SwitchArcade Round-Up: Reviews Featuring ‘Variable Barricade’ and ‘Puzzle & Dragons’, Plus the Latest Releases and Sales

Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for March 1st, 2022. In today’s article, we’ve got a pair of reviews for you to dig into. Our pal Mikhail has his thoughts on Variable Barricade, and I’ve got a detailed breakdown of Puzzle & Dragons: Nintendo Switch Edition. There are two decent-looking new releases to check out, plus the usual lists of new and expiring sales for you to consider. Let’s get to it!

Reviews & Mini-Views

Variable Barricade ($49.99)

Aksys Games and Otomate are back with another otome adventure for Nintendo Switch owners in the form of Variable Barricade. Variable Barricade is a more light-hearted otome game. While there’s a place for the more serious stories, I’m glad that we’ve gotten Cupid Parasite and Variable Barricade on Nintendo Switch for those who prefer some humor in adventure games.

You play as Hibari, who is an heir to a fortune. Hibari has been set up with four potential bachelors thanks to her grandfather who wants to get her hitched. The story revolves around how Hibari deals with Ichiya, Taiga, Shion, and Nayuta as they all try to win her over. Variable Barricade also features an interesting take on a route flowchart through with the use of a mini-game with attacking and defending based on the route. What stands out in the story barring you finding a favorite bachelor through different endings, is in how each route felt well-written and not just focused on pushing you into one love interest before moving to the next one.

Variable Barricade features only Japanese voice acting, but I do appreciate the added subtitles for spoken dialogue in the menus and the interface. The voice acting and audio design are very good here. There are a lot of catchy tunes you can listen to and more to be unlocked once you start finishing different endings on your way to the true ending. Each bachelor has four of their own endings. You need to have seen specific endings before you can get into the true ending here. I only really disliked one specific route for a few scenes.

Visually, Variable Barricade looks gorgeous in handheld mode, but it could’ve been better when docked. The font used is a little blurry in some interface elements when played on a TV. The actual in-game art and portraits look great across the board though. As with other Otomate-developed releases, the game’s interface looks very good and has a very consistent look with the rest of the game.

Aksys Games has been selecting some superb otome visual novels to localize in recent years and Variable Barricade is one of the best in the genre on Nintendo Switch. With each newer release, it feels like the genre is becoming more accessible to those who aren’t fans of pure visual novels. If you’re a fan of otome games, you need to get Variable Barricade. For newcomers, this light-hearted experience might finally get you into the genre. -Mikhail Madnani

SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5

Puzzle & Dragons: Nintendo Switch Edition ($4.37)

I’m a pretty big fan of Puzzle & Dragons. The original one, on mobile. Yes, the free-to-play one. It mixes some incredibly deep team building mechanics with a compelling, distinct style of matching puzzle that I just can’t get enough of. It’s also a case where I feel that removing the gacha mechanics makes for a lesser game. We’ve had plenty of evidence of that, with the decent but not spectacular trio of Puzzle & Dragons games on the 3DS and the rather dull Puzzle & Dragons Gold that hit the Switch a while back. Sure, the puzzle gameplay was as fun as it always is, but it’s the other side of the game where things don’t quite come together in previous console versions.

I was hoping that this latest Puzzle & Dragons release would just be a port of the mobile game, gacha and all. And in some ways I got my wish: this version does feature gacha mechanics that encourage you to pump money into microtransactions. The basic story content is similar as well, offering a series of dungeons with practically no context for you to play through. By playing these dungeons and raising your player level, you’ll unlock various goodies including free pulls from one of the game’s Egg Machines. There’s also a multiplayer mode where you’ll challenge a series of battles at the same time as a group of others, vying to see who can deal the most damage while tossing out the occasional bit of sabotage along the way. It’s a fun mode, and it features rotating events to keep things fresh. You can also create, share, and download custom dungeons if you really want to mix things up.

So what’s the problem? To explain it, I think I have to explain part of the mobile game’s appeal. Apart from the puzzle portion of the game, Puzzle & Dragons isn’t so different from a collectible card game. You don’t have access to every monster, and everyone will end up with a slightly different spread of choices to make their teams with. You have to consider each monster’s skills and how many team points they take up. It’s especially important to consider how their skills and elements work together. Putting together a good team is as much a part of success as your puzzle play.

Unfortunately, Puzzle & Dragons: Nintendo Switch Edition eliminates team-building. Every team in the game is pre-built, designed to work together efficiently. In a way, this makes the game more approachable for newcomers, but it also cuts out a lot of the long-term depth. The only input you have is in choosing which of the Awakening Badges you want to equip from those you have collected. They act as modifiers, allowing you slightly tweak your team. There’s no leveling up in the classical sense and there are no evolutions, which admittedly does cut down on the grind. Your main strategic choice is in picking which team you want to field, with your choices limited to what you’ve had the good fortune to pull from the Egg Machines.

Each Egg Machine has a limited number of items in it. You’ll get tons of free pulls from the default one, but you aren’t guaranteed to pull a new team on any given pull. Sometimes you’ll get new Awakening Badges, and sometimes you’ll just get some customization elements and music tracks. There are also paid Egg Machines, but if you want to drain them you’ll have to pay a small fortune. You don’t need any of those teams to make your way through the single-player content, but it’s possible that the online multiplayer may progress in a direction where you’ll have to get your hands on them to stay competitive. Time will tell on that one.

Puzzle & Dragons: Nintendo Switch Edition is still quite fun, and it’s certainly better than Puzzle & Dragons Gold was, but this is still a needlessly limited take on the concept that removes one of the core aspects that makes the original game so great. I wish I could understand how we ended up with the monetization structure of the free-to-play mobile version while changing some of the things that have made it such a big hit for so many years. For less than a fiver you’ll get your fun out of this, but it could have been more.

SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5

New Releases

FAR: Changing Tides ($19.99)

The follow-up/side-story to FAR: Lone Sails brings more solemn exploration, this time on the post-apocalyptic seas. Explore, solve puzzles, and do what you have to in order to keep your ship in working condition. Be wary, as the weather isn’t going to be pleasant most of the time. As you travel, you’ll learn more about the world and your place in it. Safe to say that if you enjoyed the first game, you should give this one a shot.

Conan Chop Chop ($19.99)

Well, that’s one way to use the Conan license, I suppose. This is a somewhat comical casual roguelite for up to four players via local or online multiplayer. All your favorites from Conan are here, including Conan, Belit, and more. Can you punch a camel, though? That remains to be seen. But you can level up your characters, find cool loot, unlock new skills, and battle deadly bosses. Maybe the camel is one of them. I’m not sure. Seems like a fun game to play with your buddies near or far.


(North American eShop, US Prices)

If you’re interested in catching up for the release of FAR: Changing Tides, FAR: Lone Sails is available for quite the discount at the moment. Otherwise, it’s a lot of the usual suspects. The outbox offers a similar lack of thrills, but I suppose you should take a careful look through both lists anyway.

Select New Games on Sale

Puddle Knights ($3.99 from $9.99 until 3/7)
AnimaLudo ($1.99 from $9.99 until 3/7)
Among Pipes ($1.99 from $7.99 until 3/7)
Royal Tower Defense ($1.99 from $7.99 until 3/7)
Fantasy Tower Defense ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/7)
Crazy Trucks ($2.99 from $14.99 until 3/7)
Zoo Dentist ($1.99 from $9.99 until 3/7)
Perfect Traffic Simulator ($1.99 from $9.99 until 3/7)
All in Casino Girls ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/7)
Gangsta Paradise ($1.99 from $9.99 until 3/7)
Colorfall ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/7)
Fantasy Checkers ($1.99 from $7.99 until 3/7)
The Legend of Ninja ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/7)
Sky Games ($2.99 from $14.99 until 3/7)
Trash Quest ($1.99 from $9.99 until 3/7)

S.N.I.P.E.R. Hunter Scope ($1.99 from $14.99 until 3/7)
Fall Gummies ($1.99 from $7.99 until 3/7)
Pinball FX3: Portal Pinball ($1.19 from $2.99 until 3/8)
Concordia: Digital Edition ($19.99 from $24.99 until 3/8)
Istanbul: Digital Edition ($9.99 from $19.99 until 3/8)
Charterstone: Digital Edition ($12.49 from $24.99 until 3/8)
Eight-Minute Empire Complete ($5.99 from $14.99 until 3/8)
Steam: Rails to Riches Complete ($13.99 from $19.99 until 3/8)
Voxelgram ($4.79 from $7.99 until 3/8)
Foregone ($4.99 from $19.99 until 3/8)
My Singing Monsters Playground ($27.99 from $39.99 until 3/8)
Far: Lone Sails ($2.99 from $14.99 until 3/8)
Stones of the Revenant ($2.99 from $9.99 until 3/14)
Quest Hunter ($8.99 from $29.99 until 3/14)
Turmoil ($2.99 from $14.99 until 3/14)

The Tiny Bang Story ($2.99 from $9.99 until 3/15)
Niffelheim ($5.99 from $19.99 until 3/15)
Braveland Trilogy ($4.49 from $14.99 until 3/15)
Mainframe Defenders ($8.39 from $11.99 until 3/15)
One Dog Story ($5.99 from $14.99 until 3/15)
BDSM ($9.99 from $19.99 until 3/15)
Mystery Mine ($1.99 from $3.99 until 3/15)
HardCube ($2.10 from $7.00 until 3/15)
Amazing Breaker ($3.99 from $7.99 until 3/15)
Depixtion ($1.99 from $7.99 until 3/15)
Boris the Rocket ($10.04 from $14.99 until 3/15)
Princess.Loot.Pixel.Again ($349 from $4.99 until 3/15)
My Hidden Things ($4.68 from $6.99 until 3/15)
Galaxy Squad ($7.99 from $9.99 until 3/15)
Doom & Destiny ($5.99 from $11.99 until 3/15)

Doom & Destiny Advanced ($5.99 from $11.99 until 3/15)
Doom & Destiny Worlds ($9.99 from $19.99 until 3/15)
Miner Warfare ($3.99 from $7.99 until 3/15)
Spaceland ($5.99 from $19.99 until 3/15)
Zombie Hill Race ($1.99 from $9.99 until 3/21)
Blood Breed ($1.99 from $5.99 until 3/21)
Adrenaline Rush Miami Drive ($1.99 from $3.99 until 3/21)
Salad Bar Tycoon ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/21)
Real Drift Racing ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/21)
My Magic Florist ($1.99 from $6.99 until 3/21)
Jet Ski Rush ($1.99 from $3.99 until 3/21)
Bubble Cats Rescue ($1.99 from $3.99 until 3/21)
My Coloring Book ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/21)
Poker Texas & Omaha Hold’em ($2.49 from $9.99 until 3/21)
Urban Flow London Extended ($199 from $15.99 until 3/21)

Castle of Heart ($1.99 from $14.99 until 3/21)
Deadly Fighter 2 ($1.99 from $3.99 until 3/21)
Warplanes WW2 Dogfight ($4.99 from $9.99 until 3/21)
Pet Shop Snacks ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/21)
Football Cup 2021 ($1.99 from $9.99 until 3/21)
Moorhuhn Wanted ($5.59 from $6.99 until 3/21)
Moorhuhn Jump & Run T&T ($10.39 from $12.99 until 3/21)
Destrobots ($1.99 from $9.99 until 3/21)
Queen’s Quest 3: The End of Dawn ($2.09 from $14.99 until 3/21)
Highschool Romance ($8.70 from $12.99 until 3/21)
Go! Fish Go! ($1.99 from $3.99 until 3/21)
Would You Like to Run an Idol Cafe? ($6.69 from $9.99 until 3/21)
Sakura Succubus 2 ($4.99 from $9.99 until 3/21)
Sakura Succubus 3 ($4.99 from $9.99 until 3/21)
Elli ($1.99 from $7.99 until 3/21)
Sable’s Grimoire ($7.49 from $14.99 until 3/21)
Dreamwalker: Never Fall Asleep ($2.09 from $14.99 until 3/21)

Sales Ending Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 2nd

Alteric ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/2)
Bullet Beat ($2.00 from $4.99 until 3/2)
Chicken Range ($2.69 from 8.99 until 3/2)
Cold Silence ($3.29 from $4.99 until 3/2)
Contraptions ($2.99 from $9.99 until 3/2)
Cop Car Police Sim Chase ($7.49 from $14.99 until 3/2)
Crash Dummy ($2.99 from $9.99 until 3/2)
Cybxus Hearts ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/2)
Dark Grim Mariupolis ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/2)
Dark Quest 2 ($5.49 from $10.99 until 3/2)
Dark Thrones ($2.69 from $8.99 until 3/2)
Draw a Stickman: EPIC 2 ($1.99 from $6.99 until 3/2)
Energy Cycle Edge ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/2)
Gas Guzzlers Extreme ($29.99 from $49.99 until 3/2)
Horizon Shift ’81 ($2.99 from $9.99 until 3/2)

Inspector Waffles ($6.99 from $13.99 until 3/2)
Liberated ($7.99 from $19.99 until 3/2)
Ministry of Broadcast ($4.99 from $14.99 until 3/2)
My Maite ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/2)
My Riding Stables: Life w/Horses ($8.99 from $29.99 until 3/2)
NecroWorm ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/2)
Nexoria: Dungeon Rogue Heroes ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/2)
Nyakamon Adventures ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/2)
Outbreak ($6.49 from $12.99 until 3/2)
Outbreak Lost Hope ($6.49 from $12.99 until 3/2)
Outbreak The Nightmare Chronicles ($6.49 from $12.99 until 3/2)
Outbreak: Endless Nightmares ($9.99 from $19.99 until 3/2)
Outbreak: Epidemic ($7.49 from $14.99 until 3/2)
Outbreak: The New Nightmare ($6.49 from $12.99 until 3/2)
Project Highrise: AE ($7.99 from $39.99 until 3/2)

RazerWire: Nanowars ($1.99 from $9.99 until 3/2)
ReactorX ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/2)
Road Fury ($2.69 from $8.99 until 3/2)
Santa’s Xmas Adventure ($2.69 from $8.99 until 3/2)
Save the Ninja Clan ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/2)
Shiro ($3.19 from $4.99 until 3/2)
Smart Moves ($1.99 from $5.99 until 3/2)
Snake vs Snake ($2.79 from $3.99 until 3/2)
Spiral Splatter ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/2)
Story of a Gladiator ($5.49 from $10.99 until 3/2)
Super Jumpy Ball ($3.49 from $4.99 until 3/2)
Terra Bomber ($2.99 from $9.99 until 3/2)
Terra Lander ($2.99 from $9.99 until 3/2)
Terra Lander II RSR ($2.99 from $9.99 until 3/2)
The Explorer of Night ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/2)

Total Arcade Racing ($6.99 from $9.99 until 3/2)
Urban Flow ($1.99 from $14.99 until 3/2)
Vegas Party ($6.59 from $21.99 until 3/2)
Void Source ($1.99 from $5.99 until 3/2)
Warhammer 40k Mechanicus ($13.99 from $39.99 until 3/2)
Werewolf: The Apocalypse HotF ($7.49 from $14.99 until 3/2)
Where Are My Friends? ($2.39 from $5.99 until 3/2)
Witch Hunter ($2.69 from $8.99 until 3/2)
World Quiz ($2.99 from $9.99 until 3/2)

That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with a few new releases ahead of the big one-two punch that Thursday and Friday will offer. There might also be some news, and maybe even a review. Sales? Definitely some. Those cannot be stopped, and will not be stopped. I hope you all have a terrific Tuesday, and as always, thanks for reading!

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