Mario Day News, Reviews Featuring ‘Unicorn Overlord’, Plus New Releases and Sales – TouchArcade

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Mario Day News, Reviews Featuring ‘Unicorn Overlord’, Plus New Releases and Sales – TouchArcade


Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for March 11th, 2024. We’ve got a big-pants edition for you today. We start off with a summary of the Mario Day news that Nintendo posted yesterday, then head into a beefy reviews section. Our pal Mikhail has his extensive thoughts on the latest Vanillaware and Atlus joint, Unicorn Overlord. After that, I have my thoughts on Ufouria: The Saga 2, A Void Hope, and Tamarak Trail. Then it’s new release time, and it’s… not pretty today, I’ll say. The Bin Bunch to Not Bin Bunch ratio is wild. After getting through that, there are the usual lists of new and outgoing sales. Phew! Let’s get into it!

News

All That Mario Day News For You

Yesterday was March 10th, which is Mario Day. You can’t fight the marketing, people. But we usually get some Mario information on that day, so I suppose it’s fine. This year was no different. The sequel to The Super Mario Bros. Movie was announced for a 2026 release, for starters. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door and Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD got their release dates, May 23rd and June 27th respectively. Bit earlier than I expected for the former, but that’s alright by me. Finally, some Nintendo Switch Online retro game drops were announced for March 12th. Dr. Mario, Mario Golf, and Mario Tennis will be joining the Game Boy app, and two of those three are genuine all-timers. The third one is the Game Boy version of Dr. Mario. Well, I’m sure someone is nostalgic for it.

Reviews & Mini-Views

Unicorn Overlord ($59.99)

Back in 2013 when I got a PS Vita, I had no idea who or what Vanillaware was. I ended up buying Dragon’s Crown alongside Persona 4 Golden, and those were basically the first Atlus games I played if you believe it. Both of them blew me away for different reasons back then, and I’ve since made sure to play every single game by both developers. I revisited Dragon’s Crown through its superb PS4 Pro version, and also adored Odin Sphere‘s remaster on Vita and PS4. None of those came close to how good 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim was which I’ve played and bought multiple times.

So when Vanillaware revealed Unicorn Overlord, I wanted to avoid everything about it until I got the game. That’s a bit hard to do when you write about game news, but I did my best until the demo dropped. Right from the get go, it felt special. I started thinking about how it might be a once in a generation game, but thought that was me getting too far ahead of myself after just an hour.

When I finally got review code for it on Switch and PS5, I spent a few days obsessed with it, but then realized I wouldn’t be able to have a review ready for launch day at that pace. I wasn’t going to rush through a Vanillaware game to hit a deadline and here we are. I realize I’ve spent a lot of time in this review not talking about Unicorn Overlord itself, but Vanillaware games are basically once in a generation releases, and I want to savor them.

Unicorn Overlord is a strategy RPG that has elements of games like Ogre Battle and Final Fantasy XII with Vanillaware’s signature aesthetic and Basiscape’s brilliant music. While 13 Sentinels was more of a narrative-focused experience, Unicorn Overlord puts its systems at the forefront, but there’s still a lot of character interactions, development, and story beats that have you dying to find out what happens next. The structure and intertwined mechanics that are at play in almost every facet of Unicorn Overlord make it truly special.

You play as Alain, a prince, who has been taken away from his mother by a trustworthy holy knight after the kingdom has been attacked. After a bit of a tutorial battle, you end up getting control of Alain years later, who is now the leader of the new Liberation Army. As the leader, Alain aims to take down Valmore, but the path you take will vary. While the main story can be linear, Unicorn Overlord gives you a lot of freedom with how you approach situations, which characters you can recruit, and what battles you take on to get stronger.

While Unicorn Overlord has a plethora of systems and mechanics across the board, what surprised me the most is the amount of characters. I can’t even imagine how much money went into the game’s dub with how many characters are included. I often wondered how this game even exists in its current state. It is bursting at the seams with what I enjoy in strategy games.

The core gameplay in Unicorn Overlord has you exploring an overworld, taking on foes roaming, winning battles in specific stages, liberating locations, taking on the many optional quests available, becoming stronger as an army, and more. Before getting into how the battles and combat work here, the overworld has a ton of points of interest. These range from gather points that replenish after some time, wandering enemies, NPCs with quests, forts where you can expand your arsenal and hire mercenaries for your army, buy gear, deliver items to towns to restore them to their fullest, rapport conversations to raise your rapport level, and much more.

The actual combat between units in Unicorn Overlord is automated, but you have a ton of control over how things play out. After playing the opening portion of Unicorn Overlord, you can select the game’s difficulty with four options in total, but the default felt good as someone who enjoys games in the genre. You spend valor points to summon units that have a set of characters within. You can customize your unit by character placement with tons of classes available in the game as the story progresses. Once you summon a character you issue a command and basically take advantage of the game’s real-time movement and pause system to strategize. Certain class units are better against specific ones and so on. You soon also unlock this game’s equivalent to Final Fantasy XII‘s gambit system letting you prioritize what skills are used under which situations for a specific unit. This is where you get the ability to completely break things open in Unicorn Overlord and it is superb.

Unicorn Overlord is a surprisingly forgiving game with how it lets you reload saves or what happens when you fall in battle. This combined with the difficulty options makes Unicorn Overlord a very accessible entry point despite the wealth of gameplay systems and mechanics. There are certain things I wish were more accessible to complete newcomers, but those who spend time with Unicorn Overlord will find a lot to love throughout.

Visually, I was actually not sold on every aspect of Unicorn Overlord after its initial reveal. I love Vanillaware’s style and the aesthetic in its games, but Unicorn Overlord felt a bit different in its reveal. Thankfully a few minutes with the demo confirmed that this still was very much a Vanillaware game. The food, the gorgeous UI, character designs, and animations are all perfect. All of this is accompanied by a smooth frame rate even in handheld mode where I spent most of my time on Switch.

I mentioned the dub and Basiscape’s music above already, but I still can’t get over how good both aspects are for Unicorn Overlord. You can sample them both in the demo, but the teams went all out for the audio design in the game. I’m glad Basiscape already released the soundtrack on streaming services as of launch day. I left the game running in the menu a few times just to hear the music while working. Even the early battle music is incredible.

I had access to Unicorn Overlord on both Nintendo Switch and PS5 for this Switch review. The major difference barring resolution between both versions is some post-processing missing on Nintendo Switch. It isn’t a dealbreaker, but I will say the PS5 version is the one to get if you want to play on your TV or monitor. When it comes to handheld though, I adore the Switch version of Unicorn Overlord. It is fluid and gorgeous on the OLED. The load times aren’t terrible either. I’d recommend checking out the free demo to see how you find the visuals on the platforms you have access to buying Unicorn Overlord. I ended up spending the most time with the Switch version thanks to how amazing the game feels on a portable.

Unicorn Overlord has a few minor annoyances though. When selecting units, if a few are close to each other, it is a bit difficult to select the one you want. Barring that, a few of the menus could’ve been better at onboarding. While Unicorn Overlord does a fantastic job with its tutorials, the sheer amount of mechanics and systems might be overwhelming to those unfamiliar with strategy RPGs. In terms of what I’d like to see in patches for Unicorn Overlord, an option to disable screen shake would be great. Barring that, I don’t have any complaints with it. Vanillaware have delivered yet again here, and Unicorn Overlord has one of the best dubs in many years.

As I dug deeper into my Unicorn Overlord playthroughs across Switch and PS5, it hit me that Vanillaware is like the Australian band King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard who keep exploring different genres with each new album and maintaining the quality. It might be too soon to say if Unicorn Overlord is my favorite strategy RPG, but I can confidently say that it and Balatro are the best Nintendo Switch games of 2024 so far. -Mikhail Madnani

SwitchArcade Score: 5/5

Ufouria: The Saga 2 ($24.99)

While the series is largely unknown in the West, Hebereke was one of Sunsoft’s more prolific brands during its heyday. The first game in the series, Hebereke, was localized for Europe and Australia back in the day under the name Ufouria: The Saga. It didn’t get a release in North America until it hit the Wii Virtual Console in 2010, but by now it’s largely considered to be a bright spot in the NES’s line-up. A wonderful little exploratory platformer with the usual slick Sunsoft presentation and charm to burn. Sure, it came out pretty late in the system’s life, but that was never a guarantee of quality. Ufouria was a great demonstration of how much Sunsoft had grown as a developer over the course of the 8-bit era.

Clearly recognizing it had something good on its hands, Sunsoft quickly followed it up with a sequel on the Super NES in 1993. Hebereke’s Popoon is a puzzle game that is more than a little inspired by Puyo Puyo. Well, hey. Everyone does one or two spin-offs. A handful of months later in 1994, another follow-up was released. Sugoi Hebereke is… a party arena fighter? Hm. Okay, a bit later in the year, there was Hebereke no Oishii Puzzle wa Irimasen Ka, a… port of an arcade party game with the characters jammed in. At the end of 1994, one more Hebereke game, Hashire Hebereke. It’s an isometric racing game. Okay, maybe 1995’s Hebereke’s Popoitto. No, another falling block puzzler. Later in 1995, O-Chan’s Oekaki Logic… is a Picross-style puzzle game, and one that got an almost immediate sequel the following year with similar gameplay. And another one a few years later. And then Sunsoft kind of drifted out of making games for a couple of decades.

That means that despite Ufouria: The Saga 2 being the tenth game in the series, this is the first time the gameplay of the original has been followed up on. It’s been thirty-two years! Better late than never, I suppose. Perhaps understandably, this sequel doesn’t try to make too many dramatic changes from the original game. Hebe, a cute little penguin-like creature, heads out to find his friends in a big non-linear world. Each friend he finds will open up new areas in the map with their abilities. Yes, you could call this a Metroidvania if you really feel the need to do so. And it is indeed Hebe here rather than Bop Louie; despite carrying forward the Ufouria name Sunsoft has opted to stick with the original Japanese designs and names of the characters. Might have been a fun unlockable, but I’ve always preferred the originals anyway.

Naturally, Hebe and his world have gotten a serious facelift. Everything is done up in a style similar to the recent Yoshi games, with a hand-crafted look. It fits the characters and the world really well. In gameplay terms, there are a few changes here. First is that you’ll be collecting a currency of sorts that you’ll need to use in a machine to buy items and unlock new abilities. The second big change is that the areas are procedurally generated and will change when you re-enter them. Interestingly, it feels like the challenge scales according to which characters and abilities you’ve unlocked. While some might worry this could turn the game into a roguelite, it really doesn’t come off that way. This is actually a rather breezy affair, and I think if you have much experience in the platforming genre at all you’ll probably sail through the game in about five or so hours.

For some players this relative brevity and low difficulty might be a turn-off, and I can certainly understand that. In my case, I had such a good time going through Ufouria: The Saga 2 that I didn’t mind any of that. I’ll almost certainly play through it again in the future. The game genuinely does a good job of following up on the original, and given the circumstances I think that’s actually quite amazing. If you have happy memories of Ufouria or are just looking to get into the series fresh, I think you’ll have a nice time with this one.

SwitchArcade Score: 4/5

A Void Hope ($15.99)

A Void Hope feels like it’s on the cusp of something greater. The pixel art and soundtrack are both excellent. The game is dripping with atmosphere. The premise is intriguing enough, with a mysterious disease making people forget more and more until they finally become mindless creatures. A wife sets out to find what she needs to make a cure. Her husband, afflicted with the disease, sets out to find her. You’ll play as both characters in this stage-based puzzle platformer. While it is as mentioned stage-based, you’ll do quite a lot of exploration in each place. There are secrets to find, and you’ll need to do some backtracking with new items to open up routes in stages you’ve already cleared.

As far as the gameplay goes, I think A Void Hope works well enough. The puzzles are enjoyable enough to solve, and the controls are solid. The various enemies you’ll come across aren’t as scary or threatening as they probably should be, and there are some platforming bits that were so annoying I couldn’t believe it was the same developer as the Alwa games, but for the most part the game is smooth enough to go through. The atmosphere helps a lot, as it really does suck you into its world. The story doesn’t quite live up to the early promise, preferring to be a little more vague than I think would be ideal.

I certainly didn’t have a bad time going through A Void Hope. It has a lot of things going for it, from the slick presentation to the strong atmosphere to the decent puzzles. At the same time, the toothless challenge, sometimes-clumsy platforming set-ups, and less-than-satisfying story progression and resolution manage to hold back the game from being as great as it could be. I think it’s worth playing if you like the look of it, but I can’t see many people revisiting it after the initial four or five hour playthrough.

SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5

Tamarak Trail ($14.99)

It’s important to know one’s self as much as possible, and one thing I have come to know about myself is that I am a sucker for dice. When I was young, I used to collect dice. I liked rolling them more than I liked playing most of the games they were attached to. And that seems to have carried over to video games. Put some nice, realistic dice in a game that I can roll, and I’ll be happier than I would be without them. Thus, for me, Tamarak Trail‘s big gimmick works. This is essentially one of those turn-based roguelite deckbuilding RPGs that have enjoyed a fair bit of popularity on Switch. Except here, the cards have been swapped for dice.

The dice you roll have six sides, and you’ll be able to stick whatever abilities you want on those sides from the ones you’ve unlocked. This might make it seem more random in some ways than the usual game of this sort, but it isn’t too hard to manipulate the dice rolls to an extent if you’ve a mind to doing so. You’re going to be doing a lot of dice-rolling, because as games of this sort go it is very combat-heavy. The trail is full of monsters to fight, and it is a long road indeed. Satisfying enough for a playthrough or two, though in truth I found there just wasn’t enough room to vary my strategies to make those subsequent runs interesting.

Tamarak Trail has a solid presentation, and the mechanics are sturdy enough to hold your interest for a few hours. The UI is a little fussy, but the bigger issue here is that the combat-heavy nature of the game and the way the battles play out mean you’ll probably fall back on a few reliable tactics. Some games in this genre can be replayed nearly endlessly, but Tamarak Trail petered out after a few runs for me. I think if you’re really fond of the deckbuilding roguelite genre, you’ll have enough fun with what this game offers despite there being many better choices for this sort of affair.

SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5

New Releases

Death of a Wish ($19.99)

Okay, I know what you’re thinking, and I’m going to set it straight right away: you don’t have to have watched Death of a Salesman to understand this game. Apparently they’re not even set in the same universe. This is one of those hack-and-slash action-RPG affairs that is nice to get in the zone with when you’re in the mood for such activities. The story explores religious themes, and the combat places an emphasis on style and skill. As you play, corruption will start to overtake you. As in the holy scriptures, the only way to ward off such evil is by dishing out some smoking combos. Throw in a very distinctive art style and you have a game that certainly stands out from the pack.

The Bin Bunch

Finger Soccer League ($5.90)

English Tracing Book ($3.99)

Bad Cat Sam Simulator ($9.99)

Help Police: Pull the Pins ($3.99)

Block Magic Puzzle ($3.99)

Sniper Rescue ($0.99)

Cat Survivors ($4.99)

Gunsmith Workshop Simulator ($11.99)

Warring Universe ($3.99)

Paint Rings ($3.99)

The Crystals of Atlantis ($14.99)

Highway Getaway: ZigZag Blocky Car ($3.99)

Sales

(North American eShop, US Prices)

A small list to get us started off for the week, but a nice chance to grab the Ori games or some of Terarin’s shoot-em-ups if you need to fill out your collection a bit. Probably a more pressing situation over in the outbox, where the latest sale from Marvelous/XSEED is coming to an end. Lots of great games in there, and the publisher doesn’t do sales so often that you can just ignore them out of hand. Take a look through both lists and see what jumps out at you.

Select New Sales

Skater XL ($33.99 from $39.99 until 3/15)
Professor Lupo & his Horrible Pets ($2.99 from $14.99 until 3/15)
Professor Lupo: Ocean ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/15)
Nihilumbra ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/15)
Ori & the Will of the Wisps ($9.89 from $29.99 until 3/15)
Ori & the Blind Forest DE ($6.59 from $19.99 until 3/16)
CounterAttack: Uprising ($5.99 from $14.99 until 3/18)
Charua Soccer Pro Edition ($5.99 from $11.99 until 3/18)
Super Benbo Quest Turbo Deluxe ($2.50 from $10.00 until 3/22)
GigaBash ($19.99 from $24.99 until 3/24)
Titanium Hound ($9.75 from $15.00 until 3/28)
Xatrom Command ($4.79 from $5.99 until 3/29)
Rigid Force Redux ($4.99 from $19.99 until 3/29)
Pumpkin Jack ($7.49 from $29.99 until 3/29)
What The Duck ($1.99 from $19.99 until 3/29)


Growth ($6.69 from $9.99 until 3/29)
Three Minutes to Eight ($7.49 from $14.99 until 3/29)
Let’s Build a Zoo ($8.99 from $19.99 until 3/29)
Let’s Build a Zoo: Ultimate Bundle ($16.99 from $33.99 until 3/29)
Tools Up Ultimate Edition ($4.99 from $34.99 until 3/29)
Missile Dancer ($6.99 from $9.99 until 3/30)
Gemini Arms ($6.64 from $9.59 until 3/30)
Raging Blasters ($10.29 from $14.70 until 3/30)
Cat Survivors ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/30)
Blasphemous 2 ($17.99 from $29.99 until 3/31)
Dredge Deluxe Edition ($20.24 from $26.99 until 3/31)

Sales Ending Tomorrow, March 12th

Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed ($7.99 from $19.99 until 3/12)
Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed ($14.99 from $29.99 until 3/12)
Corpse Party ($9.99 from $19.99 until 3/12)
Corpse Party Blood Drive ($7.99 from $19.99 until 3/12)
Deadcraft ($6.99 from $19.99 until 3/12)
Deadcraft Deluxe ($8.99 from $29.99 until 3/12)
Freedom Planet ($4.49 from $14.99 until 3/12)
Gal Metal ($4.99 from $19.99 until 3/12)
Growbot ($12.99 from $19.99 until 3/12)
Lamplight City ($9.74 from $14.99 until 3/12)
Loop8: Summer of Gods ($11.99 from $39.99 until 3/12)
Melon Journey Bittersweet Memories ($4.49 from $14.99 until 3/12)
Metal Tales Overkill ($7.49 from $14.99 until 3/12)
No More Heroes ($9.99 from $19.99 until 3/12)
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle ($9.99 from $19.99 until 3/12)


Pill Baby ($2.00 from $10.00 until 3/12)
Pinball FX Charlie Brown Xmas DLC ($4.94 from $5.49 until 3/12)
Pinball FX Star Trek Pinball DLC ($13.49 from $14.99 until 3/12)
Pirate Bloopers ($4.99 from $9.99 until 3/12)
Rune Factory 3 Special ($19.99 from $39.99 until 3/12)
Rune Factory 3 Special Deluxe ($24.99 from $49.99 until 3/12)
Rune Factory 4 Special ($14.99 from $29.99 until 3/12)
Rune Factory 5 Deluxe ($24.99 from $49.99 until 3/12)
Sakuna: Of Rice & Ruin ($14.99 from $29.99 until 3/12)
Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle LE ($14.99 from $29.99 until 3/12)
Silent Hope ($19.99 from $39.99 until 3/12)
Sir Lovelot ($2.49 from $9.99 until 3/12)
Sonority ($12.99 from $19.99 until 3/12)
Sqroma ($1.99 from $8.99 until 3/12)


Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life ($19.99 from $39.99 until 3/12)
Story of Seasons: Mineral Town ($15.99 from $39.99 until 3/12)
Story of Seasons: Olive Town ($19.99 from $39.99 until 3/12)
The Last Worker ($9.99 from $19.99 until 3/12)
Tin Hearts ($15.99 from $19.99 until 3/12)
Tiny Troopers Global Ops ($9.99 from $19.99 until 3/12)
Touhou: New World ($14.99 from $24.99 until 3/12)
Trinity Trigger ($19.99 from $39.99 until 3/12)
Trinity Trigger Deluxe ($22.49 from $49.99 until 3/12)
Unforeseen Incidents ($12.99 from $19.99 until 3/12)
Witchtastic ($13.49 from $17.99 until 3/12)

That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with more new releases, more sales, more reviews, and perhaps some news. I had a sudden urge to play through some classic Mega Man games over the weekend, and that’s just what I did. I don’t know how much nostalgia drives it, but I sure do have a good time with the NES installments. I hope you all have a marvelous Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!



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