SwitchArcade Round-Up: ‘Cuphead’ and ‘A Dark Room’ Reviews, ‘Castlevania Anniversary Collection’ News, ‘Mortal Kombat 11’ and ‘Dragon’s Dogma’ Release Today, and More

Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for April 23rd, 2019. As promised, we’ve got a nice big read for you today. We start off with a few tasty news nuggets, move into a couple of reviews, hop on over to today’s new releases, and finish up with a delightful taste of some sweet sales. We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there, so let’s get on the road!

News

Here’s The Full Line-Up and Release Details of ‘Castlevania Anniversary Collection’

With the first of Konami’s anniversary collections behind us, details are finally coming out on the next in the series. We already knew half of the games that would be coming on the Castlevania Anniversary Collection, but Konami has revealed the other half along with the collection’s release date and price. The set will include Castlevania (NES), Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest (NES), Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse (NES), Super Castlevania 4 (Super NES), Castlevania: Bloodlines (Genesis), Castlevania The Adventure (Game Boy), Castlevania 2: Belmont’s Revenge (Game Boy), and Kid Dracula (NES). The latter is particularly interesting as it was never released in English before. The cost will be $19.99 and will launch on May 16th.

‘Raiden V: Director’s Cut’ Confirmed for Switch Release

The classic shoot-em-up series Raiden is celebrating its 25th anniversary. As part of the festivities, Raiden V will be making its way to the Switch this June in the form of Raiden V: Director’s Cut. The game will be available both digitally and physically, with the physical version including a special soundtrack CD. Raiden V has released on a few platforms since its initial launch on the Xbox One back in early 2017. Its reviews haven’t been the strongest, but fans of the genre or the series should find it of interest anyway.

Pre-Orders Open for the Physical Version of ‘Lumines Remastered’ This Friday

Ah, good old Lumines. You just can’t have a handheld generation these days without it, if you ask me. And the Switch did indeed get its own Lumines a while back, but it was only available digitally. If you want a copy of the lovely Lumines Remastered to keep on your shelf, Limited Run Games has you covered. Physical versions of both the Switch and PlayStation 4 versions of the game will be made available through the publisher, with open pre-orders for the regular editions kicking off this coming Friday at 7 AM PT. You’ll have until May 10th to get your order in, but provided you do it before that date, you’ll be sure to get your copy. As for the limited versions, there are two this time, and they do indeed include a bunch of cool goodies. I suspect they’re going to go very fast, though.

Reviews

Cuphead ($19.99)

Cuphead and the Switch are a match made in heaven. I mean, Cuphead is a great game no matter where you play it, but the fact that you can just pick up your system and take this game with you wherever is such an awesome thing. Apart from some slightly lengthy loading times, the game sacrifices very little in its transition to Nintendo’s platform. If all you’re wondering is if the port is good, let me assure you that it is superb. You can get your Cuphead on wherever and whenever you want.

If you’re somehow not familiar with Cuphead, though, we should probably explain it a little. Imagine a game that looks shockingly similar to vintage animation in a way no other game has before. Imagine the toughest bosses from games like Contra or Metal Slug. Imagine the general moves and spot-on controls of games like Mega Man X. Now toss all of that in your mental blender and you’ll probably end up with something slightly resembling Cuphead. Your cup-headed character has made a poorly thought-out deal with the devil and the only way to save yourself is to do the devil’s bidding and collect on some outstanding contracts with various other creatures throughout the land. They’re naturally not in a cooperative mood about it.

You’ll go it alone or with a friend, but whichever way you choose to go, be prepared for a real challenge. The stages aren’t particularly wild, but the bosses are often huge, always multi-phase, and your chances of beating any of them before you learn their patterns are almost zero. They’re extremely tough, and by now it’s safe to say notoriously so. It’s a very classical style of challenge. You’ll get rocked around a bit, learn how to handle the stuff that killed you, then get caught by something else. After a bit of education at the school of hard knocks, you’ll find yourself delicately dancing around previously lethal situations until you’ve finally cleared enough hurdles to bring the boss down.

Some people aren’t going to take well to that kind of learning curve, and if that’s you, I can understand if you want to take a pass on Cuphead. The game does have an easier option but you can’t actually see the full game through unless you play it on the normal difficulty. Perhaps more importantly, I think a lot of Cuphead‘s value is found in the struggle. I think the game could certainly still be a treat without the high level of difficulty thanks to its presentation, but it would certainly lose a great deal in the process. Anyway, no point in talking about hypotheticals. The game that is here is quite hard, and its easier option doesn’t let you see the whole game. If you’re not okay with all of that, the game’s other merits aren’t going to amount to much for you.

If you are okay with that, you’ll really love Cuphead. Its look and sound are unique, and every inch of the game oozes with personality. The controls are excellent, and the stages and bosses will test your mastery of them in a wide variety of ways. You’ll think you’ve seen all the possible tricks the game could throw at you only to find new patterns to learn and new attacks to dodge around every corner. It’s fun and highly satisfying in the way that all the best run-and-gun platformers are. Mechanically, it’s not really doing anything particularly new or special, but it nails the fundamentals of the genre as well as any game ever has. It’s also quite lengthy, with a straight run through the game taking several hours at the very least.

Cuphead isn’t just a gorgeous game with a fantastic, unique look. It’s also an amazing side-scrolling run-and-gun game with an emphasis on incredible bosses. The game is packed full with the kind of encounters that have you talking around the virtual water cooler with other players, swapping strategies, tips, and stories about how each of you managed to pull through. If that kind of game is your jam, it’s an absolute must-have. If you’re not a fan of games that subscribe to a “tough love" philosophy or just aren’t into boss-focused games, you may want to pass on Cuphead despite its quality. It’s not for everyone, but for those who get into it, Cuphead is one for the history books.

SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5

A Dark Room ($6.99)

Is there anyone reading this site that hasn’t played A Dark Room yet but is actually checking out a review of the Switch version? I have to believe that number is pretty small, but I’m sure there are some folks out there that fit that bill. Well, whatever the case, A Dark Room is now available on the Switch and it’s still basically the same game that it is on mobile, albeit with a slightly different screen layout and a few extra perks. It’s a perfectly good way to experience the game, and it is indeed a game you should experience at least once.

Of course, this once again leaves us with the same problem that always comes up when writing about A Dark Room. This game is absolutely at its best when you know nothing whatsoever about it. Not that it’s not enjoyable enough on subsequent replays, but its surprises and twists are a lot of fun to discover on your own. Even telling you that there are surprises and twists feels like I’m spoiling something I shouldn’t. Just give it a shot and stick with it long enough for it to play its hand. It’s neat, trust me.

This Switch version benefits from having button controls, which work better for parts of the game and worse for others. It also uses the greater screen real estate afforded to it by spreading out the UI a little. It’s still just text and symbols on a plain background, though. And that is fine, because it lets your imagination fill in the blanks. That might sound like a cheap excuse but it works really well here. There are a couple of other extra secrets and such with this version, including one that is really well-hidden that I’m not going to say anything about.

Now, I happen to think that the sort of game that A Dark Room is works better on my phone than anywhere else, but this is a fine way to go about it too. If you haven’t played it, I encourage you to do that little thing. It’s a very unique game and not just for the experience it delivers; there are some interesting mechanics happening in this little world that will satisfy the more traditional gaming types. I only hope the game will eventually be joined by its intriguing follow-up, The Ensign, as the two games really complement each other nicely.

SwitchArcade Score: 4/5

New Releases

Mortal Kombat 11 ($59.99)

SwitchArcade Highlight!

Some games need little in the way of introductions, and thanks to WB’s well-oiled hype machine, a new Mortal Kombat installment is one of those. The popular fighting series makes its Switch debut with this latest chapter, setting an initial roster of more than 20 characters against each other. As usual, the story is a highlight here, with plenty of content to enjoy even if you don’t have a friend to play against. It’s absolutely bananas in the usual Mortal Kombat tradition, and involves so much timey-wimey nonsense that you can’t help but have a good time. The Switch port has prioritized a smooth gameplay speed over all else, so it certainly looks a good bit rougher in still shots when compared to its peers on other platforms. But the play’s the thing, and this plays just fine. Portability is also a compelling extra when compared to the more graphically-sophisticated versions on other systems.

Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen ($29.99)

SwitchArcade Highlight!

After finishing with the development of Devil May Cry 4, a good chunk of the team started working on a pretty odd new game. Combining elements of Capcom’s own Monster Hunter with a combat system that clearly takes a few cues from the Devil May Cry games and wraps it all up in a Western-style open world RPG theme, Dragon’s Dogma sold reasonably well upon its initial release but not well enough to get a sequel. It did get an expansion, however, and that expanded version of the game is more or less what we have here on the Switch. I feel like a lot of people slept on this game at the time of its initial release, and that’s unfortunate. It’s quite a good game once you get into it, and having it on a handheld is simply wonderful. That said, this particular style of game has a some tough competition on the Switch and this game’s age sometimes shows when stacked against it. Nevertheless, it’s hard to argue with it at a discount price like this.

Beyond Enemy Lines: Covert Operations ($13.99)

Lest you think I’m going to recommend every single game that released today, here’s one that I definitely don’t recommend. I know fans of realistic military shooter games don’t have a lot of options available on the Switch thanks to Activision skipping on Call of Duty ports. You might look at something like this with its okay screenshots and reasonable price, and think it may at least scratch the itch for a bit. But if you’re feeling that way, I’d recommend just going back and having another roll with Modern Combat because that’s like steak compared to this. My understanding is that the development team for this game was very, very small. I respect what they were able to achieve given their means, but the result isn’t very good.

Sales

Pretty slim pickings for today, or at least it is at the time of writing. We’ve got a pre-order sale up for the upcoming Saints Row: The Third and an assortment of other less exciting discounts. In the outbox today, we’ve got several games that will almost surely be back on sale again before too long. Well, that’s how it goes on a Tuesday sometimes.

New Games on Sale

Saints Row: The Third ($35.99 from $39.99 until 5/10)
Tinboy ($0.79 from $1.99 until 5/8)
Assault on Metaltron ($3.49 from $6.99 until 5/6)
Pillar ($3.99 from $7.99 until 5/12)
Overdriven Reloaded: Special Edition ($0.99 from $7.99 until 5/8)
Next Up Hero ($4.99 from $19.99 until 5/1)
InnerSpace ($4.99 from $19.99 until 5/1)

Sales Ending Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 24th

AeternoBlade ($11.99 from $14.99 until 4/24)
Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 ($29.99 from $49.99 until 4/24)
ATV Drift & Tricks ($13.99 from $34.99 until 4/24)
Flashback ($9.99 from $19.99 until 4/24)
Moto Racer 4 ($13.99 from $34.99 until 4/24)
Red Game Without a Great Name ($1.49 from $2.99 until 4/24)
SmuggleCraft ($4.99 from $9.99 until 4/24)
Syberia 1 & 2 ($13.99 from $34.99 until 4/24)
Yume Nikki: Dream Diary ($13.99 from $19.99 until 4/24)

That’ll finish things up for today, friends. Tomorrow’s looking like a pretty quiet day so far, with just a couple of new releases on the schedule. If things stay that way, I’ll probably have another review or two for you to fill out the article, but we’ll see. Have a good day and, as always, thanks for reading!



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