SwitchArcade Round-Up: Reviews Featuring The Lara Croft Collection Plus the Latest Releases and Sales

Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for July 10th, 2023. In today’s article, we’ve got four reviews to kick off the week. The Lara Croft Collection, Gimmick: Special Edition, The Last Hero of Nostalgaia, and Raging Bytes all get their time in the chair of judgement. After that, we have a handful of new releases to look at. Nothing too exciting on that front, though. After that, we finish up with the usual lists of new and outgoing sales. Let’s get to it!

Reviews & Mini-Views

The Lara Croft Collection ($24.99)

You know, I expected Lara Croft’s games to make it to the Switch in some form or another at some point, particularly after Square Enix sold the property to Embracer. I didn’t expect the games in question to be the Lara Croft and the… sub-series from about ten years back, and Feral Interactive to be the one to bring them. Both, I will say, are pleasant surprises. Feral Interactive has done some of the finest ports on the Switch, with the incredible near-miracle Alien: Isolation being a great example of that. The publisher has also done some fantastic work with mobile ports. There aren’t many safer hands.

Then there are the games themselves. Prior to this set, I had only played Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. I had it on the PlayStation 3, and I dare say that I enjoyed it more than most of Lara’s mainline adventures. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to play the sequel when it came out as I didn’t get a PlayStation 4 until there were at least two Spider-Mans on it. Just how the rules work. But even on the strength of Guardian of Light alone, I would have probably picked this up. Now that I’ve played The Temple of Osiris, I would say that the first game is the better of the two but they’re both immensely pleasurable romps.

In these games, rather than playing from behind-the-Lara, you’re looking down from overhead at a skewed angle. They’re stage-based affairs, like the earlier games in the main series, and you’re still looking at a mix of action, platforming, and puzzles. While the broad strokes are familiar, the way the games play feels quite different. The biggest and most obvious difference is that you can play these games with others. The first game allows for two players to tackle the game together, using each of their characters’ distinct abilities to cooperate and get through the challenges. The second game doubles down on this, allowing up to four players to join in. This is where my one big criticism of this collection comes in, unfortunately. You can only play multiplayer locally, not online. It would have been a great thing to see in this port, but alas.

Otherwise, these are excellent ports. The controls naturally map well to the Switch controller, the technical performance is great, and all of the post-release content has been rolled in here. That adds even more on top of what are already quite generous games. The base games have lots of extra challenges and optional unlockable content, giving you plenty of reasons to revisit stages. Oh, and rest assured: while the games are built for multiplayer and are a heck of a lot of fun that way, you can still have a great time flying solo. The optional abilities of the other characters will just be folded into Lara’s arsenal so that you can still do everything you need to.

While I love the mainline Tomb Raider games and hope they make their way over to the Switch someday, I really do love this pair of games. They’re well-paced, the puzzles are great little brain-teasers, and the action holds up its end of things. The platforming can be a little tricky due to the perspective, but I’ve certainly dealt with worse. Being able to play these titles on a handheld feels like they’re finally where they’re meant to be, at least as far as the single-player mode goes. When you want to play with friends, the Switch can do that too. A great fit, really.

The Lara Croft Collection brings two excellent games to the Switch in superb form. Only the lack of online multiplayer keeps me from climbing up the nearest mountain and shouting about these, but I’ll gladly scamper up a hill and give a solid yell. If you’ve never played these games before, you really should. And this just happens to be a fantastic way to do so. Whether exploring alone or pulling a friend or three along, you’ll have an awesome time with this scorching duo of games.

SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5

Gimmick! Special Edition ($14.99)

Look, in a vacuum there’s nothing that interesting or exciting about an NES game hitting the Switch at this point. We’ve got them in Mega Man collections, we’ve got them in Castlevania and Contra collections, we’ve got them from City Connection, M2, and QUByte. Nintendo has a whole app with dozens upon dozens of titles from the 8-bit console, including a handful of Sunsoft titles. So what makes Gimmick worth releasing as a standalone at this price? Well, some of you probably know. Gimmick is rare. Really, really rare. Its Japanese release was late and not many cartridges were produced, and it now goes for hundreds of dollars. Its Western release was Scandinavia-only and a naked cartridge will cost you over a thousand dollars today.

It also hasn’t been released in North America up until now. Heck, its only rereleases have been via a Japan-only PlayStation game and in a remade form on the exA-Arcadia arcade hardware. If you wanted to play Gimmick officially up to now and weren’t lucky enough to grab it back in the day, you would have to have paid a lot of money. So it’s a little different from Blaster Master or even Ufouria in that respect. But does that matter? It’s not like this particular release is going to be worth tons of money in the short to medium term, and there are certain other means of playing games that I’m not going to pretend people don’t indulge in. So what’s the sweetener here?

Well, first and foremost is that Gimmick is a really good game. I won’t call it Sunsoft’s best on the platform, because things like Ufouria, Batman, and Blaster Master are around. But it can hang with that bunch, to be sure. Its speedy gameplay, complex physics, tricky secrets, and incredible difficulty make it stand out among the many platform games on the console, and that’s all wrapped up in the usual slick Sunsoft presentation. It is very much a game worth playing even today, but make sure you’ve got a stress ball or pillow beside you to take your rage out on. It’s that kind of game.

But wait! There are things here for that. A rewind feature! Save states! With these tools in hand, everyone should be able to at least make it to the standard ending. Probably not the best ending, but that’s fine. Not much of a test of skill if everyone can just cheat their way through it, after all. Maybe you want to beat it legit and need to cut away the temptation? Serious Mode is for you, and it packs some achievements you can’t get in the normal mode. If you’re really feeling professional, Speed Run mode does just what it says and tasks you with beating the game as fast as you can, after which you’ll be ranked against other players via online leaderboards.

You get the usual array of options for tinkering with visual settings and so on here, and an extras menu allows you to view the original cartridges, packaging, and manuals for the game in both regions it released. No English manual, but you can probably sort things out. You know how to make a star, right? Just press your finger down on the B button and hold. Godspeed. It has everything here it really could short of some wild Digital Eclipse-style bonuses. The ultimate package of Gimmick, really.

It really does come down to the game itself. Set aside the talk of rarity and value, because it is now simply another modern release at a relatively fair price. Anyone who wants to play Gimmick can do so now, and they can do it in a package that helps the game shine its brightest. But is Gimmick right for you? If you enjoy platformers, aren’t turned off by an extremely high difficulty level, and think you’re going to get something out of going for all the secrets and playing all the modes? Yes, absolutely. It’s a Sunsoft game from Sunsoft’s prime, and that alone is a recommendation. Be warned, however, that the game has serious teeth that even modern conveniences can’t completely mitigate.

SwitchArcade Score: 4/5

The Last Hero of Nostalgaia ($24.99)

There are a lot of Switch games I would recommend more vigorously if not for their technical shortcoming, and I lamentably must add The Last Hero of Nostalgaia to that list. This is a Dark Souls homage/parody that really knows its stuff. I think it might just be the Dark Souls-est game you can get on the Switch short of Dark Souls, and its attempts at humor are actually kind of funny. I think it even has one up on Dark Souls because there is a gameplay purpose to its bits of lore, having you try to suss out where to bring them in order to get bonuses. The gameplay mechanics are sound, the controls work well, and the pacing to the combat is just about spot-on.

With that said, I think it has accidently paid homage to the original Dark Souls in a bad way with this Switch port. The framerate behaves itself when it counts most of the time, but when it doesn’t? It really doesn’t. Most of the time when it really dives it happens outside of combat, but it’s still very jarring. Because of that, this is another case where I’d recommend the game but if you have other platform options and don’t mind exercising them, you’ll probably have a better time by taking advantage of that.

The game itself is quite cool, though. You play as a pixelated hero who is summoned as something of a last resort for the world of Nostalgaia. In this world of video games, everything is regressing into its most basic form. As heroes go, you’re not much to look at. The narrator is immediately disappointed, and he will mock you throughout the game. You can get your hands on new weapons and armor as you go, but your success is mostly going to come down to your skill and experience. If you have trouble, you do have that Souls-like option of summoning some help from another player online. A good challenge, though one that is probably less stressful than Dark Souls. Worth playing so long as you don’t completely hate the genre.

The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is an impressive take on Dark Souls, and one of the best you can find on the Switch. It suffers from some unfortunate technical issues that keep it from being a must-have, something I suspect Switch owners are getting accustomed to by this point in the console’s life. While I would push prospective buyers to pick it up on a platform with more power, those without other options or who prefer their Switch might still want to go for it. Proceed with caution, but it’s at least worth considering despite its issues.

SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5

Raging Bytes ($14.99)

KEMCO catches a lot of flack, to be fair deservedly, for how little it changes up its games with each of its incredibly frequent releases. It has put out dozens upon dozens of RPGs, and while it has worked with several developers, the work of each developer is often very samey. A careful examination tends to reveal some differences, but people aren’t going to do that unless they’re already interested. Still, it’s a row KEMCO hoes well. The company has survived longer than most mid-tier Famicom-era Japanese publishers, and it has done so by knowing its audience and playing it safe.

That makes Raging Bytes an interesting choice by KEMCO and developer Hit-Point. While the game is pretty clearly using an RPG-style engine, it has repurposed it into something more closely resembling a survival horror game. Mages and knights have been replaced with a confused police officer and straggling survivors. Goblins and dragons are nowhere to be found, but the shambling dead lurk around every corner. Battles take place in a separate screen, but the odds aren’t in your favor if you fight too often. When zombies get up close and personal, you’re going to get hurt. But you only have so much ammunition to take them down at a distance. You don’t have as many chances to heal in this game compared to a standard KEMCO RPG, so you really need to avoid combat when you can. The zombies are wandering around on the field, and you can avoid them if you’re careful.

The story is a pile of references to other zombie media, and fans of the genre will recognize all of it. Not particularly inspired. The RPG mechanics are de-emphasized here to a great extent, though you can upgrade your gear and level up. As a survival horror experience, it’s merely okay. The battles are the most interesting thing about the game, as they actually manage to build some tension with the advancing undead. The presentation is appealing too, so long as you like pixel art. The audio keeps up its end, but again it’s more decent than good. Still, I have to give KEMCO and Hit-Point props. This isn’t their usual fare at all, and for a first attempt it’s solid.

Look, I know at least some of the people reading this share my odd affection for KEMCO and its games. If that’s you, you’ll want to check out Raging Bytes. It’s different from the norm for the publisher, and it’s competently done. Nothing about it is going to bowl anyone over, but it’s quirky, self-aware, and fairly enjoyable. That’s two KEMCO games now with ‘Raging‘ in the title that are different and better than the usual. Might be something to it.

SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5

New Releases

Toadomination ($4.99)

All about the –ations today, I see. This is a roguelite twin-stick shooter with bullet hell elements. You know, like Enter the Gungeon. There’s nothing particularly unique about this one other than the hero being a toad, but the price is reasonable enough that you might want to take a bite on it anyway.

Colormitation ($3.99)

A color mixing puzzle game. You’re given a target canvas with different colors on it and need to match the colors on your canvas as fast as you can. If it’s in your basic palette, no problem. Otherwise you’ll have to mix the colors you have to create the target color. It seems fine for what it is.

The Bin Bunch

Farming Simulator – Farm, Tractor, Experience Logic Games Nintendo Switch Edition ($6.99)

Paint Bowl ($0.99)


(North American eShop, US Prices)

MLB The Show 23 is the latest Nintendo Switch Online Game Trials title, and it has been discounted appropriately as a result. Other than that, it’s a decent but mostly familiar list of discounts. The outbox is mostly junk, but give it a look anyway. It might be your kind of junk, after all.

Select New Games on Sale

RWBY Arrowfell ($19.49 from $29.99 until 7/14)
Tad the Lost Explorer ($25.99 from $39.99 until 7/15)
MLB The Show 23 ($29.99 from $59.99 until 7/17)
MLB The Show 23 Digital Deluxe ($49.99 from $9.99 until 7/17)
Quick Race ($3.84 from $5.49 until 7/21)
Ship of Fools ($9.74 from $14.99 until 7/23)
Blasphemous ($6.24 from $24.99 until 7/23)
Thymesia: Cloud Version ($20.09 from $29.99 until 7/23)
Best Forklift Operator ($14.79 from $19.99 until 7/24)
Demon Turf ($12.49 from $24.99 until 7/26)
Demon Turf: Neon Splash ($3.49 from $4.99 until 7/26)
BPM Bullets Per Minute ($12.49 from $24.99 until 7/26)
Garlic ($11.99 from $14.99 until 7/28)
Marsupilami Hoobadventure ($9.99 from $29.99 until 7/28)
Pulling No Punches ($7.49 from $9.99 until 7/28)

Undergrave ($3.74 from $4.99 until 7/28)
Black Jack Waifu Tour ($2.70 from $4.50 until 7/28)
Herodes ($3.74 from $4.99 until 7/28)
Asterix & Obelix XXL 3 ($3.99 from $19.99 until 7/28)
Asterix & Obelix XXXL ($15.99 from $39.99 until 7/28)
Breakers Collection ($14.99 from $19.99 until 7/28)
Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders ($7.49 from $29.99 until 7/28)
Orn: The Tiny Forest Sprite ($1.99 from $8.99 until 7/28)
The Samurai Collection ($4.99 from $9.99 until 7/28)
Tinhead ($2.49 from $4.99 until 7/28)
Indigo 7 Quest for Love ($2.99 from $14.99 until 7/28)
NEW Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja ($14.99 from $29.99 until 7/28)
My Little Prince: A Jigsaw Puzzle Tale ($2.99 from $3.99 until 7/28)
The Tale of Clouds and Wind ($2.49 from $4.99 until 7/28)
Equestrian Training ($9.99 from $19.99 until 7/28)

Wild Dogs ($7.49 from $9.99 until 7/28)
Gear.Club Unlimited ($1.99 from $14.99 until 7/28)
Time of War, Arkano’90 ($10.99 from $14.99 until 7/28)
Dino Puzzler World ($1.99 from $14.99 until 7/28)
My Universe: Green Adventure ($12.49 from $24.99 until 7/28)
My Universe: My Baby ($4.99 from $24.99 until 7/28)
Sokolor ($3.74 from $4.99 until 7/28)
Take Off: The Flight Simulator ($7.49 from $14.99 until 7/29)

Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, July 11th

ANIMUS ($1.99 from $7.99 until 7/11)
ANIMUS: Harbinger ($1.99 from $7.99 until 7/11)
ANIMUS: Revenant ($5.28 from $22.99 until 7/11)
Bramble: The Mountain King ($25.49 from $29.99 until 7/11)
Bullet Battle Evolution ($2.24 from $14.99 until 7/11)
Bunker Life ($9.74 from $14.99 until 7/11)
Car+Toon Race: Rally Valley Champ ($3.40 from $10.99 until 7/11)
Counter Crossline: Crime War ($4.64 from $14.99 until 7/11)
Counter Delta: Bullet Rain ($4.64 from $14.99 until 7/11)
Counter Recon 2: The New War ($7.49 from $14.99 until 7/11)
Counter Recon: The First Mission ($3.44 from $14.99 until 7/11)
Crime Busters: Strike Area ($9.74 from $14.99 until 7/11)
Dark Water: Slime Invader ($2.99 from $14.99 until 7/11)
Dead Rain: New Zombie Virus ($5.49 from $10.99 until 7/11)
Demong Hunter ($1.99 from $7.99 until 7/11)

Disney Speedstorm ($23.99 from $29.99 until 7/11)
Dungeon Limbus ($3.44 from $14.99 until 7/11)
Girls Tank Battle ($1.99 from $10.99 until 7/11)
Haunted Dawn: Zombie Apocalypse ($2.99 from $14.99 until 7/11)
Haunted Zombie School ($4.64 from $14.99 until 7/11)
Haunted Zombie Slaughter ($9.74 from $14.99 until 7/11)
Last 4 Alive: Escape from Zombies ($2.19 from $10.99 until 7/11)
Modern War: Tank Battle ($4.64 from $14.99 until 7/11)
REDDEN: 100denarii ($1.99 from $7.99 until 7/11)
Space Genesis ($2.99 from $14.99 until 7/11)
Space Stella: Unknown Planet ($2.99 from $14.99 until 7/11)
World Class Champion Soccer ($5.49 from $10.99 until 7/11)
World War: Prologue ($9.74 from $14.99 until 7/11)
World War: Tank Battle ($4.64 from $14.99 until 7/11)
Zombie Is Planting ($1.99 from $10.99 until 7/11)

That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with more new releases, more sales, more reviews, and perhaps some news. I’m once again behind schedule, but I’ll keep trying to get on top of it all. I hope you all have a magnificent Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!

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