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A Comprehensive Nintendo eShop Sale Guide*

*with very strict rules

Look at you. Over the past year, you’ve been buying all sorts of great games for your Switch. You’ve been remembering to register your games for those sweet, sweet Gold Points and have managed to save up a whopping 222. That’s almost $2.25, a respectable dollar amount by any metric. And with end-of-year sales popping up all over the place, you want to wring that $2.22 for everything it’s worth. So to get as many games as possible, you need them to be under $0.99. You want to make sure the games are on deep sale, at least 90% off. The games should have originally sold for over $2 as well, so you know they aren’t just shovelware. But, man, there’s just so many games on the eShop. How will you know what ones fit your inane criteria?

That’s where I come in. I sorted through everything on the eShop and found six games that work with your irresponsible standards and will leave you with a whopping 16 Gold Points left. Let’s take a look at your new games!

Quest for the Golden Duck Title Screen

Game: Quest for the Golden Duck

Developer: Bigosaur

Genre: Pac-Man

Cost $0.11 (99% off, originally $9.99)

Players: Single-player campaign, 2-4 in party mode

Quest for the Golden Duck was the top listed game on sale on the eShop when I checked. What about this game made it so special? What was the Golden Duck? Was this to be a quest filled with danger and intrigue? One of romance, love, and loss? Was it at the top simply because it was listed as 99% off?

While I don’t have an answer as to why it was top-billed (and that’s one more duck pun than Golden Duck offers), the answer to every other question is Pac-Man.

Sure, sure they added some extra power-ups and added a time element to the game, but I mean look at that. It’s just a Pac-Man variant and not a particularly fun one at that. I played through the first part of the campaign fairly easily and without much excitement (its worse Pac-Man, what excitement is there?). I started the second act, game over-ed pretty quickly and turned it off. Unfortunately, I never did find out what the Golden Duck does. But I can tell you the multiplayer isn’t much more exciting than the single-player.

Verdict: Just play Pac-Man on Google and save $0.11

Watermelon Party Title Screen

Game: Watermelon Party

Developer: Bigosaur

Genre: ???

Cost $0.24 (94% off, originally $4.99)

Players: 2-4 (No single player option)

I can only assume that Watermelon Party is the prequel to Quest for the Golden Duck, as most of the characters make a return. I assume that it tells the tale of the heroes and their foes in their journey to arrive at the castle where Golden Duck takes place. I assume that they are a very hungry group, as they seem to be obsessed with watermelon, going as far as to bomb themselves to get more. I have to assume all this because the game tells you absolutely nothing before putting you in front of a plot of land filled with that tasty melon and letting you figure it out.

It’s clear the goal is to build a path to collect all the watermelon before your “friends” do. Place tiles, strategize, fuck up, use bombs to undo, collect watermelon. That’s it. I call them “friends” because Watermelon Party is so unengaging and low stakes that it feels more like a game you would find at an office Christmas party rather than something you would boot up on a Friday night.

Verdict: Less exciting than an actual watermelon

Final Light, The Prison title screen

Game: Final Light, The Prison

Developer: EnjoyUp Games

Genre: Hack’n’slash Roguelike

Cost: $0.69 (90% off, originally $6.99)

I was cautiously excited going into Final Light, The Prison. Not only did it cost the sex number (nice), but the title held secrets. Is that comma a mistake or are there two games tucked away in this one title?

Launching the game only got me more excited. The upper corner promised that if you pressed the “+” button, you would get a breakdown of the game’s controls. Instead, it opened the Switch’s controller menu, allowing you to swap the controller you’re using. Starting the game treats you to a text scroll, a la Star Wars. My hope continued to build. This may be one of the fabled “so-bad-its-good” games. Hopefully, it would at least let me feel something for a few minutes.

After about a minute of load time, Final Light, The Prison revealed itself to me. The game was choppy. Run cycles were missing frames. Coin pickups played the stock “hallelujah” sound effect you heard when you read “hallelujah.” Fighting enemies caused so much camera shake I laughed aloud.

Then, five minutes later, I found myself playing the game seriously. I got into the flow of Final Light, The Prison and realized that the game was built on a solid foundation with some rocky execution. The combat actually felt weighty thanks to the absurd camera shake, the levels had some atmosphere to them, and the controls felt fairly natural. Then, another five minutes went by and I realized I was playing store-brand Dead Cells.

I’m not complaining.

Verdict: 69 (nice)

Deadly Fighter 2 Title Screen

Game: Deadly Fighter 2

Developer: Cool Small Games

Genre: Mobile Game

Cost: $0.39 (90% off, was $3.99)

I feel betrayed by my own expectations. Deadly Fighter 2 seemed to be teasing a retro-style fighting game. I was hoping for a janky Street Fighter, something I could have some laughs with. Instead, I got this:

What you see above is the entirety of Deadly Fighter 2. “But wait,” I hear you screaming at your monitor, “surely there must be something more! Different levels, new enemies, power-ups?” First, there’s no need to shout. I can hear you fine. And my answer to you is a resounding “kind of.” There are power-ups, or boosts, as the game calls them, but they manage to feel worse than the actual combat. There are other enemies, but the only real difference is whether you press “A” once or twice. And I really hope you liked that stretch of floor because that’s it for level design. Yeah, the winter level has snow and the summer level has trees, but that’s all the variation you deserve for playing Deadly Fighter 2.

Verdict: Go punch a tree and watch the seasons change instead.

The Green Game title screen

Game: Green Game (Green Game: TimeSwapper)

Developer: Draw Distance

Genre: Puzzle

Cost: $0.29 (90% off, was $2.99)

Green Game: TimeSwapper (Or just Green Game, as my Switch home screen calls it) has a lot of the same aesthetics as games like Limbo and Inside. But where those games deal with a more surreal terror, Green Game offers a far more tangible fear:

The Handheld Mode Only warning from Green Game

If those three words scared you, steel yourself: It’s touchscreen-only.

The game itself is fine. It’s a fairly simple puzzle game about controlling time to get a bird across a stage. Of course, by “controlling time” I really mean having your finger in the right spot so a machine releases a burst of air. You know, time stuff.

More than anything though, Green Game feels like one of the game ads you see when you need more lives in Candy Crush. The ones that have some style and look alright but are so dull to play you forget to even uninstall it and leave to rot on your memory card. Sure, it’s functional and sure, it’s okay enough, but it’s also so unengaging the thought of relaunching it again to get screenshots for this fills me with ennui.

Verdict: Stare at some green paint instead and contemplate your own mortality.

The Red Game Without a Great Name title screen

Game: Red Game Without a Great Name

Developer: Draw Distance

Genre: Puzzle?

Cost: $0.29 (90% off, was $2.99)

As it turns out, I played these out of order. Green Game is actually the sequel to Red Game, but, whoops, I played Green first. I’m honestly surprised I understood the story as well as I did, as the plot developments in Red Game do a lot to inform the gameplay and characters of Green Game.

I assume. I played Red Game for maybe five minutes, realized it was even less enjoyable than Green Game and shut it off. Green Game was slow and unengaging, but it did require a bit of thought. Red Game speeds thing up a bit but replaces thought with mindless swiping. The bird teleports wherever you swipe, allowing you to dodge obstacles and the occasional killing spike and not much else. The game does everything else for you, leaving your mind free to question everything that lead you to this point in your life.

Verdict: Take a nap and do something good for your brain instead

Conclusion:

As we come to the end of our journey, I ask you to reflect on what you’ve learned here today. Maybe we realize why the Switch desperately needs folders, as our home screens are now polluted with cheap games. Maybe we see that some quality control would do the system good and prevent people from simply uploading ports of mobile games. Maybe Nintendo will see that their reward system is incredibly underwhelming as we had to spend over $200 on games to get the gold points to spend on this. But mostly, we should remember that if something is priced at 69, it will be nice.

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Written by Sean Mekinda

Sean Mekinda is a fan of all things auteur and weird. He's currently one of the hosts of Beating a Dead Horse, a podcast all about death in media. The first movie he remembers loving is The Iron Giant. The first movie he remembers hating is Alien VS Predator Requiem. He currently lives in Columbus, Ohio with his girlfriend and two needy huskies.

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