Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for September 14th, 2020. It’s a review bonanza today as we reap the rewards of my being stuck in bed sick for a full day last week. We’ve got two full reviews covering RPG Maker MV and MO: Astray, along with Mini-Views of several other games. It’s good that we have that many, as there isn’t a whole lot of other stuff going on at the time of writing. We do have the usual lists of incoming and outgoing sales, though. Let’s have a look at what we’ve got!
RPG Maker MV ($49.99)
“Maker” software has been around for ages, allowing players the chance to build their own racing game, pinball game, or what-have-you by putting together pre-built parts. For console players in the West, the first big one was probably the PlayStation RPG Maker. Lots of people bought the game, probably with visions of making their own Final Fantasy game and passing around their memory card to share it with friends. Almost all of those people got one look at how complicated making even a simple RPG was and gave up. A few… a few made some really special things. It was pretty hard to share those games, though. Little wonder the PC RPG Maker releases ended up faring better.
RPG Maker MV is the latest console release of that series, arriving in an era and on a system where even Nintendo is in on the Maker business. It packs in more options and features than any previous console release, and it’s never been easier to share your creations thanks to robust internet features. It’s still just as complicated as ever, however. Super Mario Maker allows anyone to build courses without having to put much thought in it. RPG Maker takes a bit more practice, and a lot more time. It’s fun to play with in the same way, but you’re going to have to pour more effort into it.
Still, with patience and practice you can create some pretty cool things. And for those who don’t care to create but just want to sample the works of others, there’s a free version of the game that lets you do just that. Unfortunately, you’re limited to the assets included with the software and you have no way to monetize what you make. If those are dealbreakers for you, I heartily nudge you towards the PC version of the game. For all of its many features and the high level of customizability it offers, RPG Maker MV is still mostly intended as a creative toy.
But gosh, it’s a good one. While you’ve got a limited set of assets to work with, there’s enough variety here to make plenty of different kinds of settings. You’re stuck with mostly traditional mechanics for combat, character customization, and so on. Beyond the nuts and bolts, the world is your oyster. Create dungeons, towns, and overworld maps as you like. Put together a bestiary with the monsters you want with the parameters you prefer. Create weapons, armor, party members, events, and anything else you want. There’s a bit of magic when you get your first little creation going, and if you persist you’ll be surprised what you can put together.
I have to again stress that none of this is easy. As Maker software goes, this is by leaps and bounds the most complicated and difficult to use on the Switch. If you’re not sure whether or not you’d enjoy it, I recommend downloading the free version first and trying a few games just to get a sense of what kinds of things it can do and, perhaps more importantly, what kinds of things people are doing with it. Know that even the crummiest, simplest thing you find in the community probably took a couple of hours or more to make. Making the shortest of KEMCO-like games will be a major project. If that’s not something you’re down with, you’re not going to get much out of RPG Maker MV.
With that in mind, how is RPG Maker MV on its own merits? Quite good. It’s a definite improvement over the 3DS version from a few years ago, and while it doesn’t offer all of the options of the PC version I don’t think anyone could reasonably expect it to. If you’re willing to put in the time, you can make some really cool games with it. And if you’re not, you can still enjoy the fruits of other people’s efforts. RPG Maker MV can keep you busy for hours on end, and you probably won’t even notice the time passing. In that respect, it’s certainly worth the investment if you’re willing to put it in.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
MO: Astray ($14.99)
Hmm. Why did I decide to give this a full review and not a Mini-View? I can sum up my thoughts on MO: Astray with relative brevity: it’s an outstanding puzzle-platformer with tons of great ideas and an incredible atmosphere, and I strongly recommend you play it. Seriously, don’t sleep on it. It’s seriously one of the best games of this sort I’ve played in a long time. And that’s the upshot.
But I didn’t want to say just that, so now I’m in a bit of a situation here. So let’s go through this according to the Reviewers’ Handbook. Okay, first step: sweeping analogy that over-inflates the cultural importance of what I’m about to write. Um. The miracle that is intelligent life all started with a lump of primordial ooze shuffling its way into the unknown, pushing beyond its limits for reasons we cannot know completely. Life is also like that, if you really think about it. And so is MO: Astray. It could indeed be said that all of the universe thus far has led up to the moment of its release.
Alright, next up, reiterate the premise even though everyone is perfectly capable of reading the description on the box, virtual or otherwise. Bonus points for finishing with a captivating question. In MO: Astray, you play as a little slime creature who has gotten loose in a laboratory following some sort of terrible accident. Driven by a desire to escape, you work your way through the lab and other locations, gradually peeling back the story and gaining new abilities and powers as you go. What happened here? And what is your part in it?
Next, talk about the presentation. Oh, that one is easy. MO: Astray uses pixel art to skillfully create an amazing sense of dread and horror, with plenty of ambient sound effects and a chilling soundtrack. The main character manages to be charming and creepy all at once, and while you’re going to be seeing many kinds of places and creatures often, the game somehow manages to invest each of these with just enough detail and oomph to make the infrequent repetition not matter very much. The game sells its setting well and really pulls you into its world.
Okay, what’s next on the list? Oh right, the gameplay stuff. You play as a little slime who initially gets around largely by hopping and sticking to things. You use this ability to weave your way through tricky, often tight passages, spending as much time on the walls and ceilings as you do on the ground. You can also latch onto the heads of various creatures to catch a ride or sometimes make use of their skills to solve puzzles. Those are the basic abilities, and as you play through the game’s 9-ish hours you’ll see your powers expand and the challenges increase appropriately.
It may sound like the recipe for a Metroidvania, but this is actually a rather linear game in most respects. It’s better for it, as the tight focus allows the designers to craft some excellent puzzles. Indeed, the game’s biggest magic trick is in how it swaps between puzzles that require careful consideration and platforming sequences that need quick thinking and steady reflexes. Navigation can be a little tough initially but as soon as you get used to how your character works, it becomes a joy. Things can get difficult in places, but the game is lenient with respawns and nothing is truly unfair.
Winding down conclusion that summarizes everything. Okay. MO: Astray might look like a whole lot of other platformers of various stripes on the eShop, but its unique character, excellent pacing, and powerful sense of place make it shine brightly. It’s a substantial experience that should suit the tastes of most fans of puzzle-platformers. I was caught completely off-guard by the game, and I can only hope that my telling you about this results in a similar positive outcome for you.
SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5
Bounty Battle ($24.99)
A real button-basher of a fighting game featuring a rather impressive line-up of characters drawn from a variety of indie games, Bounty Battle makes a good first impression. That’s about all it manages on the Switch, however. It looks rough and runs quite poorly when the action picks up, which really hurts the gameplay experience. In single-player mode, you’ll find the AI opponents nearly brain-dead, often unable or unwilling to do more than walk into walls. Multiplayer fares better, but you’ll need to fill those seats locally as there is no online play available. This could be a nice casual multiplayer brawler, but it’s going to take some serious whipping into shape because there are just too many problems here at the moment.
SwitchArcade Score: 2/5
AVICII Invector ($19.99)
As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t know anything about Avicii before playing this game. Surprisingly, that hasn’t hampered my enjoyment of its stylish rhythm gameplay at all. You get a decent selection of songs, with a couple more packs available as DLC. There are multiple difficulty settings for each song as well, and you can play a multiplayer mode. The concept sees you flying a ship through various places, with symbols and lines indicating when you should hit the buttons. Sometimes you’ll be flying for a little bit, trying to weave through rings. In between the tunes, you’ll get brief snippets that tell a simple story. The music is good and the gameplay works well. Nothing revolutionary, but definitely one fans of the artist or the genre will want to look into.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Adventures of Pip ($9.99)
I wavered a bit on the score for this one but ultimately the reasonable price and competent gameplay made me a little more likely to recommend it. You play as a little pixel named Pip who eventually gains two more forms with higher resolution. There’s a neat story here that likens resolution to social class, which was at least novel. The gameplay is fairly meat-and-potatoes platforming, but it makes good use of the three different forms to keep things interesting. Levels often feature branching paths and there are lots of big and small secrets to find if you poke around. It’s a bit “been there, done that” but platformer fans looking for their next meal probably won’t feel bad about dropping a tenner on this.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
There’s something here, but the game never quite finds it. It’s a platforming game with light adventure elements where you control a character who wields a bow. Mind your arrow supply, because if you run out you’ll be in a real pickle. The use of a ranged weapon encourages you to keep away from enemies, which helps obfuscate the terrible collision detection. Valentina doesn’t have many tricks up its sleeve, and you’ll have seen most of them by the time you’re five minutes in. Some elements are functional enough, and it’s certainly very cheap. Even so, it’s really hard to make a case for spending even a few meager coins on it.
SwitchArcade Score: 1.5/5
(North American eShop, US Prices)
Well, we’ve had bigger weekend spills before. Nevertheless, there are still some good deals to check out today, including sales on Fury Unleashed, Furi, and Skybolt Zack. Yeah, sorry. I wanted to keep the ‘fury’ theme going too. If only Fatal Fury were also on sale. Not much of note in the outbox, but I suppose I should recommend you have a look at it anyway. It’s the only responsible thing to do.
Select New Games on Sale
Fury Unleashed ($9.99 from $19.99 until 10/2)
WeakWood Throne ($2.99 from $4.99 until 10/2)
Agent A: Puzzle in Disguise ($1.99 from $9.99 until 10/2)
Furi ($6.99 from $19.99 until 9/18)
FunBox Party ($0.29 from $1.99 until 9/22)
Tactical Mind ($0.44 from $2.99 until 9/22)
Skull Rogue ($0.98 from $2.99 until 9/22)
Deployment ($0.99 from $9.99 until 9/19)
Swordbreaker the Game ($1.49 from $4.99 until 9/21)
Debtor ($0.29 from $2.99 until 9/21)
Event Horizon ($0.74 from $5.99 until 9/21)
Breathing Fear ($1.74 from $4.99 until 9/21)
The First Tree ($2.99 from $9.99 until 9/21)
Speedway Racing ($5.99 from $9.99 until 10/1)
Sydney Hunter & Curse of Mayan ($1.99 from $9.99 until 10/1)
Chicken Assassin: Reloaded ($1.19 from $7.99 until 9/25)
Whispering Willows ($5.49 from $9.99 until 9/25)
Rogue Bit ($1.99 from $4.99 until 9/25)
Perfect Traffic Simulator ($6.69 from $9.99 until 9/25)
Etherborn ($9.34 from $16.99 until 9/25)
Desert Child ($6.59 from $11.99 until 9/25)
Relic Hunters Zero: Remix ($9.74 from $12.99 until 9/25)
Roombo: First Blood ($2.99 from $4.99 until 9/26)
Roulette at Aces Casino ($2.99 from $7.99 until 9/27)
Golf Zero ($3.99 from $4.99 until 9/28)
Quest for the Golden Duck ($0.10 from $9.99 until 9/28)
The Great Perhaps ($4.99 from $9.99 until 9/29)
Archaica: Path of Light ($4.94 from $14.99 until 9/29)
Spirit Roots ($1.99 from $6.99 until 9/29)
Skybolt Zack ($9.99 from $19.99 until 9/20)
Breakfast Bar Tycoon ($2.49 from $4.99 until 10/3)
Blood will be Spilled ($2.99 from $14.99 until 10/3)
Star Ghost ($1.00 from $8.99 until 9/30)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 15th
Aery – Broken Memories ($4.94 from $14.99 until 9/15)
Atomic Heist ($0.49 from $7.99 until 9/15)
Bridge Constructor Portal ($5.99 from $14.99 until 9/15)
Bridge Strike ($2.44 from $6.99 until 9/15)
Dark Burial ($0.49 from $3.99 until 9/15)
Dead Dungeon ($0.29 from $4.99 until 9/15)
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime ($7.49 from $14.99 until 9/15)
Neverout ($1.00 from $7.49 until 9/15)
One Person Story ($0.44 from $2.99 until 9/15)
That’s all for today, friends. Tomorrow will see the new release faucet open up again, and we’ll have summaries of all of the latest games as usual. Whatever news and new sales pop up will also be included. Will there be any reviews? Uh, probably not. I kind of spent all the ammo today. Oh wait, no. There’s one more game. Maybe there will be a review after all? Even I don’t know at this moment. I hope you all have a great Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!