BY SEGA & WAVE MASTER, 2002
25 WORDS OR LESS:
Slap and Stick must save the world from a berserk supercomputer by pressing buttons to fix infected machines.
Start me up
Sega’s just full of surprises these days. And depending on how you see things, those surprises may not always be good. Regardless, you have to admit they’re working hard to get games out there, even if most of them are sequels or ports of Dreamcast games. Early last year, the company announced an odd choice for a port: Switch, an old Sega CD game that’s odd in its own right. Perhaps if it were part of a compilation it might have made more sense, but Sega was releasing this as a singular PlayStation 2 title. At any rate, for the Crunk Games crew, the news that a new version was in the works was worthy of not one but several pants-wettings.
For those unfamiliar with Switch, let us turn back the clock to 1993. Sega was riding on its success in America while struggling to topple Nintendo in Japan. The Mega CD was bombing and games were needed. In comes a little game named Switch, a simple kind of puzzle adventure game with ample amounts of toilet humor. Just about a year later, in a fluke to outdo all flukes, Data East releases the game in the US as "Panic!" and sells about 5 copies (we own 3, the other 2 are on eBay). They soon went out of business, but we’re not trying to make a connection or anything. Switch had now made its mark on the international community, and we of course are highly grateful. Fast forward to August 2002, and Switch is reborn on the PlayStation 2 in the hands of developer Wave Master.
That’s the business story. This is the game story: taking the role of a young boy-man-thing named Slap, players point and click their way through hundreds of scenes trying to find their way to the Computer Network Server, a supersupersupercomputer that’s gone absolutely peanutty. All the machines connected to it are either blowing up, barfing, getting crushed by humongous Moai heads and generally harming the earth. Slap’s mission is to press all the right buttons on the screwy machines to fix them and eventually teleport his way inside the middle of the Server and free the world from this mechanical hell. All the while the player is assaulted with visual comedy that would confuse even the Canadians and the British. Make no mistake, an open mind is mandatory to fully enjoy Switch.
One would think that a PS2 remake of a ten year-old game would yield some graphical improvements, especially since it’s on DVD. Y’know, it would make it actually seem like a remake. This is barely true in the new Switch. To be frank, the actual game part is the same pixelized display from the 16-bit version. Not that the original game was ugly, but on a highly advanced system such as the PS2 we should at least get some smoother lines. The only real changes in graphics are the actual switches that pop up in front of you, now featuring varying textured panels. The file select menus and the level map have also been given a makeover, but that’s pretty much it. Heck, even the title screen is the same. As if that all weren’t disappointing enough, the game’s humorous musical intro is now simply a bad-quality FMV of the Sega CD version. Not since Rockman X3 on the PlayStation has such a boggling move been made in the development process.
All is not completely lost in the graphics department, though. Certainly one of the funnier aspects of the original game was the devestation of numerous real-world monuments and locations. From Buckingham Palace to random igloos, all could be eradicated if you pressed the wrong button, and if you screwed up enough times you earned a game over. Naturally, in today’s post-9/11 world, pictures of buildings blowing up aren’t treated the same way anymore. Mindful of this, Sega redid these sequences for the PS2 version and depending on your sense of humor, made them better. What you’ll first notice is that these sequences are now high-quality CGI movies (and obviously the only things the developers spent a good amount of time on in this remake), but then you’ll also immediately notice that instead of things blowing up, they’re pooping. Yes, that’s right, the Japanese penchant for fecal humor is doubly reinforced in this new Switch. Whereas before the Arc de Triomphe merely collapsed, now it hunches over and fills the screen with diarrhetic goodness. It is all quite cartoony of course, but again, this game requires an open mind.
Even though barely a decade has passed, Switch is still a classic; a hilarious and at the same time baffling reaffirmation of comedic games. Yet with the way Sega’s presented the game in the new millennium, it’s more of a historical revision than a second chance. For Japan, it’s another disappointing release from a new Sega trying to find its footing. For the rest of us it’s little else except a $60 excuse to not look for a used Sega CD. Based on those factors, Switch doesn’t cut it. If only this were a sequel, it would have made ten years seem like days. —Ray Barnholt
Switch official site