Reviews Featuring ‘Surmount’ & ‘Endless Ocean Luminous’, Plus Today’s Releases and Sales – TouchArcade

By admin May13,2024

Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for May 13th, 2024. In today’s article, we kick off the week with four reviews for you to enjoy. Our pal Mikhail has his full evaluations of Surmount and Tales of Kenzera: TAU, while I take a look at Endless Ocean Luminous and the EGGCONSOLE release of Wanderers from Ys. After that, we have a few new releases to check out, plus our usual lists of new and expiring sales. Let’s dig in!

Reviews & Mini-Views

Surmount ($14.99)

Surmount is a physics-based platforming and climbing adventure game with a blend of handcrafted and procedurally generated parts. Some of those sub-genres have gotten quite saturated over the years, so it is always interesting when developers try and do things differently. Surmount oozes charm and has relaxing vibes going on throughout despite the challenging gameplay. I ended up enjoying the time I spent with it quite a bit, but it has a few small issues holding it back.

When I first tried Surmount on Steam, I thought it had potential, but I didn’t think it would have staying power. The initial impression makes it seem like one of those streamer-focused games that is built to be played on Twitch, but Surmount ended up being much more for me. While I waited for the Switch version to get its day one patch to properly start playing there, I decided to dig deeper (climb higher?) on Steam Deck, and then the main mechanic clicked.

As you use the shoulder buttons to slowly climb, swing with the stick, and start hooking yourself as you try and climb, it all starts to make sense. Surmount also has its own daily challenge, a co-op mode (that I could not test sadly), and customization with upgrades. All of this is accompanied by great humor and amazing music.

Right now, Surmount has two issues holding it back. The first is in the procedurally generated aspect. This could just be me “sucking” at specific map types or levels, but I found a few instances where I spent too much time with trial and error to move forward. These aren’t regular occurrences, but I hope the generation can be improved to avoid these. The second is inconsistent performance on Switch regardless of the video mode I selected docked. Handheld feels a bit better, but I hope it can be improved.

Speaking of the Switch, Surmount makes good use of rumble, and it even has touchscreen support for menus. It looks great visually, though I think it shines in handheld mode. It is the perfect pick up and climb game. On Steam Deck, Surmount is basically perfect aside from those minor generation issues. If you have the option, I’d definitely get Surmount on Steam Deck for rock solid 90fps and crisp visuals on the OLED model.

Surmount is quite challenging, but it also has an assist mode if you want to make things easier. I think some folks will want to use assists after the opening level given the slightly different controls, but I urge you to stick with the default. Once things click and you understand how movement works, Surmount is incredible.

Surmount ended up surprising me constantly, and I will be playing the daily challenge and getting back to it often on both Switch and Steam Deck often. If the premise sounds good to you, I recommend downloading the demo for sure. You will not regret it and the climbing mechanic is just so good. -Mikhail Madnani

SwitchArcade Score: 4/5

Tales of Kenzera: ZAU ($19.99)

Tales of Kenzera: ZAU from Surgent Studios and EA Originals is a Metroidvania action-adventure game with a touching story, great art, lovely music, excellent voice acting, and fun combat, but it is a game that doesn’t truly hit the same highs across the board. I’ve played on both Switch and Steam Deck, and I’ve come away liking it even more, but it feels like not everything in the game reaches the same highs.

The main draw for me here was the narrative based on its trailers. Tales of Kenzer: ZAU tells a story about death, grief, family, hope, myths, and more. Given the story-heavy nature Tales of Kenzera: ZAU, I won’t spoil anything, but I can’t remember the last time a Metroidvania had a narrative that was as effective, and one with voice acting this good. I almost wish Tales of Kenzera: ZAU was more of an adventure game just to have more of those elements.

The more I played it, the more it felt like there are two different games inside Tales of Kenzera: ZAU. The narrative and adventure elements feel top tier, but the gameplay sometimes feels lacking, or not as well realized as the rest of the experience. Given the game’s name, I really hope the team at Surgent Studios gets another shot at this to improve on the Metroidvania elements. Given the game’s name, I hope Surgent Studios tackles a game like this again. The next one has the potential to be even more amazing.

Having played Tales of Kenzera: ZAU on both Switch and Steam Deck, the latter offers a much better experience, but the Switch port is still quite good. I didn’t run into major performance issues, and it controlled well.

I absolutely recommend Tales of Kenzera: ZAU, and the Switch version was a lot better than I expected, but the Metroidvania aspect isn’t as well-realized as the rest of the game. You’re here for the narrative, music, art, and voice acting more than the Metroidvania bits that felt too linear. -Mikhail Madnani

SwitchArcade Score: 4/5

Endless Ocean Luminous ($49.99)

There are no two ways about it: Endless Ocean Luminous is a disappointment. The first two games, released on the Wii, had to swim hard against the tide. Some people strongly disliked their non-violent, relaxed nature, and I’m happy that we are now in an era where games like Endless Ocean can be enjoyed for what they are rather than disliked for not being what they never intended to be. That makes it all the more frustrating that, in a moment where it should have been able to shine its brightest, Endless Ocean Luminous puts its worst foot forward.

At first, all seems well. Comfortable, even. Slipping into the sea, taking pictures of fish and cataloguing them, and enjoying the serene atmosphere. You can even play with others online this time, which is an interesting addition. And hey, we have procedurally generated spaces! A new game every time you play! Sigh. Procedural generation has its place, but as a substitute for hand-crafted level designs it always comes up short. That’s a big problem here because while the novel mechanics and compelling setting of the Endless Ocean series are important aspects of the whole, one of the best things about the previous games is in exploring those carefully created worlds and discovering the things the developers deliberately left for you to find.

You don’t get that in Endless Ocean Luminous. Instead of slowly venturing further into the sea and finding creatures in places you would expect to see them, here all of the different species are strewn about willy-nilly, with no real thought put into where you’ll come across them or even which species they’ll share space with. To put it frankly, the game isn’t nearly as immersive as its predecessors, and that really hurts the overall experience. It’s such a step back that I can’t imagine anyone who enjoyed the first two games being thrilled with this state of affairs.

That isn’t to say there isn’t anything worth digging into here, though. It’s still relaxing enough swimming around and taking pictures, and you can learn a lot about ocean life in the process. Playing the game in multiplayer is interesting, and I think some people will really like it. With that said, the way progress works in the game involves completing a lot of tedious missions, and it seems to work at odds with the multiplayer push. It’s a game that is fighting with itself in a lot of ways.

It’s unfortunate that a niche series has finally made a return after so many years in a market that should be more receptive to its charms, only to make some big changes that significantly weaken the overall package. There’s still something to Endless Ocean Luminous, things you can’t find in this exact form anywhere else, but the loss of a properly designed world to explore and the sometimes tedious nature of the tasks it requires of you make this a difficult game to recommend with much vigor.

SwitchArcade Score: 3/5

EGGCONSOLE Wanderers from Ys PC-8801mkIISR ($6.49)

So much of what I say in these EGGCONSOLE reviews is the same every time, but what can I do? It is very important for you to know that this is a non-localized Japanese computer game in a wrapper that supports English for its menus and instructions. If you can’t read Japanese, you’re going to require either some familiarity with Wanderers from Ys/Ys III or a decent walkthrough. With this game being what it is, it’s not inconceivable for a person to satisfy those conditions, but the warning remains.

With that being said, this is the original PC-8801 version of Wanderers from Ys, the third game in the series. Clashes over the nature of this game led to the creators of Ys leaving Falcom and forming Quintet, so if nothing else we owe a lot of great games to this one’s existence. Wanderers has always been the black sheep of the series thanks to its side-scrolling nature, and it has been essentially overwritten by the extensively reimagined remake Ys: The Oath in Felghana. You might think that means it’s a bad game, but I actually rather like it. I wouldn’t rank it near the top of the series by any means, but it has fun gameplay, great music, and for its platform it really looks nice.

Given how rarely Falcom seems to let the original Wanderers out versus Oath in Felghana, it’s nice to have a chance to play this game again. It’s grindy and there are parts that don’t quite work, but that Ys flow that runs through just about all of the games is present and accounted for. This release only offers Japanese language support in-game, so make sure you know what you’re getting into if you decide to pick it up. If you’re okay with that, then this is worth the spin.

SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5

Select New Releases

The Land Beneath Us ($14.99)

Another one of those turn-based roguelite dungeon-crawler games for those who can’t get enough of them. This one is stage-based, with each one offering a compact challenge to solve using your various abilities and combos. There’s a wide array of weapons to find and make use of, and the whole thing is wrapped in an attractive presentation. And hey, there’s even a free demo you can download and try to see if it’s your thing or not. It’s always nice when that option is available.

Hand in Hand ($12.00)

A puzzle platformer where two characters have been separated from each other and are trying to reunite. The game takes the form of a splitscreen view, with one character in each window. If you’re playing alone, you’ll control both characters simultaneously, which is obviously an interesting challenge. If you want an easier time of it, you can bring in another player via local multiplayer. Each person will control one character that way. There are times where you’ll need to do something with one character so that the other can move forward. You probably have the general idea here.

Devil Girl ($24.99)

A visual novel about a romance between a thoroughly unremarkable guy and a very unusual girl. Haven’t seen one of those in a while. Our protagonist comes to a new school and on the first day meets a rather strong-willed but respected girl who turns out to be the student council president. She takes a shining to plain guy and pulls him into the student council, and from there their relationship grows. Not sure what makes her a devil; I suppose you’ll have to read it to find out.


(North American eShop, US Prices)

We don’t see sales on The Stanley Parable much, so that’s something. Also some good deals on ININ’s games, and if you’re going to buy Umihara Kawase BaZooKa for any price, let it be under two-and-a-half bucks. Not much in the outbox, but have a look at that too if you’re feeling like kicking all the tires today.

Select New Sales

The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe ($12.49 from $24.99 until 5/19)
Chronicles of Magic: Divided Kingdoms ($8.99 from $14.99 until 5/20)
Fuga: Melodies of Steel Ultimate ($40.49 from $67.49 until 5/21)
Fuga: Melodies of Steel 2 Ultimate ($40.49 from $67.49 until 5/21)
A Tale For Anna ($2.19 from $10.99 until 5/25)
Harmony’s Odyssey ($2.99 from $14.99 until 5/25)
Frogun ($8.99 from $14.99 until 5/25)
Slime Rancher: Plortable ($9.99 from $24.99 until 5/25)
KARGAST ($2.99 from $9.99 until 5/25)
Vision Soft Reset ($1.99 from $9.99 until 5/25)
The Ninja Saviors ($5.99 from $19.99 until 5/25)
Space Invaders Invincible Collection ($17.99 from $59.99 until 5/25)
Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade ($17.99 from $44.99 until 5/25)
Darius Cozmic Collection Console ($17.99 from $59.99 until 5/25)
G-Darius HD ($11.99 from $29.99 until 5/25)

Taito Milestones ($11.99 from $39.99 until 5/25)
Taito Milestones 2 ($23.99 from $39.99 until 5/25)
Ray’z Arcade Chronology ($34.99 from $49.99 until 5/25)
Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move 16-Bit ($5.99 from $7.99 until 5/25)
Puzzle Bobble Everybubble ($27.99 from $39.99 until 5/25)
Bubble Bobble 4 Friends ($13.99 from $39.99 until 5/25)
Cotton Fantasy ($9.99 from $39.99 until 5/25)
Cotton 100% ($2.49 from $9.99 until 5/25)
Panorama Cotton ($2.49 from $9.99 until 5/25)
Umihara Kawase BaZooKa ($2.39 from $29.99 until 5/25)
Beholder 2 ($5.09 from $14.99 until 5/26)
Distrust ($4.07 from $11.99 until 5/26)
Silver Falls: Ghoul Busters ($8.27 from $11.99 until 5/27)
Silver Falls: G&ME S ($14.48 from $20.99 until 5/27)
Silver Falls: Episode Prelude ($5.51 from $7.99 until 5/27)

Backpack Hero ($15.99 from $19.99 until 5/31)
Cook, Serve, Delicious Trilogy ($13.99 from $34.99 until 5/31)
Hotel Hustle ($2.99 from $10.99 until 5/31)
Kinduo 2: Frostbite ($3.99 from $4.99 until 5/31)
Howl ($9.89 from $14.99 until 6/1)
BIT.TRIP Collection ($2.00 from $9.99 until 6/1)
Blasphemous ($6.24 from $24.99 until 6/2)
Overcooked 2 ($6.24 from $24.99 until 6/2)
Ship of Fools: Aquapocalypse ($11.99 from $29.99 until 6/2)
DREDGE ($17.49 from $24.99 until 6/2)

Sales Ending Tomorrow, May 14th

A Time Traveler’s Guide to Past Delicacies ($2.99 from $4.99 until 5/14)
A Winter’s Daydream ($2.99 from $5.99 until 5/14)
Active Neurons ($2.49 from $4.99 until 5/14)
Active Neurons 2 ($2.49 from $4.99 until 5/14)
Active Neurons 3 ($2.49 from $4.99 until 5/14)
Astro Flame: Starfighter ($5.99 from $9.99 until 5/14)
Bright Lights of Svetlov ($5.99 from $9.99 until 5/14)
Earthshine ($2.99 from $4.99 until 5/14)
Edge of Reality ($2.99 from $4.99 until 5/14)
Fur Squadron ($3.49 from $6.99 until 5/14)
Fusion Paradox ($5.99 from $9.99 until 5/14)

Golfinite ($1.99 from $12.99 until 5/14)
Hero Survival ($2.99 from $4.99 until 5/14)
Pocket Quest ($1.99 from $7.99 until 5/14)
Stellatum ($4.99 from $9.99 until 5/14)
Super Cyborg ($1.99 from $6.99 until 5/14)
Super Soccer Blast America vs Europe ($4.99 from $9.99 until 5/14)
Super Sports Blast ($7.49 from $24.99 until 5/14)
The Mooseman ($3.49 from $6.99 until 5/14)
The Tower of Beatrice ($2.99 from $5.99 until 5/14)
Warhammer 40k: Dakka Squadron ($9.99 from $19.99 until 5/14)
Wira & Taksa: Against the Master of Gravity ($1.99 from $16.99 until 5/14)

That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with more reviews, more new releases, more sales, and perhaps some news. Or at least, I think we’ll be back tomorrow. I have to head into the city to interview a developer, but I should be back in time to do the article. I hope you all have a magnificent Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!

By admin

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