Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for December 6th, 2021. In today’s article, we’ve got two big reviews for you. First up is Nintendo’s brand-new Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain, which revives a long-dormant brand. Next, we’ve got Spike Chunsoft’s Danganronpa Decadence, a collection of the three mainline Danganronpa games plus a new spin-off. We also take a look at today’s sole new release, and have the usual lists of incoming and outgoing sales for you to ponder. Let’s get to business!
Reviews & Mini-Views
Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain ($29.99)
Of all the dormant Nintendo brands that could make a return in 2021, I never would have expected Big Brain Academy to be one of them. The first game came in 2005 for the Nintendo DS under the Touch! Generations label, with a follow-up on the Wii in 2007. I assume the games sold well enough, but they always felt like the little siblings to the more popular Brain Age games. Brain training games seemed really popular for a while there, so it made sense for Nintendo to meet the demand as much as possible. But that was a while ago. The brain training genre cooled off in a big way, and even Brain Age itself barely gets much attention anymore.
So why is Big Brain Academy back? That’s a question I can’t answer, but it works out to the benefit of North American fans of the genre. Likely due to regulations in the United States on games that purport to improve your brain power, the Nintendo Switch Brain Age game wasn’t released in the region. The lighter, more abstract take on the idea seen in Big Brain Academy appears to have helped it swerve around such issues. That makes it the winning choice by default for those residing in North America.
Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain appears to be positioning itself as a party game, and I regret to say that it’s not much of one. Up to four players can tackle the game’s twenty brain-teasing puzzles, racing to see who can complete each the quickest. You can set how many rounds you want to play, set individual difficulty levels for each player, and have the games chosen either randomly or by the players. It’s amusing enough for a little while, but I found my family got tired of it after a few games. If you’re looking for a party game, there are a lot of better choices on the Switch, including the recently-released Mario Party Superstars and WarioWare Get It Together.
The value in this game is more easily found in its single-player offerings. You can do the usual stuff, like taking a test that pulls one activity from each category or playing each activity individually. Earning gold medals on all of the individual activities unlocks a more difficult mode that turns up the heat from the get-go. The most fun can be had in the game’s Ghost Clash mode, where you compete against the ghost data of other players. You can battle against people on your friend list, other profiles on your Switch, or against random opponents from around the world. In the latter case, you’ll climb up the global rankings with each win.
Whatever mode you play, you’ll earn some coins at the end of session. Every time you earn ten coins, you’ll unlock a new customization option for your little avatar. There are quite a few to earn, so if that’s a grind you like to get into, you’ll be busy for a while. The biggest problem is that with just twenty minigames, things start to get repetitive in a hurry. The competitive elements help a bit, but there just isn’t a ton of meat on the bone here. The minigames, mostly drawn from the previous games in the series, are fine. There just aren’t enough of them, and some of them feel like the same activity with a different lick of paint.
Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain follows the pace of its predecessors very closely. So much so that you wouldn’t realize there was a gap of nearly fifteen years between this installment and the last one. Like the previous games, it’s a fun distraction if you’re looking for a “brain training” game. Hardly essential, certainly light on things to do, but if you like this sort of thing you’ll likely get some mileage out of its new competitive aspects.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
Danganronpa Decadence ($59.99)
I could fluff this review up more, but I think I’ll go more or less to the point with this. Danganronpa Decadence brings Spike Chunsoft’s outstanding series of adventure thrillers to the Nintendo Switch in a fantastic package. You get all three of the mainline entries in the series, plus the new spin-off Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp. Each of these games is also available individually on the eShop should you prefer to go a la carte, but buying the physical bundle essentially gets you Danganronpa S at no additional cost.
The mainline games are handily worth the price of admission. They play a bit like the Ace Attorney games but with a horror/Battle Royale vibe. The stories in each game are different, but the basic idea is that a sadistic creature calling itself Monokuma captures a bunch of students and says that they can only leave if they commit murder and get away with it. Before too long, someone decides to make an attempt of it, and you’re off to the races. As with Ace Attorney, there’s an adventure component and a trial component, and while it’s certainly more grotesque than the adventures of Phoenix Wright, the appeal is very similar.
All three games are excellent, with the third game in particular a dazzling piece of story-telling. Just keep in mind that these games feature a lot of violence and dark themes. If you’re not comfortable with psychological horror as a genre, you probably won’t have a good time with these games. Otherwise, they’re about as close to “must-play” titles as I can imagine. Sadly, I can’t say the same for Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp. It expands on a minigame from Danganronpa V3 and brings characters from all three games together to interact for what is the first time for many of them. It’s a grindy board game affair that feels like it was hastily converted from a free-to-play structure, and while the fan service is on point, I found it became extremely tiresome before too long.
As for the quality of the ports, this is a good way to play the Danganronpa games, but could have been better. The games were rebuilt for the Anniversary Edition releases, and there are a few minor performance issues in these Switch ports that aren’t present in other versions. Danganronpa 2 in particular seems to have some framerate issues that you wouldn’t expect. I was also a little surprised at the lack of touch screen support, which was present in both the PlayStation Vita and mobile releases of the games. Nothing deal-breaking, but there was real potential here for these to be the best versions yet. All that said, if you haven’t played the games before you probably won’t mind any of this.
Danganronpa Decadence is a good value if you’re looking to get into the Danganronpa series, packing in solid ports of three excellent adventure games and a mildly amusing spin-off. While these Switch versions aren’t as smooth or fully-featured as you might like, I would imagine most first-time players aren’t going to mind the few nicks and flaws. Provided you’re okay with the mature subject matter, these are games you really should play if you haven’t before. If you’ve already picked the Danganronpa games up on other platforms it’s harder to call this is an essential purchase, but those who have hoped for this series to hit Switch should be satisfied.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
0x0 Minimalist ($3.99)
Phew, this is about as minimal as it gets. In case you can’t figure out what is going on in that screenshot, this is a Sokoban-style crate-pushing puzzle game. You’re the X, the 0s are the boxes, and you need to push them onto the designated squares. The price is low, and it’s not hard to see why.
(North American eShop, US Prices)
Not a whole lot to jump up and down about today, but if you want to get caught up ahead of this week’s release of LOVE 3, LOVE and kuso are both worth grabbing. The outbox also doesn’t have a whole lot going on. SUPERHOT, Shakedown: Hawaii, and Xeno Crisis are the most interesting things in there. The former two will probably be on sale again sooner or later, but the discount on Xeno Crisis is very rare indeed. Do what you must.
Select New Games on Sale
City Driving Simulator ($5.99 from $11.99 until 12/10)
4×4 Dirt Track ($5.99 from $11.99 until 12/10)
Car Driving School Simulator ($6.99 from $13.99 until 12/10)
Art Sqool ($1.99 from $12.99 until 12/10)
Carnage: Battle Arena ($4.49 from $14.99 until 12/10)
AAA Clock ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/10)
Island Maze ($1.99 from $2.99 until 12/14)
LOVE ($1.99 from $2.99 until 12/14)
kuso ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/14)
Dynamite Fishing: World Games ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/17)
Horned Knight ($3.49 from $5.99 until 12/17)
Pile Up! Box by Box ($10.49 from $14.99 until 12/17)
Rocket Rabbit: Coin Race ($1.99 from $7.99 until 12/20)
Switchy Road DeluX ($1.99 from $5.99 until 12/20)
Guards ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/20)
Build a Bridge! ($2.99 from $14.99 until 12/20)
Genetic Disaster ($2.99 from $14.99 until 12/20)
Bridge Strike ($1.99 from $6.99 until 12/21)
Postal REDUX ($4.49 from $9.99 until 12/21)
LEGO Harry Potter Collection ($9.99 from $49.99 until 12/21)
Pixel Gladiator ($1.99 from $6.99 until 12/21)
Detective Di: The Silk Rose Murders ($6.49 from $12.99 until 12/24)
Constructon Site Driver ($10.49 from $13.99 until 12/24)
Extreme Race ($1.99 from $2.49 until 12/24)
Truck Simulator ($5.99 from $11.99 until 12/24)
Sweet Bakery Tycoon ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/24)
Star Horizon ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/24)
City Stunt Driver ($7.79 from $11.99 until 12/24)
6Souls ($6.39 from $7.99 until 12/24)
Bossgard ($9.99 from $19.99 until 12/25)
Apocryph: Old-School Shooter ($6.99 from $14.95 until 12/25)
Poker: Texas & Omaha Hold’em ($5.99 from $9.99 until 12/25)
0x0 Minimalist ($1.99 from $3.99 until 12/25)
Black The Fall ($4.49 from $14.99 until 12/26)
Werewolf Pinball ($2.00 from $2.99 until 12/26)
Mummy Pinball ($2.00 from $2.99 until 12/26)
Halloween Pinball ($2.00 from $2.99 until 12/26)
Pirates Pinball ($2.00 from $2.99 until 12/26)
Bloo Kid 2 ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/26)
Bridge Constructor UE ($4.99 from $14.99 until 12/26)
WildTrax Racing ($1.99 from $7.99 until 12/26)
Outbuddies DX ($5.99 from $17.99 until 12/26)
Colt Canyon ($4.99 from $14.99 until 12/26)
Dungeonoid ($1.99 from $6.99 until 12/26)
Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield ($8.39 from $11.99 until 12/26)
Sports Pinball Bundle ($3.59 from $8.99 until 12/26)
Wild & Horror Pinball ($8.99 from $14.99 until 12/26)
FootGoal! Tiki Taka ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/26)
Burn! SuperTrucks ($1.99 from $7.99 until 12/26)
#pinocchio, Super Puzzles Dream ($1.99 from $5.99 until 12/26)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, December 7th
#1 Anagrams ($2.99 from $3.99 until 12/7)
#1 Crosswords ($2.99 from $3.99 until 12/7)
#1 Crosswords Bundle ($4.49 from $5.99 until 12/7)
#1 Sudokus ($2.99 from $3.99 until 12/7)
Adventure Llama ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/7)
All in Casino Girls ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/7)
Among Pipes ($1.99 from $7.99 until 12/7)
AnimaLudo ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/7)
Archaica The Path of Light ($2.99 from $14.99 until 12/7)
Checkers for Kids ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/7)
Colorfall ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/7)
Curved Space ($9.99 from $19.99 until 12/7)
Dwarf Journey ($3.19 from $7.99 until 12/7)
Fall Gummies ($1.99 from $7.99 until 12/7)
Fantasy Checkers ($1.99 from $7.99 until 12/7)
Fantasy Tower Defense ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/7)
Funny Bunny Adventures ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/7)
Gangsta Paradise ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/7)
Lost Words: Beyond the Page ($7.49 from $14.99 until 12/7)
Mech Rage ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/7)
Outbreak ($7.79 from $12.99 until 12/7)
Outbreak Endless Nightmares ($11.99 from $19.99 until 12/7)
Outbreak Epidemic ($8.99 from $14.99 until 12/7)
Outbreak Lost Hope ($7.79 from $12.99 until 12/7)
Outbreak the Nightmare Chronicles ($7.79 from $12.99 until 12/7)
Outbreak: The New Nightmare ($7.79 from $12.99 until 12/7)
Override Mech City Brawl ($7.49 from $29.99 until 12/7)
Perfect Traffic Simulator ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/7)
Push-Ups Workout ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/7)
Royal Tower Defense ($1.99 from $7.99 until 12/7)
Shakedown: Hawaii ($9.99 from $19.99 until 12/7)
SUPERHOT ($14.99 from $24.99 until 12/7)
The Legend of Ninja ($1.99 from $4.99 until 12/7)
They Bleed Pixels ($1.99 from $14.99 until 12/7)
Trine: Ultimate Collection ($9.99 from $49.99 until 12/7)
WarriOrb ($2.59 from $12.99 until 12/7)
Xeno Crisis ($9.99 from $19.99 until 12/7)
Zoo Dentist ($1.99 from $9.99 until 12/7)
That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with an assortment of interesting new releases, along with whatever news and sales come along in the next twenty-four hours. Maybe a review, maybe not. It depends on a whole lot of things. I hope you all have a magnificent Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!