Swords & Soldiers Review (Nintendo Switch)
Today we are going to break out the poison darts and throwing axes for a bit of friendly skull-splitting with Swords & Soldiers for the Nintendo Switch a side-scrolling Real-time strategy game from Two Tribes’ and Ronimo Games.
Release Date: January 24th 2019
Developer: Ronimo Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Side-Scrolling? Real Time Strategy? Sounds like a tablet game with delusions of grandeur. When I hear “Real Time Strategy,” I think of epic battles in classic games like “StarCraft” or “Command and Conquer,” PC games where you eat beef, wear wool and have a godlike view of the action and precise control over whatever units are on the field. Not so Two Tribes' Swords & Soldiers, a casual strategy game in which Vikings battle Aztecs, Chinese and of course other Vikings.
If you are thinking the name sounds familiar, it is a re-release, or perhaps one should say a refresh, of a ten-year-old WiiWare game. I say refresh because there is new content in the form of the “Super Saucy Sausage Fest” DLC which I dare you to try saying five times fast, particularly with your mother present, and the two-player game has been modified to support the unique abilities of the Switch. Fans of the previous release will be happy to note that developer Ronimo Games has also revealed that Swords & Soldiers II Shawarmageddon, already out on other platforms, is due out for the Switch on March 1st.
Swords & Soldiers reduces the usual RTS elements almost to the point of tears and combines them with cute, cartoonish characters and exceedingly straightforward gameplay. The initial campaign in which the player chases the forces of a rival Viking Barbecue Chef across the Earth while making new enemies and gathering spicy peppers for barbecue sauce is sufficient to teach players the ropes, acquainting them with the game’s three factions. Subsequent campaigns focus other the other factions.
The humor is goofy, though well executed and befits the cartoonish theme of the game. Characters are stereotypical caricatures of each faction and Vikings, Han Chinese and Aztecs all treated with equal disrespect. As previously mentioned, Swords & Soldiers simplifies key RTS elements to streamline gameplay. There are only two armies in a match, and the objective is always to destroy the enemy base. Players have to harvest gold and mana to develop and produce various units as well as magic spells and abilities. Workers gather gold to haul back to base, whereas mana builds up organically over time.
Once a unit is created it will march toward stage right and won’t stop until it engages in battle, if victorious it will, of course, keep advancing to the right. Finding the right combinations of units can be fun, and a battle once lost often ends up being easier than remembered once a proper mix of units and magical abilities is worked out. Unfortunately, this becomes repetitive. Maximize your workers, Build defensive towers and sit back and spawn soldiers and watch them march off to meet their fates it's not even necessary to watch the battle; your job is to keep squeezing out more troops. You can intervene in combat by using magic which functions as a sort of heavy artillery to make things smoother for the troops. From poison gas to traps and lightning bolts, your faction’s units and abilities dictate what spells are available and your units general qualities. Vikings are better armored. Aztecs are unarmored but have a formidable selection of abilities including poison clouds and necromancy, while Chinese are a balance of the two although expensive to operate.
Two player mode is a bit more exciting and works surprisingly well on the switch, particularly when un-docked. This works well across a restaurant table and can keep you entertained while waiting for your lutefisk or whatever it is that Vikings eat. Control is a bit harder in touch screen mode but not too shabby all in all.
Bottom line, it’s a nice casual game with strategy elements that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It's easy to learn and master, but it can be repetitive, and the lack of any control over individual units limits gameplay. I wanted the ability to have units wait until reinforced instead of merely advancing single file, but alas it was not to be, vaguely reminding me of Lemmings where you manage your units as much as control them.
Swords & Soldiers is definitely worth giving a try. Casual gamers will appreciate the straightforward gameplay, but more serious RTS aficionados will be left wanting more.