Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Swords & Soldiers (WiiWare) Review

Review for Swords & Soldiers on WiiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Following its success developing the original freeware version of de Blob for the PC - a success that resulted in THQ acquiring the rights to the game and funding development of versions for the Wii and DS - Ronimo Games turned its attention to creating a real-time strategy game for the WiiWare platform: Swords & Soldiers.

WiiWare is a natural choice for smaller developers, but the real-time strategy genre? Perhaps not so much. It's particularly impressive, then, that a team of just ten people (recent graduates, no less) has been able to able to take the genre and create a downright excellent game - you've already skipped ahead to the score by now, right? - in spite of such constraints. The key to Swords & Soldier's quality is its reworking of genre conventions to better suit the Wii Remote interface and the quick-burst nature expected of most downloadable titles. Clearly an epic Command & Conquer-esque battlefield, coupled with extensive base building and unit organization, would not have been practical.

Ronimo Games' solutions to these potential issues are really quite ingenious. They begin with a 2D side-scrolling perspective that looks more like a platformer than a conventional RTS, but helps to keep things simple without resorting to excessive dumbing down. Two opposing forces each occupy one end of the battlefield, with the aim of defending their own base and storming their foe's. While certain structures can be built at set locations, there is no significant base-building to speak of. The result is relentless, fast-paced action. New units are constantly moving forward and cannot be controlled manually, limiting your role to that of an overseer who may assist using a variety of offensive and defensive spells.

Resource gathering, an imperative part of any RTS, is equally autonomous. The required worker units handle all the to-ing and fro-ing without intervention (though they do appreciate it if you keep enemies at a distance). Mana, the 'currency' needed to use spells, also regenerates on a regular basis. "So", you might well ask, "what's left for me to do?" For starters, you must decide how funds get allocated - do you want to build a slew of basic units, a few more powerful ones, or research brand new units and/or spells? Sending out the right units for the job is crucial for success, but you'll need to take into account unit speed and the distance that will have to be travelled to reach your opponents.

In addition to creating a steady flow of new units, you'll need to keep an eye on your existing allies and lend assistance where necessary. A healing spell here, or a poison bomb there can make all the difference in halting an enemy onslaught. If regular spells aren't enough, though, each of the game's three factions (Viking, Chinese, Aztec) eventually gain access to ridiculous, battlefield-spanning spells that require specific button input to utilize fully. The Boulder spell, for example, tramples everything in its path - including your own units! Without forcing it to jump at opportune moments, it could well destroy every unit on the field in a matter of moments. With options like these, monotony really isn't a problem.

Issuing all of the necessary instructions is handled flawlessly using the Wii Remote. Navigating the field is a simple as pointing the Remote at the side of the screen, or holding the B trigger and doing the same for even quicker scrolling. Ordering new units and selecting spells is accomplished via a series of unobtrusive (but easily distinguishable) icons along the top of the screen. Actually using spells on individual units, even when they're surrounded by a tight cluster of allies and foes, is almost always a breeze thanks to the game's distinctive art style and large sprites. Truly, Swords & Soldiers is a game that was made for the Wii; even a mouse would be hard-pressed to improve on the fluidity offered here.

Gameplay

Ronimo Games has done a fantastic job simplifying the RTS experience for WiiWare without sacrificing too much strategic depth. Combat is easy to get to grips with, rewarding, and just plain fun.

Graphics

The extremely colourful art style looks particularly fantastic when compared to many of the game's peers on WiiWare, and the distinctive sprite work also serves to minimize confusion during hectic battles.

Sound

Each of the three factions has its own delightful theme music, sound effects, and voice work. The latter is particularly fun in a Saturday morning cartoon sort of way.

Value

The three campaigns will require a good few hours to see through to completion, a handful of bonus challenges will test your skills, and local multiplayer is nicely fleshed out for extended replay.

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

Swords & Soldiers is a brilliant achievement by Ronimo Games. It successfully compresses the real-time strategy formula into a two-dimensional, side-scrolling game without losing so much strategic depth that it becomes a simple action game. The visual style is unique and charming, the interface is fluid, and the action is consistently fast-paced and enjoyable. What more could you want for 1000 Wii Points?

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23.05.2009

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Developer

Ronimo

Publisher

Ronimo

Genre

Strategy

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Yay, more Dutch games on WiiWare! (The other one I know of is Toki Tori.)

I would've given it a nine, but bottom line this is a brilliant game.

I recommend this to anyone anywhere, it's simple but so nicely executed and it plays so fluently.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I agree with you Karn, fantastic addition to the WiiWare service and personally I prefer this to World of Goo as it stays much more 'fresh' for far longer...I also much prefer this to Ronimo's first game, de Blob.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
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Staff Member

Would owners of this game recommend it to someone that didn't enjoy Advance Wars? I'm due to get a wad of points today and have been interested in this, but my previous Strategy Games experiences haven't been positive.


I have to go against the general consensus.. I do like the game a lot, but the lack of ANY control over your units (even a 'pause' button to stop them just automatically walking out in single file) makes it a hugely frustrating experience at times for me - maybe I'm just too used to PC RTS' Smilie Especially when the computer opponents cheat and send whole bunches of units at once, including that overly powerful wizard character the Chinese have.

I do still like it though, and for 1000 points it's very cheap. I'll try it multiplayer later on today and maybe that will win me over completely, but I really can't see it coming anywhere close to World of Goo for me personally.

Egotism is the anesthetic given by a kindly nature to relieve the pain of being a damned fool. - Bellamy Brooks

Phoenixus said:
Would owners of this game recommend it to someone that didn't enjoy Advance Wars? I'm due to get a wad of points today and have been interested in this, but my previous Strategy Games experiences haven't been positive.

Well real time stratagy games are a completly diffrent beast to turn based ones, alot more hectic and you have to think faster.
I dunno maybe try somthing like command and conquer or somthing, although it's probably nothing like this other than the fact it's real time.


^^Click for a wallpaper version^^

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