Review: ZaciSa’s Last Stand

Strong use of Wii U’s features save this game from tower defense mediocrity.

By Andy Hoover. Posted 07/03/2014 12:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Unique aesthetics, good use of Wii U's features, and a very fair $2.99 price tag
Poison Mushroom for...
Core mechanics are very derivative, limited overall content

ZaciSa’s Last Stand appears to be little more than a rather amateur take on the tower defense genre at first glance. The core concept is instantly recognizable yet seemingly unambitious, there is a noticeable lack of content, and even some of the in-game menus have spelling and grammatical errors. Thankfully, a little bit of digging reveals a much more interesting game, both aesthetically and from a gameplay perspective, so you might want to consider at least a few more glances.

The basic idea should be familiar for anyone who has spent time with tower defense games; waves of enemies are attacking an object, and you have to build defenses to take them out before they can reach it. Because ZaciSa’s Last Stand employs a space-based sci-fi setting, your defenses appear in the form of bots defending a spherical space base, though they still fill the roles you find throughout the genre. Some bots fire quickly and have long ranges but don’t do much damage, others have short range shots that hit hard, some sit comfortably in the middle, and then you have the ubiquitous unit that slows down approaching enemies. While all of these units have to be placed on one of the several predetermined points on each map, there is another unit, the Sentry, that freely flies around, seeking out incoming foes. The Sentry serves another purpose, but I’ll get to that later.

As you defeat enemies, you earn money to spend on buying new bots, upgrading your existing bots, or buying shield bonuses to add extra protection to your objective. This is where the strategy comes into play. The fixed number and placement of the spots where you can place your bots serves as a great way to make you really think about what bots you place where and how to best upgrade their range, damage, attack speed, and so on. Unfortunately, the fact that there are only a handful of maps limits the total number of new and unique strategies you can employ while trying to master the game. That being said, the game offers enough challenge to make the process of getting better rather satisfying.

On the presentation side of things, ZaciSa’s Last Stand stands out by being more unique than the core fundamentals. ZeNfA Productions chose an artistic style that is amazingly simple and charming; everything looks like it was drawn with crayon and none of the units or enemies are anything more than very simple shapes colored in reds, blues, and greens against the black and gray backgrounds. The end result is a very simple aesthetic that looks rather unlike anything else I’ve played. The music isn’t quite as unique, but the synth driven melodies and pulsing beat escalate in intensity over the course of each game, building alongside the pressure of attacking foes. One word of warning, though, the bass in the music is plenty potent, or at least it is through my sound system.

Now here is where ZaciSa’s Last Stand really earns its $2.99 purchase price– it does an amazing job of taking advantage of Wii U’s unique features. Your TV shows the whole map at once, while the GamePad shows a zoomed in view that can be moved around with the analog sticks. The GamePad also presents all your menus for managing your units that open up in new windows over the gameplay, leaving the view on your TV unobstructed. Using the stylus to make your way through the game almost makes the game feel like an RTS. But what really makes this game stand out is its multiplayer. Using up to four Wii Remotes, your friends can take control of the aforementioned Sentry units to manually navigate them, which allows for a great cooperative experience as one player manages the bots and defenses while the others take the fight to the baddies on the TV. Of course, if you are by yourself, you could always hop back and forth between the GamePad and a Wii Remote to mix up the single player experience as well.

Were ZaciSa’s Last Stand released on any other console, I would really have a hard time recommending it; the core mechanics are solid but all too familiar and there really isn’t too much content. The unique visuals and cheap price tag might have been enough to justify a purchase from hardcore fans of the genre, but beyond that there really wouldn’t be anything else. On Wii U, however, the GamePad makes these familiar mechanics more accessible than any other console tower defense game, and the cooperative play afforded by Wii U’s unique features make it a worthwhile game to experience with friends. Altogether, there still might not be enough content and revolutionary ideas to make ZaciSa’s Last Stand an absolute must buy, but it has some fun new twists and a low enough price tag to make it worth at least a consideration.

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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