Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for December 13th, 2021. In today’s article, we’ve got a handful of reviews for you to check out. Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX, Loop Hero, Super Impossible Road, and Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space all step into the chair of judgement today and get their scores. There are only a couple of new releases to look at, but one of them is Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon, so that’s this evening’s entertainment sorted. Finally, we’ve got the lists of new and expiring sales for you to consider. Let’s get into the fun!
Reviews & Mini-Views
Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX ($29.99)
I can’t say I expected these games to make a comeback in 2021, but why not? The late 1990s were full of games about raising, training, and battling monsters thanks to the double-punch success of Tamagotchi and Pokemon. Most of them landed on handhelds, but a few made happy homes on home consoles. On the PlayStation, Digimon seemed to be the most popular. But if there was a second place, Monster Rancher was probably it. The series ran off-and-on until the Nintendo DS era, and it even had a relatively well-liked anime for a couple of years.
A couple of years ago, Koei Tecmo created remasters of the first two games and launched them in the Japanese market for smartphones and the Nintendo Switch. Those games have now been localized for the Western market. Most of the changes are graphical or involved with the UI, with sharper polygons, crisper text, and so on. There is also a new speed-up option that some players will find very helpful, and a new system to replace the novel CD mechanism that the original games used to spawn monsters. There is now a database you can search for albums, and while it obviously isn’t as all-reaching as letting you put any CD in the drive, it has quite an impressive variety to sift through.
For those who haven’t played these games before, I’ll explain a bit about them. While you might be imagining something like Pokemon, it’s actually more like an advanced form of Tamagotchi. You won’t be going on grand adventures, there isn’t much of a story at all, and rather than trying to collect every monster you’re likely going to be focusing on trying to get the best possible one. Indeed, you’ll start with just a single monster. Raise it and train it well, enter it in battle competitions to increase both its rank and your own, and try to keep it happy and healthy.
You decide its schedule week to week, with an aim to improving its stats, keeping your money rolling in, and getting your monster in good fighting shape in time for the next tournament. You’ll need to build its loyalty so that it will listen to you in battle, raise its stats to make sure it has a chance against its opponents, and keep it fed and rested. In the battles, you can either let the monster go on its own or try to take direct control. Be careful, though. If your monster gets defeated, it could get injured or worse. Monsters also have a lifespan, and that means your first monster certainly will not be your last. As you build your rank, you are able to keep more monsters at a time. Your goal is to make it to the top rank, but the game just keeps on going once you do. The second game expands somewhat on the mechanics of the first, but by and large you are getting a similar experience from both.
As the name indicates, Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX is more about raising, training, and breeding monsters than anything else. Those mechanics are very deep and fun to explore in both games, though you get very little guidance about most of them. But don’t expect a full-on RPG or even much of a narrative at all. These are virtual pets, breeding sims, with a battle component to keep things spicy. They are very good at that, however, and these are very good versions of them. The kind of quirky thing we saw a lot in the PlayStation days, and something that may find new fans in the here and now.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
Loop Hero ($14.99)
I can get sucked into an idle game just as easily as anyone, but I generally don’t feel good about it. Sure, all games are basically slapping buttons, clicking, or tapping to make the feelings flow. But I get very conscious about it with idle games, as though I am being exposed for the simple creature that I am. Loop Hero is in many ways an idle game, but it adds just enough to the concept that I don’t feel so weird about enjoying it. You’ve got a hero (of a class of your choosing), and you’ve got a loop. The hero goes around the loop, battling anything they meet along the way. Those battles play out automatically, and reward you with various items, resources, or cards.
You can equip the items, naturally. And the resources are used for crafting, as you may imagine. Well, building and upgrading structures at your base camp. As for the cards, that is where one of the interesting twists comes in. They can be placed on the map either on the loop, in the space around it, or inside it. Each card has some kind of effect, and they’ll either help you or make your next loop that much harder. Some do both. Each completion of the loop gives you the chance to retreat to your camp, taking your resources with you but losing both your gear and the current map. You can always press on for another lap, but be careful because if you run out of hit points you’ll take a big hit to your collected resources.
As you upgrade your camp and make more progress, bits of story will be handed out. It’s a rather intriguing one, based on a world of nothing slowly coming back into being, and the little snippets are never intrusive. The more you play, the more is revealed, and the more the mechanics open up. It’s a great game to spend a little time with, but it’s also compelling enough to blow hours on. Yes, it can be a bit mindless at times. The text can also be a little hard to read if you’re playing handheld. But otherwise, I have trouble finding much to criticize with the game.
Loop Hero is as hard to put down as the finest of idle games, but with enough meat on its bones to make it feel like your input actually matters. It’s the kind of game that has something to offer no matter how much or how little time you have to throw at it, and one that will likely keep you coming back now and then to play again. While it isn’t the most challenging of affairs, it’s certainly engaging and full of enough surprises to keep your interest over the long haul.
SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5
Super Impossible Road ($19.99)
It doesn’t get much simpler than this, but it also doesn’t get much harder. Well, it’s right in the title, isn’t it? You guide a speedy ball along extremely precarious and incredibly winding tracks, cutting the occasional corner on purpose or otherwise. You can move left and right, and you can hit a little boost if your meter has juice in it. You can also hit a button to respawn at the last checkpoint if you go flying too far off-course. Don’t worry, checkpoints are fairly closely packed. Close, but sometimes so very far.
The game does a lot to give players plenty to do within its humble framework. There’s a full campaign mode that will see you doing races, stunts, and other variations on a wide array of courses. There’s also a special daily track where you can compete with other players online to see who can complete it the fastest. Speaking of those other players online, you can also participate in races against them. Want to do things the old-fashioned way? There’s a local splitscreen race mode for up to four players. There are also a couple of endless modes for the person who has exhausted everything else or just wants to kill a few minutes.
I don’t need to say too much about Super Impossible Road. It lays all of its cards down on the table early on and everything from there is simply asking you to keep up. It’s stylish, fun, and has plenty of gameplay modes to enjoy on your own or with other players. There’s value in this version beyond its Apple Arcade counterpart, and I think if you enjoy these kinds of intensely challenging arcade-style experiences you’ll have a good time here.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space ($19.99)
Just as Skunkape Games did for Sam & Max Save the World, the publisher has brought back the excellent Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space for modern platforms. This is the second of the three seasons originally released around ten years ago by Telltale Games, and I feel like it is generally the least-lauded of the trio. And yes, it isn’t quite as novel as Saves the World nor is it as brilliantly refined as The Devil’s Playhouse, but a game can fall short of those two and still be very much worth playing.
As this comes from the pre-Walking Dead era at Telltale, it’s quite close to a classic point-and-click style adventure game. It’s broken down into five episodes with an overarching narrative that eventually comes into focus. I recommend enjoying them one at a time rather than trying to binge them, but you can do what you feel like. All of the episodes involve Sam and Max trying to solve various problems and cases in their own absurd and often destructive way. Sometimes that involves talking, sometimes it involves using items, and sometimes it even involves minigames. It’s almost always funny or amusing, though.
This remaster follows in the footsteps of Sam & Max Save the World. The visuals are tweaked and improved, with widescreen support and some adjustments to lighting and character models. The audio has also seen a boost in quality, and the voice acting sounds a lot better as a result. Bosco’s voice has been replaced with his new voice actor, but none of his lines were rewritten this time, in case that was something you had an issue with. The decal system has seen some changes so that you can collect them all even if you initially miss some. There’s also some new music.
The Sam & Max adventure games are always a treat to play through, and Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space is no exception. Skunkape Games has done a fantastic job spiffing this one up for the modern age, and if you told me this was a completely new release I would probably believe you. The Devil’s Playhouse is likely next, and I am certainly looking forward to it. For now, I’ll happily enjoy this wonderful remaster of a funny, enjoyable romp.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon ($19.99)
Hey, it’s a new Shovel Knight game. This one is a falling block puzzle game with some dungeon-crawling elements, and if that sounds like an odd mash-up… well, it is. Does it work? I wish I could say, but I haven’t had a chance to play this one yet. Still, I have a great deal of trust in Yacht Club Games, and they have put a great deal of trust in Vine, the developer. I’m going to put a little faith in the result. As for the bullet points, you get a bunch of playable characters, plenty of gear to collect and equip, a few different modes including a two-player competitive battle, and support for the Shovel Knight Amiibo figures.
My Universe: Doctors & Nurses ($29.99)
In this latest installment of the My Universe series, you play as a new recruit at a hospital. Get to know the other members of the team, take care of patients via minigames, and try to keep pace with your rival. Broadly speaking, this seems to follow in the footsteps of the other games in the line. So if you liked any of those, and you like the hospital theme, you might want to take a closer look at this.
(North American eShop, US Prices)
Anything good today? Like, beyond the usual suspects? Yes! Ender Lilies is very good, and is on sale for what I believe is the first time post-launch. The SteamWorld games are on sale often, but it’s never a bad time to buy them. In the outbox, it’s the last call for Boyfriend Dungeon, the LOVE games, and the Atelier Arland series. Get them if you want them. And while you’re at it, check those lists like always.
Select New Games on Sale
Brawl Chess ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/17)
Coast Guard: Beach Rescue ($4.79 from $11.99 until 12/17)
Gas Station: Highway Services ($4.79 from $11.99 until 12/17)
Detective Driver: Miami Files ($4.79 from $11.99 until 12/17)
City Bus Driving Simulator ($4.79 from $11.99 until 12/17)
Haustoria ($1.99 from $12.99 until 12/17)
The Last Survey ($1.99 from $14.99 until 12/19)
Tactical Mind ($1.99 from $2.99 until 12/20)
FunBox Party ($1.99 from $2.49 until 12/20)
Event Horizon ($1.99 from $5.99 until 12/20)
Mushroom Quest ($1.99 from $2.99 until 12/20)
Grood ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/20)
Debtor ($1.99 from $2.99 until 12/20)
Skull Rogue ($1.99 from $2.99 until 12/20)
Color Colore ($1.99 from $2.99 until 12/20)
Pew Paw ($1.99 from $6.99 until 12/20)
Under Leaves ($2.99 from $12.99 until 12/20)
Dark Burial ($1.99 from $3.99 until 12/21)
Swordbreaker The Game ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/21)
One Person Story ($1.99 from $2.99 until 12/21)
Breathing Fear ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/21)
Dead Dungeon ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/21)
Atomic Heist ($1.99 from $7.99 until 12/21)
Mad Carnage ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/21)
Aloof ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/21)
Run the Fan ($1.99 from $3.99 until 12/26)
Drawngeon: Dungeons of Ink & Paper ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/27)
Spirit Roots ($1.99 from $6.99 until 12/28)
Moon Raider ($3.49 from $9.99 until 12/28)
The Great Perhaps ($2.99 from $9.99 until 12/28)
Sweet Witches ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/28)
Mech Rage ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/28)
Steampunk Tower 2 ($2.99 from $9.99 until 12/28)
Tales of the Tiny Planet ($5.99 from $14.99 until 12/30)
Never Stop ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/30)
Momolu and Friends ($4.99 from $9.99 until 12/31)
Jumping Joe & Friends ($1.99 from $2.49 until 12/31)
Not Not: A Brain Buster ($1.99 from $2.49 until 12/31)
Street Racing: Tokyo Rush ($5.99 from $11.99 until 12/31)
Race Truck Driver ($5.99 from $11.99 until 12/31)
Shipped ($1.99 from $5.99 until 12/31)
Okinawa Rush ($12.99 from $19.99 until 12/31)
Memories of East Coast ($3.99 from $4.99 until 12/31)
Party Treats ($1.99 from $2.49 until 12/31)
Powertris ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/31)
Stencil Art ($1.99 from $3.99 until 12/31)
Viviette ($4.99 from $9.99 until 12/31)
Death Race 2020 ($1.99 from $5.99 until 12/31)
Slots of the Season ($3.99 from $7.99 until 12/31)
Retro Fighter Dragon’s Revenge ($1.99 from $5.99 until 12/31)
Battle of Archers ($1.99 from $2.29 until 12/31)
Pocket Soccer ($1.99 from $2.49 until 12/31)
Horror & Adventure Pinball ($8.99 from $14.99 until 12/31)
Wild & Adventure Pinball ($9.89 from $14.99 until 12/31)
Astro Rangers ($1.99 from $2.29 until 12/31)
A Year of Springs ($3.99 from $4.99 until 12/31)
Ender Lilies: QotN ($18.74 from $24.99 until 1/1)
SteamWorld Dig 2 ($5.99 from $19.99 until 1/1)
SteamWorld Dig ($1.99 from $9.99 until 1/1)
SteamWorld Heist UE ($3.99 from $19.99 until 1/1)
SteamWorld Quest: HoG ($9.99 from $24.99 until 1/1)
Tower of Babel ($1.99 from $5.99 until 1/1)
Final Light, The Prison ($1.99 from $6.99 until 1/1)
Explosive Dinosaurs ($3.99 from $7.99 until 1/1)
GUNPIG: Firepower for Hire ($2.49 from $4.99 until 1/1)
Suicide Guy Collection ($5.49 from $10.99 until 1/1)
Wheels of Aurelia ($2.99 from $9.99 until 1/1)
Laraan ($3.00 from $6.00 until 1/1)
Woodle Tree Adventures ($1.99 from $4.99 until 1/1)
Woodle Tree 2: Deluxe ($2.85 from 12.99 until 1/1)
ATOMINE ($2.99 from $9.99 until 1/1)
Waking Violet ($2.09 from $6.99 until 1/1)
Eternum Ex ($3.99 from $7.99 until 1/1)
What Comes After ($3.49 from $6.99 until 1/1)
Idle Inventor Factory Tycoon ($5.49 from $10.99 until 1/1)
Smashy Road: Wanted 2 ($1.99 from $7.99 until 1/1)
Xtreme Club Racing ($1.99 from $9.99 until 1/1)
Woven ($1.99 from $19.99 until 1/1)
Hope’s Farm ($1.99 from $19.99 until 1/2)
Halloween Snowball Bubble ($1.99 from $5.99 until 1/2)
Crossbow: Bloodnight ($1.99 from $4.99 until 1/2)
EQI ($1.99 from $4.99 until 1/2)
Discolored ($6.49 from $9.99 until 1/2)
#womenUp, Puzzles Dream ($2.06 from $6.19 until 1/2)
#NoLimitFantasy, Puzzles Dream ($2.06 from $6.19 until 1/2)
#Wish travel, Puzzles Dream ($1.99 from $5.99 until 1/2)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, December 14th
Atelier Arland Series Pack ($67.49 from $89.99 until 12/14)
Atelier Lulua ($29.99 from $59.99 until 12/14)
Atelier Meruru DX ($29.99 from $39.99 until 12/14)
Atelier Rorona DX ($29.99 from $39.99 until 12/14)
Atelier Totori DX ($29.99 from $39.99 until 12/14)
Boyfriend Dungeon ($15.99 from $19.99 until 12/14)
Instant Farmer ($2.19 from $2.99 until 12/14)
Island Maze ($1.99 from $2.99 until 12/14)
kuso ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/14)
LOVE ($1.99 from $2.99 until 12/14)
That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with a few more new releases and a couple more reviews. There should also be some new sales to look at, and perhaps some news. A whole world of opportunities. As for me, I’ve got some Loop Heroing to get back to. I hope you all have a marvelous Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!