mobile games we used to see on the regular back in the glory days of iOS. It’s cheap, fun, and while it doesn’t make a huge lasting impression, it’ll be a good friend to you for a week or so. You’re in a circular arena with a lot of unfriendly enemies who teleport in with ever-increasing numbers. You have a gun that you can fire in any direction with the right stick, and you can roll. You can pick up the occasional power-up. Oh, and the enemies can’t hurt you. They can only bump you backwards. Take a bullet, bump. Run into a foe, bump. But if you touch the outer edge of the arena, you’re toast. The goal is to last as long as you can. The longer you survive, the higher in the online leaderboards you’ll place and the more skins and power-ups you’ll unlock. That is everything there is to it, and I do mean that.
It’s a fun game to play, but it gets repetitive after a while because very little changes from session to session. There just aren’t very many variables in play in Void Prison, and the ones that are here feel a little more random than I’d prefer. You can be doing everything right only to have an enemy pop in next to where you are standing and bounce you out without any recourse. Void Prison is best enjoyed as a little snack here and there, a few sessions at a time. In that capacity, it certainly earns its meager keep.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
Motorcycle Mechanic Simulator 2021 ($19.99)
Let me start this review by saying that if you enjoyed any of the other mechanic simulator games released on Switch by Ultimate, you’ll probably have a nice time with this one. It’s another scoop of the same gameplay seen several times before. This game isn’t doing anything wrong that all of the other games before it didn’t already do. But that’s part of the problem, isn’t it? Six years down the line, and we’re getting the same old thoughtless PC ports from this publisher. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. But when it does, I suspect it’s only by sheer chance. Nothing I can see here suggests that Ultimate considered how this game would play on this platform. The UI is dreadfully clumsy and obviously designed for a mouse. The text is small enough to be nearly illegible at times on the handheld screen. It’s buggy in a lot of weird ways.
It’s hardly surprising that Motorcyle Mechanic Simulator 2021 is as unpleasant to play on the Switch as it is. Most of these simulator games are, simply because they’re built around PC play and the proper considerations haven’t been made for the Switch’s input methods and display. If you can get your head around the terrible controls and user interface, you might have fun taking apart bikes, fixing them, and putting them back together again. But at the very least, I’d wait for a deep, deep discount.
SwitchArcade Score: 2/5
Right and Down ($9.99)
This looks interesting. It’s a roguelite card game, and yes I know we have a lot of those, but this one has a gimmick wherein the moves you can make are right or down. Each turn you make that one choice and have to live or die with the results. The dungeons are randomly generated, but everything else in the game is fixed, so you have all the information you need to make the best choice at any given moment. There are several unlockable alternate heroes, tons of artifacts to unlock that can modify your abilities, and a total of nine different dungeons to tackle, each with an additional rule to mix things up. I haven’t had a chance to play this one yet, but it seems like a lot of fun to me.
Garden of Pets ($7.99)
They say that nature abhors a vacuum, and if there is one vacuum on the Switch that can be felt it is the lack of Nintendogs. So here is another game making an attempt to fill that hold, with a variety of different dog breeds to choose from and a number of activities you can engage in with them. You can also decorate the garden space they inhabit. It doesn’t look very fancy to me, but I suppose people can latch on to all kinds of things if they’re cute enough. But just having dogs when it says pets in the title? When will I get my leopard gecko pet-raising sim, hunh?
(North American eShop, US Prices)
Well, not much in either list today. Haiku, the Robot is pretty solid and that is its lowest price yet. Otherwise, I don’t have much to say. The New Year’s sales have truly subsided at this point, but I’m sure all of our wallets could use a rest anyway. For those looking to toss some cash, I’m sure we’ll find some reasons to do so later on in the week.
Select New Games on Sale
Haiku the Robot ($13.99 from $19.99 until 1/30)
Pid ($1.99 from $19.99 until 1/30)
Furry Hentai Tangram ($2.00 from $2.99 until 1/30)
Hot Tentacles Shooter ($3.34 from $4.99 until 1/30)
Lonesome Village ($14.99 from $19.99 until 1/30)
Floppy Knights ($13.99 from $19.99 until 1/31)
Overwatch 2: Watchpoint Pack ($23.99 from $39.99 until 2/6)
LIT: Bend the Light ($5.60 from $8.00 until 2/12)
Mail Mole + Expansions ($9.99 from $14.99 until 2/13)
Package Inc ($4.49 from $4.99 until 2/13)
Alpaca Ball Allstars ($7.99 from $19.99 until 2/13)
Discolored ($1.99 from $9.99 until 2/13)
The Company Man ($12.99 from $19.99 until 2/13)
Classic Games Collection Vol.2 ($1.99 from $4.99 until 2/13)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 25th
Azure Saga Pathfinder Deluxe ($2.99 from $9.99 until 1/25)
Coffee Talk ($8.70 from $12.99 until 1/25)
Jade Order ($1.99 from $2.99 until 1/25)
Rage in Peace ($3.89 from $12.99 until 1/25)
She and the Light Bearer ($2.99 from $9.99 until 1/25)
That’s all for today, friends. I got my fifth vaccine shot today, and it’s my first Omicron one. I have absolutely no idea how hard the side effects will kick my booty, so I can’t guarantee we’ll have an article tomorrow. If I can crawl out of bed, I absolutely will do one. And if I do, you can look forward to more new releases and sales, plus whatever big news hits. I hope you all have a great Tuesday, and as always, thanks for reading!