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Messages - NWR_Neal

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TalkBack / Stonefly Launching on Switch in June
« on: May 05, 2021, 05:27:07 AM »

The chill mech adventure game from the developers of Creature in the Well is coming next month.

Stonefly, a mech adventure game from Flight School Studios, is coming to Nintendo Switch on June 1.

The game stars Annika Stonefly, an inventor who loses her father's precious mech and has to explore the world around her to find it. The gameplay consists of seeking out resources to build mechs, exploring new regions, and experiencing the narrative of Annika's struggle. You can read more about Stonefly from our preview and if you're curious for more information, the developer is releasing Stonefly Snapshot videos, beginning with the video below.

Podcast Discussion / Episode 270: New Pokemon Snapchat
« on: April 30, 2021, 09:29:00 AM »

We go deep on New Pokemon Snap and also hit up your listener mail about F-Zero, story games, and more.

Budding photographer John Rairdin sits down with Neal Ronaghan to talk about New Pokemon Snap. John reviewed it for Nintendo World Report and both hosts have things to say about the sequel 22 years in the making. But before that, Neal sings the praises of Fly Together and the pair dive into the bucket of listener mail. We even gave away a game! And the Balan Wonderworld? Man alive, I didn't believe it myself. Enjoy the show and hey - maybe send in some listener mail of your own? We might have more giveaways if so.

Send in some listener mail and let us know what you want to see from this revival. Feel to harass the Twitter account as well.

TalkBack / Fly Together! (Switch) Review
« on: April 29, 2021, 11:09:45 AM »

It turns out that eight-player co-op flying chaos rules.

When I reviewed Northplay’s previous Switch game, Conduct Together, I compared it to Flight Control. With that in mind, maybe it should have been obvious that their next game was going to be Fly Together, a worthy follow-up to the multiplayer fun of Conduct Together that features similar flight-path-planning gameplay evocative of the early iPhone classic. With shockingly good pointer controls, delightfully chaotic eight-player local play, and a winning art aesthetic, Fly Together is a stellar and playful action puzzler.

Some of the excellence comes with the caveat that the gameplay soars when the player count is increased. While things are looking up in 2021, getting a group of eight players to surround a TV and share Joy-Con is still a tall order. Much like Conduct Together, it goes from serene puzzle game in solo mode to frenetic shouting chaos in multiplayer. Your goal is to guide planes from airport to airport, delivering passengers, luggage, and more along the way. That’s done by selecting a plane and drawing their path to another airport, avoiding any obstacles or other planes along the way. Levels are split up into various worlds, all of which deepen the complexity and challenge. On top of that, you complete different missions that help expand your personal airport, where you can buy and store a growing fleet of vehicles. Throughout the whole game, you always have something to strive for, whether it’s a new plane, more levels, or topping your previous high score. Levels are scored on a star system, where completing flights increases your score with the goal being to cross the threshold to earn all available stars in the allotted time. The greatest reward, however, is the theme song that has lyrics that just describe the game’s features and options with a cheesy, synth-y backing track. The rest of the music is good, but that theme song is virtuous.

The optimal way to play is with a single Joy-Con using the pointer to control your on-screen cursor. While I’ve had struggles with some pointer-controlled Switch games in the past, the implementation here works better than I’ve seen elsewhere. Not every button is used in gameplay, so it’s very easy to reset your pointer if it gets off track by just pointing at the screen and pressing a button. Obviously the pointer controls are best on a TV, but even in tabletop mode, I found them functional with one or two players. The other control options are a little rougher around the edges, largely revolving around controlling an on-screen cursor with an analog stick. It’s all functional, but I vastly prefer the pointer controls. I do commend the flexibility of supporting all regular controller configurations, though.

The co-op is the centerpiece, but the secret weapon might be the battle mode. Up to eight players can compete to see who can deliver the most passengers around the map while also tossing out meteors and tornados at each other. It’s delightfully silly and turns some of the co-op charm on its ear. It’s not quite as expansive as the main campaign, but it excels because the controls are easy to grasp and the gameplay is relatively immediate. I’ve run into the issue of some local multiplayer games requiring a lot of explanation and this works because it’s basically just “point, guide planes, press buttons for power-ups.”

Fly Together is just a purely enjoyable game with easy-to-learn gameplay ideas that develop in complexity over the course of dozens of levels. It works best in multiplayer, especially if you can get eight people together, but even as a solo game, this works as an enjoyable and chill puzzle game where you play the role of navigator, sending flights all over the place.

TalkBack / Earth Defense Force: World Brothers (Switch) Preview
« on: April 28, 2021, 10:57:21 AM »

Earth Defense Force debuts on Nintendo systems with a voxel spin-off.

Earth Defense Force is finally coming to Nintendo platforms for the first time in the series’ near-20-year history. That felt like a mistake (and no, the Earth Defense Force game on Super Nintendo doesn’t count; it’s entirely unrelated), but sure enough, the Nintendo platform debut of the series is a spin-off, Earth Defense Force: World Brothers - a game that came out in Japan late last year and is due out in the west on May 27, 2021.

World Brothers is the result of series producer Nobuyuki Okajima’s desire to expand the audience of EDF. He first came up with the idea essentially as a reaction to the previous spin-off, Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain, which was a more serious take on the series. Feedback was mixed, however, so for Okajima talked to Iron Rain developer Yuke’s and pitched them World Brothers, which was basically the polar opposite of Iron Rain. World Brother draws inspiration from Minecraft with its voxel look. The goal with the visual style is to make it more approachable to a wider audience. Okajima repeatedly emphasized how his goal is to expand EDF’s reach beyond its core audience. With the Switch being as vibrant as it is right now, he worked with Yuke’s on creating a game more geared to the audience of new players, more specifically kids and teens.

The gameplay consists of missions where you take a team of up to four to mow down hordes of enemies led by the Dark Tyrant. The player characters vary between references to past games and absurdity. On one hand, you have the Ranger from the last mainline entry, 2019’s EDF 5. On the other, you have a playable Koala as well as Livestream Sister, who has a special ability called Like Barrage where oodles of thumbs-up do massive damage to enemies. The goofiness could make this a riotous co-op game (online and LAN only on Switch; sadly no split-screen). While I only saw a hands-off demo, the overall gameplay seems straightforward. Every character has a weapon of choice and different skills and special abilities. Characters and weapons can also be leveled up and when they reach a certain level, other characters can use them. Weapons are ammo dependent, though, so you need to be mindful of your team’s supply. In single-player, you’ll have to switch between your teammates often.

Hopefully World Brothers is the start of mainline EDF on Switch. Okajima played coy when asked about past entries or the forthcoming EDF 6 coming to Nintendo systems. He did say it was “definitely possible,” saying that there are some past titles they are considering to port to Switch and that their main concern with future new games is that the core EDF games generally have a higher age rating than what the core Switch audience gravitates towards. Since we previewed the game, Famitsu reported that Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space and Earth Defense Force 2017 are coming to Switch in Japan this year, based on their Vita versions. Still, a lot the future of the series on Switch will depend on World Brothers. The response has been strong in Japan and we won’t have to wait much longer to see what the west thinks about it.


John and Neal ring in the Wii U classic's wooden anniversary with a podcast about its past, present, and future.

The year was 2016. After a delay, Star Fox Zero came out on the Wii U. Rumors of what would eventually become the Switch were swirling. Everyone wanted to know what was up with that new Zelda game. John Rairdin and Neal Ronaghan were too busy enjoying the crap out of Star Fox Zero, though.

Join John and Neal as they recount the origins of the heavy GamePad-using title from its origins as a Miyamoto experiment to its life as a PlatinumGames-developed release. We relish in their experience with the game at E3 2015, and then talk about the 2016 review process. We even engage in some tinfoil-hat conspiracies about cut content and major changes. To close, we speculate as to if Star Fox Zero could come to Switch.

Send in some listener mail and let us know what you want to see from this revival. Feel to harass the Twitter account as well.

TalkBack / Star Fox Zero - Fifth Anniversary Vintage Review
« on: April 22, 2021, 05:49:28 AM »

Is five years vintage?

Star Fox Zero originally released just before we were starting to get in the swing of video reviews. As such it managed to miss out on ever having a formal video review despite getting plenty of other coverage on NWRTV. So today, five years later, we've taken the opportunity to put together our long overdue video review for Star Fox Zero on Wii U.

TalkBack / Fez (Switch) Review
« on: April 21, 2021, 12:51:38 PM »

An indie classic comes to Switch with a brilliant presentation and so many secrets.

When Fez came out on Xbox 360 nine years ago, I anticipated it largely because of the stylish visuals, spectacular soundtrack, and cute puzzle platforming. It more than delivers on all three, but beyond that veneer is a game that holds myriad secrets and is so much more than it lets on. While it’s hard to replicate the original experience of Fez (a few NWR staffers actually are trying, inspired by this tweet), this is still a magical game that is a welcome addition to the Switch library and still holds up in the modern day as a damn-near must-play classic.

Fez stars Gomez, a cute little fella who finds a fez hat (hence the name of the game) that allows him to see his 2D world in 3D space. That introduces the primary mechanic involving using the shoulder buttons to rotate the world left and right, showing four sides that allow for expanded traversal and lots of hiding spots. The quest involves collecting 32 cubes strewn about the world, hidden in different areas and environments that pay homage to Mario and even Tetris. Everything builds from that setup, adding in new twists on the rotation puzzles and platforming as well as more arcane and wild late-game challenges that might require you to take notes to keep up with. Going into further detail would spoil some of the fun. The answers are out there if you want to know, but if you’ve never played Fez before, I recommend just going in relatively blind.

The voxel-based graphics feel alive in the way they animate and rotate. I love the way Gomez bounces around with every step, watching as birds and other creatures flutter in the background. A strong serene feeling spews out whenever you enter a door and zoom into a new area behind you. The puzzles might get mind bending, but the tone and vibe is pure chill. No enemies are around to hurt you and the only way Gomez really stops is when he falls from a great height. And even then, he just respawns quickly. The atmosphere is made better by the outstanding soundtrack from Disasterpeace that is tone-setting with its incredible usage of chiptune and synths. This is up there with the greats in terms of gaming soundtracks.

Deliberately so, Fez doesn’t explain much. You’re tasked with getting the cubes and off you go. For the most part, this works very well. You keep returning to a main hub world and often when you get to the end of an area, you can easily warp back. Where it falters is that the map is shown in a confusing 3D line chart manner that gets confusing to make hay out of. When progress is forward moving, Fez soars. When you have to backtrack over areas to try to find one last cube, it sinks. In the mysterious back half, things go a little crazy, but that’s part of the charm.

When Fez clicks, it’s sublime. Bouncing through the world while rotating it to figure out the right way to reach a platform nails the right balance of difficulty and reward. The way the game opens up as you play, revealing secrets on top of secrets is something I’ve never seen another game land quite as well. What stands out most to me about Fez after nine years is that I’m in the midst of my third playthrough and even with some of the sheer novelty being lessened, I’m as enthralled as I was back in 2012. Fez stands as a truly unique indie game that draws inspiration from classics but is wholly its own precious and maddening experience that needs to be played.

TalkBack / Ask Iwata Book Review
« on: April 13, 2021, 04:00:00 AM »

A great way to reflect on the thoughts, ideas, and management style of Nintendo’s late CEO/President.

I had a feeling a book consisting of words and wisdom from Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s former CEO/President who passed away in 2015, would make me sad. The true waterworks don’t hit until you get near the end when Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto and EarthBound creator Shigesato Itoi memorialize their late friend, but even still, being able to see Iwata’s passionate words laid out when you know he’s gone is underlyingly somber. What I didn’t expect to get out of Ask Iwata, out wherever books are sold on April 13, was astute and compassionate management advice. The majority of this book consists of adapted writings from Iwata translated into English that covers everything from his days at HAL Laboratory in the 1980s and 1990s to his time running Nintendo during the Wii and DS eras.

It’s not a long read, lasting just over 150 pages, but nevertheless, it is impactful. Iwata’s words are pulled from his memorable Iwata Asks articles for Nintendo as well as Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun, a website run by Itoi. The book is fascinating for how it stitches together the two sources so seamlessly. The eras covered rarely go beyond the Wii and DS, which makes sense given Iwata’s declining health in the days of the Wii U. Still, it would have been interesting to read his thoughts on a time where he navigated one of the lowest periods in Nintendo history and helped keep the ship afloat and prepare for the Switch.

The majority of the appeal here is to those interested in the video game industry, but Iwata lays out a lot of sensible and smart business management strategies that go beyond the world of games. When he became HAL’s President, he was saddled with a lot of issues. One of his plans was to just talk to everyone at the company. He found this to be extremely informative because the one-on-one meetings opened up communication he presumed he never would have gotten otherwise. While the process became untenable when he ran a company of Nintendo’s size, he still met with everyone at HAL twice a year when he ran the developer.

Nintendo fans will likely enjoy the pantheon of anecdotes, whether it’s Iwata recounting the origins of Super Smash Bros., specifically the prototype he programmed alongside Masahiro Sakurai. Reading about how various elements of the Wii came to fruition is also intriguing. Iwata pushed heavily to have hard limits on how long players could play (to appease parents), but numerous people at Nintendo fought him on it. The compromise was to include the play clock that tracked how long each game was played at a system level.

Iwata uses that specific example as a way to explain his managerial ethos. Game development is compromise, founded on building an environment where multiple people can share ideas in the hopes of putting them all together for the best outcome. Iwata talks a great deal about Miyamoto here as well, calling himself “Miyamoto’s biggest follower.” He also offers another interpretation of Miyamoto’s penchant for “tea table flipping,” translated here as bringing down the house of cards. A key aspect of Miyamoto’s disruption is that you don’t throw away all the cards; you use the cards to build a new house.

In the portion of the book where Miyamoto talks about his relationship with Iwata, he talks about his first memory of meeting him. It was when Iwata and HAL were working Famicom Grand Prix II: 3D Hot Rally. Miyamoto played an in-development version and while he was impressed by how well it ran on the Famicom, he thought it was missing some degree of personality. At Miyamoto’s behest, Mario was added to the game and the “rally” aspect was added. It’s a good example of how Iwata and Miyamoto worked together over the years.

Ask Iwata is packed with interesting commentary and words of wisdom. Some of this information has been out there for years, especially since all of Iwata’s words were already written before this, but the streamlined and organized presentation here makes it an absolute must-read for Nintendo fans. It’s a great look at an instrumental figure in Nintendo history and a nice way to keep his memory around.

Podcast Discussion / Episode 268: Indie World Reactions
« on: April 16, 2021, 10:37:09 AM »

Zach Miller returns to catch up on Pokemon and bask in Indie World excitement with John and Neal.

Nintendo timed their latest Indie World well as John and Neal get to talk about the new announcements and games featured in the April 14, 2021 Indie World with guest (and former co-host) Zach Miller. They touch on what they're excited for, including OlliOlli World, Labyrinth City, Aztech, and so much more.

As always, they veer off topic but circle back around to talk about Zach's experiences with Pokemon Sword and Shield. He's late to the party, but expresses his enjoyment and dismay about the latest entry in the franchise. Also listen in to see a way how you can win a Switch game code. We're not going to spoil it. You have to listen, dude.

Send in some listener mail and let us know what you want to see from this revival. Feel to harass the Twitter account as well.

TalkBack / Interview with Cris Tales Voice Actor Zeno Robinson
« on: April 14, 2021, 12:41:00 PM »

Robinson, a self-proclaimed big Geno fan, brings credits Pokémon, My Hero Academia, and Young Justice to the upcoming indie RPG.

Cris Tales was confirmed for a July 20 release on Switch during today's Indie World, following a steady stream of new information about the RPG from developer Dreams Uncorporated and publisher Modus Games over the past few months. One of those blasts of news was the voice cast, which includes Zeno Robinson as Cristopher. Robinson is a veteran voice actor, making numerous appearances in video games and animation, including Goh in Pokémon, Hawks in My Hero Academia, Ross and Zihark in Fire Emblem: Heroes, and Cyborg, Steel, and more in Young Justice.

We talked to him via email about how he got into voice acting, what drew him to Cris Tales and Cristopher, and what other Nintendo characters he'd love to voice. He's got some picks that haven't really had speaking roles before, but they'd be fun to see brought more to life. Of course, pre-existing characters have some baggage and legacy as well, which we also asked him about.

Enjoy the interview and if you're interested in Cris Tales, try the demo (on Switch now!) and get ready for July 20, 2021.

Nintendo World Report (NWR): How did you first get into voice acting?

Zeno Robinson (ZR): I first got into voice acting through my agency, CESD. I signed on at a young age, and they started sending me out on voiceover auditions, which I was completely new to at the time. One of the auditions that came my way was for a show that would eventually be Ben 10: Alien Force. I booked it, and had my first in studio voiceover session at Cartoon Network! As a kid who grew up on Cartoon Network, that absolutely blew my mind haha. And evidently that's what propelled me into the world of voice acting.

NWR: What are the differences (if any) between working in video games as opposed to animation?

ZR: There's not too much of a difference in my personal opinion, however, video games do tend to lean into the more cinematic aspects of acting than animation, which often means more emotional, more subtle acting choices. Animation is a bit more brighter and a bit more fast paced, with a bit of a higher energy. There's also stylistic choices too, like acting for Cris Tales is a bit different than for, say, Miles Morales, because Cris Tales has this very stylized, JRPG inspired look about it, so the acting approach is kind of a blend of that lifted groundedness one would find in an anime.

NWR: What brought you to Cris Tales?

ZR: I was brought onto Cris Tales by Kira Buckland (the voice of Crisbell!) who also handled casting for the game. I received an audition from her for the project and sent it in, and a few weeks later got an email that I was chosen to play Cristopher! He looked really cool, and the game looks absolutely gorgeous so it's a blessing to be a part of such a cool project. NWR: From your viewpoint, what are some of the coolest parts of Cris Tales (aside from the voice acting!)?

ZR: THE ART. THE ART. THE ARTTTT. I cannot say enough about what a gorgeous world that the team at Dreams Uncorporated and SYCK have put together, with a diverse cast of colorful characters for players to meet and interact with. It has such a unique look to it, everything is sleek and beautiful. It looks amazing. Without giving anything away, the story they've put together is also completely captivating as well. There are a lot of twists and turns and complexities the writers have woven into it, and stories like that are my favorite.

NWR: Do you have any favorite RPGs that are in the same vein as Cris Tales?

ZR: Games like Tales of Symphonia, Tales of the Abyss, and Kingdom Hearts come to mind for me. I LOVE Kingdom Hearts, it was one of the first RPGs I played that left a lasting impression on me and my life. Definitely an all time favorite. Very similarly, the Tales Of series is one of the first stories I was glued to. Symphonia took TWO discs to play!! Cris Tales is similar to these in that the world is very stylized artistically and contains this huge world with all of these great, lovable characters interacting with one another and coming together for a common cause. And, of course, everything that happens in the story.

NWR: Your character joins with Crisbell (at least during the demo) early on with a sense of mystery. What do you hope players take away from that initial meeting Cristopher?

ZR: Cristpoher is just like, really cool. That he's about that ACTION. He plays no games when it comes to doing what he thinks is right, and he'll always help out someone in need. But mostly that he's just like....REALLY freaking cool. When his shield first came apart into two BLADES?! He's so cool.

NWR: You have voiced characters that have a legacy behind them (whether it's Star Wars or DC/Marvel characters). Are those characters more daunting to voice compared to brand new ones? Why or why not?

ZR: Legacy characters are a bit more daunting to me, because they always sort of come with this history, and it's my job as an actor to expand on and further that history with my performance. The actors who come before me on legacy characters have left their mark on that character, and have lived with them and studied their mind, and know how they operate, sometimes even ESTABLISHING how that character should be. And it's up to me as an actor to try to leave my mark as well or at the very least, establish what my take looks like, and THAT'S daunting haha. New characters are often, at least for me, defined by what I can bring to it. The legacy that comes with them is up to me and me alone.

NWR: You've dabbled in Nintendo with Fire Emblem and Pokemon, but are there any other Nintendo characters you'd love to voice in the future?

ZR: It's no surprise that i'm a HUGE Geno fan. If he ever makes a return from the Star Road, I'd love to give him a shot. I love Super Mario RPG. I'd also love to try my hand at a Mother/Earthbound kid if there's ever a game that comes out that needs voicing. I have all of these answers from more obscure titles! Haha! I'd also love to play Link!

NWR: This isn't really a question; I just really like Young Justice. I hope you're in the next season.

ZR: I love Young Justice! Season 4 on the way baby! BOO YAH!

TalkBack / Picross S6 Heading to Switch in Late April
« on: April 14, 2021, 07:00:00 AM »

Also a quick update on Picross S: Mega Drive & Mark III Edition.

Picross S6 is coming to the Nintendo Switch worldwide on April 22. The new release features 485 puzzles across different modes, including standard Picross, Mega Picross, and Color Picross. If you have play data from Picross S, S2, or S3, you can also unlock large extra puzzles.

Developer Jupiter also confirmed to us that Picross S: Mega Drive & Mark III Edition, a Picross game featuring Sega Genesis-themed puzzles announced last year, is still in the works and will hopefully come out this year.

Additionally, the Picross S series will be on sale starting today, April 15, until May 5.

If you're unfamiliar with Picross, check out our reviews of the Picross S games:


Sure, there's a bunch of Final Fantasy games, but let's go beyond the obvious.

I remember growing up as a Nintendo 64-owning kid and glancing over at the PlayStation library and being incredibly jealous of the Japanese RPGs that dominated the landscape over there. I was over here playing Quest 64 while Squaresoft was releasing numbered Final Fantasy games every year alongside a dozen neat and weird things and the likes of Konami were putting out Suikodens. The late 1990s were incredible for JRPGs, but Nintendo largely missed out. That trend continued for a while.

Now, on the Nintendo Switch, you can play a lot of those legendary JRPGs on Nintendo systems for the first time. Join me as I lay out a handful of neat previously Nontendo JRPGs that are playable on the Switch.

TalkBack / Rain on Your Parade (Switch) Review
« on: April 12, 2021, 05:47:18 AM »

The world could use more gaming comedies.

Following in the footsteps of the terrorizing goose of Untitled Goose Game, the developers at Unbound Creations are focusing on another picnic ruiner in Rain on Your Parade. You control a cloud who, to begin, has the power to, well, rain on people’s parades. Over the course of a few dozen focused levels, your intrepid cloud will ruin weddings, disintegrate crops, and even raise the dead. It’s a riotously goofy fun time that hits high highs in some of its more gonzo level concepts, but sometimes falters with vague objectives.

The whole game, from start to finish, is told from the perspective of a dad telling his kid a story about a cloud, which explains some of the inane chicanery. These brief story segments usually introduce new mechanics or twists. The pace is frantic but appropriate. Levels often fly by, but the plus side to that is you rarely labor on a specific idea for too long. Initially, your cloud can only rainwater to soak humans and flood areas, but before long, the cloud can fill up with other liquids to wreak havoc. From there, your destructive cloud regularly accrues other abilities, such as lightning, snow, and tornadoes, that add to the repertoire of powers and the complexity of the levels.

Some of that complexity is where some of the shortcomings crop up. The gag at the heart of Rain On Your Parade soars when you can just experience it like the joke it is. Linger too long on a specific level or objective and it stops being as funny. Some of the later levels are hilarious and incredible, but others present you with unclear objectives that need to be completed in specific ways to be cleared. Puzzling these out can be rewarding, but it’s also hard to discern the exact character or area of the map needed because the camera is just a little far back. I also had a lot of times where I triggered an objective and I didn’t really know how or why. The kinetic spirit of the game lends itself well to happenstance nonsense, but everything is at its best when the objectives are clear and you can just ride out the wave.

One of my favorite levels is an early one modeled after Metal Gear Solid. The cloud dons a headband a la Solid Snake and you have to navigate a snowy military base while avoiding the vision cones of different guards. You reach the end, trigger something, and then make your way back to the start while drenching the guards in water. It’s hilarious in its parodic execution and also features crystal clear objectives. I wish all of the ambitious levels were as good as that Metal Gear Solid-inspired one.

Even still, Rain On Your Parade is a humorous ride worth toying around with. It remarkably just goes for gusto whenever given the chance. Boss battles even crop up as, especially after the cloud does so much damage, some people out there really hate precipitation. Every level has a few mandatory objectives and some bonus ones. Completing all the objectives in the level unlocks new customizable parts for your cloud. You can give your cumulus hero a new hat or facial accouterment. Also thanks to the power of the Switch touch screen, you can doodle a new face on your protagonist.

I enjoyed Rain on Your Parade, largely due to its consistent creativity and invention. This is a profoundly silly game that operates in that often untouched comedic space in video games. Sure, not every joke lands, and sometimes the goals are underexplained, but that also just sounds like how I could describe every comedy I’ve ever experienced. I welcome more video game comedies like Rain on Your Parade.

Podcast Discussion / Episode 267: Pac-Man Fever
« on: April 09, 2021, 03:10:40 PM »

After going over early Pac-Man 99 impressions, John tackles Star Wars: Republic Commando and Neal goes off on Fantasian and Apple Arcade.

We got 99 problems and winning in Pac-Man 99 ain't one. After John shares his Pac-Man 99 strats, he tells Neal all about Star Wars: Republic Commando and the pitfalls of the Switch port. A few digressions take us everywhere from Satoru Iwata to Resident Evil books and then Neal finally gets to unfurl his thoughts on Fantasian, as well as how ridiculous the bevy of new Apple Arcade additions last week was.

Send in some listener mail and let us know what you want to see from this revival. Feel to harass the Twitter account as well.

TalkBack / Lost Words: Beyond the Page (Switch) Review
« on: March 30, 2021, 05:00:00 AM »

Writing, emotions, and visuals take center stage in this narrative platformer.

The idea of an emotional platformer generally resonates with me. It’s something that crops up a lot in the indie space, but Lost Words: Beyond the Page has a certain panache for how it crafts a heartfelt story with strong voice acting and clever gameplay. The watercolor visuals and overall presentation are endearing, even if the slower pace and puzzle simplicity never make it more than a stroll through a storybook. This is more the equivalent of a video game picture book than an epic, which makes it a wonderful game to sit down with over an afternoon or two.

Lost Words stars Izzy, a young girl who aspires to be a writer. We learn about her through her journaling, which is one of the two types of levels you encounter. Izzy’s journals involve you controlling her running and jumping across pages on top of the words she writes, sometimes triggering side doodles or other thoughts. This is much more of a way to experience the story, which is written by game writer veteran Rhianna Pratchett and has solid little-kid voice acting.

More of the gameplay shows up in the other level type, where you take control of Izzy’s created character in the magical world of Estoria. This has your more typical fantasy story narrative as this young heroine becomes the guardian of the land and has to save the world from a destructive dragon, in a way that parallels a lot of Izzy’s real world struggles. You have options to customize your character here that affect the game in subtle ways, but no matter what, you obtain a magic book where you use different words to impact the world around you in a more obvious fashion. You can make platforms “rise” and “break” down obstacles, for instance. I kept hoping some of the later puzzles would be more challenging, but everything was always relatively cut and dry.

But the point of Lost Words isn’t to be a hard-as-nails platformer. Optional challenges exist in finding fireflies strewn about the land, but the goal of Lost Words is to see how Izzy deals with trauma in her life by diving into a fictional world she created and sometimes barely has control over. The story is touching and occasionally devastating; it definitely brought a single tear or four to my eye while playing. What brings it all together isn’t the tough puzzles or tense platforming, it’s the writing. Izzy feels like a real girl dealing with real problems. On top of that is the presentation, which looks gorgeous on both the Switch screen and TV. The watercolor style pops, especially as the game wears on, and the visuals evolve as Izzy gets more anxious and worried.

Lost Words: Beyond the Page is an emotional story with an enjoyable wrapper of art, music, and gameplay that lasts about three or four hours. Turn back if you want an immense challenge or brain-wrinkling puzzles, but if you’re looking to shed a tear or two and take in a well-written story where you move a character around and occasionally solve some clever but basic word puzzles, this is a great game to experience.


Justin Berube joins to talk about how Mario Kart Tour rules as well as New Pokemon Snap and more.

High-tiered Mario Kart Tour player Justin Berube joins John and Neal to talk about Mario Kart Tour (in loose honor of its 1.5 year anniversary?). But before we get there, we have a lot of planned and unplanned stops along the way. We cover the recent previews of New Pokemon Snap while diverging into a meditation on Pokemon spinoffs and the potential of increasing the voting populace in America with the Everybody Votes Channel on Wii. Then we stop off on some physical game talk as we become the only podcast this week to mention the game Poi. It's a wild ride, so we hope you pulled a good racer/kart/glider combo.

Send in some listener mail and let us know what you want to see from this revival. Feel to harass the Twitter account as well.

Podcast Discussion / Episode 265: Let's Catch Star Fox Adventures
« on: March 26, 2021, 07:47:21 AM »

After exploring an alt reality where Star Fox thrives, John and Neal talk about the history of Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima.

To celebrate the launch of Balan Wonderworld (I guess?), John and Neal try to give color to the history of Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima - the two Sonic the Hedgehog creators who are teaming up to make whatever the heck Balan is. But before we talk about Blinx the Timesweeper and Let's Catch and Rodea, we answer some listener mail about dreaming of a world where Star Fox Adventures was a smash hit. It might have changed the trajectory of Nintendo as we know it!

Send in some listener mail and let us know what you want to see from this revival. Feel to harass the Twitter account as well.

TalkBack / Sunhead Games Talks About The Stellar 2020 Indie Game Carto
« on: March 24, 2021, 09:16:31 AM »

Learn more about the neat map-tile puzzle game you probably missed out on.

The rush of an exciting indie game that came out of relative nowhere to delight you is a tremendous feeling. That's what happened to me when I came across Carto. When I reviewed it last year, it took me by surprise by how clever, heartfelt, and fun it was. With a physical version up for pre-order courtesy of iam8bit, we had the chance to ask developer Sunhead Games some questions about the game. So enjoy the responses from Lee-Kuo Chen of Sunhead Games and if you haven't yet, check out Carto! It's on Xbox GamePass if have access to that. Just play it. It's awesome.

Nintendo World Report (NWR): Where did the idea of swapping map tiles to solve puzzles come from?

Lee-Kuo Chen (LC): The idea of tile-placement came from the popular tile-placement board game genre, especially Carcassonne. I was introduced to this game around 2005 and it’s always fun to play. For the idea of swapping map tiles to solve puzzles...I actually can’t remember where the idea came from! I’ve had a design notebook for years to keep my random ideas. One day I found a line that said “Like Carcassonne, but you are able to travel on the tile you place.” It sounded promising so we started prototyping it. It worked well immediately, so we kept developing it.

NWR: Were there any puzzle ideas that you had but didn’t make the cut?  Why not?

LC: I’d say we only put one-fifth of our puzzle ideas into the final game. And that’s because our production bandwidth was limited. When we started the project there was no narrative, no art, no sound. The design space was totally open, so we (designer + programmer) kept adding puzzle ideas into our world and design doc. Though after we started thinking of the story, art, and sound, we realized that we had to focus on the best ideas and cut the rest. The puzzles left in the final game are the ones that we thought would be doable and fun to the most players. The more complicated or silly ideas are mostly gone. Maybe they would have been fun as well, but maybe not.

NWR: How open ended are the puzzles?  Are there multiple ways to solve them, or just one map layout that works for each?

LC: I’d say the puzzles in the game are more like riddles. Once you figure them out, actually completing them is comparatively easy. Though there’s still lots of freedom in how you choose to arrange the tiles on the map.

NWR: Where did the inspiration for the narrative come from? Was the narrative borne out of the play mechanics or did the gameplay mechanics come out of the narrative?

LC: The gameplay mechanics came first. That’s the main thing I wanted to deliver in the beginning, and hadn’t considered the narrative part at all yet. Though somehow it grew much bigger than I expected. As for the inspiration, we borrowed several tribal cultures as reference, and mixed them together. The french artbook L'Atlas des géographes d'Orbae was also a big inspiration - it taught me a lot about creating a believable world.

NWR: Concerned Ape just revealed a Stardew Valley board game - when can we expect the Carto board game?

LC: I’m looking forward to seeing their take on Stardew Valley as a board game. As for Carto, we don’t have a plan for a board game yet - but who knows?

NWR: The map tiles in the iam8bit physical version are adorable. Were there any other physical bonuses considered?

LC: We came up with a few ideas like a sticker pack, storybook, embroidered patch, cloth map, and some more unique ones like a compass or even survival tools. But the map cards still fit the theme of the game best - they’re what Carto seeks in the game and core to the concept of the game world, so we wanted to put them in players’ hands.

NWR: With Carto out in the world, are there plans to revisit the idea and the world or will your next game go after a new gameplay mechanic and setting?

LC: We’re more interested in new gameplay mechanics and settings. It’s like going on a new adventure! Though the world of Carto is still interesting to us, so we won’t rule out the possibility of revisiting it in the future.

TalkBack / Toys For Bob Talks Crash 4 Switch Port and More
« on: March 16, 2021, 07:19:16 AM »

A key pillar of the initial development of Crash 4: It's About Time was "the difficulty had to be fair and not cheap."

Last week, Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time came to Nintendo Switch. It marks the first brand new adventure for the bandicoot on a Nintendo system in a decade. Before it came out, we had the chance to send over some questions to developer Toys For Bob's Creative Producer Lou Studdert. He talked to us about the challenges of porting the game to Switch and even addressed some of the response to the original launch's difficulty. If you're craving more Crash content, you can check out our review. Thanks to Activision and Toys for Bob for the interview opportunity!

Nintendo World Report (NWR): What was the process of taking Crash 4 on PS4/Xbox One and making it perform well and look nice on Switch? Were there any processes or methods that made the porting process easier? How did it compare/contrast to how you worked on porting recent games to Nintendo platforms?

Lou Studdert (LS): Great question! Bringing a game to a new console really depends on the amazing work that our artists and engineers do to customize our game for the specific hardware.  Regarding the Switch, there are several things that needed to be done due to its unique nature.  To ensure that the game looked and performed at its best, the team had to make adjustments to the following areas: texture size, static model polys, skeletal mesh bones, shadow map density, light map resolution, particle systems and textures.  How this compares to the work that the team did bringing Crash N. Sane Trilogy and Spyro Reignited to the Switch? Well, this actually represents a culmination of the work on those two games – for one, we learned the importance of preserving the precision gameplay necessary to a Crash Bandicoot experience by working on the port of Crash N. Sane Trilogy, and we learned all the tricks for the Unreal engine and how to ensure the best presentation of our art through our work in bringing Spyro Reignited to the Switch.

NWR: One of the main criticisms about Crash 4 is that it is unforgivingly hard, even compared to the old ones. How do you feel about that criticism and is there any desire to add accessibility features to the game to combat this?

LS: We knew from the beginning that we wanted to make a game that challenged players, but we set some ground rules for the team that were key pillars of our development process – and one of them was that “the difficulty had to be fair and not cheap.”   What this meant for us was that there were no crazy things that unfairly took you by surprise and felt like the game was cheating.  If you die – it’s your fault, and there is a way to improve your skills to progress.  So, we went through the game with a fine-toothed comb to make sure that the adventure felt that way.  Another key mantra for the team was “we want players to see the whole story.”  This informed our idea of a difficulty curve and the amount of focus that we put on teaching players the necessary skills to reach the end of the story.  One of the big changes we made to the original design of the Crash Bandicoot franchise is the introduction of a “Modern” playstyle which removes the notion of losing lives.  This is a choice that the player gets to choose at the start of the game, and one that I recommend all new players try out.  So that’s why I think saying “unforgivingly hard” is not exactly characterizing the response we are seeing correctly.    Now... reaching a full 106% completion is another story all together… We knew that there have been players who have been playing Crash Bandicoot games for 25 years (Happy 25th Anniversary Crash!!!) so we wanted to make something that really put those players to the test.  That audience has been waiting for more than a decade for a new Crash adventure so we wanted to make sure that we made something that they wouldn’t quickly blast through in an afternoon.  So really, I do think we made a game that features the proper difficulty level for different groups of players.

NWR: What elements in Crash 4 would be most appealing to the Nintendo player who doesn't have the nostalgia for the original Crash trilogy?

LS: It’s a platformer! Nintendo consoles are the home of the platformer genre.  If any player is naturally ready to hop into a Crash Bandicoot game, it’s a Nintendo player.  If they’ve never played a Crash Bandicoot game then this is the perfect starting point – we’re providing a tense, exciting precision-based platforming adventure with over-the-top presentation and humor.  There’s a TON of content in this game; from 10 different dimensions to play in; Crash and Coco, plus three additional characters to play as, each with their own gameplay; to all of the gem tasks that can be completed in each level; and loads of skins that players can earn.  That’s without even mentioning the Time Trial, Flashback Tapes and N. Verted modes which continue to add to the fun.  Tons of fun, tons of content, tons of jumping!

NWR: Over the past few years, Nintendo has allowed outside developers to do crossovers with Nintendo IPs, such as with Mario and Rabbids. If Crash was able to cross over with a Nintendo world, which franchise would you want it to be and why?

LS: Ooooooh, this is a tough question.  There are some obvious answers – Crash would fit well with Mario on an adventure and could probably hold his own racing Mario Kart for instance... hmmm, so I am going to have to go with a more left field answer.  I would actually put Tawna Bandicoot into a Metroid game.  Her wall jump move paired with her hook shot would help her get around the labyrinthian levels with ease and her round house kick would definitely bring the pain to the space pirates.  That’s an action- packed pairing that I would like to see.

Podcast Discussion / Episode 264: Apex Robotech Theory
« on: March 12, 2021, 05:37:51 AM »

New staffer Alex Orona sits down to chat Apex Legends while John speaks of Robotech and Neal is off in Mario Kart land.

A quieter week in the world of Nintendo gives John the time to talk about a crappy Robotech GBA game that's now on Switch. More importantly, Alex Orona joins to talk about his experiences with Apex Legends on Switch. Neal finds out, live on air, how much money he's spent on Mario Kart Tour, and then we all wrap up with talk about that new TMNT beat-'em-up, Monster Hunter, and dream Nintendo battle royales.

00:00:13 - Introductions
00:03:22 - Apex Legends on Switch
00:11:55 - Turok 2 Online Multiplayer
00:14:17 - Screencheat
00:16:16 - Robotech GBA remastered on Switch
00:25:34 - Mario Kart Tour and Mario Kart Live Home Circuit
00:36:11 - Which Nintendo franchise should have a battle royale?
00:43:50 - Beat 'em ups
00:48:06 - Monster Hunter Rise
00:54:28 - Closing Thoughts

Send in some listener mail and let us know what you want to see from this revival. Feel to harass the Twitter account as well.


A Piranha Plant will try to chomp at Propeller Mario in this upcoming toy.

A Super Mario-themed Deluxe Cloud Playset is coming this fall from toymaker Jakks Pacific.

Retailing for $29.99, this set includes a 2.5" Propeller Mario figure and boasts six different interactive pieces with unique mechanisms for play. A cloud platform can move up and down while a Piranha Plant has a poseable mouth and can rotate around. There's even a question-mark block that has a coin popping out of it and a wheel of rotating coins. The total measurements of package is 16"W x 9"H x 4"D and the full environment expands to more than 30" wide.

This is the third reveal from Jakks Pacific to celebrate Mar10 Day. The first two were a Bowser Airship Playset and a new Cat Peach figure.


Toad and Rosalina will have to wait for their 4" cat variations.

Cat Peach is getting her own figure from Jakks Pacific as part of a 3-pack due out this fall that also comes with Cat Mario and Cat Luigi.

The 4" Super Mario 3D World-inspired figures feature multiple points of articiulation and also include a Cat Bell power-up item. The trio will be sold for $29.99. Cat Mario and Cat Luigi were previously available, but Cat Peach is a brand new figure.

This is second day of Mar10 Day reveals from Jakks Pacific following the reveal of the Bowser Airship Playset yesterday.

TalkBack / Deluxe Bowser Ship Playset Toy Coming Out This Fall
« on: March 08, 2021, 07:00:00 AM »

The propellers spin!

A classic Bowser airship is becoming a toy this fall from Jakks Pacific.

The Deluxe Bowser Ship Playset retails for $39.99 and includes  a 2.5" Mario figure. The package measures 17" W x 15" H x 5.25" D and the ship itself features spinning propellers and rocking motion wheels. It also plays the Airship theme, so you can properly set the stage for your display and/or playtime.

This announcement is part of Jakks Pacific's Countdown to Mar10 Day, so more news should be coming out soon about the company's Mario licensed toys.

Podcast Discussion / Episode 263: A Gram Sprang
« on: March 05, 2021, 06:26:59 AM »

Jordan shows up to talk RPGs, anagrams, and Switch Pro rumors.

NWR's Reviews Editor Jordan Rudek stops by so that way he and Neal can bore John to tears by talking about Bravely Default 2 and Fantasian. However, right before recording, some Switch Pro rumors broke so the trio talks about the potential specs and wonders how Nintendo will market their way out of this one. Also, we talk about Mass Effect Andromeda and loosely make a plan to play/replay Mass Effect games. That's a Connectivity this week.

Also, if you actually read this far, the title this week is an anagram. It's not a hard one. Be the first to figure it out and then email us and we'll send you something. Maybe a game. Maybe swag. Maybe an eShop card. Maybe dealer's choice.

00:00:13 - Introductions & Anagrams00:04:41 - Switch Pro Rumors00:26:23 - Bravely Default 2 Impressions00:41:04 - Fantasian Trailer Talk00:47:46 - Mass Effect Andromeda01:09:13 - Closing Thoughts

Send in some listener mail and let us know what you want to see from this revival. Feel to harass the Twitter account as well.

TalkBack / Capcom Arcade Stadium (Switch) Review
« on: February 27, 2021, 12:28:53 PM »

A really cool wrapper for a range of arcade games that are a mix of good, bad, and available elsewhere on Switch.

The nature of Capcom Arcade Stadium makes it difficult to review traditionally. It’s technically a free game that comes with the arcade version of 1943: The Battle of Midway (and Ghosts ‘n Goblins if you got it before February 25, 2021). Aside from that, there are three packs of 10 games that are sold as DLC that can also be bought all together at a slight discount. So here’s how we’ll do this. First, I’ll cover the look and feel of the overall package, then I’ll move into a deeper dive into the packs of games.

For starters, the look of Capcom Arcade Stadium is neat. You can scroll around looking at arcade cabinets for every available game, while also sorting them into different categories, such as genre or whether or not you own them. You can even mark games as favorites to handle how they are sorted even further. When you go to play a game, it by default gives you a nice representation of the arcade cabinet, letting you (at the press of a button) drop a credit into the machine and then start playing. You can switch to a lot of different views (including TATE mode, so you can play these games vertically oriented), but I dig the charm of the way you almost peer into the arcade cabinet in the default view.

On top of the views, you can tweak the game settings, quickly rewind, and save whenever you want. Game speed can be adjusted at any point, slowing down or speeding up a game to suit your preference. The rewind functionality is very handy, especially in the games that have one-hit deaths or other punishing moments. Games also have different Score and Timed Challenge modes with online leaderboards. Weekly challenges also introduce different twists, like upside-down play.

I really like the wrapper of Capcom Arcade Stadium. It gives a little bit more life to the average arcade collection. It also does an acceptable job of explaining the games to new players, though the ideal audience is probably the experienced old-school arcade fan looking for nostalgia as opposed to people wanting to learn about Capcom’s history. The various difficulty options and settings make all of these games, even in some of their immense challenges, far more approachable. It also has a neat little level/rank system where you earn experience by playing games and progressively “ranking” up. It’s just another wrinkle that makes this overall experience more engaging.

But what are the games? Well, aside from 1943, which is really only worth its free price tag and not a penny more. It’s fine and has a place in Capcom history, but it’s not much more than a decent vertical shoot-’em-up from 1987. Also the original Ghosts ‘n Goblins from 1985, which is free until February 25 or only included with the full 30-game purchase, is only notable for being the start of the franchise.

The rest of the 30 games can be bought in a full set or split into three 10-game groupings. I’ll go into each group and hearken back to our old method of handling Virtual Console games by labeling each game “Recommended for Everyone,” “Recommended for Fans,” or “Not Recommended.”

Pack 1: Dawn of the Arcade (1984-1988)

Vulgus (1984): Vulgus is a previously Japan-only vertical shoot-’em-up that was released as freeware by Capcom years ago. It’s nothing special, featuring no distinct levels as the backgrounds just keep changing until you run out of lives. The most interesting thing about Vulgus is that it is Capcom’s first video game. The verdict: Not Recommended

Pirate Ship Higemaru (1984): Another early Capcom game, Pirate Ship Higemaru is a cute little single-screen game where you maneuver around a grid trying to find the best way to throw barrels at evil pirates. This is by no means an all-timer, but I found myself playing more of this game in this collection than I anticipated. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

1942 (1984): This was Capcom’s first major arcade hit, so it definitely holds a special place in the company’s history. I don’t particularly care for it, but for the historical resonance, it’s a welcome addition. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

Commando (1985): The game that kicked off what most of the world knows as the Bionic Commando series (I guess). It’s a decent vertical run-and-gun action game. The most interesting aspect is seeing how Capcom went from traditional shoot-’em-ups to something that takes that concept and maps it to ground combat. I wouldn’t call it a mandatory play, though. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

Section Z (1985): We are moving into horizontal shooters now, but this one is not that enjoyable. You control a little dude in a scrolling level where you can press a button to face left or right (and then shoot in that direction). It’s a potentially cool idea that just doesn’t add up to anything memorable. The verdict: Not Recommended

Trojan (1986): Trojan was another new discovery in this collection for me. You run around in a post-apocalyptic future as a dude with a sword and a shield. It’s janky, but it’s also surprisingly cool. Like a lot of games here, it benefits from the rewind feature. Also, for some reason, only the Japanese version is available here. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

Legendary Wings (1986): It’s another shoot-’em-up, but then there are actually neat little side-scrolling stages. This has a fantasy setting as well, which separates it from a lot of the 19XX shooters in this game. I don’t think this game holds up as a strong arcade classic or anything, but the back and forth of vertical shooter and side-scrolling platformer is novel. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

Bionic Commando (1987): I didn’t realize I never played the arcade version of Bionic Commando before. After playing it, that’s for the best. This game isn’t very good. The NES version seems like the best game ever made in comparison. One-hit kills and some questionable platforming makes this not that enjoyable. At least with the rewind feature and other tweaks it’s far more playable. The verdict: Not Recommended

Forgotten Worlds (1988): Historically notable for being the first game released on Capcom’s CPS-1 arcade board, Forgotten Worlds is a side-scrolling shooter that puts you in control of some Contra-like beefcake who floats around a level with different weaponry. I had a lot of fun with this, especially since the rewind feature takes some of the edge off the difficulty. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

Ghouls 'n Ghosts (1988): A whole lot better than the 1985 predecessor, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is a cool-looking arcade game that is arguably the second-best game in the series after Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. It’s still as punishing and unforgiving as every other entry in the series, but if you want some of that Arthur action without buying the new game, this is where you should go. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

Summary: Unless you have a lot of affinity for any of these games specifically or hold a desire to do research into Capcom’s arcade history, the Dawn of the Arcade pack is largely filled with games that have aged like milk or games that are notable only for being curiosities.

Pack 2: Arcade Revolution (1989-1992)

Strider (1989): Strider is a dope arcade game. The animation and art looks great and the game itself is a fun action platformer. I highly recommend this, and it’s also worth noting that the Strider game on NES is completely different from this (but the arcade game is what the Genesis version was based on). The verdict: Recommended for Everyone

Dynasty Wars (1989): This is an old beat-’em-up game that, in a vacuum, is okay, but in the context of this pack (and the third pack of games) having much better beat-’em-ups, Dynasty Wars kind of sucks. Maybe there’s a reason why this wasn’t in Capcom Beat’ Em Up Bundle. The verdict: Not Recommended

Final Fight (1989): A total classic, but this is also in the Capcom Beat’ Em Up Bundle (available on Switch) with more options like online multiplayer. Still, the original Final Fight is a solid beat-’em-up. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

1941: Counter Attack (1990): I’ve never really had any nostalgia for the 19XX games, as evidenced by my treatment of them throughout this review. This one is another one of those shoot-’em-ups. The art’s nice. Smoke’em if you got’em, I guess. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

Mercs (1990): A sequel to Commando (but not related to Bionic Commando; it’s weird) that is definitely a better version of that style of game. This is, like Trojan, another game that only has the Japanese version for some reason. The verdict: Recommend for Fans

Mega Twins (1990): A side-scrolling action game that gave me some arcade Wonder Boy vibes. Despite the Mega in the title, this has zero relation to Mega Man. It’s super cute. The verdict: Recommend for Fans

Carrier Air Wing (1990): We are getting more into the era where the scrolling shoot-’em-ups at least have eye-popping artwork. This is a sort-of follow-up to U.N. Squadron and all in all is a neat jet fighter action game. You have stuff like a store where you can upgrade your weapons between levels. It’s even a three player game, which is cool. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

Street Fighter II (1991): Oh hey: the original release of Street Fighter II. This is a landmark game, but better versions of it exist on Arcade Stadium and you can also play this (and a bunch of other Street Fighter games) in the Street Fighter Anniversary Collection on Switch. I’ll be a little nicer to it since this pack of games does not include any other versions. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

Captain Commando (1991): This is a good beat-’em-up that is a good time with a friend. So you should totally do that online in the Capcom Beat’ Em Up Bundle, which is also on Switch and includes online multiplayer. This is a good game; just play it elsewhere. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

Varth: Operation Thunderstorm (1992): Varth is another shoot-’em-up. The visuals are nice. I’ve played so many shoot-’em-ups while reviewing this game. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

Summary: This pack would have a lot more heavy recommendations were it not for the fact that three of the games are available in other collections on Switch with more functionality. Still, this is a marked step up from the Dawn of the Arcade pack and one that has a decent amount of variety and some arcade classics like Final Fight, Street Fighter II, and Strider.

Pack 3: Arcade Evolution (1992-2001)

Warriors of Fate (1992): The sequel to Dynasty Wars, this is another beat-’em-up that is in Capcom Beat’ Em Up Bundle. So once again, here’s a fine game that is just redundant because a version of this game exists on Switch with online play. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting (1992): If I had to pick one version of Street Fighter II available on here, it’d be Hyper Fighting. I know Turbo has more characters, but Hyper Fighting is of the era I played more Street Fighter. However, this is also in Street Fighter Anniversary Collection, along with like every Street Fighter from the time. And that version has online play. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

Super Street Fighter II Turbo (1994): Once again, this game was in another compilation on Switch with more features. You’re better off checking out Street Fighter Anniversary Collection, but this is still a good version of the game. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

Armored Warriors (1994): A mech-themed beat-’em-up I played for the first time in Capcom Beat’ Em Up Bundle, which has this game with online play on Switch. As is commonplace for this pack of games in Arcade Stadium, it’s good. It’s just also more fully featured in another compilation. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness (1995): Finally: a game that isn’t available elsewhere in an arguably better form on Switch. This is a fighting game in the same universe as Armored Warriors, which is neat. That being said, it’s not the best fighting game. It’s cool and worth messing around with, though. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

19XX: The War Against Destiny (1995): At least this game isn’t in the Beat’ Em Up Bundle or the Street Fighter Anniversary Collection. This is another shooter in the 19XX series, but this actually made me appreciate the earlier games in the series. Aside from cool visuals, this was one of more disappointing games in the whole package. The verdict: Not Recommended

Battle Circuit (1997): I bet you might have thought we were done with games that are in other Capcom compilations on Switch? Wrong! Battle Circuit is another beat-’em-up, making half of this 10-game package available in better form elsewhere on Switch. Battle Circuit is a colorful game with four-player support and a cool alternate world aesthetic that features a bunch of weird lore like a villainous Dr. Saturn and a bunch of CD power-ups. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

Giga Wing (1999): Another day, another arcade shoot-’em-up. Giga Wing at least separates from the 19XX series by being a vertical shooter on a horizontal display. It makes this play and look a little different from the rest of the shooters in the collection. I don’t think Giga Wing is incredible, but I spent more time with it than a lot of the other shooters here. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

1944: The Loop Master (2000): We’re back with another 19XX game. 1944 is a marked improvement over 19XX: The War Against Destiny but it’s still just okay. If I happen to be wrong and this is a legendarily good shooter, just know I’ve played around with a dozen of them across these 30 games. The verdict: Recommended for Fans

Progear (2001): Stands out from the other shoot-’em-ups on Arcade Stadium by being developed by CAVE. It’s visually striking and is the most fun I had with a shooter in this entire package. If you play one shooter in Capcom Arcade Stadium, make it Progear. The verdict: Recommended for Everyone

Summary: The Arcade Evolution Pack is without a doubt the strongest of the three, but it also has the highest amount of duplicate games from other Capcom compilations on Switch. Three beat-’em-ups and two versions of Street Fighter appear on the much-better Capcom Beat’ Em Up Bundle and Street Fighter Anniversary Collection releases. The remaining five games are largely good (19XX excluded), but it’s a harder sell to dive in, especially if you have these games in other forms on the same platform.

To summarize, it’s a little hard to slam-dunk recommend any of these three packs. The collection of games as a whole is nice, with very few true stinkers. If you haven’t dabbled in any of the other Capcom collections, maybe it’s worth seeing the wider assortment of genres here. Strider (in the second pack) and Progear (in the third pack) are the two clear standouts to me, especially since they aren’t also available in another more fully featured package on the platform. I hope Capcom builds out Capcom Arcade Stadium more, because at the very least, it’s a really cool place to mess around with different arcade cabinets.

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