Simple, Yet Deep
Have you ever heard of a 2D sidescrolling strategy game? No? Well neither had I, until last year anyway, when I played Swords and Soldiers HD (a remake of the original Swords and Soldiers on WiiWare). I was instantly captivated by its simple and fun gameplay; ever ever since then I’ve been eagerly awaiting the sequel. The question is: has Ronimo Games managed to top the original, or is this just another throwaway eShop game?
Swords and Soldiers II’s story isn’t exactly ‘Story of the Year’ material. It’s basically a glorified cat and mouse chase, retold by an old, drunk viking with an axe in his helmet. For the majority of the story, you’ll be trying to reclaim a mysterious and magical lamp stolen by Blackbeard, who for some reason has a white beard. The characters are light hearted, funny and entertaining. They are not deep or complex, but in a game full of gaming references and an evil chili they don’t need to be.
Visually, Swords and Soldiers II is a huge improvement, when compared to the original Swords and Soldiers and Swords and Soldiers HD. The hand painted backgrounds and sprites are much more detailed and impressive, while remaining bright and colourful. Sound-wise, Swords and Soldiers II isn’t that memorable. Its soundtrack is by no means bad, but it isn’t fantastic either. All the tracks in the game, aside from the main theme, are average and forgettable, you’ll quickly want to listen to your own music instead.
Where Sword and Soldiers II really shines is its “easy to pick up/hard to master” gameplay. During each stage you’ll do a variety of different things. Firstly, you’ll collect resources from mines or resource stacks. Secondly, you’ll build offensive or defensive towers to help your troops attack and defend against your opponent. Finally, you’ll attack the enemy, by casting spells or building your own troops. Each stage is completely different from the rest, with different locations, troop assortments, spell assortments and victory conditions. This helps keep the game fresh, and stops you from becoming too comfortable and familiar with certain strategies.
Swords and Soldiers II allows you to use the towers, troops and spells of three different factions: Viking, Persian and Demon. In story matches, you’ll be given a set group of towers, troops and spells to use; however in ‘Open Battles’, which you’ll encounter around the map (think fighting the Hammer Brothers in Super Mario 3), you’ll get to pick your dream combination. Each faction is interesting and unique in their own way, and I found it fun experimenting with different combinations.
If you are lucky enough to have a strategy game loving friend, then you’ll find multiplayer a blast. One player will use the GamePad, while the other uses the TV and Wii Remote or Pro Controller. You’ll either battle it out to see which one of you is the strategy King or Queen, or you can allow the computer to randomly choose your troop, spell and tower combinations and let the chaos unfold. Other non-story distractions include: completing challenges, side missions, skirmish mode and mini-games. These really help add to the game’s replayability, and help make the game more diverse as a whole.
Being exclusively on Wii U, the touch controls return. Personally, touch controls are the best way to play a strategy game nine times out of ten. The one downside is that because you’ll be constantly staring at the Gamepad you won’t be able to appreciate Swords and Soldiers II’s visuals. For those who prefer to use buttons, don’t worry, you’ll still be able to control the game by using the analog sticks and triggers like the PlayStation 3 version.
The Verdict: 7.8 out of 10
Swords and Soldiers II might be one of the most expensive indie games on the eShop, but it doesn’t mean you should cheap out and miss this unique strategy gem. Swords and Soldiers II is a huge improvement on the original with its hand painted art style, simple touch control scheme and deep, strategical gameplay. Sure, the story could be better, but you won’t be disappointed when this beard loving game comes to a close.
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Lucy Pallent is a Senior Writer at MONG. She is a girl gamer from a rock in the middle of nowhere and is the world’s biggest n00b. She likes Nintendo, JRPGs and food. Feel free to follow her random ramblings on Twitter.