Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for December 5th, 2022. In today’s article, we’ve got a few reviews for you. Square Enix’s Romancing SaGa -Minstrel Song- Remastered, Forever Entertainment’s Front Mission 1st: Remake, and Ratalaika’s Intrepid Izzy are in the judgement chair today, waiting for their scores. After that, we have a few new releases to check in on, plus some new and outgoing sales. Let’s get to it!
Reviews & Mini-Views
Romancing SaGa -Minstrel Song- Remastered ($24.99)
If you’re into RPGs and own a Nintendo Switch, you probably have SaGa opinions by now. The series, which had always had a spotty localization record, went dormant in the West for a long time following the 2005 release of Romancing Saga: Minstrel Song on the PlayStation 2. I can only assume the Western release of Romancing SaGa 2 for mobile did better than expected, as we’ve received a veritable flood of SaGa releases since. All of those games have seen global releases regardless of their original localization status, meaning that we have just about the entire series available on the Switch. And now fate has brought us here, back to Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song.
As you can see by the title, this is a remaster of the PlayStation 2 game, which was itself a remake of the Super Famicom title Romancing SaGa. You never quite know how extensive the changes will be when the word ‘remaster’ is used, but in this case the changes are many and fairly significant. They range from new content (characters, story) to quality of life improvements, and the end result is a game that so greatly outclasses its previous incarnation that it renders it nearly irrelevant. I think it’s frankly as good as it can be without actually ripping the whole thing up and starting from scratch.
Curiously, part of the intention behind the original Minstrel Song was to go back to a more traditional and approachable format after the decidedly mixed response to Unlimited SaGa. Yes, this is the SaGa team (circa 2005) trying to make an easily digestible game. Does it work? Yes and no. At the end of the day, this is still a SaGa game. It has all the quirky systems you would expect from the series, has a tendency to be opaque and offer few clues about what to do, and focuses more on mechanics than story elements. It revels in its unorthodox nature, though it is rather orthodox in its unorthodoxy if you’re familiar with the series.
That last bit is perhaps the key to it. If you’re looking to get into the SaGa series, this is a decent enough starting point. It will teach you a lot about how the series works, and you may well find yourself able to appreciate the other games more having played through this one. I’m not sure it’s the best starting point anymore, but it’s a good one. But in the grand scheme of RPGs, this is still a game that requires a bit more work on the player’s part. You can choose from eight different characters at the start, and once you’ve gotten through the first bit for each, you’re more or less on your own to make your way in the world. It’s full of things to do and people to meet, though how much of that you find on any given playthrough is up to you. It wants you to replay it, and if you enjoy what it offers you almost certainly will do so.
If you have played any SaGa games in the past and had a good time with them, you’ll almost certainly like Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song Remastered. Its presentation is a little odd but the game itself is a fairly safe entry in the oddball brand. On the other side, if you haven’t been able to get into past games like SaGa Scarlet Grace or SaGa Frontier, nothing in here is going to change your mind. If you’re somehow fully new to this whole business, this isn’t the worst place to dip your foot in. Those tired of the same old JRPG mechanics or those who generally have an open mind may want to give this one a go.
Overall, Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song Remastered is a fantastic re-do of a game that had lots of room for improvement. SaGa fans will eat it up, and even if you’ve played the original you may want to check this out for its new content and additions. The look of the game may turn some off, and there are certainly some awkward carry-overs from its PlayStation 2 origins. It’s also a SaGa game through and through, and that’s either going to have you jumping with joy or running for the hills. Only two left now before they have to make a new one, right?
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Front Mission 1st: Remake ($34.99)
When I was young, I used to love drawing superheroes. Since I was still developing my artistic skills, I tended to do what many kids do: I found some panels from comics that I liked, and I copied them as best as I could. My copy was never quite as good as the real thing, of course. And it definitely wasn’t anything I could call my own style, even if I made a few changes here and there. At the same time, the result was a lot better-looking than what I would have been able to do at that time without any references, and I certainly learned a lot about how to draw from that practice.
I mean this in the nicest possible way: Forever Entertainment’s recent spate of remakes feels a lot like those drawings I did back then, and Front Mission 1st: Remake is no different. In almost every sense, this is a faithful remake of the Nintendo DS remake of the Super Famicom Front Mission. It makes very few changes to the nuts and bolts of the game, and whether that is a good thing or not is an exercise I leave to the reader. The presentation is where the biggest changes have happened, with everything looking very spiffy, three-dimensional, and high definition. I don’t particularly care for how clean it all looks, and I believe a great deal of the artistic value of the original has been lost here, but it’s a choice that was made.
Well, we’ve seen worse treatments of Square Enix games in remakes. For whatever has been lost here, this is still basically Front Mission on your Switch. And the second and third games will apparently be coming too. Probably in very similar form to this one. Ideal? Not really, but it’s better than nothing and I’m pretty sure that was Front Mission‘s future before this. Given how little out there is exactly like Front Mission, I’m happy it’s back in some form. It has a great story that you can play from two perspectives, and the tactical turn-based mech combat has a very different flavor from the usual fantasy theme we tend to see in games like these. Do be warned that Front Mission is the sort of strategy game that gives you very little wiggle room if you want to win. It can almost feel like untangling a puzzle rather than playing a TRPG.
As remakes go, Front Mission 1st: Remake gets the job done and not much more. Its cleaner visuals oddly make the thing look cheaper than the original at times, but the fundamental gameplay mechanics and story are both as sound as they ever were and generally carry the whole affair. This is a game that probably could have benefited from some bigger changes, but if all you’re looking for is a straight remake and don’t mind the new look, here you go.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
Intrepid Izzy ($10.99)
I don’t know if this was the intention behind Intrepid Izzy or not, but this really does feel like a Shantae game. To be fair, Shantae felt a bit like a Monster World game. Anyway, Intrepid Izzy. You play as the titular heroine as she explores various connected stages and uses her repertoire of moves and ability-granting suits to help her recover four gems and put an evil genie back in its bottle. You can buy items and talk to various characters in the town before heading out again. Well, it’s that kind of game.
You get about five or six hours of fun here, and while Intrepid Izzy may not keep pace visually I think it hangs well mechanically with similar games in the genre. It controls well, the suits add some fun gimmicks to play with, and the level designs are generally enjoyable to make your way through. The boss battles can be a little annoying, dragging on a little longer than needed, but combat is rather good overall. If you enjoy the Monster World or Shantae games, you might want to give this one a spin.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
A roguelite dodge-em-up where the best offense is a good defense. Dodge through enemy fire, collect components for your ship, and balance your desire for a higher score against greater survivability as you battle through procedurally-generated stages. Since you can’t directly attack your foes, you’ll have to trick them into shooting each other. It can be very satisfying. I’ll have a review of this one soon.
Goonya Monster ($19.99)
This is an asymmetrical multiplayer action game with cute character designs. Three players are the Busters while one player is the Monster. The Monster is stronger than any individual Buster, but the Busters have numbers in their favor. Up to four players can join in, either locally or via online multiplayer. Presumably, you can play alone against computer opponents. Probably not the best way to enjoy the game, mind you.
Cyborg Invasion Shooter 3: Savior of the World ($9.99)
A cheap third-person shooter for one player only. You travel through a variety of levels, battling enemies while you search for the exit to the next level. There are four weapon types along with some melee attacks. It’s very poorly made, all the way down to its fundamental design. But when the price is low enough, I find many people don’t care about the actual quality of the thing.
(North American eShop, US Prices)
The big Cyber Deals sale is finished, but the new sales are still showing a bit of a hangover from it. Unless you want to grab Rise: Race the Future, there isn’t anything in the inbox I’d get behind with much excitement. For that matter, there isn’t much in the outbox either. Well, I’ll let you do your thing and check those lists in the usual manner. See you in the conclusion.
Select New Games on Sale
The Skylia Prophecy ($2.09 from $6.99 until 12/6)
Flight Sim 2019 ($6.93 from $9.90 until 12/10)
Ship Sim 2020 ($6.93 from $9.90 until 12/10)
Farmer Sim 2020 ($6.93 from $9.90 until 12/10)
Driving School Sim ($6.93 from $9.90 until 12/10)
Real Driving Sim ($6.93 from $9.90 until 12/10)
Taxi Sim 2020 ($6.93 from $9.90 until 12/10)
Construction Ramp Jumping ($2.99 from $9.99 until 12/10)
The Eternal Castle Remastered ($9.99 from $14.99 until 12/10)
War Titans ($6.93 from $9.90 until 12/10)
Extreme Trucks Simulator ($6.93 from $9.90 until 12/10)
Rise: Race the Future ($8.24 from $16.49 until 12/15)
Sotano ($3.99 from $4.99 until 12/18)
Sakura Succubus 6 ($7.99 from $9.99 until 12/23)
Revertia ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/23)
Construction Site Driver 2 ($7.79 from $12.99 until 12/23)
Animal Drifters ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/24)
Cyborg Invasion Shooter 3 ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/24)
The Outbound Ghost ($19.99 from $24.99 until 12/25)
Haustoria ($1.99 from $12.99 until 12/25)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, December 6th
Broken Universe: Tower Defense ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/6)
Colsword ($1.99 from $4.00 until 12/6)
Gum+ ($1.99 from $7.99 until 12/6)
LEGO Star Wars: TSS Galactic Edition ($39.99 from $79.99 until 12/6)
Monument ($1.99 from $7.00 until 12/6)
reky ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/6)
RWBY Arrowfell ($26.99 from $29.99 until 12/6)
Space Raiders in Space ($1.99 from $12.99 until 12/6)
Supaplex ($4.49 from $14.99 until 12/6)
Syndrome ($1.99 from $24.99 until 12/6)
The Skylia Prophecy ($2.09 from $6.99 until 12/6)
That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with more reviews, more new releases, more sales, and perhaps some news. I know our pal Mikhail has a whole bunch of stuff for us, so do look forward to that. I hope you all have a great Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!