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‘Slay the Spire’, ‘Vectronom’, ‘Word Wheel by POWGI’, and ‘Refunct’ Reviews, Plus Summaries of E3 Presentations from Square Enix, Ubisoft, and Limited Run Games – TouchArcade

‘Slay the Spire’, ‘Vectronom’, ‘Word Wheel by POWGI’, and ‘Refunct’ Reviews, Plus Summaries of E3 Presentations from Square Enix, Ubisoft, and Limited Run Games – TouchArcade

‘Slay the Spire’, ‘Vectronom’, ‘Word Wheel by POWGI’, and ‘Refunct’ Reviews, Plus Summaries of E3 Presentations from Square Enix, Ubisoft, and Limited Run Games – TouchArcade
June 11
22:55 2019


Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for June 11th, 2019. As regular readers know, I live in Japan. This is relevant because it means I prepare these articles during my daytime and they get posted after I’ve tucked into bed. Normally this isn’t a big problem, but today? Today it means that you’re probably reading this article during or after the E3 Nintendo Direct that will start at 9:00 AM PT. I’ll of course be summarizing it tomorrow, but if you’re hoping to get the news as it happens, you should probably head over to Nintendo’s E3 site. To make it up to you all, I’ve packed a handful of reviews into today’s article so that you’ve got a little extra to read. Let’s make with the reading!

News

Square Enix Showed a Lot of Cool Games New and Old

At least for me, Square Enix’s presentation was one of the highlights of E3 2019 so far. The company showed off a huge amount of games, and though most of the ones coming to Switch are titles that have been released elsewhere before, it’s hard to argue with the support it’s showing to the Switch. The first big surprise was that The Last Remnant Remastered was coming to the platform, and it’s available, um, now. Yes, go get it. Final Fantasy 8 is finally get its turn at a re-release with an impressive-looking remaster that will be hitting a variety of systems later this year. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles has a vague date now, with it scheduled for a fourth-quarter release. Localized versions of Romancing SaGa 3 and SaGa Scarlet Grace were shown, with no release date other than “soon” mentioned. Impressive trailers for Oninaki, Dragon Quest XI S, and Dragon Quest Builders 2 were played as well. You can check the whole presentation out yourself if you like. It’s pretty enjoyable.

Ubisoft Offers Up ‘Just Dance 2020’ and ‘Gods & Monsters’

Ubisoft didn’t have a whole ton of games to show for the Switch, but at least one exciting new title is coming. Yes, that’s right: the latest Just Dance game! No? Well, it is coming to Switch. And to Wii, hilariously enough. But the really exciting new announcement was for Gods & Monsters, the latest game from the people behind Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. It’s an open-world adventure, and just the one-minute-and-change of the game that Ubisoft showed off in the above trailer was enough to get me excited. It’s currently scheduled for release on February 25th, 2020.

Limited Run Games Announces Physical Versions of Pretty Much Every Game Ever

Okay, not every game. But they sure did announce a whole bunch. So many, in fact, that I’m just going to give you a context-free list of what the boutique publisher will be putting out on Switch in the coming months. Here goes, in order of when pre-sales will be opening: Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid, Freedom Planet, Transistor, Rogue Legacy, Double Switch, Turok, Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, realMyst, Bad North, Night in the Woods, Dark Devotion, Blazing Chrome, and Blaster Master Zero. Yes, some of those games haven’t been released or even announced before now. Well, now they are. Feel free to check out Limited Run’s presentation video above if you want more details. Happy hunting, everyone!

Reviews

Slay the Spire ($24.99)

As the one and only Switch-covering person here at TouchArcade, I have a lot of games to deal with on a fairly regular basis. Each week sees a good-sized stack of games that I need to go through, and my first step in dealing with that is to fire up each and every game for ten or fifteen minutes to get a basic sense of what it’s all about. Based on those mini-sessions, I home in on the ones that I’d like to review, and that, my friends, is how the sausage is made. Or rather how I tend to make it. A fine family recipe honed over the course of two decades. A well-oiled machine, you might say. And every once in a while, a game comes along that throws a giant wrench into that machine, causing fires, loss of limbs, and pure unbridled anarchy. All in the figurative sense, of course. Except that last one.

How do such tragedies occur? Well, sometimes a game is just so good that I can’t stop playing it after just fifteen or so minutes. I just want to keep playing, and that leads to all of the other games sitting there picking their teeth and sighing rather loudly at the hold-up. Slay the Spire is one of those wrenches. It’s a magnificent wrench. At the moment it is also a wrench with some annoying technical problems, and let’s leave the analogy here because it’s starting to come unglued. The point is that this is a game that is so good that I just want to play the heck out of it, and even when it does something mean like crash on me, I still just want to play it more. Not that I don’t want those crashes fixed, but the core gameplay is so good here that I’m totally willing to take the lumps.

Slay the Spire is a deckbuilding roguelite game where you fight a series of battles as you ascend a spire. Each battle will take a little bite out of you in most cases, but you’ll also be rewarded with a precious new card for your deck. Every so often, you’ll come across something on the map that isn’t a battle. It might be a random event, or a shopkeeper, or just some treasure. You can somewhat guide your progress by choosing a route at the various branching paths, but there’s a lot of randomness at play here. Each floor culminates in a boss battle that will not go well for you if you haven’t properly prepared.

This game almost perfectly rides the line between being random enough that each session feels fresh and static enough that you feel like you’re getting useful knowledge with each failure. As you play more and learn about enemies, you’ll start to develop proper countermeasures. As you uncover new cards, you’ll start piecing together new strategies. Will you get this card in the next run? Maybe not, but you will get it again sometime. And what if you happen to get that card and this card in the same run? Why, then you could pull off this sort of attack! And that’s the way the thinking goes as you play Slay the Spire. It’s utterly compelling in all the right ways. It even has a bunch of things that will unlock as you make your many runs, such as new characters that each bring slightly different strategies to the table.

As for the technical issues, they’re clearly of the unintended sort. Sometimes the game randomly halts for a short moment with no particular discernible reason. The game also crashes now and then, and that’s a bit more predictable in some cases. One of the bosses seems to trigger it with some regularity. Apparently a patch has already been whipped up and will be sent out as soon as possible. If you’re terribly worried about it, there’s no harm in waiting. But honestly, the issues are infrequent enough, the game is good enough, and the developer is trustworthy enough that you don’t have to feel bad about buying it right now, either.

Aside from these problems, it’s a marvelous port. The game takes to handheld play like a fish to water, and problems that plague other PC ports to Switch like excessive loading times and tiny text in undocked mode aren’t very bad at all here. While I think I’d like it even better on my iPad or iPhone, I’m certainly quite okay with this Switch version. If you’re looking for your next big time sink, I’ll happily push Slay the Spire into your hands.

SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5

Vectronom ($9.99)

This is kind of, sort of a rhythm-based arcade game. There is certainly a beat going on in the music of each stage, and many bits and pieces of the stage are timed along with it. If you can move to the rhythm of that beat, you’ll find the stages easier to clear without question. At the same time, you can just ignore the beat and use your eyes to guide you. You won’t get full points for clearing the stage if you do this, but you’ll still clear it. So yeah, Vectronom. A rhythm game where no sense of rhythm is actually required. On paper, it sounds right up my alley.

The stages are played from an isometric viewpoint and you control a little cube that can move in four directions. You have to guide the cube to predetermined locations on the stage, and doing so will either change up the stage and ask you to head to a new point, or finish it altogether once you’ve reached the third such goal. There are switches to hit, collectibles to grab, hazards to avoid, and all kinds of moving bits that appear, disappear, and change according to the beat of the background tunes. The visuals are similarly in tune with the music. But as mentioned, nothing says you have to move along with the beat. You can just push in the desired direction at any point and away you’ll go. But it’s a lot easier to play if you do try to follow the music.

You’re graded at the end of each stage according to things like how many collectibles you grabbed, how many attempts you took, and how well you matched with the beat. A perfect clear presumably requires you to stick to the stage’s rhythm from start to finish. If that sounds like the sort of thing you’d like to master, you might enjoy Vectronom. It’s certainly stylish, if nothing else, and the controls more or less work fine in that awkward isometric sort of way. You can even have other players join in, however counter-productive that quickly proves to be.

Personally, I got a little weary with it by about the halfway point, but it’s not an overly long game so it was easy enough to push through it. Well, I mean easy in the sense that there wasn’t a lot of road ahead of me. It’s certainly not easy in terms of putting said road behind you. Some levels are almost infuriating. But once you find yourself in synch with the sounds and find the proper path through each level, Vectronom has moments where it almost feels magical. And then you fall off another ledge and die, all because you can’t feel the music in your bones. Well, that’s how it goes. A decent game that is certainly well-made, but perhaps gets a little too comfortable moving to its own groove.

SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5

Refunct ($2.99)

Refunct is a really nice coffee break, but not much more than that. You’re put in a strange world that is composed of some platforms stretching out of the water. Through a pure process of discovery, you will find out you can jump, and then you may notice a switch laying around. You step on it, and more platforms rise up. And did the ground just turn green when you set foot on it? It did. Hm. And what’s that thing over there? Should I collect it? Yes, you should. Or don’t. No one will force you to do anything you don’t want to. This is a pretty relaxed game all-around, after all.

Anyway, that’s how the game goes. You have to find your way to increasingly out-of-the-way switches to raise more pieces of the world. Eventually you’ll get them all and a little celebration will play. There isn’t much to do after that, but you can wander around a bit if you like. The play controls are quite good in Refunct, and it’s pleasant enough hopping around, painting all the platforms as you go. It doesn’t really throw many surprises your way, and as mentioned, it’s a very brief game. A half hour will certainly do it, if not less than that.

And yet, for the low price it’s got affixed to it, I think I’m okay with that. It wasn’t taxing but it wasn’t totally mindless either. It was neat trying to spot the ways the game tries to teach the player in an organic way. It mostly succeeds at that, but not always. You can see what it’s going for, however, and that’s cool. Are there better ways to spend a few bucks on the eShop? Yes, probably. But this isn’t a bad way, even if it is ridiculously short. Think of it as one of those fluffy milkshakes that you spend a few bills on and down in a couple of minutes. Is that milkshake coming back? Good gravy, I hope not. But it was a pleasant distraction from your daily stresses, so the money presumably wasn’t wasted.

SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5

Word Wheel by POWGI ($7.99)

Lightwood Games has its niche, and that niche is in providing digital versions of the kinds of things you found in the puzzle books you used to be able to get in airports and gas stations before mobile devices murdered everything. The games do that job well, even if they tend not to add many frills. They’re also usually packed with enough content to keep you busy for hours on end. As such, it really comes down to how well you like the kind of puzzles each game offers. Does anyone really need a review of something like Word Search? Probably not. But here we are.

Word Wheel by POWGI is the latest game from this developer, and it is a no-frills, puzzle-packed presentation as usual. The idea here is the reliable game of making as many words as you can from a set group of letters. They’re arranged as spokes around a hub letter. That hub letter must be in every word you spell, but otherwise it’s all up to you. The game will tell you how many words you should be able to find, and it will even accept certain bonus words that are likely not included due to being dirty or too slangy. Not that I would know. Lean the stick in the direction of a spoke and hit the button to select it. Once you’ve finished your word, hit the trigger to submit it.

The game features 100 such puzzles, and just to give you an idea of what that adds up to, the first puzzle has 66 words and it took me a couple of hours to find them all. Some of the puzzles have more words, which sometimes results in them being harder or easier. It’s more fun to play this with others who can make their own suggestions, and the game even formally supports local multiplayer in a chaotic sort of way. It’s an okay way to pass the time if you’re really bored, but if I’m being very honest I found this one a little more dull than most of the other puzzle games from Lightwood.

SwitchArcade Score: 3/5

New Releases

The Last Remnant Remastered ($19.99)

SwitchArcade Highlight!

Surprise! The cult classic RPG The Last Remnant dropped onto the Switch today in all of its remastered glory, and all for a low price of twenty bucks. Now, I call it a cult classic because it is definitely not for everyone. It comes from Akitoshi Kawazu and his team, some of the same people behind games like Romancing SaGa 2, Final Fantasy 2, Unlimited SaGa, and… well, you get the point. You may be completely repulsed by this game because it doesn’t particularly care about following the usual rules, but you may also fall completely head-over-heels in love with it for the same reason. That’s how Kawazu rolls, friends, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a great game to have on the go.

A Duel Hand Disaster: Trackher ($9.99)

SwitchArcade Highlight!

Well, this is an interesting one. It’s a little hard to explain how it works, but let’s give it a go. This is a twin-stick shooter in the literal sense, but each of your sticks is taking care of a ship on its own part of a splitscreen. One ship is invincible but it is powered by resources that need to be collected by the other ship, which is not invincible. The lower your health gets, the more your score racks up, so it’s actually a good thing to be near-death. Except there’s one more wrinkle: your score doesn’t count if you die. It’s up to you to choose when you’re ready to retire, and only then is your score put into the proverbial books. So you have to pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time, glide along the edge of death as much as possible, and make the right call about when to pack it in before you lose everything. Neat. For whatever else I have to say about the game, the fact that it pulls off that highly-clever basic concept makes it an easy recommendation.

Battle Worlds: Kronos ($29.99)

On the one hand, this is a reasonably well-constructed turn-based strategy game. It does most of the things you’d want a game like this to do, and in spite of its PC origins, it’s not terrible to play with a controller. It may look a lot like an RTS, but I assure you that this is more or less a very prettied-up, Western-style take on games like Advance Wars. My main gripe with it is just how utterly bland it is. It tries to do a story, and the text makes attempts at having some kind of unique voice at times, but on the whole this is like the result of a Betty Crocker recipe for turn-based war games. Oh, and it basically starts off tough instead of ramping up like most games, but don’t be too intimidated. As long as this isn’t your first rodeo in this genre, you’ll be fine. If it is your first? Well, Wargroove is right over there, and it’s probably a much better place to get your start.

Sales

As I said up at the top, this article was written several hours before you see it. Nintendo is starting its big E3 sale sometime today, and indeed it may well be live as you read this. The sales will be listed at Nintendo’s E3 site, so if you want to see them right away I encourage you to head there. I’ll have them covered in tomorrow’s article. For now, we’ve got a pretty good list of new sales to check out. Two Tribes’s stuff is on sale again, but all of its games remain solid purchases. Goat Simulator is at its cheapest price yet, and it’s never a bad day to pick up Wild Guns. As for the outbox, it’s mostly titles that go on sale regularly. Nothing to worry about too much there, in other words.

New Games on Sale

RIVE: Ultimate Edition ($7.49 from $14.99 until 6/30)
Toki Tori ($2.49 from $4.99 until 6/30)
Toki Tori 2+ ($7.49 from $14.99 until 6/30)
Deep Ones ($2.99 from $4.99 until 6/30)
Wild Guns Reloaded ($9.99 from $19.99 until 6/18)
Harvest Moon: Light of Hope ($19.99 from $39.99 until 6/18)
Candle: The Power of the Flame ($4.99 from $19.99 until 6/23)
Sigi ($2.99 from $4.99 until 6/30)
Crimson Keep ($5.99 from $19.99 until 6/23)
HoPiKo ($1.99 from $9.99 until 6/23)
Neko Navy ($9.74 from $12.99 until 6/30)
Goat Simulator: The GOATY ($14.99 from $29.99 until 6/16)
Swords & Soldiers ($3.74 from $7.49 until 6/30)
Drowning ($2.09 from $2.99 until 6/30)


Avenger Bird ($1.72 from $2.30 until 6/20)
Guess the Word ($1.41 from $1.89 until 6/20)
I Wanna Fly ($1.81 from $2.42 until 6/20)
Warplanes: WW2 Dogfight ($6.99 from $9.99 until 6/23)
Little Shopping ($1.11 from $1.49 until 6/20)
Blood Waves ($7.99 from $9.99 until 6/30)
Vaporum ($17.49 from $24.99 until 6/23)
Theatre Tales ($1.11 from $1.49 until 6/20)
Crashbots ($7.99 from $9.99 until 6/30)
Hungry Baby: Party Treats ($2.99 from $4.99 until 7/2)
Doom & Destiny ($9.59 from $11.99 until 6/25)
‘n Verlore Verstand ($8.39 from $13.99 until 6/25)
DragoDino ($4.99 from $9.99 until 6/18)

Sales Ending Tomorrow, Wednesday, June 12th

AeternoBlade ($12.74 from $14.99 until 6/12)
Bedtime Blues ($2.49 from $9.99 6/12)
Behind the Screen ($7.99 from $9.99 until 6/12)
Bot Vice ($7.99 from $9.99 until 6/12)
Brawlout ($9.99 from $19.99 until 6/12)
Defoliation ($7.99 from $9.99 until 6/12)
Destruction ($7.99 from $9.99 until 6/12)
Find the Balance ($2.99 from $4.99 until 6/12)
Fly O’Clock ($0.19 from $1.99 until 6/12)
Grab Lab ($1.24 from $4.99 until 6/12)
Hardway Party ($2.99 from $4.99 until 6/12)
Heroes of the Monkey Tavern ($4.99 from $9.99 until 6/12)
Star Story: The Horizon Escape ($0.99 from $9.99 until 6/12)
Startide ($0.99 from $9.99 until 6/12)
Super Star Path ($3.99 from $4.99 until 6/12)
Syberia 3 ($14.99 from $49.99 until 6/12)
The Mahjong Huntress ($0.49 from $4.99 until 6/12)
Toki ($19.99 from $29.99 until 6/12)
War Theatre ($0.99 from $9.99 until 6/12)
X-Morph: Defense ($13.99 from $19.99 until 6/12)
Yesterday Origins ($9.99 from $29.99 until 6/12)

That’s all for today, friends. Tomorrow should be a pretty big one for obvious reasons. We’ll be talking about whatever Nintendo shows during the Nintendo Direct, checking out any new releases, and of course looking at the latest sales. Apologies once again for the delay in relaying news, but there’s nothing that can be done about it. Rest assured, I’ll be watching along with all of you, hiding under my blanket with headphones on so as not to disturb the household at 1:00 AM. As always, thanks for reading!


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