SwitchArcade Round-Up: Reviews Featuring ‘Balatro’ & ‘Arzette’, Plus Today’s New Releases and Sales

SwitchArcade Round-Up: Reviews Featuring ‘Balatro’ & ‘Arzette’, Plus Today’s New Releases and Sales

Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for February 19th, 2024. Another week is upon us, and as we often do we’re kicking things off with some reviews for you. First up is the upcoming Balatro, which our pal Mikhail has put through its paces and then some. After that, I take a look at one of the odder tributes I’ve seen in a while, Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore. We then go into the somewhat dire line-up of new releases for the day, and finish things up in the usual fashion with the lists of new and expiring discounts. Let’s get this going!

Reviews & Mini-Views

Balatro ($14.99)

Balatro is a dangerous game that has basically consumed most of my gaming and non gaming time in the last week. Not only was I obsessed with it on my Switches and Steam Decks, but I ended up watching videos of other people playing it while eating and even cooking. I joked about not letting Shaun review it because he might get addicted to Balatro, but I feel like I should delete it as soon as this review goes up.

So what is Balatro? A blend of poker, roguelikes, and deck builders, but the game has been designed very differently compared to the usual deck builders. Instead of focusing on health, spirit, mana, etc, Balatro keeps poker at the forefront and builds around it. This happens with how you earn chips to beat blinds, the buffs and debuffs, and more.

On paper, Balatro just has you playing what seems like regular poker, but it slowly starts to reveal how deep it gets, and how expertly designed it is. The core poker gameplay sees enhancements from a ton of Joker cards you unlock or buy through progress in each run. As you go further, you unlock more modifiers and learn more about the game. No two runs are the same of course, but you keep getting better as you learn the intricacies of Balatro.

Outside the poker cards in your deck, Balatro has Jokers as I mentioned that multiply your score differently, tarot cards that interact with your deck to power or modify elements, planet cards that modify the poker mechanics’ scoring and level, spectral cards, tags, card enhancements, vouchers to modify the shop in between rounds, blinds (rules/ restrictions), and more. This seems like a lot doesn’t it? I’m obviously not as good at explaining this as the game is at introducing mechanics, but I was shocked at how much I learned about Balatro from just playing a few sets of the game on Steam Deck and Switch. It gradually introduces you to mechanics helping your own descent into madness, but it is all worth it. Trust me.

Even before getting the full game, the Balatro demo was incredible, and I’d probably have been happy if that was the full game for its asking price. The actual full game is so much more though in every way. I cannot even imagine how much time it would take me to unlock everything it has to offer and then go through the main deck modifiers and higher difficulty options. This feels like an all-timer just after a week of playing.

In addition to the normal mode, difficulty modifiers, and decks, you have challenges with preset restrictions you unlock. I can’t get over how much is included in the base release from day one. This sort of polish is something you usually get for games in early access for over a year.

Having played Balatro on both Switch and Steam Deck, it controls perfectly with a controller or traditional controls, but I really enjoyed it the most with touch controls on both platforms. Those felt amazing, and I really hope Balatro hits iOS so I can play it on my iPhone and iPad. That would be a dangerous game to have with me at all times, but the world needs more Balatro on every screen.

In its current state, I’ve only really run into two issues with Balatro. One affects the Switch version where I had one reproducible crash, but it didn’t happen in future runs and after I ignored that one specific situation in the run causing crashes. I had no crashing on Steam Deck when playing on the device itself and on my 1440p 144hz monitor outside Steam Cloud not syncing correctly. The other issue is a minor one where the game sometimes has a thin line appearing across the screen during some animations. This is a bit distracting.

I want to highlight Balatro‘s accessibility options since the default look has pixel art smoothing enabled, a CRT filter enabled, and screen shake on. I disabled all of this to ensure I don’t get motion sickness and also to make Balatro look as crisp and clean as possible. I will say the default look with screen shake off is lovely, but I usually disable CRT filters when I play. There’s also an option to “unlock all” from the collection in your profile selection screen. On Switch, it just unlocks the collection and gives you 100% completion there, but it disables achievements for that specific profile when playing on Steam. You can also increase or decrease the game speed to play at 0.5, 1, 2, or 4x the default speed.

Balatro‘s audio design is incredible. The soundtrack is so good, that I’ve been leaving the game running to listen to the main theme while working on other reviews and writing. The sound effects perfectly complement this. I hope the Balatro soundtrack is released very soon so I can listen to it on my phone as well.

In terms of what I’d like to see in future updates, Balatro has everything I wanted and more. I’d only like for better haptics/vibration support on Steam Deck.

Having only tried out Balatro because a friend of mine mentioned the demo, I’ve ended up not only loving it, but putting it directly up with Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, Granblue Fantasy: Relink, and Tekken 8 in my top games of 2024 so far. Now I should really delete the game like I said I would to focus on other releases, but I need to play more and get laughed at by the joker. -Mikhail Madnani

SwitchArcade Score: 5/5

Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore ($19.99)

No matter how minor, weird, bad, or unloved something is, there are always going to be some fans of it out there. Sometimes genuine, sometimes ironic. Sometimes that ironic fandom becomes genuine fandom. But everything has some fans, and in the modern age those fans can find each other and share their love with each other. In some cases, those fans end up creating homages to the object of their affection, and in extremely rare circumstances those homages can break out of that little circle and reach the rest of the world. Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore is one such case.

I mean, look. Most of us have seen those wacky animated segments from the CD-i Mario and Zelda games. If the ill-fated console had any lasting legacy, it’s those bizarre, off-model, oddly-acted scenes. Nintendo keeps such a tight rein on its prized franchises in recent decades that it’s wild to see such amateurish fare featuring its characters. No surprise those went viral, and it’s equally unsurprising that Arzette features its own take on them. In concept, this is a tribute to the CD-i Zelda games, so it had to have at least that much.

But here’s the thing: those animated bits spread so widely, I think just about anyone could make a game that parodies them and consider that a sufficient CD-i homage. It would pass the smell test for most of us, because statistically speaking very few of us have much actual experience with the console. Arzette developer Seedy Eye Games nailed that part, but it sure didn’t stop there. While this game mainly focuses on lovingly lampooning Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, it’s packed from top to bottom with winks and nudges that could only come from people well-versed with the CD-i, its particular quirks, and its library of games. From the pan flute-heavy sampled music to the painted backgrounds to bonus rounds that pay tribute to the likes of Hotel Mario, the only thing that keeps it from feeling like it tumbled right out of 1994 is that it knowingly tips its hand a little too hard at times.

So yes, if you’re here for the whole CD-i aesthetic and the inside jokes, you’ll be well-served by Arzette. It does a good job of riding the line between being goofy enough to appease the ironic fans while also being loving enough to keep the more genuine fans smiling. That couldn’t have been an easy rope to walk, and I have to tip my hat to the devs for managing it. Those who aren’t in on the jokes at all will probably be a bit taken aback by how weird the presentation is, but there was no way to avoid that. The games that served as the inspiration for this one are just as weird, after all.

How is the gameplay, though? This is one area where imitating The Wand of Gamelon too closely would probably be inadvisable. While not the worst action-platformer around by any means, it sure didn’t impress anyone in 1994 and I don’t think it would fare any better in 2024. Luckily, while Arzette stays true to the spirit of that game, it plays a lot better. The controls are tighter, the boss fights are more engaging, and the level designs are more interesting. It manages that while keeping in a lot of the quirks of The Wand of Gamelon. It reminds me a little of Shantae, and I think if you enjoy those games you’ll find this satisfying enough. It’s a solid side-scrolling action game with some side-quests and light puzzle elements sprinkled in. Not much more than that, but it could have been a lot worse.

There’s no question who Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore is aimed at, and that crowd (small though it may be) is going to have a great time exploring the game and finding all the references and homages. If you fall outside of that hardcore CD-i demographic, you’ll still find a quality side-scrolling platforming adventure here, one whose bizarre nature helps it stand out from a very busy pack. It’s nothing fantastic, but given what it was building on, the fact that it’s any good at all is both unexpected and welcome.

SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5

New Releases

Duck, Quack, Shoot! ($19.99)

Not exactly a banner crop today, is it? This is a shooting gallery game where you shoot the ducks, just like at the carnival but with a less rigged gun. There are four different stage themes, and two players can play at once via local play. Note that you have to use motion controls to play this, so it doesn’t work in handheld mode. This price feels a bit extravagant for what you get, but maybe that’s just me.

I Love Finding Furbabies Collector’s Edition ($9.99)

Find the hidden objects… with various cute animals!

The Bin Bunch

Drift Master Simulator 2024 – Driving Sim ($11.99)

Tippy Pad (S0.99)

Cyber Taxi Simulator ($12.99)


(North American eShop, US Prices)

Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion has a discount to correspond with a big new update that recently hit, and some of the Pixel Game Maker Series titles are hitting new low prices. Over in the outbox, Super Mega Baseball 4 is finishing up its latest sale, and both Dead Cells: Castlevania Bundle and Hades are fantastic treats for fans of roguelite action games. Check those lists!

Select New Sales

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed ($9.99 from $19.99 until 2/23)
Heads Up! Phones Down Edition ($9.99 from $39.99 until 2/23)
MythForce ($14.99 from $29.99 until 2/23)
Dual Souls: The Last Bearer ($4.99 from $9.99 until 2/24)
Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion ($26.99 from $29.99 until 2/24)
Santa’s World ($1.99 from $2.99 until 2/29)
Line Color World ($1.99 from $2.99 until 3/1)
Svoboda 1945: Liberation ($4.49 from $17.99 until 3/4)
Blade of Darkness ($2.90 from $14.99 until 3/7)
Japan Train Models: JR East ($9.37 from $13.99 until 3/8)
Japan Train Models: JR West ($11.19 from $13.99 until 3/8)
Ghost Sweeper ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/8)
Skautfold: Usurper ($7.49 from $14.99 until 3/8)

Nuclear Blaze ($7.49 from $14.99 until 3/8)
Escape String ($2.09 from $6.99 until 3/8)
Treasures of the Roman Empire ($2.09 from $6.99 until 3/8)
Teppo & The Secret Ancient City ($6.39 from $7.99 until 3/8)
World War: D-Day Part One ($11.99 from $14.99 until 3/8)
World War: D-Day Part Two ($11.99 from $14.99 until 3/8)
PGMS Storm Swordsman ($6.79 from $7.99 until 3/9)
PGMS Ninja Runner ($4.00 from $5.00 until 3/9)
PGMS Project Nosferatu ($12.74 from $14.99 until 3/9)
PGMS Ninja Otedama R ($4.79 from $5.99 until 3/9)
Ship of Fools: Aquapocalypse Edition ($14.99 from $29.99 until 3/10)
Moving Out 2 ($14.99 from $29.99 until 3/10)
Survivor: Castaway Island ($17.99 from $29.99 until 3/10)

Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 20th

Alpaca Ball: Allstars ($2.99 from $19.99 until 2/20)
Bastion ($2.99 from $14.99 until 2/20)
Blood Will Be Spilled ($1.99 from $14.99 until 2/20)
Chasm: The Rift ($7.99 from $19.99 until 2/20)
CometStriker DX ($10.04 from $14.99 until 2/20)
Cynthia: Hidden in the Moonshadow ($11.19 from $13.99 until 2/20)
Dead Cells: Castlevania Bundle ($22.04 from $31.49 until 2/20)
Feudal Alloy ($1.99 from $16.99 until 2/20)
Forklift Extreme ($2.99 from $9.99 until 2/20)
Hades ($12.49 from $24.99 until 2/20)
Little Devil: Foster Mayhem ($1.99 from $14.99 until 2/20)
Pinball M: Death Save Bundle ($17.99 from $19.99 until 2/20)
Spy Chameleon ($2.99 from $9.99 until 2/20)
Super Mega Baseball 4 Ballpark Edition ($23.99 from $59.99 until 2/20)
Super Soccer Blast: America vs Europe ($4.99 from $9.99 until 2/20)
Super Sports Blast ($7.49 from $24.99 until 2/20)
The Company Man ($4.99 from $19.99 until 2/20)
Toby: The Secret Mine ($1.99 from $11.99 until 2/20)
Transistor ($3.99 from $19.99 until 2/20)

That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with more reviews, new releases, sales, and maybe some news. We busted out the ol’ Wii U yesterday to play some Game & Wario. Sure, it wasn’t a great WarioWare game, but my family enjoys its minigames. A good time was had by all. I hope you all have a magnificent Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!

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