Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for February 13th, 2023. In today’s article, we’ve got a few reviews to start off the week with. The excellent shooter Drainus leads the pack, with Helvetii and Colossal Cave pulling up the middle and rear respectively. After that, some new releases. Mostly dubious. We then finish things up with the latest sales and expiring discounts. Let’s get to work!
Reviews & Mini-Views
Drainus is a very good shooting game that I can easily recommend to people who might not usually be into shooting games. It’s less about scoring and more about just getting through the game’s campaign. Indeed, there aren’t even any online leaderboards. So if you are a shoot-em-up fan, you’ll want to be aware of that. It feels like a shooter made for a home console versus the arcades, and while that is exactly what it is, it’s also not something we see a lot in this genre. In that sense, it calls to mind games like Ikaruga.
The idea here is that you can drain enemy bullets and fire them back. You have to do this manually, and you have a meter that determines how long you can drain before giving it a break and letting it replenish. As you play, you’ll fill up energy cans that you can then use to buy upgrades for your ship. You can buy these upgrades at any time from the pause menu. To use those upgrades, you’ll have to pick up special pods dropped by certain enemies which will level you up. Taking a hit levels you down, and if you’re on your standard shot and take a hit, you’re out. It’s a surprisingly forgiving game that gives you plenty of input in how your upgrades progress.
With the interesting draining and upgrading mechanics, a striking presentation, and a surprisingly fair level of difficulty, Drainus stands out in a very competitive genre to offer a different kind of deal for players. While it isn’t directly comparable to the likes of Ikaruga in specific ways, I get the sense it will have a similar wider appeal to the one that game enjoyed. On the flip side, the lack of online leaderboards and lower emphasis on scoring mechanics might hurt the game with the hardcore fans of the genre. Overall, however, it’s an amazing effort with a lot of obvious thought put into its design that pays off handsomely.
SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5
Helvetii is one of those games that is on the cusp of something really good, but doesn’t quite get there. It has an attractive presentation and plays well enough. There’s a familiar, well-worn structure to it, following in the footsteps of many roguelite action games before it. You get a few characters to play as, and a story to stitch everything together. It feels very inspired by Vanillaware’s games, and in some ways it doesn’t miss the mark by much. Interestingly, I think it’s the roguelite aspects that sink the ship. The balance is off, and it ends up betraying the game’s better parts. Exploration generally doesn’t feel rewarding, and you’re pushed into grinding until the fairly enjoyable combat system feels exhausting.
I think Helvetii could have been a pretty good action game, and to an extent it can still be enjoyed that way. Its visuals and basic gameplay mechanics are well-done and fit together in a pleasing way. Its roguelite elements are less satisfying, with insufficient variety and a balance that leads to a fair bit of unpleasant grinding, putting undue pressure on the combat system that it simply can’t carry to that extent. There are things to appreciate here though, and I can see folks who are more forgiving of the game’s weak points having a nicer time than I did.
SwitchArcade Score: 3/5
Colossal Cave ($39.99)
This one really stings. Some of the earliest computer games I played were the adventure games designed by Roberta Williams at Sierra. When I heard she and her husband Ken were coming out of retirement to work on another game, and that it was going to be a remake of the pioneering Colossal Cave, my imagination went wild. With such a fertile starting point and some of the legends of the genre working on the game, surely the result would be good? Well, I was quite wrong. I kind of see how it happened, but the how doesn’t change the reality that this game isn’t very enjoyable at all.
Despite Roberta and Ken Williams being involved with this, you really can’t feel it. This is very faithful to the original Colossal Cave. Too faithful in some ways. And where it does break from that near-fifty year old game, it does so to its detriment. Spaces once formed in your imagination are replaced with dull, generic 3D settings. A simple text-based interface is now a fiddly GUI that doesn’t work especially well with a controller. The puzzles are largely unchanged, and the text has now become voiced narration. It’s not all bad if you’re a fan of the original looking for a different angle, I suppose.
Colossal Cave‘s adherence to the original game’s design and puzzles can be somewhat lauded, but it also means that the game feels half a century old and none of the flavor of Roberta Williams’ design sensibilities come through. Meanwhile, the overhaul to the visuals and audio put a proverbial face to the descriptions but in doing so remove much of the game’s intangible charms. It all adds up to a game that is hard to recommend newcomers and veterans alike.
SwitchArcade Score: 2/5
Forgotton Anne ($19.99)
I… I feel like this already came out on the Switch four or five years ago? Okay, I did some research. Apparently this is a publisher change. The game is now published by the developer itself. I’m not sure if you have to pay again if you already bought it. Anyway, this was a really good narrative adventure game then and it still is now. If you missed it and you like that sort of thing, allow this to be your excuse to give it a go.
Big Adventure: Trip to Europe ($11.99)
Find hidden objects. Some European travel-related, some not. There are also some minigames to give you a break from item hunting now and then. I don’t have many new things to say about games like these anymore. Ocean Media is just dropping these in batches these days, as you’ll see in a second.
My Lovely Pets Collector’s Edition ($14.99)
Find hidden objects. Some pet-related, some not. There are also some minigames to give you a break from item hunting now and then. I still don’t have anything new to say about this kind of thing anymore. If you enjoy them, more power to you.
(North American eShop, US Prices)
The hot deals today, as far as I am concerned, are for the awesome shooter Sophstar, the cool twin sticker Devastator, and the nifty roguelite Ampersat. I don’t have any strong feelings about the outbox, but do have the usual look through both lists to see what grabs your attention.
Select New Games on Sale
Cozy Grove ($8.88 from $14.99 until 2/20)
Devastator ($2.09 from $6.99 until 2/24)
Capybara Madness ($3.84 from $6.99 until 2/26)
Gunborg: Dark Matters ($4.49 from $14.99 until 2/27)
Sophstar ($9.09 from $12.99 until 2/27)
Heidelberg 1693 ($10.49 from $14.99 until 2/27)
Lamentum ($6.39 from $15.99 until 2/27)
The Legend of Tianding ($9.99 from $19.99 until 2/27)
Hazel Sky ($9.99 from $24.99 until 2/27)
Mozart Requiem ($7.49 from $29.99 until 2/27)
Crowalt: Traces of the Lost Colony ($2.49 from $9.99 until 2/28)
Ampersat ($4.99 from $9.99 until 2/28)
Fantasy Blacksmith ($6.69 from $9.99 until 2/28)
ValiDate Struggling Singles ($4.64 from $14.99 until 3/1)
Unichrome: 1-Bit Unicorn Adv. ($7.99 from $14.99 until 3/2)
Bike Clash ($4.99 from $9.99 until 3/3)
Hollow World: Dark Knight ($3.99 from $7.99 until 3/3)
Go! Go! PogoGirl ($3.99 from $4.99 until 3/3)
Animal Golf: Battle Race ($7.19 from $7.99 until 3/3)
Camper Van Simulator 2 ($6.49 from $12.99 until 3/3)
Blade of Darkness ($7.49 from $14.99 until 3/3)
Horse Tales: Emerald Valley Ranch ($27.99 from $39.99 until 3/4)
The Quest for Excalibur – Puy du Fou ($14.99 from $29.99 until 3/4)
Smurfs Kart ($26.79 from $39.99 until 3/4)
New Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja ($20.99 from $29.99 until 3/4)
Beyond a Steel Sky ($15.99 from $39.99 until 3/4)
Dark Minute: Kira’s Adventure ($2.49 from $9.99 until 3/4)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 14th
Ammo Pigs: Armed & Delicious ($1.99 from $7.99 until 2/14)
Art Sqool ($1.99 from $12.99 until 2/14)
Astronomical Club for Queers ($1.99 from $9.99 until 2/14)
Boreal Tenebrae ($1.99 from $6.99 until 2/14)
Bud Spencer & Terence Hill: S&B ($3.39 from $19.99 until 2/14)
Catlateral Damage Remeowstered ($7.49 from $14.99 until 2/14)
Chalk Gardens ($1.99 from $5.99 until 2/14)
Elemetals: Death Metal Death Match ($1.99 from $12.99 until 2/14)
Gravity Thrust ($1.99 from $4.99 until 2/14)
Inukari Chase of Deception ($1.99 from $7.99 until 2/14)
It’s Kooky ($1.99 from $9.99 until 2/14)
Lil Gator Game ($13.99 from $19.99 until 2/14)
Little Bug ($1.99 from $12.99 until 2/14)
P.3 ($1.99 from $4.99 until 2/14)
Postal Redux ($3.49 from $9.99 until 2/14)
Save Koch ($2.00 from $20.00 until 2/14)
Space Tail: EJLH ($13.99 from $19.99 until 2/14)
Spirit Roots ($1.99 from $6.99 until 2/14)
Spy Chameleon ($2.99 from $9.99 until 2/14)
Super Soccer Blast: USA vs EU ($4.99 from $9.99 until 2/14)
Super Sports Blast ($7.49 from $24.99 until 2/14)
To Leave ($1.99 from $19.99 until 2/14)
Under Leaves ($1.99 from $12.99 until 2/14)
That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with several new releases, a couple of reviews, some sales, and maybe some news too. Lots of good games incoming very soon, so I hope you’ve set aside a little bit of money. I hope you all have a magnificent Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!