Since its unveiling as a student project, we at Snackbar had been very excited by De Blob and its Dutch developers. The Wii release of the title, developed instead by Blue Tongue Entertainment but based on the team’s ideas, was one of the most enjoyable titles of 2008. Needless to say, we were excited to see what Ronimo (short for Robot Ninja Monkey) did on their own with their freshman professional effort, Swords & Soldiers.
We weren’t disappointed. The 1000-point title is a tight package that takes the real-time strategy genre and streamlines it into a fun, humorous and intense title for one or two players.
Players get to use three armies: the Vikings, Aztecs and ancient Chinese. Each group has its own 10-mission campaign, and there are also some minigames to enjoy. Deploying units and using magic is made very easy; pointing and clicking large round buttons is all that’s necessary. Units are deployed from your side of the two-dimensional battlefield and begin the march to the front lines. There’s a lot of scrolling to do at times, but mostly all the controls you need are on the portion of the screen you’re focusing on.
The goals on each level are fairly simple. Most are simply to destroy the enemy’s base on the other side of the stage, but some levels have specific targets to eliminate or time limits. These aren’t really the compelling elements of the game. The stages themselves have branching pathways and choices of strategy that are made obvious to the player, but the underlying tactical considerations are complex.
The theme is very tongue-in-cheek. The visuals are bright and cartoony, and the hilarious clash of off-the-wall units ends up looking a little like The Behemoth’s Castle Crashers. The audio is a bit repetitive, but that seems so far to be unavoidable with downloadable titles.
What shouldn’t be missed is the game’s split-screen multiplayer. The game doesn’t use much vertical real estate anyway, so splitting the screen into top and bottom doesn’t hurt the game in any way.
If you like real-time games, get this. If you’re like me and don’t like them so much…also get this. Seriously. It’s not Game of the Year, but it’s certainly a contender for the year’s best downloadable, and originality like this deserves to be rewarded with a few bucks.
ESRB: E10+– Stereotypes fighting other stereotypes. Not much else if you can get over it.
Pros: Original gameplay from the team that created De Blob.
Cons: A bit tough to get a handle on.