I’ve been playing Swords and Soldiers on Nintendo WiiWare for the past week so. It’s billed as a “Sidescrolling, 2D Realtime Strategy game”, where the player takes control of one of 3 different factions: the Aztecs, the Vikings, or the Chinese. The generalization of real world races comes across as slightly racist at times, but Romino Games wasn’t going for accuracy. According to their February 8th press release:
“We’ve done plenty of research into the historic background of the three factions. And then we threw all of it out of the window, but made up some entertaining bits which seemed sort of more fun. Finally, we added some other totally irrelevant funny bits about hot sauce and bolted them on for maximum absurdity.”
And therein lies the first element of the game’s charm. It’s goofy and offbeat humor are less offensive then the cartoons I grew up with 20 years ago. The game’s lingo speaks to a younger generation of internet uses without alienating other games. There are achievements names like “4 the Horde!”, “RickRolled” and Viking’s saying “nom nom” as they eat barbecued meat.
The second element is the seemingly limited control you have over the on screen action. The player has 3 methods of interacting with the game:
- Building Units
- Casting Spells
- Choosing Paths – certain levels only
When you build a unit, it immediately starts marching towards the enemy base. You can’t make it wait for more units, and you can’t have it speed up or slow down to keep pace with other unit types. This necessitates building just the right unit at just the right time, especially when resources are limited. For most of the spells you can cast, you’ll have to to choose a target. On certain levels you click an arrow to direct your troops to take either the high road or the low road. Often this doesn’t matter at all, but it can be used strategically to bypass the opponent’s forces, so it’s something to keep an eye on.
Initially such limited controls seems like they would make the game boring. Indeed, a player can button-mash their way through the Viking campaign as they get used to creating different types of units, upgrading, and casting spells. The Aztec campaign, which I have yet to complete, offers much more challenge, with many stages requiring well-timed spells and units and I imagine that the Chinese campaign will only offer more varied and exciting game play.
My bottom line: For the hours of fun an varied gameplay Swords & Soldiers offers, it’s well worth the $10.