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Reviews Featuring ‘Persona 5 Tactica’ & ‘Air Twister’, Plus New Releases and Sales – TouchArcade

Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for November 15th, 2023. In today’s article, we’ve got a bit of news to look at from yesterday’s Indie World Showcase. After that, there are two reviews to check out. From our pal Mikhail, there’s a lovely assessment of Atlus’ Persona 5 Tactica. Then it’s over to me with a review of Yu Suzuki’s wild rail shooter, Air Twister. We then head over to the new releases, which are fairly busy for a Wednesday. Finally, we wrap it all up with a look at the latest sales and expiring discounts. Let’s get to it!

News

Indie World Showcase Featured ‘Shantae’, ‘Braid: Anniversary Edition’, and More

Yes, that was a decent little presentation. We got a handful of shadow drops, which I’ll cover in the New Releases section. Shantae Advance: Risky Revolution was announced for a 2024 release, which isn’t surprising but is nice to see. Other announced titles include Core Keeper, On Your Tail, The Star Named EOS, Blade Chimera, A Highland Song, Moonstone Island, Death Trick: Double Blind, Heavenly Bodies, The Gecko Gods, Urban Myth Dissolution Center, Outer Wilds: Archaeologist Edition, Planet of Lana, and Braid: Anniversary Edition. Most of this is hitting in the first quarter of 2024, but some of it will be out at some point during the remainder of 2023.

Reviews & Mini-Views

Air Twister ($24.99)

Like many legendary game creators from the early days of the hobby, Yu Suzuki has been associated with a lot of different kinds of games. Maybe to you, Yu Suzuki is the Shenmue guy. Maybe he’s the Virtua Fighter guy. Perhaps the Out Run guy. Heck, he might even be the Champion Boxing guy. Of course, he’s all of these things, but he’s also the guy behind some of the games that defined the behind-the-back rail shooter. Space Harrier and After Burner showed the power of the arcades with their thrilling visuals and deluxe presentation. A while back, Suzuki came back to this concept with the Apple Arcade release of Air Twister, a game that feels unmistakably like a successor to Space Harrier. And now we have it on consoles, too. Nifty.

Air Twister isn’t an innovative game the way Space Harrier was, and really there is no way it could be. But it is a rather lovely homage to that game that isn’t content to just entirely sell itself as a throw back. You get twelve stages to blast your way through, each one capped off with a boss battle. There are some bonus stages along the way, too. Each stage takes you on a gorgeous journey through some areas that put the “fantasy” in the “welcome to the fantasy zone”. It makes very little sense, but it doesn’t have to, does it? Just enjoy the visuals and blast anything that moves. The action is accompanied by a wild rock opera soundtrack by Valensia, coming off a bit like an off-brand Queen here. Well, it’s cool, so I’m fine with it.

There’s also a lot of other stuff in here besides the story mode. There are several unlockable minigames and additional modes, including a boss rush, a standard arcade mode, and a weird side-scrolling thing where you can gather extra stars. Which brings us to another part of the game. As you play, you’ll earn stars. You can use these to unlock nodes on a Sphere Grid-style map, each one enhancing your character or unlocking some extra things to enjoy such as new outfits for the main character and tracks from the soundtrack. It’s a real grind to unlock it all, and you may well finish the main game before you get even close to doing so. You could see that as adding reasons to replay the game, or as an attempt to stretch a relatively short experience too far. I think it depends on how well you enjoy playing that main game.

You’ve also got some goals to complete, which are probably the strongest reminder that this was a mobile game. There are daily goals, weekly goals, and even some time-limited goals to check off. Completing them will earn you more stars, tickets to play the minigames, or new outfits. I’m not sure how much they’ll keep you coming back, but I suppose it’s something. Also carried over from the mobile version is the ability to play with touch controls if you like. The game plays nicely with the buttons and sticks, but if you master using both you can pull off some neat stuff. The game looks and runs well enough on Switch, though it feels a little less crisp in places than the mobile original.

As someone who still enjoys firing up Space Harrier now and then for some kicks, I had a fantastic time playing Air Twister. Don’t come into it expecting it to push the rail shooter genre to new levels. It’s very similar to the original in terms of pure mechanics and overall length. The presentation is wild, and you sure can’t say the game goes halfway on throwing imaginative stage designs at you. The average player might find this a bit too slight an experience, and I’m not sure the extras add much in that regard, but if you love rail shooters I think you’ll find Air Twister to be an audiovisual trip worth taking.

SwitchArcade Score: 4/5

Persona 5 Tactica ($59.99)

 

Another year, another Persona spin-off. Unlike some fans who just stick to mainline games, I’ve usually enjoyed most spin-offs Atlus has released, while being disappointed in others. Since Persona 4, we’ve had tons of spin-offs through rhythm games, fighting games, dungeon crawlers, and action RPGs, but this is the first Persona tactical RPG, and it is a great release despite one annoying issue.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had a chance to play Persona 5 Tactica across multiple platforms. I wrote up my preview thoughts of the Switch version here and Steam Deck version here already, but have since been focusing on playing it on both portable systems while also dabbling in the Xbox Series X version.

Persona 5 Tactica‘s story had a lot of potential in positive and negative ways. I wasn’t really sure I wanted another game with the Phantom Thieves, but Persona 5 Tactica surprised me. After playing Persona 5, Persona 5 Royal, Persona 5 Dancing in Starlight, Persona 5 Strikers, Persona 5 Royal once again through its new ports, and now Persona 5 Tactica, I think Atlus did a great job with the new characters here, and the cast interactions. I’m actually curious to see how the DLC plays out as well once I can get that.

My expectations for the gameplay were all over the place before I played Persona 5 Tactica. Would it be like the brilliant Devil Survivor games? Could Atlus deliver a game that was accessible? I’m quite impressed with the gameplay. It brings Persona 5‘s flair and mechanics to a tactical RPG setting, but each stage also feels like a puzzle in many ways. The bite-sized structure also perfectly suits portable play. The puzzle elements also apply to when to use your Tactica equivalent of the all-out attack, when you should play defensively, and how you build up your character skills. There’s a lot of freedom in parts despite the overall game being quite linear. This is a great release to introduce Persona fans to tactical RPGs like how the Persona Q games introduced the fanbase to DRPGs.

Depending on your difficulty and how quickly you go through the cut-scenes or dialogue, I imagine Persona 5 Tactica will take you between 25 and 35 hours. That is a lot meatier than I expected, but the story and pacing aren’t as good as Persona 5 Strikers. That remains the gold standard for a Persona spin-off. There’s also some good replay value with each stage if you want all the rewards.

Visually, I wasn’t sold on Persona 5 Tactica‘s chibi aesthetic, but the developers pulled it off here. Persona 5 Tactica feels like a big budget 3DS game in the best possible ways, and I love the slick aesthetic applied to everything in this release. The new characters, cut-scenes, and combat animations are great.

On the audio side, the music could’ve used some more vocal tracks or a more bombastic style. Some of the songs feel a bit too subtle or atmospheric for a Persona 5 game. Either way, the soundtrack is still very good, and the voice acting is fantastic. I hope Atlus can patch in better levels for the dialogue though because it feels like some voices are softer than others.

While the embargo lifted yesterday, Persona 5 Tactica did get patched once more, and I was curious to see if there were any improvements. Right now, it still has annoyingly long load times in parts, and some of the interface isn’t as responsive as it should be. Barring that, I have no complaints with the Switch version. The game is gorgeous on the OLED in handheld mode. This is the perfect game to test out on the OLED Steam Deck as well, but unfortunately Jared is busy playing other games right now.

If you have access to a Switch and Steam Deck, the latter runs the game massively better than Switch, but you miss out on the screen unless you have a new OLED Deck. If you are ok tolerating longer load times, Persona 5 Tactica is an easy recommendation on Switch. While it definitely looks amazing on Xbox Series X, I prefer playing these kinds of games on a portable, so I didn’t spend too much time on that version.

Persona 5 Tactica ended up surprising me in a good way. I initially thought it would be a throwaway story like Persona Dancing or Arena games, but it is so much more. While it doesn’t reach the highs of Persona 5 Strikers even for music, Persona 5 Tactica is an excellent addition to any Persona 5 fan’s library. Just don’t bother getting it if you haven’t played that yet. I can’t wait to check out the DLC in the near future.-Mikhail Madnani

SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5

New Releases

Passpartout 2: The Lost Artist ($24.99)

The follow-up to the popular and highly unique art-themed game walks in its footsteps well. Passpartout is out on the streets following a mysterious disappearance, and the only way forward is to create more art. Take commissions, buy art tools, create pictures, and get to know the people of Phenix. The better you know everyone, the better you’ll be able to create art to meet their tastes, after all. I think our pal Mikhail is going to take a look at this one with a proper review, so do look forward to that.

Backpack Hero ($19.99)

A clever little roguelite where how you organize items in your backpack is almost as important as how you use them. Travel through dangerous locations, battle enemies, meet new friends, collect more than eight hundred items, and rebuilt your hometown with the resources you find. There are different characters to play, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and more than one hundred enemy types to contend with. This looks terrific, and it seems to be well-regarded on other platforms. A good week for roguelites on Switch, I’d say.

Howl ($14.99)

This is a tactical turn-based game with a really distinct art style. You’ll be fighting a lot of wolves, as you might expect from the title. There are sixty levels to play, spread across four chapters, and you’ll have to battle enemies, save villagers, and unlock new skills to handle the increasing challenges thrown your way. Apart from the turn-based battles, you’ll also have to chart your route using the world map. Depending on the path you take, you might find new skills or secret routes. This one looks pretty cool, but I’ll have to spend some time with it to see if it lives up to that promise.

The Last Faith ($27.99)

Blending Dark Souls with a Metroidvania-style structure isn’t exactly a new idea, but it’s a mix some people seem to really enjoy so why not throw another log on the pile? If looks were all a game needed to make it, The Last Faith would definitely be in good standing. It has a cool, gothic look to it and I like all of the sprite work and animations. As for how it plays? That remains a mystery to me, friends. I haven’t had the opportunity to play it yet. At the very least, those who enjoyed Blasphemous should take a closer look at this.

Turbo Shell ($11.99)

A game starring an egg as the hero? It’ll never work out. This is a precision platformer with a very unique gimmick. Your character has a blue beam and a red beam sticking our from them, and you can use the blue beam to push off surfaces and the red beam to pull yourself towards them. Using these abilities, you have to make your way through some truly nefarious challenges. It’s all rather dizzying, but if you like your platformers challenging and set up for speedrunning, this might be eggs-actly what you’re looking for today.

Enjoy the Diner ($10.99)

A short choice-based narrative adventure about a mysterious diner named Moon Palace. You’ll make choices and do some light puzzle-solving en route to one of two different endings. You’ll find this establishment has some rather unusual customers, so make sure you take the time to get to know them all. And don’t forget to visit the drink fountain! It’s a highlight, apparently.

Lily in Puzzle World ($4.99)

This is a fairly straightforward platformer where you make your way through fifty single-screen stages, trying to get the keys and reach the exit. There are bonus coins you can try to pick up as well. You know how it goes. The gimmick here is that the main character, Lily, can change her shape to squeeze through tight spaces or reach high-up switches. Looks amusing enough for a fiver.

The Bin Bunch

Zombies Rising Dawn ($9.99)

Sales

(North American eShop, US Prices)

A small list of new sales today, but a few things certainly worth noting. To celebrate the release of the sequel, the original Passpartout hits a new low price. The BIT.TRIP Collection is also an absurd deal at the moment, giving you all the games for under two-and-a-half bucks. The outbox isn’t too big either, and I don’t have anything in particular I want to call out from it. I’ll let you look over both of those lists and see if anything jumps out at you.

Select New Sales

Deflector ($1.99 from $22.99 until 11/21)Harmony’s Odyssey ($7.49 from $14.99 until 11/22)Death’s Gambit: Afterlife ($12.99 from $19.99 until 11/23)Where the Water Tastes Like Wine ($3.99 from $19.99 until 11/23)Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition ($3.99 from $19.99 until 11/23)Pinstripe ($2.99 from $14.99 until 11/23)Doki Doki Literature Club ($11.24 from $14.99 until 11/23)LISA: The Painful ($15.99 from $19.99 until 11/23)LISA: The Joyful ($7.99 from $9.99 until 11/23)LISA: Definitive Edition ($19.99 from $24.99 until 11/23)Virgo Versus the Zodiac ($15.99 from $19.99 until 11/23)Smile For Me ($11.24 from $14.99 until 11/23)Long Gone Days ($19.99 from $24.99 until 11/23)Blossom Tales II: Minotaur Prince ($9.74 from $14.99 until 11/25)Yooka-Laylee ($7.99 from $39.99 until 11/25)A Little Golf Journey ($3.99 from $19.99 until 11/25)Lil Gator Game ($11.99 from $19.99 until 11/25)Little Devil: Foster Mayhem ($7.49 from $14.99 until 11/28)Passpartout: The Starving Artist ($3.99 from $9.99 until 11/29)Burger Patrol ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/4)Always Sometimes Monsters ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/4)LOUD: RockStar Edition ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/5)BIT.TRIP Collection ($2.45 from $9.99 until 12/5)Labyrinth of the Witch ($7.49 from $14.99 until 12/5)Shin chan: Summer Vacation ($27.99 from $39.99 until 12/6)

Sales Ending Tomorrow, November 16th

Assault Gunners HD Edition ($3.99 from $9.99 until 11/16)Axiom Verge 2 ($15.99 from $19.99 until 11/16)Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator ($15.99 from $39.99 until 11/16)Crypt of the NecroDancer ($3.99 from $19.99 until 11/16)Dead or School ($8.99 from $29.99 until 11/16)Dinobreak ($14.99 from $19.99 until 11/16)Herodes ($2.49 from $4.99 until 11/16)Midnight is Lost ($1.99 from $3.99 until 11/16)Package Inc ($2.19 from $4.99 until 11/16)Pulling No Punches ($4.99 from $9.99 until 11/16)Rainbow Yggdrasil ($9.45 from $13.50 until 11/16)Regency Solitaire ($3.59 from $11.99 until 11/16)Rise: Race The Future ($6.59 from $16.49 until 11/16)Session: Skate Sim Deluxe ($23.99 from $59.99 until 11/16)Sokolor ($2.49 from $4.99 Until 11/16)Talk to Strangers ($2.49 from $4.99 until 11/16)Terra Flame ($15.99 from $19.99 until 11/16)TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge 3 ($24.99 from $49.99 until 11/16)Undergrave ($2.49 from $4.99 until 11/16)Vasara Collection ($4.99 from $9.99 until 11/16)White Girl ($4.42 from $8.85 until 11/16)Wild Dogs ($4.99 from $9.99 until 11/16)WRC Generations ($15.99 from $39.99 until 11/16)

That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with the big list of Thursday new releases, plus whatever sales and big news roll in during the next day. Today’s hospital visit went well, and I just have one more follow-up appointment next week before I’m fully in the clear. Quite a relief, to say the least. I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday, and as always, thanks for reading!


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