Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for July 17th, 2023. We start the week with a few reviews, including Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE, Garlic, and Risky Woods. After that, we’ve got one single, sad, lonely new release to look at, plus the lists of the latest sales and expiring discounts. Not bad as Mondays go, I would say. Let’s get work, shall we?
Reviews & Mini-Views
Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE ($59.99)
Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE comes from some of the same people who created the Danganronpa games, and that becomes apparent very quickly after starting the game. It’s a pop otaku murder mystery, Phoenix Wright meets No More Heroes with a tone so crass that it’s almost endearing. It kicks off with one of the classic cases of a genre: a murder on a moving train. It doesn’t take long for things to get surreal and a bit silly, but the game doesn’t care and you probably won’t either. The grander story builds over the course of the various cases, and there are the usual twists and turns we’ve all come to expect from a game like this.
The setup: you play as Yuma Kokohead (yes), a young man with at least a few problems. You’ve woken up in a lost-and-found room at a train station. You’ve completely lost your memory. You’re hearing weird voices. And the only hint you have is an invitation from a detective agency telling you to board the train that is leaving really soon. Before long you’ll meet Shinigami, a bizarre death god that you apparently made some kind of deal with. She’ll comment on things and sometimes give you help, but you’re the only one that can see or hear her. Things go a little ca-ca on that train, but I’ll let you enjoy that yourself. The important thing is that it is headed to Kanai Ward, a district that is essentially ruled over by the Amaterasu Corporation. For some reason, it’s always dark and rainy there. This is where you’ll spend most of the game, solving cases and helping out side characters.
In broad strokes, this game works like any mystery adventure. You’re presented with the case, then you’ll gather information by examining the scene of the crime. This gives you evidence that is needed to solve the case. You then take that evidence into a climactic sequence where you break things down piece by piece until the truth is known. But RAIN CODE mixes things up in various ways. The biggest is in the shape of the climax of each case. Once you’ve reached a certain point, a Mystery Labyrinth will be formed by Shinigami. It’s an abstract space where you’ll have to present the evidence you’ve gathered to defeat various traps and enemies.
You’ll do this via a fairly wide assortment of minigames. There are combat scenes where you dodge statements and present evidence at the right time to defeat the phantoms that oppose you. Sometimes you just have to pick between two doors. Sometimes Shinigami, who turns into a *** lady during these sequences, will be in a barrel and you’ll have to throw your sword to spell out the right word. Sometimes she grows to a huge size and you’ll have to dash, kick, and jump with the right timing. And sometimes it’s just a plain old QTE. The game does its best to try to spice up what amounts to the courtroom scenes in Phoenix Wright, taking things a good step further than even Danganronpa did. I appreciate the gesture even if I found myself just wishing I could skip all the nonsense sometimes.
Back in Kanai Ward, you’ll find a unique atmosphere that raises a whole lot of questions you’ll ultimately find most of the answers to. Careful examination of everything around you also gives you what amounts to experience points, and when you level up you get skill points you can use for various improvements and abilities that help in the Mystery Labyrinths. You can also find Memory Shards that will give you extra bits of non-essential story and lore. It’s neat to have this kind of space to run around in with a game like this, and I do appreciate that the developer has tried to give you reasons to go off the main path.
On a technical level, RAIN CODE has some struggles at times. Kanai Ward is clearly heavy on the hardware as the resolution and framerate often suffers when you’re exploring. Loading times aren’t egregious but they can be fairly frequent, especially in the Mystery Labyrinths. None of this really dragged the game down for me, but if you’re more sensitive about such things then consider yourself warned. The technical issues are at least offset somewhat by a strong art design and overall presentation. It’s a good looking game in that sense, and the music and voice acting are solid.
If you enjoy games about solving mysteries, you’ll likely enjoy Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE. That goes double if you like the Danganronpa series, as it goes to many of the same places in tone and themes. The mysteries are well-built and fun to unravel, the overall story and the episodes that make it up are interesting, and the overall presentation is really sharp despite some technical shortcomings. Some of its attempts to mix things up might have been best left on the cutting room floor, but overall this is a satisfying ride.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Precision platformers are in that zone a few genres find themselves in on the Switch at this late stage of its life. We’ve got so many great ones, it’s hard for any new one to stand out even if it’s completely solid all-around. When I saw Garlic and its price, I wondered if maybe Ratalaika Games wasn’t tempting fate a bit. Fifteen bucks is putting you in the same general area as Celeste, after all. But in the end, I think Ratalaika knew what it had here when it ported this over to consoles. Garlic is one of those aforementioned solid all-rounders, but it has one special ingredient up its sleeve: its wild charm.
Our onion-headed hero has fallen head over heels for the Cyber Goddess, and wants to climb the treacherous Sacred Tower to meet her. As a bonus, she’ll apparently give a wish to whoever can reach her. And she’ll make you work for it, too. This game gets intensely challenging as it goes on, and you’ll have to learn how to link Garlic’s moves with almost perfect timing to get through some of the room layouts. Most of them offer at least a couple of different paths, and there are collectibles to grab if you can pull off some slick maneuvers. Chaining Garlic’s abilities is fun to master and it feels really rewarding when you make your way through what at first seems impossible. Well, such is the appeal of this genre.
But Garlic‘s specific appeal is that the character himself is so odd and, in his own weird way, likable. He’s a bit creepy at times, really funny at others, and the goofy minigames only endears him to the player more. Part of the fun of Garlic is seeing what bizarre thing is going to crop up next. If Celeste used its between-the-game bits to paint an emotional story about forgiving oneself, loving oneself, and the catharsis of doing so, Garlic uses its bits to try to make you laugh at the sheer absurdity of human imagination. It isn’t going to be for everyone, and I can’t say I loved everything it did, but overall it kept me going through to the bonkers ending.
If you’re looking for another precision platformer with strong gameplay mechanics and sharp level design, Garlic is your guy. But it isn’t the only game to do those things by any stretch of the imagination, is it? The thing is, I can’t say I’ve ever played a game of this sort that had Garlic‘s ridiculous energy to it. There’s a Wario-ish bent to it, but it’s even stranger than that series tends to be. I think that kind of thing is subjective and as a result you’re either going to love it or hate it, but it really worked for me.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Risky Woods ($9.99)
Recently I’ve been trying to fill in some of the gaps in my classic gaming experiences, and European computer games are a big one. So I was a bit excited to see Risky Woods pop up on the release schedule, as this is apparently a well-regarded game in Spanish gaming history. Sure, this is the Mega Drive/Genesis version of the game rather than the Amiga original, but it’s better than nothing. And you know what? Yes, this game is pretty enjoyable. It’s clearly inspired by Japanese arcade platformers, but it predictably has its own spin on things and some unique charms as a result.
Still, I have a gripe. QUByte is the publisher of this release, and it has once again deployed an extremely bare-bones wrapper for it. You can adjust some basic video settings and make use of save states, but that’s pretty much all you get. While I wish there would be supplemental materials for me to dig through, what I’m really dismayed by is the lack of any sort of directions for the games it puts out. Some of them are really straightforward and can be easily figured out, but others like this one kind of need at least some basic instructions. Even if manual scans can’t be arranged, surely someone could at least type up an explainer of items and how to handle certain obstacles.
Risky Woods is a typical QUByte release. A game that is obscure in many regions and perhaps deserves a bit more attention. Emulation that does the job but has some obvious flaws. A spartan wrapper that does nothing to help you play the game or explain why you should care about it. I’m used to all of this by now, but I get the sense that Risky Woods in particular really deserved better. Still worth a go, but you’ll probably want to look up some instructions online if you’re going to give it a shot.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
A really basic endless runner with a really basic presentation at a really basic price. I’ve got better things to play on my Switch, but you do you.
(North American eShop, US Prices)
A bit of NIS America, a bit of Team17, and a bit of Koei Tecmo, plus an odd assortment of indies in the inbox today. Have a look and see what jumps out at you. I’ll recommend the Atelier Ryza games, as usual. Over in the outbox, I guess I’ll call out Touken Ranbu Warriors and Super Mega Baseball 4 as games to consider. Check out those lists as always, though.
Select New Games on Sale
Sail Forth ($14.79 from $19.99 until 7/20)
Freshly Frosted ($6.47 from $9.99 until 7/20)
Roundguard ($6.16 from $19.99 until 7/20)
Memorrha ($8.99 from $19.99 until 7/22)
Labyrinth Legend ($7.49 from $14.99 until 7/24)
Shadow Corridor ($7.49 from $14.99 until 7/24)
LA-MULANA ($7.49 from $14.99 until 7/24)
LA-MULANA 2 ($9.99 from $24.99 until 7/24)
Kemono Heroes ($7.49 from $14.99 until 7/24)
Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory ($4.99 from $39.99 until 7/24)
Fallen Legion Revenants ($19.99 from $39.99 until 7/24)
Giraffe and Annika ($9.99 from $29.99 until 7/24)
Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded ($9.99 from $49.99 until 7/24)
CarX Drift Racing Online ($8.97 from $29.99 until 7/28)
Ib ($11.99 from $14.99 until 7/28)
7 Days to End with You ($9.59 from $11.99 until 7/28)
Vanaris Tactics ($6.49 from $9.99 until 7/30)
Overcooked All You Can Eat ($15.99 from $39.99 until 7/30)
Worms WMD ($5.99 from $29.99 until 7/30)
The Escapists Complete ($2.99 from $14.99 until 7/30)
The Escapists 2 ($4.99 from $19.99 until 7/30)
The Survivalists ($6.24 from $24.99 until 7/30)
Hokko Life ($9.99 from $19.99 until 7/30)
My Time at Portia ($5.99 from $29.99 until 7/30)
BROK the InvestiGator ($17.49 from $24.99 until 7/31)
Atelier Ryza ($29.99 from $59.99 until 7/31)
Atelier Ryza 2 ($29.99 from $59.99 until 7/31)
Atelier Ryza 3 ($44.99 from $59.99 until 7/31)
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water ($29.99 from $39.99 until 7/31)
Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse ($37.49 from $49.99 until 7/31)
Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX ($20.99 from $29.99 until 7/31)
Ninja Gaiden Master Collection ($27.99 from $39.99 until 7/31)
Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires ($38.99 from $59.99 until 7/31)
Attack on Titan 2 Final Battle ($32.99 from $59.99 until 7/31)
Castle of the Underdogs Ep1 ($6.99 from $9.99 until 7/31)
Barn Finders ($5.99 from $19.99 until 7/31)
Mind Scanners ($6.79 from $16.99 until 8/3)
Dig Deep ($1.99 from $4.99 until 8/4)
UltraGoodness ($3.99 from $4.99 until 8/4)
Johnny Trigger ($2.49 from $4.99 until 8/4)
Johnny Trigger: Sniper ($2.49 from $4.99 until 8/4)
Mystical Mixing ($1.99 from $4.99 until 8/4)
Alchemist Simulator ($3.74 from $12.49 until 8/4)
Dark Quest 2 ($4.39 from $10.99 until 8/4)
Dark Quest 3 ($7.59 from $18.99 until 8/4)
PI.EXE ($2.69 from $5.99 until 8/6)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, July 18th
Athanasy ($7.89 from $9.99 until 7/18)
Bit.Trip Collection ($2.95 from $9.99 until 7/18)
Crash Drive 3 ($1.99 from $19.99 until 7/18)
For a Vast Future ($1.99 from $14.99 until 7/18)
Madorica Real Estate ($7.40 from $14.99 until 7/18)
Madorica Real Estate 2 ($10.99 from $18.99 until 7/18)
Secrets of Light and Shadow ($10.50 from $15.00 until 7/18)
Stranded Deep ($12.49 from $24.99 until 7/18)
Super Cute Alien’s Adventure ($6.99 from $9.99 until 7/18)
Super Mega Baseball 4 ($34.99 from $49.99 until 7/18)
The Blind Prophet ($1.99 from $24.99 until 7/18)
The Companion ($4.99 from $19.99 until 7/18)
The House of Da Vinci ($2.99 from $9.99 until 7/18)
The Treflik Family ($1.99 from $12.99 until 7/18)
Touken Ranbu Warriors ($35.99 from $59.99 until 7/18)
Two Point Campus ($20.99 from $29.99 until 7/18)
Two Point Campus: School Spirits DLC ($4.01 from $5.99 until 7/18)
Two Point Campus: Space Academy DLC ($7.99 from $9.99 until 7/18)
Verdict Guilty ($3.14 from $8.99 until 7/18)
Xiaomei & the Flame Dragon’s Fist ($11.99 from $14.99 until 7/18)
Yum Yum Cookstar ($14.99 from $29.99 until 7/18)
That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with more new releases, more sales, more reviews, and perhaps some news. It’s been way too hot recently. It’s hard to find the energy for… anything, really. Canadians and Japanese summers do not mix, no matter how many years they try. I hope you all have a magnificent Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!