Swords & Soldiers (Wii) Review

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Swords & Soldiers Publisher: Ronimo Games
Developer: Ronimo Games


Platforms: PlayStation 3 and Wii
Reviewed on Wii

The Vikings have set sail, searching the globe for the components of the perfect barbeque sauce. On the way, they run afoul of other world powers, including the Aztecs' aspiration to growing prize peppers and the Chinese need for entertaining toys. Ronimo Games promises that this simplified strategy game presents "the most incorrect version of world history to date!"

Rating:
Kyle Ackerman


Swords & SoldiersSwords & Soldiers is something of a marvel. The game collapses the real-time strategy genre into a single dimension and negligible controls. By doing so, it really zeros in on the fun essence of these kinds of games while removing all the dross that the genre has collected over the years, like a skilled surgeon removing necrotic tissue.

Swords & SoldiersOn launching the game, it first struck me as more of a cartoonish platformer than a real-time strategy game. Everything takes place on a line, with the two opposing forces maintaining bases on either side of the line. Occasionally, the line splits into two paths, but that does more to add replayability to the campaigns than complexity. I was able to create a few basic types of troops for the three playable sides, and control a few simple magic spells, giving me surprisingly deep control over a manageable battlefield. Troops started at my base and just marched toward the enemy. Spells could heal my own troops, damage enemies, sacrifice allies for magical power, or speed my forces to the front.

Despite its simplicity, Swords & Soldiers requires considerable focus and constant activity. There are three campaigns, starting with the Vikings (who hungrily seek bigger and better barbeques), then the Aztecs (who want to grow enormous chili peppers) and finally, the Chinese (whose young leader just wants his toys). Whether the characters are comical and shallow or borderline offensive depends on the viewer, but the game is still seriously amusing.

Swords & SoldiersThe Viking campaign doesn't reward subtlety – it's a great introduction to the game. As the Viking commander, I was able to bully my way to victory (and barbeque) through brute force and hordes of troops. The next campaign, the Aztecs, contained more puzzle-oriented levels and required slight subtlety. I had a little trouble with the late Aztec missions, because they require carefully timing boulders and sacrificing troops to power spells – if I didn't win quickly, things tended to develop into an extended stalemate. I found the Chinese campaign to be the most entertaining to play, so I was only disappointed that I had to complete the other two campaigns first to play as the Chinese. Playing through the campaign modes unlocks simple challenges that are short arcade-like games using the units and spells of Swords & Soldiers. There's even two-player head-to-head action if you have two remotes and play with a split-screen.

Swords & SoldiersSwords & Soldiers isn't completely unique as a linear real-time strategy game, but it's a lighthearted take on the kind of game that I haven't seen in a very long time. It's a type of more casual strategy that should have survived, and that Ronimo Games has done a brilliant job executing. It's also a kind of game new to the Wii. It's true that it can be a little difficult to select specific units in a frenzied melee with the Wii Remote – a PC and mouse would be a little easier – but the thrill of this game is really sitting back on the couch and waving the Wii Remote like a wand to command comical troops. For 1,000 Wii points ($10), Swords & Soldiers offers an impressive amount of straightforward fun for the dollar.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on July 14, 2009 11:01 PM.

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