SwitchArcade Round-Up: Reviews Featuring ‘Super Mario RPG’, ‘KarmaZoo’, and ‘Yohane the Parhelion’, Plus New Releases and Sales

Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for November 27th, 2023. We’re starting the week with a ton of reviews. I’ve got my looks at Super Mario RPG, KarmaZoo, and 9 Years of Shadows, while Mikhail takes a gander at Yohane the Parhelion, the Back to the Future DLC for PowerWash Simulator, and The King of Fighters XIII Global Match. We’ve got a few new releases to check out, but they’re largely dubious. After that, we wrap things up with the usual lists of new and expiring sales. Let’s get going!

Reviews & Mini-Views

Super Mario RPG ($59.99)

Way back in May of 1996, I was one of the many Nintendo fans trying to hold out for the Nintendo 64. It felt like it was getting constantly delayed, and with the Sony PlayStation and SEGA Saturn out and showing what the next generation looked like, it was getting harder and harder to just sit tight with my Super NES. I had been hoping to pass the time with that cool Virtual Boy I picked up at a Winnipeg K-Mart on August 14th 1995 for three-hundred and twenty-one Canadian dollars, but it was clear that it wasn’t quite going to fill the gap. Luckily, there was a great new Super NES game coming out. My beloved Square Soft had teamed up with Nintendo to make a fancy-looking RPG starring Mario. Weird, but let’s go.

So I paid just over a hundred Canadian dollars, counting taxes, to pick up Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. I had played Final Fantasy III and Chrono Trigger for months, so this would probably carry me at least through until the Nintendo 64 came out. What would RPGs look like on that thing? We still don’t have a clear answer. But I digress. I started playing Super Mario RPG that Friday after finishing school for the day, planning to dedicate my weekend to it. It was really good! The action bits were really novel, and it felt like there were lots of secrets to find. I couldn’t stop playing, until Sunday when I had completely finished everything in the game. I sold it on to a friend for ninety-five dollars on Monday, with said funds used towards buying a SEGA Saturn after yet another Nintendo 64 delay announcement. Sometimes I regretted selling the game, but it took a while before I really missed it.

The takeaways from this story are many, and I’ll leave some of them for the people of the future to sort out. For today, I simply want to emphasize a couple of things about Super Mario RPG and its highly faithful remake. First, the game is so fun that you’ll want to play it for days straight until you finish it. Second, this game is short. Probably shorter than you remember. This remake streamlines a few things that make it ever so slightly shorter, even. Third, the whole affair is fluffy enough that it’s not the most memorable of adventures. Sure, the characters are great. It was fun to see Bowser Koopa as an actual character for once, and some people really like Mallow and Geno for reasons I can’t quite fathom. It’s exactly what a Mario RPG should be, and I think that works today as well as it did when Twister was playing in the local cinema. Yeah, we used to have whole movies about tornados. It was pretty rad.

Anyway, this is a full remake. It’s not pre-rendered CG anymore, and that’s a great change. It’s a bit more stylized, and I think that’s awesome. The music has been re-arranged, and you can switch to the old soundtrack if you prefer it. I like the new stuff. By and large, the game plays the same as before. The UI has seen a lot of changes, and you get these helpful little prompts in battles to assist you with pushing the buttons at the right time. There are some new Chrono Trigger-style Triple Moves that require you to fill up a gauge by executing command attacks. They feel kind of gimmicky but are cool enough. You’re also rewarded for chaining successful timed command attacks, which is nice.

Some post-game content has been added, mostly adding up to some new strong boss rematches. I also liked the addition of a detailed bestiary, as filling that out adds some extra things to do. Oh, there’s fast travel now! That’s a good thing. And while I didn’t use it myself, there’s a new Breezy difficulty setting for those who just want to chill a bit. Coin and inventory limits have been dealt with, allowing you to pocket more money and use a storage box if you need to stow some items. By and large, Nintendo has left alone what worked, addressed some things that didn’t, and added a whole lot of options for players to tailor their experience to an extent. It took twenty-seven years, but I’m finally fully vindicated for selling my Super NES copy. This remake surpasses it in every way, unless you really can’t deal with Peach being named Peach now. Which is her name. You’re lucky they’re letting you keep Bowser.

I think Super Mario RPG is a really good remake of a classic game. It makes a lot of improvements while staying true to the core of the original, and that’s all you can really hope for from something like this. Just keep in mind that its faithfulness extends to the game’s length, with the whole thing taking around fifteen to twenty hours to bring to a close. For some that will be a negative, and others a positive. At least for my part, I really appreciate a quick-paced RPG that feels like all killer and no filler. Something I can actually replay without setting aside a ton of time. If that sounds appealing to you too, then you’ll want to add this to your library.

SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5

KarmaZoo ($9.99)

I love the idea behind KarmaZoo. You pick your character from a wide range of unlockables, each with their own abilities, and then head into platforming stages that need to be tackled in cooperation with other players, up to eight locally or ten online. By helping out others, for example by standing on switches or shielding other players from harm, you’ll earn karma. That karma can be used to unlock various things, most importantly the extra characters. The levels are fun to play and I had no problem getting a full house online thanks to the cross-play feature, but in practice I found that it was really hard finishing any of the stage sets this way. Either people didn’t have the optimal mix of abilities, or they just weren’t coordinating in a helpful way. If you can amass a nice group of people locally, it’s a lot easier to manage.

That said, despite the difficulties in getting everyone to work together, the magical moments where we understood each other wordlessly and got things done were precious. Indeed, those moments of order in the chaos were more enjoyable by some measure than playing locally with friends where we could easily sort things out. I also really liked the pace of things unlocking, and trying out each new character. KarmaZoo is an odd platformer that isn’t going to work for everyone, but I think those who both have the right context and are less concerned about the goal and more with the journey will find a lot to like here.

SwitchArcade Score: 4/5

9 Years of Shadows ($19.99)

I really like the game here. 9 Years of Shadows is a Metroidvania-style game that feels like it’s aiming for the more classic take on the concept. Look, I enjoy a good Souls/Metroidvania mash-up as much as anyone else, but it sometimes feels like that approach has overwhelmed the entire sub-genre. 9 Years of Shadows seems squarely informed by Castlevania: Symphony of the Night with a healthy dash of Mega Man X, and that’s a combo I’m more in the mood for. You get that nice exploration element with a gorgeous aesthetic and lots of secrets to find, and then some wild pattern-based boss battles that end with a stupidly large explosion.

The story is interesting, the upgrades are cool, and I really did enjoy every boss fight. It’s a bit easy outside of the boss battles, but the lack of any sort of leveling system means you’re going to have to rise to the challenge when things do get tough. All in all, I really enjoyed this game and I would heartily recommend it to any Metroidvania fan… but not on Switch. The framerate was all over the place the whole time I played, and I ran into a lot of bugs including multiple area transitions where the game simply froze on a white screen. With how far apart save points can be, that’s a really unpleasant thing to have happen. I hope it can be patched to at least chase away those bugs, even if the framerate can’t be sorted.

9 Years of Shadows is a well-made Metroidvania that gets most things right. The presentation is excellent, the map design is solid, the boss battles are exciting, and the setting and story are intriguing. It doesn’t have any particularly new ideas, but it executes on the familiar ones well. It’s just unfortunate that technical issues and bugs drag down the overall experience on Switch. Make sure to check this game out somewhere, but this Switch version should probably be your last choice for doing so.

SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5

Yohane the Parhelion: Blaze in the Deepblue ($29.99)

Whenever a game based on a licensed property is released, I’m curious about whether it is going to end up being a great experience or a cheap cash-in. I also like to see whether said licensed games end up being good introductions to the IP in question. As an example, my first taste of Dragon Ball was FighterZ if you believe it, and I didn’t know much about Fist of the North Star before Sega’s Yakuza-like game. Yohane the Parhelion: Blaze in the Deepblue is a 2D Metroidvania official spin-off of Love Live, which I’m only familiar with through a bit of the mobile game.

Unlike other Love Live games that are usually in the rhythm game genre, and I’m not aware of any others, this one takes the franchise to the 2D Metroidvania genre, and it mostly works out well. Right off the bat, I’ll say that if Inti Creates wanted this to be a great introduction to Metroidvanias for Love Live fans, it accomplished that. Yohane the Parhelion: Blaze in the Deepblue is a polished experience that has a few interesting gameplay systems, but I was hoping for more given the developer.

As mostly an outsider to Love Live, Yohane the Parhelion: Blaze in the Deepblue has impressive voice acting, great music, and superb visuals. It also has a good spread of abilities and is very accessible with its save room system. The weapon system and crafting in general feel a bit tacked on though.

I played Yohane the Parhelion: Blaze in the Deepblue on both Switch and Steam Deck. Both platforms deliver a great experience. If you do have a high refresh rate monitor though, I’d recommend getting the Steam version since it supports 120fps.

I wasn’t too surprised at the asking price for Yohane the Parhelion: Blaze in the Deepblue, but it feels like a lot of that has to do with the license rather than the game. It isn’t that Yohane the Parhelion: Blaze in the Deepblue feels overpriced, I just was hoping for a bit more from the systems.

Yohane the Parhelion: Blaze in the Deepblue is a great introduction to the Metroidvania genre for newcomers, but I was hoping for more given the developers’ pedigree. It is possible we see tweaks and updates bring more to the table, but right now Yohane the Parhelion: Blaze in the Deepblue is a mechanically solid good Metroidvania, but not a great one as I had hoped for. If you are a Love Live fan, you likely will have an even better time with it. If you aren’t, this is a great and accessible game that might make you a Love Live fan. I just hope Inti Creates does more for this game in updates. -Mikhail Madnani

SwitchArcade Score: 4/5

PowerWash Simulator Back to the Future Special Pack ($7.99)

PowerWash Simulator is one of my favorite games in many years. I use it to relax, and have it installed on every platform I own. Since launching on Xbox and PC, I’ve now played it the most on PS5 and Switch thanks to quality ports and gyro support. PowerWash Simulator has seen free and paid DLC so far, but the DLC pack I was most excited about recently released in the form of the PowerWash Simulator Back to the Future Special Pack.

As a huge fan of both PowerWash Simulator and the Back to the Future movies, this DLC should’ve been an easy home run right? Well, it is good, but I was hoping for more. Before getting into the DLC, PowerWash Simulator had a nasty save deletion or saving bug, and thankfully that has been fixed with the patch that was released around the time this DLC went live.

PowerWash Simulator Back to the Future Special Pack includes five levels: Doc Brown’s Van, Time Machine, Hill Valley Clocktower, Holomax Theater, and Doc’s Time Train. I was hoping for a few more interesting levels, but the real issue is that you aren’t in the actual movie universe here, but an outsider on the set. This feels like a downgrade on that front compared to prior DLC releases.

The levels included are good, but you likely will complete this in just over an hour if you’ve played a lot of PowerWash Simulator already. This was the DLC where we should’ve had music or more done with the levels to justify the asking price. More PowerWash is never bad, but this is the first time I find it hard to recommend something relating to it at full price.

PowerWash Simulator’s Back to the Future Special Pack feels like a missed opportunity. It isn’t bad by any means, but just should’ve done more with the Back to the Future property. While the SpongeBob DLC felt a bit overpriced, it did enough to justify a full price purchase. The PowerWash Simulator Back to the Future Special Pack feels less worth the asking price comparatively even as a huge fan of both PowerWash Simulator and Back to the Future. If you, like me, love the game, paying $8 for more levels isn’t hard to justify, but this is definitely the weakest DLC pack overall for the game. -Mikhail Madnani

SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5

The King of Fighters XIII Global Match ($19.99)

When The King of Fighters XIII Global Match was announced, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My experience with the base game actually happened after I loved The King of Fighters XIV, but thought The King of Fighters XIII looked so much better thanks to its amazing sprite work. So far, I’ve been playing and enjoying The King of Fighters XIII on Steam Deck, but was hopeful for this Nintendo Switch version both online and offline. I love it, but wish they did a bit more.

The King of Fighters XIII has always been billed as the ultimate 2D sprite-based fighter, and it definitely is up there with Street Fighter III: Third Strike. So what is The King of Fighters XIII Global Match? If you aren’t familiar with SNK’s recent re-releases, the developer has worked with other teams to bring rollback netcode and other enhancements to its classic fighters like Garou, The King of Fighters 2002, and more. The King of Fighters XIII Global Match is basically the best version of The King of Fighters XIII right now, and the only version that actually plays well online in my testing.

I always thought The King of Fighters XIII was good, but I think The King of Fighters XIII Global Match is going to be a mainstay on my Switch thanks to how good it feels to play with my Hori Split Pad or 8BitDo controller. I do not recommend it if you play with Joy-Cons only because the inputs are very annoying on that controller. I ended up playing it more with my arcade stick as shown in the photo in this review, and it works great.

In terms of content, The King of Fighters XIII Global Match includes everything the prior release had, but the rollback netcode enhancements and lobby features make this an easy recommendation especially at its low asking price of $19.99. Now, I would actually consider The King of Fighters XIII Global Match Deluxe Edition as the real release, because I always value galleries and museum-like modes in re-releases.

The King of Fighters XIII Global Match Deluxe Edition on Switch includes a separate standalone The King of Fighters XIII Global Match Artbook & Soundtrack app. This app has a ton of scans from the game including characters, and more. The soundtrack part features 36 songs. I don’t know if this applies to the PS4 version also, but I found this app a bit laggy when changing tracks or pages.

I’m glad SNK finally brought The King of Fighters XIII to modern platforms with netcode that makes it worth playing online. Despite the few UI issues, The King of Fighters XIII Global Match is an easy recommendation on Switch as long as you don’t try playing it with the pitiful d-pad on the Joy-Cons. Hopefully this is the start of the modern SNK re-releases finally hitting Switch as well. –Mikhail Madnani

SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5

New Releases

Criss Cross ($25.99)

I have to admit, this visual novel doesn’t exactly make me want to jump, jump. The premise is extremely vague, the characters aren’t particularly interesting, and the whole thing just sort of starts and then ends without a whole lot of fanfare. Rolling this price for a five-hour visual novel without much to distinguish it feels a bit bold, but maybe it will find its audience.

The Bin Bunch

Master Ninja – Shuriken Killer ($7.99)

Zombies Rising xXx ($9.99)


(North American eShop, US Prices)

Some decent sales worth looking at today, including a variety of titles from Marvelous/XSEED and a few other goodies. Over in the outbox, the latest sales from ININ Games are finishing up. Plenty of Taito games and other nice games in there, so make sure you give it all a good look. Check those lists!

Select New Sales

Sunless Skies: Sovereign Edition ($9.99 from $24.99 until 11/29)
Sunless Sea: Zubmariner Edition ($6.79 from $19.99 until 11/29)
Mask of the Rose ($13.99 from $19.99 until 11/29)
Fight Crab ($9.99 from $19.99 until 12/1)
To the Moon ($8.39 from $11.99 until 12/1)
Finding Paradise ($8.39 from $11.99 until 12/1)
Faerie Afterlight ($13.99 from $19.99 until 12/1)
Totally Accurate Battle Simulator ($13.99 from $19.99 until 12/8)
Trinity Trigger ($23.99 from $39.99 until 12/9)
Melon Journey: Bittersweet Memories ($9.74 from $14.99 until 12/9)
BurgerTime Party! ($4.99 from $19.99 until 12/9)
Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle: LE ($19.49 from $29.99 until 12/9)
Corpse Party ($13.99 from $19.99 until 12/9)
Corpse Party: Blood Drive ($9.99 from $19.99 until 12/9)
Deadcraft ($9.99 from $19.99 until 12/9)

Freedom Planet ($4.49 from $14.99 until 12/9)
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town ($19.99 from $39.99 until 12/9)
Rune Factory 3 Special ($29.99 from $39.99 until 12/9)
Rune Factory 5 ($23.99 from $39.99 until 12/9)
Akiba’s Strip: Undead & Undressed DC ($19.49 from $29.99 until 12/9)
Akiba’s Strip: Hellbound & Debriefed ($9.99 from $19.99 until 12/9)
Gal Metal ($4.99 from $19.99 until 12/9)
Sakuna: Of Rice & Ruin ($19.49 from $29.99 until 12/9)
Heroland ($4.99 from $19.99 until 12/9)
Loop8: Summer of Gods ($24.99 from $49.99 until 12/9)
Fate/EXTELLA The Umbral Star ($19.99 from $39.99 until 12/9)
Senran Kagura Peach Ball ($8.99 from $29.99 until 12/9)
Senran Kagura Reflexions ($4.99 from $9.99 until 12/9)
No More Heroes ($13.99 from $19.99 until 12/9)
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle ($13.99 from $19.99 until 12/9)

Touhou: New World ($19.99 from $24.99 until 12/9)
Welcome Kokuri-san ($19.99 from $24.99 until 12/10)
NASCAR Heat Ultimate Edition+ ($14.99 from $24.99 until 12/15)
Evil Diary ($3.99 from $4.99 until 12/15)
Starlight Drifter ($15.99 from $19.99 until 12/15)
Sunwards ($7.50 from $15.00 until 12/17)
Yeah! Fighting Girl ($7.50 from $15.00 until 12/17)

Sales Ending Tomorrow, November 28th

Blazblue Cross Tag Battle ($4.59 from $19.99 until 11/28)
Bubble Bobble 4 Friends ($15.99 from $39.99 until 11/28)
Cannon Dancer: Osman ($8.99 from $29.99 until 11/28)
Clockwork Aquario ($2.99 from $19.99 until 11/28)
Code Shifter ($2.99 from $14.99 until 11/28)
Cotton 100% ($2.99 from $14.99 until 11/28)
Cotton Fantasy ($9.99 from $39.99 until 11/28)
Cube Creator X ($3.99 from $19.99 until 11/28)
Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade ($17.99 from $44.99 until 11/28)
Darius Cozmic Collection Console ($23.99 from $59.99 until 11/28)
Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX+ ($11.99 from $39.99 until 11/28)
G-Darius HD ($14.99 from $29.99 until 11/28)
Garden Buddies ($1.99 from $14.99 until 11/28)
Ground Divers ($8.99 from $14.99 until 11/28)
INSIDE ($1.99 from $19.99 until 11/28)

Kowloon High-School Chronicle ($9.99 from $19.99 until 11/28)
LIMBO ($1.99 from $9.99 until 11/28)
Little Devil: Foster Mayhem ($7.49 from $14.99 until 11/28)
Modern Combat Blackout ($1.99 from $7.99 until 11/28)
New Frontier Days Founding Pioneers ($2.99 from $9.99 until 11/28)
Ninja JaJaMaru: Great Yokai Battle + Hell ($5.99 from $19.99 until 11/28)
Ninja JaJaMaru: Retro Collection ($4.49 from $14.99 until 11/28)
Ninja JaJaMaru: The Lost RPGs ($3.89 from $12.99 until 11/28)
Panic Porcupine ($1.99 from $7.99 until 11/28)
Panorama Cotton ($2.99 from $14.99 until 11/28)
Shadows Over Loathing ($17.25 from $23.00 until 11/28)
Space Invaders Forever ($8.99 from $29.99 until 11/28)
Space Invaders Invincible Collection ($17.99 from $59.99 until 11/28)
Spelunker HD Deluxe ($4.99 from $24.99 until 11/28)
Taito Milestones ($11.99 from $39.99 until 11/28)

The Company Man ($4.99 from $19.99 until 11/28)
The Ninja Saviors ($5.99 from $19.99 until 11/28)
Ultracore ($1.99 from $19.99 until 11/28)
Umihara Kawase BaZooKa! ($2.99 from $29.99 until 11/28)
WitchSpring3 Re:Fine ($11.99 from $39.99 until 11/28)
Xiaomei & the Flame Dragon’s Fist ($10.49 from $14.99 until 11/28)

That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with more new releases, more sales, more reviews, and perhaps some news. No, Mikhail and I are nowhere near finished with all the reviews that will be hitting this week. Tis the season, eh? That said, I will irresponsibly be heading out for some karaoke tomorrow with my friends. A month later than the original plan, but that’s fine. I hope you all have a magnificent Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!

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