Originally released on Nintendo’s WiiWare service way back in 2009, Swords & Soldiers debuted to critical acclaim thanks to its simplified take on the strategy genre and quirky visual style. Now five years later, developer Two Tribes has seen fit to port the title to Nintendo’s latest console in preparation for its sequel later this year.
For those who may have missed the original back on the Wii, Swords & Soldiers is a real time strategy game where the aim is to destroy your opponent whilst controlling your own small army. Successfully defeating your opponents amounts to efficient management of your resources and a knack for juggling multiple tasks. Unlike turn based strategy titles where you have all the time in the world to choose your next move, here you’ll need to think about your options and act quickly or else risk your foe gaining the upper hand.
Swords & Soldiers may seem like your standard strategy game, selecting units, investing in new upgrades and so on however what helps set it apart is that it takes place entirely on a 2D battleground. Whereas most strategy games of this type will tend to opt for a 3D bird’s eye view, Two Tribes keeps it simple pitting one army on the left and one on the right with both eventually meeting somewhere in the middle to commence battle.
Units created continue to march forward until they reach something or someone to attack where they will then start to attack automatically. At the tap of the Wii U touchpad you’re able to spawn new units and summon spells which can help aid your heroes in battle. Enemies defeated award you with gold that in turn can be used to unlock new upgrades for your team or purchase fresh units. Meanwhile casting spells offers brief perks to your units but also use up your magic pool. Fortunately refreshments aren’t far away often scatted about as your progress further along the battlefield so rationing is key. Occasionally however you’ll come across forks in the road with the tougher option usually housing better rewards should you pass.
By the game’s end you’ll have had the chance to play as three different factions; the Vikings, the Aztecs and the Chinese. Each offer their own unique units and spells, for example Vikings have axe throwers and a healing spell, the Aztecs have poison dart blowers and cage traps, while the Chinese have ninja monkeys (yes you read that correctly) and a shield spell. Essentially each group have the same basic types (melee, stun and range) albeit with little tweaks that you’ll soon discover and utilize effectively.
Things can often get a little chaotic on screen partly thanks to the lack of space over a 2D field, but with a difficulty curve that introduces you nicely to new features at a steady pace, you should find things challenging but never unfair.
As well as the campaign, you’ll also unlock three challenge modes, each themed after one of the groups while a skirmish match option allows you to further sharper your skills against the AI.
The visual upgrade to the game makes everything look bright, bold and especially nice in HD. Similarly the added touch screen controls are a perfect match for Sword & Soldiers and implemented well. For those who prefer the Wii remote pointer controls those are included too.
Unfortunately this version of the game lacks the Super Saucy Sausage Fest DLC released previously that actually included an extra campaign. While many re-released games seem to be bundling all the little DLC extras into one package it seems odd that Two Tribes have chosen not to here. Still at such a low price it’s tough to complain. Also while the game does have two player local, it lacks any sort of online functionality, a feature that would have been greatly appreciated given how fun multiplayer can be.
At a mere £2.69, Swords & Soldiers is a great bargain for Wii U owners. As one of the eShops’s lowest priced games, for newcomers to the series this is definitely worth checking out. Those who already experienced a slice of the action back in 2009 won’t find anything new here, but its low price point may warrant a replay as a quick reminder before its sequels drops later this year.