Switch Player Magazine 37 Lite (Feb 2020)

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FEB 2020


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WELCOME TO SWITCH PLAYER As you’ll read in this month’s editorial, the Switch is doing brilliantly, and here at Switch Player, we couldn’t be happier. With the system’s stellar releases showing no signs of stopping, we can expect that our favourite hybrid console will continue going strong for a couple of years yet. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we have so much to enjoy right now, and that’s starting with the most recently released Switch games. In this issue of Switch Player Lite, you’ll find our review for Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore, which we awarded a very respectable 4/5.

We’ve also included Lachlan’s preview of The Outer Worlds to help get you excited for the title’s upcoming Switch release. Our full issue takes a deep dive into absolutely everything you need to know about this RPG ahead of launch, and that’s before you even get to our coverage of the limited print game market, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and more. Stay up to date with what’s happening at the magazine by following @SwitchPlayerMag on social media, or support us on Patreon to get the full copy of the magazine posted to you upon release. Have a great month, and we hope you enjoy this issue of Switch Player Lite! Renate Plehwe, Editor-in-Chief

04. Editorial

06. The Outer Worlds Preview

08. Tokyo Mirage Sessions Review

12. Next Time

GOT YOUR MONEY We went to press as the financial reports came in. How is the Nintendo Switch doing? Written by Paul Murphy

Another phenomenal quarter from Nintendo and the Nintendo Switch now means that the device has sold more than 52M systems worldwide. That’s almost 11 MILLION in just 3 months, and it sees the diminutive hybrid system swiftly surge past the all-time sales for the SNES. No mean feat. The next classic Nintendo device in its sights is the NES, at a little over 61M. You’d be hard pushed to bet against that happening in the next quarter with Animal Crossing: New Horizons inbound, especially with that newly announced and swish-looking Animal Crossing Nintendo Switch! As for the rest of the financials, there are any number of highlights to pick out. I’ll start with the divisive Pokémon Sword and Shield, where, despite the vocal opposition from some parties, these titles have amassed a combined 16 MILLION units sold on their way to becoming the fastest selling Pokémon games ever. That’s some unbelievable movement, besting Let’s Go’s sales and trending incredibly well to say the least – these will easily become the best-selling Pokémon games in a matter of months. Despite the objections you may have seen or read online – including our own Oliver Roderick’s views – the Pokémon collective have notably voted positively with their wallets. It also means that the titles instantly become the fifth biggest selling Switch titles!

Elsewhere, there’s no change to the top end of Switch Sellers. Elsewhere, there’s no change to the top end of the charts; Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is still the best-selling game with almost 23M copies now. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Super Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild continue to be staples in purchases. There’s good news for new titles too, with Luigi’s Mansion 3 selling through more than 5M units, and other titles such as Astral Chain and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order amassing over a million each. Another success story has to be Ring Fit

4 | Editorial

Adventure. This activity-based venture managed to attract more than 2M sales; considering it’s also been impacted by availability issues, shifting that many in just a couple of months is a massive result. We are very interested in seeing whatever crazy ideas Nintendo throw our way next! Super Mario Maker 2 (5M), The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (4M) and Fire Emblem: Three Houses (2.6M) are titles that didn’t make the top ten, but still sold well. As of course, Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Party (both over 9M) continue to perform strongly.

Switching back to hardware, we learned that cumulatively, the Nintendo Switch Lite has sold more than 5M systems on its own. Switching back to hardware, we learned that cumulatively, the Nintendo Switch Lite has sold more than 5m systems on its own. Given that the device has only been out since September, that is some amazing movement. Nintendo Switch is still tracking well compared to other successful systems, however it’s worth having some perspective. The Switch has now moved to third place in the all-time Nintendo console sales, with just the NES and the Wii ahead of it. However, in handheld terms, it’s still last and lags some way behind the 3DS at 75M. It does seem clear that Nintendo is placing great emphasis on the Lite being the handheld pillar of this movement and those sales would show that consumers are aboard so far. As ever, software will be key. In other news, there are now more than 15M Nintendo Switch Online accounts, up from about 10M last time we spoke about it (back in issue 32) which, whilst remarkable – being around 29% of the audience – also showcases a huge number of customers that need to be given a better offering than what is currently on the table. Although we’ve mentioned this before, I’m sure…

Written by Lachlan Bruce

Ever since Obsidian unleashed the incredible Fallout: New Vegas into the world, fans have clamoured for the studio to tackle another entry in the franchise. Unfortunately, it seems Bethesda has no interest in allowing that to happen, instead opting to systematically destroy the series from the inside with the PR disaster that is Fallout 76. Thankfully, Obsidian decided not to leave fans hanging, instead taking their own brand of RPG to space in the form of The Outer Worlds. The story here is simple, although right out of the gate it sets up the myriad of choices you will be presented with throughout your journey. A mad scientist awakens your created character from cryosleep in the middle of the Halcyon system. He tasks you with saving the system from the evil corporations running everything, though whether you help him or not is entirely up to you. The man is a wanted fugitive after all, so why not turn him over to the authorities? In many ways, Obsidian’s epic space adventure is more Fallout than Bethesda’s own Fallout 4. Being able to create a charisma-based character who is actually useful and can shape the world around them is back, something that hasn’t been in a Fallout game since Obsidian’s New Vegas. With even the main plot having a pivotal decision baked into the narrative so early, it gives you the feeling that the choices you make truly matter. Each planet you visit has an

6 | Preview

interesting story to tell, as does each character you meet along the way. Many of the decisions you have to make sit in a moral grey area, making the right choice seem a bit murky. When executed well, it creates some of the hardest decisions you will ever have to face in a video game. Unfortunately, the game does get in its own way sometimes, occasionally giving away the “right” choice in a way that is disappointing, though thankfully those moments are few and far between. The game itself is a first-person RPG. Think Fallout 3 or New Vegas, but without the option of a thirdperson camera perspective. The similarities to those games are many, with The Outer Worlds even having its own answer to the VATS system. Instead of stopping time and selecting your shots based on a percentage chance to hit, The Outer Worlds’ system is a limited time slowdown that gives you a generous window to line up your shots and take people out with satisfying headshots. Firing each of the game’s multitude of weapons is satisfying, with each shot having a feeling of weight and impact. There are many unique weapons to find as well, and they are a lot of fun to mess around with. If talking your way out of fights isn’t your thing, though, you can definitely have a fun time playing as a gun-toting brute who negotiates via smoking barrel instead. From the environments to the wildlife, each world you visit has a unique look to it. In true RPG fashion, it seems that all the wildlife is out to kill you, but that’s half the fun with these types of games. Thankfully each enemy type feels unique to fight, though they all break down to firing at a monster’s weak point. After all, in many respects, this is a shooter. The levelling system opens you up to a lot of unique character builds. Do you want to be an

intelligent hacker who can blast their way out of any situation? You can allocate points to do so. Want to bumble along with high charisma but a lower intellect, opening up unique dialogue options along the way? Then you can do that too. Adding to the complexity and uniqueness of your character, you can also open up flaws and perks as you progress. For example, if you take a lot of fall damage in your playtime, then you can open up the acrophobia flaw (fear of heights), which gives you negative stats to your character when you’re in high places. Taking a flaw when it is offered to you allows you to pick an extra perk, such as Pack Mule, which allows you to carry more items in your inventory, or Toughness, which increases your overall health. However, as the perks are rather lacklustre, it hardly seems worth it; this is a shame as the flaw/perk system is rather unique. Companions play a rather large role, not only helping you in battle and granting you buffs to your stats, but also opening up unique side quests that are hard not to care about. From an ill-tempered victor to an awkward engineer who just wants to be loved, the characters are unique, and when they speak, it is hard not to be drawn in by their charm. The companion select screen when you leave your ship is straight out of Mass Effect 2 as well, which presses that nostalgia button in a weird way. Overall, The Outer Worlds is a lot of fun, with interesting stories to tell, engaging characters, and a set of environments that are fun to explore. How the game runs on Switch, or even how it looks running on the console’s less-powerful hardware is yet to be seen, but the extra time taken to port this game over to the system will hopefully mean that it will look and run great. Until then, let’s cross our fingers and hope this epic space adventure transfers well to our beloved hybrid system. Switch Player | 7








Very Good




TOKYO MIRAGE SESSIONS #FE ENCORE Wacky, weird and oh-so-wonderful. Reviewed by Shaun Hughes

“Next, choose a setting for Tsubasa’s glasses. You can decide whether Tsubasa Oribe, one of the game’s cast appearing in the story, should wear glasses as part of her casual outfits. (This will not affect the story in any way.) You can adjust this setting at any point during the game from the Settings menu.” To summarise Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore, you need look no further than these opening lines from the latest release by Atlus and Nintendo. This is one of the first choices you make, alongside difficulty setting and the like, and gives a clear indicator as to what Tokyo Mirage Sessions might be all about. In short, it is wacky, weird and downright wonderful. A Wii U port of the cross-over RPG from Atlus, TMSFEE is a combination of gameplay, storyline and art style from two beloved franchises: Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei. For seasoned veterans of either series, the announcement at the Nintendo Direct in September of 2019 was met with delight at what some argue is the greatest game to come from the Wii U era. To those less knowledgeable of the two series, the hype surrounding Fire Emblem: Three Houses means Tokyo Mirage Sessions will have piqued interest – rightly so. As a turn-based, tactical RPG with a LOT of personality, Tokyo Mirage Sessions is an engaging if unconventional role-playing game that is as deep as it is shallow, and as fresh as it is familiar. It is greater than the sum of its parts, with the individual elements of TMSFEE rather odd on paper, but when combined, the beauty of the game becomes apparent. Setting the scene for the 40+ hour RPG is modernday Tokyo with an interdimensional evil that has invaded to wreak havoc. What ensues is an all-out war in which you and your eclectic cast of soon-to-be stars of the entertainment industry journey through Idolaspheres to fight back and save Tokyo and its inhabitants. It really is as unusual as it sounds, however it

becomes even more unusual when Mirages, Carnage Unity and Stage Rank are thrown into the oh-so-beautiful mix. There are times where Tokyo Mirage Sessions represents your typical role-playing game, yet it very quickly reminds you again that this is as unique as it gets. The turn-based battle system is a fairly standard affair with a running order of turn-taking, and skills, standard attacks and items being the order of the day. Where it differs though is in the collaboration between your characters, referred to as ‘sessions.’ If you select a move that is particularly effective against an enemy, it initiates a ‘session’ whereby your other teammates complete a combination of attacks against your foe. These moments are beautifully presented through delightful animations and this is one of the many occasions where TMSFEE really shines.

There are times where Tokyo Mirage Sessions represents your typical role-playing game. The aforementioned skills available during battles are developed through Carnage and Radiant Unity – two unique upgrade options that are unlocked throughout the game using items and materials gathered during battles and dungeon sequences. The former is where the power of your battle companion or mirage, manifested as iconic Fire Emblem characters, allows them to transform into new weapons. The latter is when you and your party members grow as entertainers, and these are representative of the two levelling systems available in TMSFEE: Stage Rank and Level. The impact of each of the upgrades is felt immediately, but more importantly, it rarely becomes overbearing or too much to manage – despite what words such as carnage, radiant, mirage, unity and sessions might have you believe. Representing the RPG genre alongside turnbased battles are dungeons. Themed around the entertainment industry, these offer puzzle solving elements and enemy encounters that appear as cloaked figures you can either fight or swat away. It can be difficult to navigate them at times, but through warp portals and points of interest, it is rare that frustration sets in. The designs are Switch Player | 9

Censorship? Much has been said about the controversial decision to censor the western release of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore. From the moment it was announced on the Wii U for a European release, talk was rife about it's racier content and its omission from the game in the western world. Changes to outfits, dialogue and even the age of the characters has meant that some fans were left disappointed by the censorship. When the Switch version was released in Japan, there was yet more disappointment as the ported version of Tokyo Mirage is in fact the western version. So much so, that Nintendo issued pre-order refunds to customers who had bought the game under what customers deemed to be false pretences. These refunds are made all the more significant as Nintendo continue to win cases across Europe with their policy that no refunds are given on pre-orders. It definitely remains a 'bone' of contention for consumers.

interesting and inventive, even if the puzzles are a little less so. They offer just enough to keep them from becoming too familiar too quickly.

of which are during free roaming, there is still enough to captivate the player and encourage them to spend as much time there as possible.

An engaging storyline is often pivotal to the success of an RPG and Tokyo Mirage Sessions does not disappoint. It is here, however, where would-be purchasers of the game will need to think twice. It is bizarre, over-the-top and occasionally a little difficult to follow. Again, an example of how the individual parts of TMSFEE may not have been successful had they not been fused together so well. The personality and characterisation of the cast members and enemies make for an exciting story that many will enjoy.

For all that it gets right, there are times where the emotion of the storyline doesn’t always translate as well as the facial features and character animations portray. These could be due to the Japanese audio and subtitles, but also in part due to the imbalance of wacky story and heartfelt moments.

Accompanying the storyline are audio and visual elements that are cause for celebration. There is an understated beauty to the simplicity of the musical accompaniments between battles, creating an atmosphere that perfectly contradicts that of the over-the-top Japanese action. As well as this, the soundtrack is very much in keeping with the wacky ideas of the development team, yet it still manages to portray the emotions of the storyline well. The official songs that are performed by the cast members during pertinent moments in the game are an absolute delight and prove to be one of the many reasons why the decision was made during localisation for western release that these would remain in Japanese and not sung by English actors. Visually, Tokyo Mirage Sessions shines best when fully animated, with the vibrancy and detail proving very impressive. The animations and cutscenes during battle are outstanding, and many a time will you hit the screen record button to capture the on-screen action. Even during the less developed sequences, the most notable 10 | Reviews

No RPG would be complete without side quests and Atlus have provided an abundance of these. They are stand-alone, specific to individual characters, and can be completed at any point within the story once unlocked. This may be deemed a plus for some but for this writer, it feels somewhat of a double-edged sword. It allows for the main story to be developed without interruption, but this means that, at times, they can be seen as token gestures.

Visually, Tokyo Mirage Sessions shines best when fully animated. When considering that the side quests can sometimes lead you back through Idolaspheres that you’ve previously completed – some of which are linear in design and lacking real substance – it would be easy for the player to start avoiding them. Said quests will then pit you against lowly opponents who become more of an inconvenience than anything else, interrupting flow and failing to offer anything exciting. On the flip side, it is easy to see how a player can be swept up in all that TMSFEE has to offer and relish these opportunities

during intermissions. For this reviewer, they were seen more as a hindrance to the playthrough. Deciding to bring this to the Nintendo Switch was a very smart move, and the ability to save anywhere, change the difficulty on a whim, and come back to it at a later time means it is best-suited to the pickup-and-play nature of the console. On that note, however, there is a lack of guidance as to what to do next when returning mid-quest. There is little available to prompt the player if you have forgotten the next step and this can prove to be frustrating. As well as this, the RPG ‘grind’ makes an appearance here, and this will certainly divide opinion. When coupled with the side quests which can also interrupt the flow of the story, there are a few caveats to consider when deciding if it is an RPG for you. In summary, there is little to dislike with this Shin Megami Tensei/Fire Emblem cross-over, mainly because it won’t be for everyone. By the time the trailer is through and a gameplay video is watched, many will have made up their mind on whether or not it is for them. If it is whole-heartedly embraced, as it should be, then it will be appreciated as the outstanding example of creativity and vision that it is. SUMMARY: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore will prove to be the Switch game many didn’t know they needed. It’s funky, fresh and full of personality, and is an exciting and inventive opener to 2020 on the Nintendo Switch.

Dev: Nintendo; Pub: Nintendo; Date: Jan 17; Price: £49.99 €59.99; Size: 11.3GB Switch Player | 11

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