Review: Swords & Soldiers (Wii U)

Wii U sees the return of a WiiWare classic, now in HD!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 06/23/2014 09:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Excellent game design-easy to learn and play; beautiful HD graphics; local multiplayer via TV and GamePad keeps battles exciting; funny writing; fast pace.
Poison Mushroom for...
Some aspects of gameplay a little obtuse, at first.

Swords & Soldiers isn’t a typical real-time strategy game. While there are elements that fans of the genre will find familiar, like resource management and forming meticulous battle stratagems, Swords & Soldiers bucks other conventions to streamline gameplay and provide a very fast and streamlined experience. It’s a quirky title, with humorous characters and tight gameplay, and still feels fresh almost a half decade later. If not for some vague instructions and somewhat unclear goals early in the game, Swords & Soldiers is a welcome addition to Wii U’s eShop.

Players are given the reins of three armies: Vikings, Chinese, and Aztecs. The three groups have their own campaigns and specific skills and units to take advantage of, which makes their individual sets of gameplay unique and fresh. I had a great deal of fun sicking battling Vikings at my enemies, and the Chinese are worth the price of admission for the ninja monkeys, alone. Battles are displayed from a 2D perspective, which can be scrolled from left to right using the GamePad’s stylus. From the beginning, players are thrust into a fight, where the game teaches the basics of gameplay. There ┬áis also a challenge mode, which will suck up even more of a player’s time, as it can be addicting trying to overcome each scenario.

It’s easy enough to start the good fight in Swords & Soldiers; each campaign begins with an overview of the controls and what each icon on the playing field represents. I did find it a little disconcerting at first when the computer instructed me to do things with no real context, though. At one point, a healing spell was shown to me, but not really explained what it was going to do, exactly, or for how long, and so forth. Playing made everything much clearer, but it took a touch more experimentation than I thought was necessary. An abbreviated tutorial did nothing to hinder my enjoyment of the game, but I can see some players being left in the wind because of it.

The screen orientation of the battles actually speaks very directly to the streamlined approach to RTS gameplay that Swords & Soldiers champions. It’s very easy to follow the flow of battle, setting some units to build up currency in order to create more infantry, buy spells, make upgrades, and so on. Players familiar with the Wii version of Swords & Soldiers can jump into battle with a Wii Remote, but the GamePad is a very useful way of playing, too. Just tap on the various icons, and your units will swing into action with ease. Jumping from one point of the battle field to another is a breeze, and I greatly enjoyed watching everything play out like a giant cartoon.

Speaking of cartoons, Swords & Soldiers really benefited from the HD overhaul it received in this port. The screen is a riot of color; everything looks so vivid, it’s almost as though the game is going to pop out of the TV screen. The storyline for all three campaigns is intentionally silly, which perfectly compliments the animation style. Overall, the production values are top notch, though I didn’t find the soundtrack to be as memorable as the graphics. Even on the GamePad, the action is clear and easy to follow, which is good, considering how much there is to keep track of. Battles can get very chaotic, so it’s wonderful that developer Two Tribes was able to keep things readable for the player.

Anyone who missed Swords & Soldiers the first time around, or who has been hankering for a new strategy game, will do well to give this game a download. It’s as fun as it was when it bowed in 2009, and remains a fresh, unique take on real-time strategy games. Swords & Soldiers might be a little tricky to pick up at first, but the gameplay is so easy to get into, it’s worth a bit of a learning curve to play. Here’s hoping Two Tribes graces fans with a proper sequel in the near future! Be sure to give the two Toki Tori games a look if you make your way to the eShop for Swords & Soldiers, as well.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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