Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for June 27th, 2022. We’re in the middle of a brutal heat wave here in Japan, and the temperature outside as I write this is 38 degrees Celsius. Wow! Let’s stay inside and play games, for our safety. I have four reviews for you today, including SEGA’s Sonic Origins, THQ Nordic’s Wreckfest, inkle’s Steve Jackson’s Sorcery!, and Spike Chunsoft’s AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative. After that, we check out the new releases that popped up over the weekend. They are not very good. Finally, we have some sales. Apparently a few things weren’t on sale already, and that has now been corrected. Let’s get to it!
Reviews & Mini-Views
Sonic Origins ($39.99)
At last, a way to play Sonic the Hedgehog on Switch! Okay, all joking aside, the reality is that Nintendo Switch owners have a lot of options for playing some of the classic Genesis Sonic games on their console of choice. Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 are in the SEGA Genesis Classics Collection along with a bunch of other Genesis games. The Switch SEGA AGES line has some brilliant enhanced ports of Sonic and Sonic 2 by the wizards at M2. If you’ve got a subscription to Nintendo Switch Online’s Expansion Pack, you’ve also got a great emulated version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in the Genesis app. So what exactly does Sonic Origins have to offer that merits the rare quadruple-dip on at least one of its four-ish included games?
Well for starters, there are those other games. Sonic 1 and 2 may be all over the place, but Sonic the Hedgehog CD is making its Switch debut here. And after a very long absence from virtually any platform, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles is also in this set. While you can’t play them separated, Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were originally sold as individual games and together they are about as long as two games. So there is actually quite a bit here that hasn’t been on Switch before. But these aren’t just the original games running under emulation, either. Sonic 1, 2, and CD are the Taxman and Stealth Retro Engine versions that will be familiar to mobile gamers, adding a number of extra features and content along with widescreen support. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles has also been given the Retro Engine treatment, this time under Stealth and his team at Head Cannon.
Each game can be played in Anniversary or Classic Mode, with the primary differences being that Classic Mode mashes the display back into its 4:3 form, restores the limited lives system of the originals, removes the new starting and ending cut-scenes, and apparently disables the newly added Drop Dash move. There’s also a Story Mode that stiches all four Anniversary versions of the games into one long Sonic saga. Origins will save your progress through each game in each mode stage by stage, so you can jump all over the place taking little nibbles or sit down for a big dinner as you like. You also get a rather impressive Museum mode filled with music, artwork, and videos to unlock and enjoy, plus a special Mission mode that sees you trying to complete challenging, bite-sized tasks set in each game.
All of the mainline 16-bit Sonic games in Retro Engine form crammed into one package with a bevy of bonuses? It sounds pretty great, and you know what? It mostly is. But those who know these games like the backs of their own hands are going to find some issues that may rankle. Small differences in collision detection in some areas. Little bugs caused by the shift to widescreen. A slightly different feel to some of the bonus stages. I think you would have to really be a 16-bit Sonic expert to spot these things, but they are there. Something that more casual fans of the games might notice is that the music in a few stages of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles has been completely replaced. The same legal issues that prevented Sonic 3 from being rereleased for so long are the reason why, I’d imagine. The replacement tunes aren’t all that great, but I suppose that is the price to pay for getting the game back out there.
Then there are the ways Sonic Origins diverges from what we’ve come to expect from retro compilations in modern times. You can’t save mid-stage. There is no rewind feature, and indeed there just aren’t many options or things to tweak at all here. There’s a filter you can turn on if you dislike seeing pixels, but I don’t recommend it. It’s unfortunate that Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles can only be played in their merged form, as there are some people who would enjoy playing the standalone versions too. It also feels a little odd that there aren’t more games here. Why not the 8-bit Sonic games? Why not some of the spin-offs? I know remaking them in the Retro Engine would be a pain, but I don’t think anyone would care if they were thrown in as extras in simple emulated form. It would make for a more complete package and a better value.
That said, while Sonic Origins certainly could have been a more thorough and polished celebration of the early days of the Most Famous Hedgehog, I think it’s still worth recommending. If I earnestly ask myself if I would pay ten dollars a pop for standalone Retro Engine Sonic games on my Switch, the answer is yes. The minor differences don’t bother me much at all, but I can see them getting on the nerves of others. The music replacement is disappointing but understandable. But with four exceptionally enjoyable platformers included and a wealth of extra goodies to sift through, Sonic Origins makes for a compelling package.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative ($59.99)
If you like adventure games and you somehow missed AI: The Somnium Files, you have some catching up to do. Combining a slick visual novel-style mystery story with point-and-click adventure elements and interesting puzzles, it’s a can’t-miss game even with the technical shortcomings of its Switch port taken into account. Well, here we are with a sequel, and guess what? It’s also amazing, and it thankfully runs a bit better than the original. There are still some framerate issues here and there, but improvements are improvements.
Speaking of improvements, while nirvanA Initiative is wise enough to stick pretty closely in terms of mechanics to what worked so well in the original game, it does make some additions to the dreamscape-diving puzzle portions of the game. There are more tools in your box now, leading to more complex and satisfying investigations. Otherwise, you can look forward to the same general flow of investigation, puzzle-solving, dialogues, and QTEs seen in the first. And there is nothing wrong with that, as that game was good enough that refinement was absolutely the best course for its first follow-up.
Naturally, there’s a new story to experience. Near the beginning, the game asks you if you’re familiar with the story of the first game. If you aren’t, it will kindly avoid spoiling the mysteries of that game so that you can enjoy it later. If you answer that you are, there will be some references here and there. Either way, you’ve got a whole new case to solve. Six years in the past, one half of a body that had cleanly been cut in two appeared on the set of a quiz show being broadcast live. In the present day, the other half appears in the middle of a baseball stadium, but with no signs of decay whatsoever. You’ll have to investigate the mystery from both time periods via two protagonists, each with their own AI partner. That’s really all I’ll say, as it’s best to experience the story for yourself. Just know that you’ll once again have to explore from a variety of angles (read: you’re going to have to replay some sections) in order to fully sort matters out.
If you’ve played the first game, you probably don’t need me to tell you to pick up the second game; you likely already have. If you haven’t, now you have two fantastic adventure games to play. AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative may not be the unexpected surprise that the first game was, but it lives up to the impressive bar of quality set by its predecessor in a way few games of its genre manage to. This Switch version has a few technical issues, but nothing that should keep you from enjoying the game here if this is where you want to play it.
SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5
Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! ($24.99)
When inkle’s adaptation of the first of Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! books, The Shamutani Hills, arrived on iOS back in the day, I remember liking it but not loving it. It had a stylish presentation without a doubt, but it also seemed caught between trying to be faithful to the choice-based gamebook it was based on and trying to do its own thing. The second game took bolder steps, and the third and fourth games confidently go in directions a paper book simply could not. Taken as a whole, it’s an absolutely brilliant set of adventures that I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys gamebooks, tabletop games, or RPGs. Heck, I did recommend them. Check the TouchArcade reviews for Sorcery! 1, Sorcery! 2, Sorcery! 3, and Sorcery! 4 if you want a lot more details.
My review for this Switch collection of the whole saga is essentially the same. Sure, all up it costs a little more than buying the four different apps on your mobile device, but really only a very little. These games have aged like fine wine, and inkle has had enough experience by now on the Nintendo Switch to port these over without a hitch. Whether you’re playing with the original touch controls or using the new button controls, you’ll find the interface easy and clear to navigate. I’ll grant that these games were originally designed to be played in handheld form, but there’s nothing stopping you from having a lovely time with them on your TV screen if you desire.
If you’ve enjoyed inkle’s other games like 80 Days, Heaven’s Vault, or Overboard!, you’ll find plenty to like in Steve Jackson’s Sorcery!. The way the developer transformed these already-memorable gamebooks into bigger, more interactive adventures is nothing short of amazing, and you’ll find plenty of reasons to replay them again and again. The games have made an excellent conversion to the Switch, and the price is very fair for how much is here. RPG fans will also want to take note, as the games have considerable chops in that regard as well. A great port of an outstanding series.
SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5
If you’re not familiar with Wreckfest, it’s a wild, over-the-top demolition derby-style racing game developed by Finnish studio Bugbear Entertainment. The developer is best known for creating the FlatOut series, and Wreckfest is something of a spiritual successor. It features races with sixteen cars on the tracks at once, tons of small objects that can fly all over the place when you hit them, and lots of vehicle collisions that result in pieces flying all over the place. In other words, it’s the kind of game that could be disastrous if ported to the Switch without care.
Now, I’m not going to say this looks and runs just like the versions on more big-pants hardware. Visual detail has been scaled back significantly. The framerate aims for 30 rather than 60, and when things get too frisky it will absolutely fluctuate. But with that all said, this actually feels really good to play. The objects flying everywhere when you crash into things have been retained, and the loading times are surprisingly decent for a Switch racer.
Gameplay-wise, it settles nicely between pure arcade fare like Cruis’n Blast and more staid, realistic affairs like WRC. There are plenty of modes to play, a decent variety of vehicles to use (including the amazing riding lawnmower), and lots of deeper features like parts customization and varied goals. At the same time, once you hit the track things can get very silly in a hurry. The other drivers will sometimes prioritize knocking others off the road over trying to win, and that can make for some hilarious and tense situations. Indeed, some bonus objectives will have you acting the same way. If you just want to focus on racing, the mechanics are more than good enough in that respect.
If you’re looking for the ultimate Wreckfest experience on your big screen, you’ll likely want to look at other versions of the game over this one. But if you’re looking for a version you can take with you, this Switch port of Wreckfest is more than respectable enough to suit the job. For those completely new to the game, you’ll find this to be an excellent choice if you’re looking for a somewhat more destructive racing experience than the norm.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Archery Escape ($2.99)
Another dubious release from Pix Arts, and highly likely to be another template flip. It can only be played in handheld mode, which suggests it’s an Android template. Anyway, you shoot arrows to try to sever the ropes the aliens are hanging from. Why are they hanging? What are the consequences of your freeing creatures who have clearly been sentenced to execution? I don’t know. It’s not that type of game.
Snug Finder ($7.99)
Find the objects in the pictures. A very simple take on the idea, one perhaps best suited for younger kids. There are thirty-six levels to play, each with ten objects to hunt for. A timer tracks how quickly you find them all, and you’ll get a star rating based on that. The art is actually pretty decent as this kind of thing goes.
(North American eShop, US Prices)
Yes, there were still a few games that weren’t on sale. Nothing that tremendously jumps out at me, but you should have a look yourself and see how you feel. The outbox is one of the tiniest ones yet. Well, I’m sure you can find plenty of ways to spend your money today if you have a mind to.
Select New Games on Sale
COGEN: Sword of Rewind ($18.70 from $24.99 until 7/4)
Laid-Back Camp Fumoto Campsite ($14.69 from $20.99 until 7/4)
Laid-Back Camp Lake Motosu ($14.69 from $20.99 until 7/4)
Transformers Battlegrounds CE ($14.99 from $29.99 until 7/7)
PAW Patrol Mighty Pups Save Adv. Bay ($17.99 from $29.99 until 7/7)
Last Kids on Earth & Staff of Doom ($17.99 from $29.99 until 7/7)
DreamWorks Spirit Lucky’s Big Adv. ($17.99 from $29.99 until 7/7)
Fast & Furious Spy Racers RoS ($23.99 from $39.99 until 7/7)
Ever Forward ($8.99 from $14.99 until 7/8)
Bladed Fury ($11.99 from $19.99 until 7/8)
Ikai ($11.24 from $14.99 until 7/8)
Guts ‘N Goals ($8.99 from $14.99 until 7/8)
Catlateral Damage Remeowstered ($8.99 from $14.99 until 7/8)
Hoa ($8.99 from $14.99 until 7/8)
Food Delivery Battle ($3.59 from $3.99 until 7/9)
Old Coin Pusher Friends ($3.59 from $3.99 until 7/9)
Lost Egg 2: Be Together ($2.69 from $2.99 until 7/9)
Lost Bubbles: Sweet Mates ($2.69 from $2.99 until 7/9)
Mudness Offroad Car Simulator ($7.49 from $14.99 until 7/10)
Starlight Alliance ($4.95 from $9.90 until 7/10)
Heart Chain Kitty ($4.95 from $9.90 until 7/10)
Unstrong: Space Calamity ($2.49 from $4.99 until 7/10)
Shooting Star Island ($2.45 from $4.99 until 7/10)
The Legend of Tianding ($12.99 from $19.99 until 7/11)
Lamentum ($7.99 from $15.99 until 7/11)
Depth of Extinction ($4.34 from $14.99 until 7/14)
Panmorphia: Awakened ($3.49 from $6.99 until 7/15)
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain ($2.09 from $29.99 until 7/15)
Paradise Island Driver ($8.44 from $12.99 until 7/15)
Super Car Driver ($5.59 from $13.99 until 7/15)
Extreme Car Driver ($4.79 from $11.99 until 7/15)
Cargo Crew Driver ($4.79 from $11.99 until 7/15)
Multilevel Parking Driver ($5.19 from $12.99 until 7/15)
Truck Simulator 2 ($5.59 from $13.99 until 7/15)
Emoji Music ($2.99 from $9.99 until 7/15)
Mariozza Cops ($2.94 from $9.80 until 7/15)
The Psychoduck ($3.99 from $4.99 until 7/15)
Rise: Race the Future ($9.06 from $16.49 until 7/17)
OkunoKA Madness ($1.99 from $7.99 until 7/17)
Top Speed 2 ($2.99 from $9.99 until 7/17)
Casino Heaven ($2.99 from $9.99 until 7/17)
Drag Clash Pro ($2.39 from $7.99 until 7/17)
Poker Champion ($2.99 from $9.99 until 7/17)
Zombie Beyond Terror ($2.69 from $8.99 until 7/17)
Jumpy Mia ($2.69 from $8.99 until 7/17)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 28th
Buissons ($4.95 from $7.99 until 6/28)
Stardew Valley ($11.99 from $14.99 until 6/28)
That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with some new releases, one or two more reviews, some new sales, and perhaps some news. After all of those reviews, I need to give my eyes a little rest. Unfortunately, the march of games does not stop. Nothing to be done about it. I hope you all have a marvelous Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!