Quick Take: In New Frontier Days - Founding Pioneers, the Nintendo Switch gets some RTS/Sim love in a game that is fun and challenging, yet still barebones and generic.
New Frontier Days – Founding Pioneers, from publisher Arc System Works, on the Nintendo Switch brings the young console hybrid its first sim-type game. In the shadow of the amazingly great Zelda, the Switch has needed other quality titles for gamers to play until the next big release, and while a bunch of NEO-GEO ports and some other fun ports have made their way to the hot Nintendo handheld/console crossover, fun, quality NEW games are still few and far between. New Frontier Days – Founding Pioneers definitely checks the fun part off that list, but is a quality game?
New Frontier Days – Founding Pioneers is a simple sim-world type of game that tasks players with building a new life in a distant land. Players use villagers to mine for materials, like wood and stone, and then use those to build structures to create a village, a town, and later a kingdom, and more. The simplistic interface and the intrusive hand-holding by “Jessica” the representative of the “home land,” makes for a slow start, but once players are released from the shackles of the tutorial, New Frontier Days – Founding Pioneers becomes a wildly fun, albeit feature-free game.
New Frontier Days – Founding Pioneers has three games modes: Story, Survival, and Free. Free lets you build your society with only the threats of bears and other wild animals, and no interference from the home land. Survival give the player five levels of difficulty of which they can play, and depending on that choice, will have to build into a metropolis against all odds. The true meat of New Frontier Days – Founding Pioneers is the Story mode, which is rather extensive — even with the hand holding in the beginning.
Players obtain materials and turn them into buildings, like a saw mill and a flour mill, to turn the materials into other things (better wood for building, wheat into flour into bread) and the player must be weary of the annual harvest festival, which costs money. Goods have to be created and sold for gold before the harvest festival to keep going. Two consecutive years in the red means game over. As the town grows, not only in building and population, threats come in the form of bears and boars who will attack and destroy structures. Juggling building, securing, gathering, and selling becomes the essence of New Frontier Days – Founding Pioneers. Players that can do it all and succeed will grow their town, and players who struggle will be killed by bears, or be shut down by the home land.
Luckily, players earn Invention cards that can be used to aid in the quest for this new life. Some give monetary bonuses for wheat, wood, or bread, others drop the cost of supplies. Using these cards is imperative to successfully build a society to “win” the story.
Unfortunately, as fun as all of that is — and it truly is a fun experience — that is all there is. It’s a race against time and against the homeland trying to call you back, with a few bear attacks thrown in. It’s not a deep gaming experience by any stretch, but it serves to give the player hours of fun.
The music is somewhat generic, though it isn’t distracting. It’s a nice soundtrack to the world building going on. The graphics are lackluster, almost like a mobile game. In fact, New Frontier Days – Founding Pioneers feels so much like a mobile game that I began to wonder why I was playing this on a in-demand system. The Switch’s control various schemes and features are wasted here, as the only caveat is that you can play it on the go, and as a mobile game anyway, I could do that on my phone or tablet. At the $9.99 prime tag, presumably because it’s on a “console” and not just on a tablet, I’m not sure that’s money well spent. If you are looking for a game that can be a distraction from bigger, more complex titles on your hot new Switch, it could be worth it, as long as you understand what you are getting going in.
New Frontier Days – Founding Pioneers doesn’t settle any new frontiers in gaming. It’s a simple, yet stupidly fun sim game that does what it intends to do, but offers not much more. As a fan of RTS and Sim-type games, I enjoyed it and continue to enjoy it, but I can’t help but wonder what could have been with some new features and some polish. For what it is, New Frontier Days – Founding Pioneers is a good time burner as gamers wait for better games to come to the Nintendo Switch.
New Frontier Days – Founding Pioneers is available now in the Nintendo eShop. This review is based off a review code provided by the publisher.