Switch Re:Port Review #47 – Katana Zero, Atelier Lulua, Dandy Dungeon, Resident Evil, American Fugitive
Today’s Switch Re:Port Review looks at the newest Atelier game, one of Devolver Digital’s best games, Onion Games’ mobile port to Switch, a Resident Evil game, and more. If you’re new to the Switch Re:Port Reviews on the Geek, I (with the help of the fine folk here) look at the Switch ports of games that have been released on other platforms. These reviews aren’t just to talk about the game but to look at how the games run and play on the Switch and how they use the Switch features.
Originally released on multiple consoles and PC and scored 9/10 on Xbox One
It’s becoming pretty difficult to keep track of just how many times Capcom will release a version of Resident Evil on home consoles. This Switch version is pretty much a direct port of the remastered version of the 2015 release on Xbox and PlayStation, itself a remaster of the Gamecube version released in 2002, five years after the original released.
For fans, this particular version is still an excellent remaster featuring the function to switch up the display between the original 4:3 to the more modern widescreen format. So too is the option to choose your control scheme with the original controls and an alternate version that new and old players may well find more comfortable to use. The cutscenes have received a lovely HD touch-up and there are some really clever uses of light that look gorgeous on both the big and small screen.
Resident Evil remains a great game with a fantastic blend of jump scares and environmental puzzle solving, and it performs very well in both docked and hand held modes. There are some largely imperceptible differences in terms of the load times when going through a door, with it feeling like it takes a fraction of a second longer while in handheld, but overall it runs well in my preferred handheld mode.
As for content, sadly both this version and Resident Evil 0 along with it have arrived onto Switch with no new console specific content. For example, this version doesn’t make use of the motion control functionality that the Switch can provide which means that this version is simply a straight port of the previous remastered versions, and as such my biggest issue is the pricing. My opinion will always be that Resident Evil is absolutely worth playing, however unless the issue of portability is your main driver for choosing this version then you are perhaps better served playing it on another platform.
Simultaneously released on Nintendo Switch and PC
I can think of many, many times in my life when a do-over would have been just awesome. I won’t go into details here for fear of ruining your innocence forever, but suffice to say the ability to wind back time in the event of a cock-up could have saved me an awful lot of embarrassment and the government an awful lot of paperwork in the early noughties.
Going into Katana ZERO, I at first assumed the protagonist had such an ability, to unravel the myriad threads of time and essentially try again whenever they caught a stray bullet to the face. In actual fact, the powers at play are more complicated. Instead, your ponytailed samurai assassin has a gift for precognition that allows him to pre-empt the aforementioned free-flying bullets and be where they’re not. What this translates into is a collection of insta-death missions that will rewind you to the last checkpoint with every fatal mistake, and then show you security footage of your eventual flawless run as if that’s the only reality.
It’s actually very cool, and works perfectly in tandem with Devolver Digital’s very Hotline Miami-style action. Transposing the sudden and graphic violence from a top-down perspective to a 2D plane does nothing to hamper the gleefully gory atmosphere, as you send your troubled, PTSD-suffering antihero out on mission after mission, each one throwing up more questions and mysteries as you try to understand just what the hell is going on.
The violence is instant and gratifying, slicing through reams of enemies, deflecting bullets, hurling snatched projectiles and dodge-rolling your way through danger. But the missions themselves only make up half of the action, as Katana ZERO tells a compelling, deliberately ambiguous story during cutscenes between your excursions.
In these moments the assassin, who comes to be nicknamed Dragon by the media, spends time with a doctor to analyse his behaviour, massage his fractured memory and, notably, administer his “medicine”. There’s also the little girl who lives down the hall from him, his noisy neighbours, and a gang of brutal criminals who he appears to be systematically taking down. It becomes clear that Devolver Digital want you to be as confused as Dragon, mixing in dream sequences, flashbacks and flash-forwards, alternate timelines and a drug war over a time-altering narcotic called Chronos.
Katana ZERO takes an interesting approach to dialogue options, too. As opposed to simply a positive or negative response, Dragon can instead interrupt people with demands, insults and barely-constrained rage. This affects how people treat you, and how certain story beats unfold.
Even if it didn’t have a cracking story, the exceptional action would be enough to carry Katana ZERO through. It’s bloody and brilliant and proves Devolver Digital are still at the top of their game.
As is often the case the Switch version adds nothing to the experience, but the graphical style and lightning pace suit the handheld screen way better than they suit a full-sized TV. The Switch, as a result, feels like the natural home for Katana ZERO, which slots perfectly into the existing catalogue.
Released simultaneously on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC and scored 7/10 on Xbox One
American Fugitive is a game about proving your innocence by breaking the law. Protagonist Will Riley is framed for the murder of his father, and upon escaping prison embarks on a personal vendetta to clear his name.
It’s a very gamey trope, the idea of absolving yourself of one crime by committing hundreds of others. By the end of the campaign, Will may well be innocent of his dad’s murder, but his hands are dripping with blood and motor oil and stolen cash.
Essentially a homage to the top-down days of classic GTA, American Fugitive throws a few of its own ideas in, such as changing clothes to remain inconspicuous and collecting items like crowbars and metal pipes to break into buildings. Almost every building on the map can be burgled, and if you happen upon the occupants you can hold them up or tie them up. A decent skill tree includes upgrades for both of the above actions, allowing you to menace folk in their own homes with a little more ease, but you can also improve Will’s stamina so he’s not out of breath after jogging ten paces or help him reload guns quicker.
The whole affair is quite fun, even if traversing the map on foot is a little dull and traversing it by car almost always results in you clipping one too many wings and having the police come after you. Failure isn’t really punished, though, so the sandbox provided by American Fugitive is one worth playing around in. It’s especially fun to jump a rail crossing at the right time and watch the police get wiped out by a train, or lurk in someone’s bushes until they leave the house, then bonk them over the head and steal their keys, thus sidestepping any of that breaking and entering malarkey.
My main complaint with American Fugitive besides the by-the-numbers story, is that the handling feels a little unwieldy. Cars control like you’re driving on ice, and bigger trucks pull round corners like they’re stuck to the road. Aside that my only real foible is that it doesn’t really dp anything that feels brand new. The burglary element kind of reminded me of State of Decay at times, but that just made me wish someone would take the framework of American Fugitive and add zombies.
The stealth does work though, and creeping around gardens at night and searching through homes as the police draw closer is always fun and atmospheric. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense when you remember you’re supposed to be clearing your name.
Playing on the Switch feels no different to playing on any other platform, with no console-specific features or controls. That said, it is the kind of small-scale, intimate affair that feels more at home on the handheld. Plus, you’ve the added benefit of putting it down mid car-chase to come back later.
Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland
Simultaneously released on PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC and scored 8/10 on PS4
When Gust announced a new entry in their Arland series of Atelier games, many people were skeptical because some recent games have been hit or miss for fans. Thankfully, Atelier Lulua is a damn fine Atelier game. I played it on both PS4 and Nintendo Switch and unlike most of Gust’s output on Switch, Lulua is a fine port.
In terms of content, there are no differences between PS4 and Nintendo Switch which is a good thing. Visually there are some differences though. Unlike Atelier Lydie & Suelle where the Switch port felt like a big compromise compared to the PS4 version, Atelier Lulua isn’t that much different. Some foliage is missing on Switch in some scenes but it looks good and runs well in both handheld and docked modes compared to PS4 Pro. In fact, it seems like the PS4 version was built on the Switch base given that it targets 30fps as well which is pretty surprising given the visuals. Gust definitely pushed visuals nicely with Lulua since it has gorgeous environments and their character designs are still top notch. The only real downside to the Switch version is with shadows that flicker and are very noticeable in some situations.
Atelier Lulua is one of the better games in the franchise in recent times. The Switch version is absolutely worth getting if you’ve played the Trilogy (LINK) and wanted a new game to follow those. I’m still annoyed by the lack of an English voice acting option but the fact that this release actually plays very well on Switch even in handheld makes it an easy recommendation. I’m glad Gust has finally managed making their new games work well on Switch. Hopefully future entries are this well optimised for Nintendo’s hybrid console.
Dandy Dungeon – Legend of Brave Yamada
Originally released on iOS and Android
Million Onion Hotel got me into Onion Games and I still think it is one of the most fun and quirky games you can play on mobile platforms. Black Bird from Onion Games reminded me of NieR: Automata’s craziness but it had its own charm and it remains one of the better shmups on Switch. Mobile ports on Switch aren’t new and many developers just try dumping a mobile game to Switch without consideration for the platform. Thankfully, Onion Games’ release of Dandy Dungeon on Switch gets everything right when it comes to the port.
Dandy Dungeon: Legend of Brave Yamada released on iOS and Android as a free to play game that was always online. It was a roguelite and a very interesting one in an overcrowded genre even on mobile. Yamada is a middle aged man who doesn’t like his job. He begins developing a game at home and this is where the story begins. Dandy Dungeon’s game flow involves Yamada adding or changing the game he is developing and you testing it out. This test is where the main gameplay happens. The story is hilarious and I can’t get over how great the music and sound design are. The only real problems with the actual game are how it can be repetitive and how some aspects are a bit too vague.
On the Switch, you can either play this using traditional button controls or with touch. Since this was on iOS and Android initially, I thought it would play better with touch but Onion Games has done a great job of transitioning a touch only game to traditional controls. The mobile version was free to play but it had 3 in app purchases that would basically “unlock” the game. This Switch port has no microtransactions and is fully playable offline. It even supports cloud save backup. I hope a future update can fix the home menu icon because right now it just uses the mobile icon art.
Dandy Dungeon is a breath of fresh air in a time when most games take themselves too seriously. I love the music and humour here. Having already played a good amount of it on iOS, it is good to see a whole new audience get a chance to play this since the mobile version is no longer available. If you enjoy roguelites and great humour and want something that oozes charm, you need to get this.