Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for October 18th, 2022. In today’s article, we’ve got a few more reviews for you to enjoy. Kamiwaza: Way of the Thief, Atari Mania, and Aquarist are the titles in question today, and they are certainly an odd mix. There are a couple of new releases to check out, plus the usual lists of incoming and outgoing sales. Let’s get into the good stuff!
Reviews & Mini-Views
Kamiwaza: Way of the Thief ($39.99)
Do you have a fondness for quirky PlayStation 2-era B-grade games? If your answer is no, then you’re all done here. You’re not going to like this remake of the 2006 PlayStation 2 game any more than you would have liked the original. This game was made by Acquire, a developer best known for creating the Tenchu and Way of the Samurai series. Kamiwaza leans a lot more towards the latter than the former, despite it centering stealth mechanics in its gameplay. You play as a former thief who returns to a life of crime in order to help his sick daughter, and that means you’re going to do a lot of looting.
It has janky, complicated controls. The camera is a pain in the neck. It’s not always clear what you should do or where you should go. The enemy AI is really stupid. The visuals may have been updated but it’s not hard to ascertain what generation it comes from. This game is PlayStation 2 as hell. That’s just the kind of mood I am in, however, so it works well for me. Naturally, by modern standards, this game is really awkward. Stealth games have come a long way over the past few generations. Heck, they had come a long way even before this came out. It wasn’t localized back in the day but I can almost smell the middling reviews if it had.
In its favor, Kamiwaza is incredibly novel, and I guess sixteen years is about long enough for me to have a bit of nostalgia for its vibe. See an enemy guard in your way? Put down your sack full of loot and soccer kick it at his melon to knock him on his butt. Everyone’s turned around? As long as you’re sneaking you can pretty much graze their butts without anyone noticing. Ideally you want to avoid fights, but if you get into one you can pick your opponent’s pockets while you beat them down. You’re pretty much trying to steal everything that isn’t nailed down, and anything that is nailed down can usually be coaxed from its moorings with enough time. All of it goes into your sack, which slowly increases in size as you fill it up with comically large objects.
Don’t take my score to mean this is an average game. It most decidedly is not. It’s very niche in both its gameplay and appeal, and I think you’ll have to be just the right person in just the right mood to enjoy it the way I did. There are probably more rough edges than smooth edges here, but if you’re looking for a stealth game that does things very differently from the norm, this will certainly fit your needs. It even has a decent story attached. I’m glad this remake exists and I’m glad NISA localized it, even if I think it is going to struggle to find an audience even more than its stablemate Way of the Samurai.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
Atari Mania ($24.99)
I’ve been greatly enjoying Atari’s mini renaissance of late, and as such I was looking forward to Atari Mania. Part of the company’s 50th anniversary celebrations, the game presents a bunch of WarioWare-style microgames inspired by Atari’s famous classics. The basic idea here is that you’re a caretaker working at Atari’s headquarters, reporting in for another day at work. Some dead pixels have appeared in the building and are sucking in the various Atari characters. It’s up to you to help them out and get to the bottom of who and what is behind all of this.
There are two components to this game. One is a loose adventure game of sorts. You wander around the building and use items to solve puzzles that will uncover secret collectibles or open the path forward. You can unlock cover art and manuals for a number of Atari games, and it’s pretty fun. I wish you could also unlock the original games, but I suppose we have a remedy for that coming in a few weeks. You’ll meet various Atari characters as you explore, and it’s fun to see some characters who had very little characterization by necessity get infused with personalities.
The other part of the game, and probably the intended main course, is in playing the microgames. You’re tasked with completing a certain number of them in a row without failing too many, which is similar to the structure in a WarioWare game. Some of these sequences are mandatory, while others serve as extra challenges for unlockables. As mentioned, all of these microgames are inspired by Atari classics. Most of them go as far as to mash up multiple games at once, with Pong paddles battling Millipede or the Asteroids ship navigating a corridor of Super Breakout blocks. It’s a cute idea, especially for those who know these games well.
At the best of times, these microgames can be just as clever as the ones seen in WarioWare. Sometimes, they’re just confusing, overly complicated, too lengthy, or don’t control the way you would expect. Broadly speaking, Atari Mania hits more than it misses with its microgames. There are moments of frustration when you get a bunch of microgames you can’t figure out and end up having to start the whole chain over again, but such is how this sort of thing goes. After completing a set of microgames and toppling the boss stage, you can play them again at your leisure on an arcade machine that will pop up.
It’s a good game, particularly for fans of Atari. Unfortunately, this Switch port has a few issues that might make you want to check out the game on another console. Response can be sluggish at times, with noticeable lag in the controls. Loading times are just long enough to be uncomfortable, and sometimes it doesn’t let you know it’s loading and makes it feel like the game is hanging. I’m not sure if this is something that could be fixed in an update or not, but I hope we see some kind of improvements here if only to make transitions less awkward.
As a WarioWare-inspired affair, Atari Mania falls a little short of that series while still being good enough to be of interest to those enjoy quick-fire gaming. If we look at it as a celebration of Atari, it’s very well done. There are lots of little details in here for the true-blue fans, and the sense of humor hits the right spot as far as I’m concerned. The Switch version has some technical issues that mean you’re probably better off playing it elsewhere unless portable play is critical for you, but if the Switch is your only (or preferred) option, it’s playable enough to get into.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
There’s a certain pattern to releases from Ultimate Games, and it’s somewhat vexing. Most of the games the publisher releases on Switch are ports from the PC, and while the titles in question aren’t the cream of the crop they aren’t without merit either. The problem is that Ultimate’s ports come off as more than a little careless, and that’s in full effect with Aquarist. As near as I can tell, this is a perfectly agreeable sim that tackles its topic with satisfying thoroughness. Not the fanciest thing around, but fine. But the game’s interface was clearly built for PC use, and that means this Switch version has teeny-tiny text and incredibly awkward controls. Fiddling around trying to pick up objects I can barely see with a finicky cursor is not my idea of fun.
Aquarist is probably a really enjoyable game on PC. On Switch, its severe interface problems combined with a few technical issues makes it really difficult to just chill out and enjoy the simple pleasures of building the aquariums of your dreams and taking care of your fish. Nearly unreadable text, especially in handheld mode, combines with clumsy controls that were obviously designed for a mouse, and the result is very hard to recommend.
SwitchArcade Score: 2.5/5
Them’s Fightin’ Herds ($19.99)
Gosh, that Friendship is Magic era of My Little Pony sure was a whole thing, wasn’t it? The fans really got into it, and it’s no surprise some of them went on to make some really cool things. For example, this fighting game. Indeed, this was originally a My Little Pony fan game, but somewhere along the line I guess they realized they had something good enough to sell. Swap out the Mane Six and company for a new cast of animals designed by Friendship is Magic producer Lauren Faust and, boom, you’re all set. The game includes a story mode, local and online multiplayer, tutorial and training modes, and more. Reviews have been positive, so if you like the look of it, jump on in.
Sigma Theory ($17.99)
A turn-based strategy game with a cool cyberpunk-ish vibe, Sigma Theory has you recruit a team of agents and commit acts of sweet espionage, diplomacy, exfiltration, and more. Think of it like more of a narrative board game than anything else and you’ll be in the right head space to enjoy it. I’m going to go ahead and assume this version includes some or all of the DLC that was sold separately on PC, or else that price doesn’t make a lot of sense.
(North American eShop, US Prices)
Oh hey, a sale on King’s Bounty II. That doesn’t come around too often. What else is in there? New Super Lucky’s Tale, Death Road to Canada, Space Raiders in Space, Bear’s Restaurant, and the whole assortment of Thalamus games. Well, that’s not bad for a Tuesday at all! The outbox has a few goodies in it too, so be sure to give both lists a good scan.
Select New Games on Sale
King’s Bounty II ($13.99 from $39.99 until 10/24)
Road 96 ($9.98 from $19.96 until 10/24)
Bear’s Restaurant ($9.74 from $12.99 until 10/24)
Fishing Paradiso ($13.49 from $14.99 until 10/24)
Oxide Room 104 ($14.99 from $24.99 until 10/24)
Timothy vs the Aliens ($3.90 from $16.99 until 10/24)
Naught ($2.99 from $19.99 until 10/24)
Lotus Reverie First Nexus ($4.79 from $15.99 until 10/24)
Space Raiders in Space ($1.99 from $12.99 until 10/25)
Little Bug ($1.99 from $12.99 until 10/25)
Syndrome ($1.99 from $24.99 until 10/25)
Gum+ ($1.99 from $7.99 until 10/25)
Disney Tsum Tsum Festival ($19.99 from $49.99 until 10/31)
Dragon Ball Z Kakarot Deluxe ($37.49 from $74.99 until 10/31)
90″ Soccer ($1.99 from $4.99 until 10/31)
Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia ($1.99 from $12.99 until 10/31)
Eldest Souls ($7.99 from $19.99 until 10/31)
Quest Hunter ($8.99 from $29.99 until 10/31)
Roki ($5.99 from $19.99 until 10/31)
Tails of Iron ($9.99 from $24.99 until 10/31)
New Super Lucky’s Tale ($14.99 from $29.99 until 10/31)
Rogue Star Rescue ($9.89 from $14.99 until 11/1)
Death Road to Canada ($5.99 from $14.99 until 11/2)
Halloween Forever ($4.99 from $9.99 until 11/2)
Elli ($1.99 from $7.99 until 11/7)
Cardful Planning ($1.99 from $4.99 until 11/7)
Millie and Molly ($1.99 from $4.99 until 11/7)
Lumo ($1.99 from $19.95 until 11/7)
Cecconoid ($1.99 from $19.99 until 11/7)
10 Second Ninja X ($1.99 from $11.99 until 11/7)
Love: A Puzzle Box ($1.99 from $19.99 until 11/7)
Destructivator SE ($1.99 from $4.99 until 11/7)
Death Ray Manta SE ($1.99 from $10.00 until 11/7)
Rainbow Laser Disco Dungeon ($1.99 from $9.99 until 11/7)
Bezier: Second Edition ($1.99 from $19.99 until 11/7)
Rogue Aces ($1.99 from $12.99 until 11/7)
Word Forward ($1.99 from $4.99 until 11/7)
Gamedec DE ($14.99 from $29.99 until 11/7)
Vambrace Cold Soul ($6.24 from $24.99 until 11/7)
Doomsday Vault ($1.99 from $19.99 until 11/7)
Truberbrook ($7.49 from $29.99 until 11/7)
Windscape ($4.99 from $19.99 until 11/7)
Bridge Constructor UE ($3.74 from $14.99 until 11/7)
Bridge Constructor Portal ($3.74 from $14.99 until 11/7)
Bridge Constructor Walking Dead ($2.49 from $9.99 until 11/7)
Fury Unleashed ($5.99 from $19.99 until 11/8)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 19th
Castle on the Coast ($5.99 from $14.99 until 10/19)
Choices That Matter: ATHWL ($2.99 from $5.99 until 10/19)
Choices That Matter: ATSWE ($2.99 from $5.99 until 10/19)
Choices That Matter: ATSWO ($2.99 from $5.99 until 10/19)
Effie ($5.99 from $19.99 until 10/19)
Garden Story ($12.99 from $19.99 until 10/19)
Inukari Chase of Deception ($1.99 from $7.99 until 10/19)
May’s Mysteries: TSoD ($8.99 from $14.99 until 10/19)
orbit.industries ($12.99 from $19.99 until 10/19)
P.3 ($1.99 from $4.99 until 10/19)
South of the Circle ($9.09 from $12.99 until 10/19)
Table of Tales: Crooked Crown ($14.99 from $19.99 until 10/19)
The Amazing American Circus ($6.99 from $19.99 until 10/19)
The World Next Door ($2.49 from $9.99 until 10/19)
This is the Zodiac Speaking ($2.98 from $12.99 until 10/19)
This War of Mine: CE ($1.99 from $39.99 until 10/19)
To Be Or Not To Be ($3.49 from $6.99 until 10/19)
Warlock of Firetop Mountain: GS Edition ($2.99 from $29.99 until 10/19)
West of Loathing ($5.50 from $11.00 until 10/19)
West of Loathing DLC ($2.49 from $4.99 until 10/19)
That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with the usual mix of stuff. New releases? Check. Sales? Check. News? Uh, maybe use pencil on that one. Reviews? That box will probably remain empty. I hope you all have a great Tuesday, and as always, thanks for reading!