Wal-Mart Clearance Switch Pickups!

Welcome to SWITCH, PLEASE! (It's a working title.) 

Wal-Mart clearanced out a bunch of physical media, and while things were pretty picked-over here in the city, I sent my busy parents inconveniently out of their way to their a rural Wally World to Nintendo Switch-hunt on my behalf.

But is buying big-box leftovers worth not being able to send my children to college? We're talking about remnants of licensed cash-grabs and game-codes-in-a-box nested between car tires and packs of toilet-paper that wouldn't fit in my car, that's just the nature of clearance shopping. But I'm pretty happy about a few of them, and at least I'm documenting it so my kids can see where it all went wrong. So come along, come see how I spend my wife's money, here we go.

Star Ocean: The Second Story R is the main reason I made the difficult decision to spend my parents’ precious time, and my wife's money. A recent remake of a well-liked PlayStation One action-RPG I’ve never played, the current going rate is still $45-55, but the reviews are very good and say it works for original fans and first-timers. I only bought it so my PS1 buddies would finally love me back, but it’s high in my backlog, and owning it just has has a… je ne sais quoi… “What the French would call a certain… I don’t know what.” A shelf appeal, if you will. Complete lack of gameplay experience aside, I’ll ignorantly rate it 4-shelf-appeal-joycons-out-of-5 - listen, it's gonna catch on - with potential for more if the price goes down, this seems like the good kind of remake.

Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway might seem like a decent kart-racer option if you saw it on the shelf for its standard $20 between Dreamworks All-Star Kart Racing and Cars 3, and you were unfamiliar with Game Mill’s previous work. Based on the very mediocre reviews, you’d be mistaken. More like disappointment mill, am I right? Like instead of an apparatus used to reduce grain into flour, it reduces your favorite childhood properties into disappointments. It’s probably not atrocious, but I only spent the $10 clearance price because I forgot that 2: Grand Prix was technically the good one. I’m blindly awarding it 2-out-of-5 shelf-appeal joycons, not bad enough to get my certified collector card revoked (because I haven’t gotten mine yet), but best left for Nickelodeon die-hards, full-set collectors, and the fiscally irresponsible.

Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life is a remake of the GameCube’s Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life. It’s a farming-and-life-sim with generic splashes of RPG that gets average reviews but seems honest to the original, and only runs $20-30. Raised on a farm myself, somehow I missed the digging-for-treasure-part of everyday rural life, so I’m filing it in my hobby-backlog somewhere between “actual treasure-hunting” and “actual chores.” How about an uneducated 3-out-of-5 shelf appeal joycons for being decent entry in a long-running franchise among its specific audience? Trust me bro, I watched a pretty in-depth gameplay vid about it, right before I wrote this one line of script.

Unicorn Overlord is a tactical RPG in a high-fantasy setting made by Vanillaware, an exciting combination destined for really good reviews, but also a recent release still basically holding a full-retail $60 price tag. I’m shot-in-the-dark-ing it 4-shelf-appeal-joycons-out-of-5, more if the price drops or hits more sales so it can get into more homes. I don't care how it plays, just look at this cover art you can't see when it's on my shelf! Vanillaware just makes tropey-fun game experiences in polished settings and genres I love… even though I’m bummed Unicorn Overlord isn’t actually about unicorns. If buying this one doesn’t earn your certified collector card, well then I guess the application committee will just have to explain what do you want from me?! 

Catan: Console Edition - Super Deluxe is a stupid name for the videogamified-version of the popular Settlers of Catan board game. Tabletop-turned-video-game is a sketch combo of niche audience and tough to get right, and the reviews are uninspiring, but it seems functional, and online multiplayer is a lot easier than getting all three of your friends over to your house… and singe-player with A.I. is a lot easier than making three friends. This has a small-but-specific place in my backlog, such as the next time I want a board game but without all that enjoyable human interaction - so for $20-30 I’ll blindly give it 2.5-out-of-5 joycons-worth of shelf appeal, certainly worth the 10 minutes my parents and that store associate spent waiting by the cabinet while I read the IGN review (I'm an unfortunately deliberate consumer and reader).

Taiko No Tatsujin: Rhythm Festival is a positively received entry in a long-running series. Reviews say it’s good for series newcomers, and for the $15-20 going rate is worthwhile even without the modern-monstrosity subscription service, so I took a chance and I’m filing it in the backlog under “play it with my wife when we’re drunk.” It probably doesn’t have the widest audience, but most Switch collections need a good rhythm game, so let’s say an uneducated 3.5-out-of-5 shelf appeal joycons. It won’t sway the certified collector application committee, but I can afford a decent bribe with all this clearance-price money I’m saving.

Cobra Kai is a passable side-scrolling beat'em up, but got Cobra Kai 2: Dojos Rising, which is worse... and is also a 3D brawler that's maybe quasi-open-world-ey. I think it's also still in my parents' car somewhere, and since it's published by Game Mill and I have no interest in the show, I might leave it there. 2-out-of-5 shelf appeal joycons, even in the $10-15 range you'd need to consider a reason to buy it, e.g. low standards, bad with money, or big fan of the game case's beautiful red spine. It pretty thoroughly lacks what the Germans call regalattraktivitat... (me listening to google translate pronounce it) which is definitely something Germans say in casual conversation, probably.

No Man’s Sky is an action-adventure survival game played in a basically endless procedurally generated universe that most recognize for its much-maligned 2016 launch as a bland experience missing many promised features. But as of 2022 also became one of the most technically impressive games ever unceremoniously stuffed into a Nintendo Switch, bless its lil ol’ 2015 Nvidia Tegra X1 heart. Neither last decade nor in 2024 are you playing a Switch to be impressed, but it’s a big game with tons of the extra content and updates that’s getting very good reviews, at the going rate of $20-30 I’m ignorantly giving it 4-shelf-appeal-joycons-out-of-5, and that might be underselling it. I’m not sure the actual gameplay will be my cup of tea, more something I’m just happy to own and experience once, but that’s TBD and remember my opinions have zero actual monetary value. And parents aside, I’m grateful to have blown my Ohio-buddy Aaron’s extremely precious time to not only find but also ship this one just to save like $5 net. I’m sure his only child’s second home run will be almost as exciting as his first, and if he's a little faster in the self-checkout next time maybe he won't miss it.

That's what my loved ones' time, energy, and money got me, unfortunately I didn't see Nier, Dragon Quest Monsters, the Metal Gear collection, but at least with that extra money I didn’t spend, I could help my firstborn buy a small part of one digital college textbook, or maybe a downpayment on a freakin’ laserbeam for my freakin’ dog’s freakin’ head. And overall, several very questionable decisions aside, getting 3 great games pretty high up my wishlist for less than their current value plus the inspiration to cook up a video made it a worthwhile endeavor for me... and I gave my parents a hardy handshake for their efforts, so I'm sure they feel completely gratified, too.

Thanks for bein' here, have a great day!