It’s been over a month since the last time I put anything up here, so anyone who WAS reading the blog before I went off into my crazed FFXIV addiction is probably gone. I guess I can start from scratch!
I haven’t been buying many of the Big Damn Switch Releases lately. Part of that is that, well, I’m playing an MMO and I have learned to curtail my spending habits when I am playing an MMO and part of it is that I got kind of burned by Smash Brothers and New Super Mario Bros, neither of which really clicked with me. There’s a new Fire Emblem out, and I want to play it, but I am given to understand that it’s a couple hundred hours worth of time sink and that terrifies me.
On the other hand, I am absolutely in love with the way that publishers seem to be digging deep into the obscure corners of their back catalog and reviving stuff for Nintendo’s Little Console That Could, so maybe I will rave about that a bit.
The hook of Lifeless Planet is that you’re an astronaut on a one-way mission to explore an uninhabited planet, but when you get there you find a row of telephone poles (power lines maybe?) leading to a deserted Soviet-era town. Then things get weird.
It’s not a particularly pretty game, but it kills it in terms of atmosphere and mystery.
It’s also a 32-bit Mac game, and Apple is killing 32-bit apps with macOS 15. Getting a Switch version comes at the perfect time.
Persian Nights: Sands of Wonders is a hidden-object adventure game I played a couple of years back when I was in the middle of a crazy HOG binge. It’s a game that’s definitely on the short & easy side, and it’s a 64-bit game so there aren’t any compatibility concerns on the horizon, but it was also $1.49 on sale and I wanted to see what a HOG would look like on the Switch’s built-in screen.
It looks pretty good! This isn’t the best example, but the graphics are really sharp.
Controls-wise… it’s a bit of a mixed bag. I tend to play HOGs on a low-end Windows tablet, even if it chugs a bit when asked to keep up with even the low requirements most of these games ask, and touch screen controls are definitely the way to go. Sadly, the Switch version demands controller use even in handheld mode.
Still, a buck-fifty is literally pocket change and these games are always good for a short burst of feeling like you’re using your brain, even if just a tiny bit.
Blades of Time should never have gotten a re-issue. I’m not sure how much it cost Gaijin Entertainment to make back in 2012, but I’m absolutely certain they didn’t make their money back. It was a fan-service-heavy hack-and-slasher that came out at the tail end of the generation and got hit hard by the first whispers of the new puritanism that we are still dealing with today. I particularly adored the multiplayer, when I could find opponents, and I almost NEVER dip into the multiplayer for any game.
It’s another game that suffers from compatibility issues on existing platforms. The Mac version stopped working a couple of OS revisions ago and the publisher dropped it because it wasn’t making them enough money to fix the issues. There’s a Windows version, of course – that’s where I played it originally – but I have had so many things break on recent versions of Windows 10 that I have limited hope for future compatibility. The 360 version never got added to the backwards compatibility list, either.
The Switch version apparently has some technical issues of its own, but it’s on a stable hardware platform. For all five of us who liked the game, that’s a good thing.
I cannot say enough good things about all of the arcade ports that are coming to the Switch. Some of them, admittedly, are barely more than a ROM dump with an emulator wrapper… and then there’s the Sega Ages series of releases, which do things like take the original Virtua Racing, clean it up and upscale it to 1080P with polygon edges so sharp you could cut yourself.
Oh, and they added 8-player races, online leaderboards, and a plethora of ways to turn down the original difficulty so mere mortals might actually be able to finish an arcade-mode race against the clock now and again.
Back in The Day, Virtua Racing was a title that I stopped paying attention as soon as the first Daytona USA cabinet hit the arcade, because I was quite shallow. Twenty-five-years later, I can appreciate it a little more. I can also recognize how carefully-tuned it was to suck the player’s money away. Seriously, this thing cost four times as much as your average arcade machine to play and demanded near-perfection from the player.
Now that practicing is free, I may even finish a race on “Medium” without needing to give myself extra time on the clock. My best record so far was finishing with only a five second buffer, so I’m getting closer…
Oh, and Sega Saturn-era Mahjong games. Seriously, what will they NOT port to Switch at this point? We’ve gotten Super Real Mahjong PV, PVI, and P7 so far, and there are hints that MightyCraft is considering porting SRM Graffiti to fill out the earlier entries.
I will stop here, but not for lack of stuff to talk about. The Switch is getting weird indie games. It’s getting revived obscure games from the 360 era. It’s getting 80s-and-90s arcade games, Saturn games, naughty Shogi training games, Sega Master System games… when it comes to power, it’s not going head-to-head with dedicated consoles, but for this stuff it doesn’t need raw power… just a publisher willing to go “eh, might make a few bucks” and throw something up on the eShop.