Publisher(s): WayForward
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: April 16, 2024


Rose & Camellia Collection, and the five games contained within it, was probably one of the craziest and funniest games I played at PAX East 2024, and it presented a surprising amount of actual gameplay depth for you to figure out that I can see people loving. The gameplay is simple enough to grasp: get hit enough — or hit your opponent enough — and they will lose hit points that are symbolized by icons beneath their names. Whoever loses all their points first is the bout’s loser.

In my hands-on demo, I played story content from the never-before-seen Rose & Camellia 4 and Rose & Camellia vs. La-Mulana. The voice acting and writing is absurdist and frequently over-the-top, but not in a way that descends into awfulness. Instead, the story for both games kept building up in a way that takes itself (somewhat) seriously and I found myself both quite amused and wondering what was going to come out of these characters’ mouths next. The story is also told in what reminds me a bit of a visual novel — with character cutouts changing expressions and poses as new text appears on the screen, but it isn’t nearly as wordy or complicated as that genre usually is. If you are a fan of La-Mulana, you will see plenty of returning series’ characters, and you will enjoy the story content for it too.

Rose & Camellia Collection | Pre-Battle Dialogue
The story and dialogue between battles in the Rose & Camellia Collection are frequently absurd, but funny regardless. (Images owned by WayForward).

Rose & Camellia Collection | Pre-Battle Dialogue

Where Rose & Camellia Collection truly shines though is the gameplay, complete with Joy-Con controls. And the controls are fairly simple: You press A and move the Joy-Con to slap, and you press R1 and move the Joy-Con back to dodge the return hit. Where the complexity comes from is knowing how — and when — to dodge. Each opponent you face has one or more ‘tells’ of when they are about to attack, and you have to figure out that secret and then be quick enough on the reflexes to avoid the hit. If you manage to dodge, you can then counter and get a surprise hit in while your opponent’s guard is down. Sometimes, you can even manage to daze your opponent enough to then grab them and make multiple slaps (done by swinging the Joy-Con back and forth wildly) to drain as much health as possible. In a lot of ways, the motion controls and the combat style remind me — in the best possible way — of Punch-Out!! on the Nintendo Wii.

Rose & Camellia Collection | Attacking opponent
The combat involves you and your opponent slapping each other back and forth – but the combat mechanics are fairly deep. If you can dodge your opponents hit, then you can get in a counterattack as seen above. (Images owned by WayForward.)

Rose & Camellia Collection | Retaliating hit from opponent.

Even though the game and the slapping combat style seems absurdist and isn’t something to take seriously, the combat itself is not a joke. The fights in each game start out fairly easy, but quickly get harder and harder. I found myself starting to lose multiple slap fights until I could figure out my opponent’s tell and then react quickly enough to dodge. And even then, I still lost sometimes — but each loss felt incredibly fair, and I never felt like I wanted to blame anything other than myself for not being quick enough. This incredibly fair combat system also resulted in me feeling a great deal of satisfaction when I WAS able to win that incredibly hard fight, and I was able to move on in the storyline.

So, is Rose & Camellia Collection worth picking up? Just from my brief PAX East demo — unequivocally ‘yes’. If you think this is just a silly slap game, then you are wrong because the gameplay mechanics have so much more depth than what you’d expect just looking at the story from first glance. And with a two-player mode, Rose & Camellia Collection sounds like a great way to solve any disagreements on where to go out to eat in the future!

Rose & Camellia Collection | Versus Mode Character Selection Screen
There is also a two-player battle mode where you can take on your friends in a slapfest! (Image owned by WayForward.)

Are you a fan of motion control games?

Which game in the Rose & Camellia Collection are you most excited to play through?

Let us know in the comments below!

Quentin H.
I have been a journalist for oprainfall since 2015, and I have loved every moment of it.