Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for April 11th, 2023. In today’s article, we’ve got three more reviews for you to dig into. They were all a bit disappointing to me in their own ways. Road 96: Mile 0, Melon Journey: Bittersweet Memories, and Curse of the Sea Rats are the games in question, and they all get their time in the penalty box. There are a few new releases to look at today, far less dubious than yesterday’s lot, and a handful of sales to sift through. Let’s get to it!
Reviews & Mini-Views
Road 96: Mile 0 ($12.99)
The title makes it obvious that this is a follow-up to Road 96, with Mile 0 indicating it is set before the events of that game. Less obvious initially is that this is also a follow-up to the mobile game Lost in Harmony, set after the story of that game which saw a boy named Kaito lose a dear friend named Aya to cancer. Road 96‘s Zoe and Lost in Harmony‘s Kaito come together for a story about their friendship, and the gameplay styles of both games are represented here as well.
It’s not the most natural combination in the world, and Kaito’s side of it in particular really feels awkward at first. His levels are auto-runners, while Zoe’s are first-person exploration bits with lots of dialogue options. Both sections suffer from some technical hiccups in this version, which isn’t optimal. Worse is the interface in Zoe’s sections, where you can clearly tell the game was built around playing with a mouse. Everything is cursor-driven, and it’s really fiddly. Nothing different from the Switch version of Road 96 in that respect, but it would have been nice to see some improvements in this regard.
On the story side, things fare better. Kaito feels a bit shoehorned in here at times, but once the narrative gets going it is fairly compelling. It’s mainly focused on the relationship between Zoe and Kaito, and if you’ve played Road 96 you’ll know how things go for various returning characters you meet and the world you’re in. Your choices will shape how things go between the two, and you can also find a lot of interesting optional dialogue by talking with others. It’s worth a spin if you enjoyed Road 96.
Road 96: Mile 0 is best taken as a prequel to Road 96 than a sequel to Lost in Harmony, but it’s interesting to see these worlds connect and find out what came after and before the last time we saw its main characters. Performance issues and a clumsy user interface really hurt this Switch version’s playability, dragging the experience down somewhat. This is a trip worth taking, but the Switch may not be the best car for this road.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
Melon Journey: Bittersweet Memories ($14.99)
Gosh, ‘Bittersweet‘ is right. There’s a lot to love in Melon Journey: Bittersweet Memories, which is apparently a follow-up to a game I’m not familiar with. The characters are weird in a very endearing way, the dialogue tries hard to amuse and is generally enjoyable to read, and the presentation is distinct and pleasing. The main story didn’t pull me in as much as I’d hoped it would, but the side quests and quirky world more than made up for it. Nothing amazing, but certainly something fans of humorous narrative experiences would like.
Unfortunately, this game has the worst kind of technical problem: it crashes. It crashes a lot. And you’ll end up having to re-do a lot of things because of it. There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to it, either. Even after its first patch, it still has this issue. The developers are looking into it and I’ve no doubt they’ll do their best to fix it, but I can’t review the future.
Melon Journey has charm to burn, with interesting, odd characters to interact with and a well-realized setting to explore. The writing is sharp and the soundtrack is great, both of which help draw you into the story. The actual plot leaves a bit to be desired, and it really doesn’t do enough to bring players new to the world up to speed. Normally I would find myself recommending it anyway, but at the time of this review the game is incredibly crash-happy. There’s something worth experiencing here, but you’ll want to wait for a few updates before diving in because at the moment it’s really hard to deal with.
SwitchArcade Score: 3/5
Curse of the Sea Rats ($19.99)
This game feels like it has had a lot of heart and soul poured into it, and that’s why I wanted to give it a fair shake after its day one patch arrived before making up my mind on it. I have now done so, and I’m sorry to say that my feelings on it haven’t changed all that much. Curse of the Sea Rats is a Metroidvania-style game that is dressed to the nines but drops the ball on some of the most important bits of any game.
Quite frankly, the controls stink. The game eats inputs while the animation cycles play out, some critical moves are really difficult to reliably pull off, and there’s a lag to just about everything you try to do. I haven’t played a game that looked this good but played so badly in quite some time. The game has some other issues beyond that, but the bottom line is that this is what wrecks it. Some mild difficulties telling what’s in the background and what’s in the foreground, some truly uneven difficulty, and an unbalanced roster of playable characters are all nothing compared to the frustration of messing up because the game is a slug-butt to play.
Curse of the Sea Rats has a nice presentation and I like the multiplayer support, a rare sight in a game like this. Unfortunately, the dreadful controls knock this game on its tail before it even gets up to speed. Slow, fussy, and prone to losing out to animation priorities, the very act of moving your character around and attacking feels unpleasant. Even if you stick with it long enough to get used to all of that, the game that awaits you is a decidedly average entry into its genre. Let this one sink with the ship.
SwitchArcade Score: 2/5
Sherlock Holmes The Awakened ($39.99)
Frogwares is the best there is at what they do, and what they do is make Sherlock Holmes games, bub. But sometimes maybe they want to mix things up a bit, and that’s probably how we got 2007’s Holmes/Cthulhu mash-up Sherlock Holmes the Awakened. And here’s a remake! I remember the original game being pretty solid, and given the track record of the developer, I’m sure this will be a fine adventure too. I’ll have a review soon.
Process of Elimination ($39.99)
A bit of an odd mystery adventure game. It might come off like a visual novel initially, but when it’s time to do an investigation, you switch to gameplay view that looks like it’s pulled from a turn-based strategy game. You then have to use your team of detectives to find evidence, which you’ll then use to solve the case. I’m working on a review of this one but it might be a little while yet because the game isn’t exactly grabbing me yet.
TRON: Identity ($14.99)
Okay, let me get this straight. This is a TRON visual novel from Bithell Games? The Thomas Was Alone people? Weird world we live in. TRON fans probably don’t need me to say this, but the franchise seems to survive on the occasional scraps from when Disney remembers it exists, and here’s a rather nice looking ham bone to tide everyone over until the next thing comes in seven years or whatever. There are multiple endings to find based on the actions you take, so there’s a bit of replay value loaded in here. And hey, it’s nice to see a Western visual novel that isn’t dripping with irony.
The Mystery of the Mayan Ruins ($4.49)
This is a rather, um, modest little adventure game. It’s handheld only because it only has touch controls, which is rarely an encouraging sign. Anyway, there are some puzzles to solve and a rudimentary story to enjoy as you seek a magical medallion in order to save your family.
(North American eShop, US Prices)
Okay, what can I point at today? Hot Lap League may have given up its ghost for ongoing updates, but for two bucks it’s fun enough. SUPERHOT is hitting a new low price, and that’s nice. Over in the outbox, Koei Tecmo is wrapping up its latest sale. Get those Atelier Ryza games while you can!
Select New Games on Sale
Drill Deal: Oil Tycoon ($10.49 from $14.99 until 4/18)
Youmandriver ($8.39 from $11.99 until 5/18)
SUM Slay Uncool Monsters ($2.03 from $5.99 until 4/18)
Grand Hike ($1.99 from $4.99 until 4/18)
Steal It ($2.79 from $3.99 until 4/18)
Back to Brother ($2.24 from $4.49 until 4/18)
Lost Dream Stars ($2.49 from $4.99 until 4/18)
Roller Katz BF Episode 1 ($2.49 from $4.99 until 4/18)
Air Battle ($4.89 from $6.99 until 4/18)
Farming Life ($4.99 from $9.99 until 4/18)
Hundred Fires TRoRS Episode 2 ($2.99 from $5.99 until 4/18)
Tiny Detour ($2.49 from $4.99 until 4/18)
Demolish and Build Classic ($7.49 from $14.99 until 4/18)
Motorcycle Mechanic Simulator 2021 ($9.99 from $19.99 until 4/18)
Scrap Games ($3.14 from $4.49 until 4/18)
Among Us ($3.50 from $5.00 until 4/24)
SUPERHOT ($11.24 from $24.99 until 4/24)
Void Prison ($2.00 from $2.99 until 4/25)
Hot Lap League: Deluxe Edition ($1.99 from $19.99 until 4/25)
Lost in Play ($9.99 from $19.99 until 4/27)
Zodiakalik ($1.99 from $9.99 until 4/29)
Let’s Build a Zoo ($10.99 from $19.99 until 4/30)
The Unexpected Quest ($4.50 from $15.00 until 4/30)
Petite Adventure ($2.49 from $4.99 until 5/1)
Neon Souls ($3.49 from $4.99 until 5/1)
How to Fool a Liar King Remastered ($7.49 from $14.99 until 5/1)
Mrs Cat Between Worlds ($3.49 from $4.99 until 5/1)
Trenches ($6.99 from $9.99 until 5/1)
Roguebook Deluxe Edition ($17.49 from $34.99 until 5/1)
Monster Truck Championship RHE ($9.99 from $49.99 until 5/1)
The Dark Prophecy ($4.99 from $9.99 until 5/1)
Flat Kingdom Paper’s Cut Edition ($3.19 from $7.99 until 5/1)
Taqoban ($1.99 from $4.99 until 5/1)
Jet Set Knights ($1.99 from $9.99 until 5/1)
Distraint Collection ($5.99 from $11.99 until 5/1)
Wild West Crops ($1.99 from $4.99 until 5/1)
Paw Paw Paw ($1.99 from $9.99 until 5/1)
Flower Shop: Summer in Fairbrook ($3.99 from $9.99 until 5/1)
Chasing Static ($10.49 from $14.99 until 5/1)
Wonderland Nights: White Rabbit’s Diary ($4.89 from $6.99 until 5/1)
Lootbox Lyfe+ ($6.99 from $9.99 until 5/1)
Thy Sword ($1.99 from $9.99 until 5/1)
Panda Punch ($2.49 from $4.99 until 5/1)
My Fantastic Ranch ($19.99 from $39.99 until 5/1)
Bones of Halloween ($2.49 from $4.99 until 5/1)
Intrepid Izzy ($7.14 from $10.99 until 5/1)
Headbangers in Holiday Hell ($4.19 from $5.99 until 5/1)
RiMS Racing ($9.99 from $49.99 until 5/1)
Hunting Simulator 2 ($7.99 from $39.99 until 5/1)
Roll the Cat ($1.99 from $4.99 until 5/1)
Go! Go! PogoGirl ($3.49 from $4.99 until 5/1)
Aquadine ($9.99 from $19.99 until 5/1)
Cyberheroes Arena DX ($3.49 from $4.99 until 5/1)
Pets at Work ($3.49 from $4.99 until 5/1)
7 Days of Rose ($2.49 from $4.99 until 5/1)
A Frog’s Job ($2.49 from $4.99 until 5/1)
Catmaze ($4.99 from $9.99 until 5/1)
Ankora: Lost Days ($7.49 from $14.99 until 5/1)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 12th
1993 Shenandoah ($8.70 from $12.99 until 4/12)
Atelier Ryza ($29.99 from $59.99 until 4/12)
Atelier Ryza 2 ($29.99 from $59.99 until 4/12)
Blue Reflection Second Light ($35.99 from $59.99 until 4/12)
Cozy Grove ($8.84 from $14.99 until 4/12)
Fairy Tail ($39.59 from $59.99 until 4/12)
HunterX ($10.49 from $14.99 until 4/12)
Niko and the Cubic Curse ($2.49 from $4.99 until 4/12)
Ninja Gaiden: Master Ninja Collection ($27.99 from $39.99 until 4/12)
Pure Chase 80’s ($2.09 from $14.99 until 4/12)
That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with more new games, more sales, and perhaps some news. Maybe a review if I get back from the hospital fast enough, but we’ll have to see. I hope you all have a terrific Tuesday, and as always, thanks for reading!