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Preview: Swords & Soldiers HD

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

The best of both worlds

The WiiWare platform may not always be considered in a particularly glowing light, but it's undeniable that it did deliver some top-class download experiences. One of these was Swords & Soldiers from Ronimo Games, a side-scrolling real-time strategy title that made use of the Wii Remote pointer in an intuitive, natural way. Now Two Tribes is stepping in and publishing Swords & Soldiers HD on the Wii U eShop — having also produced an Android and iOS version — and we've taken on some battles to gauge the differences and whether an upgrade is worth your consideration.

The legacy of Two Tribes porting the title to smart devices is clear for all to see, in a positive sense, with the GamePad controls that are on offer. They're the primary area of distinction from WiiWare, as pointing is replaced with touch controls. As single and double taps are the primary inputs, there's much to be said for the precision offered by the stylus and resistive screen, which are ideal for the somewhat challenging levels that this title throws at you.

As you may recall from the WiiWare original, this real-time strategy approach places an emphasis of quick actions, with no direct control over units — your task is to find a right balance in using your money to invest and boost your available units and on-field assets. Mana, on the other hand, is a slowly replenishing source — which can be sped up through buying upgrades — used for magic or special abilities. You manage these aspects as your created units simply march to the right automatically, giving this a blend of genuine strategy and slightly frenzied action as you constantly replenish your army or unleash magic on the enemy. When in full flow it's as enjoyable a combination as it ever was.

The GamePad controls certainly cater to that desire for speed, and could be invaluable for those that found the campaign got too hot to handle on Wii. As before there are three tribes with separate campaigns — Vikings, Aztec and Chinese — and with the first down and the second underway we've found the going marginally easier this time around. It's all down to upgrades and purchases being a simple tap away, while moving left and right on the 2D battlefield is available with a swipe or flick on the right control stick. It's an excellent setup.

That said, playing on the GamePad has one downside — your eyes are glued to that smaller, lower resolution screen; it's big enough to control well, but that tablet-style option also means you can't enjoy the HD resolution boost of this version. It's a toss up, then, as Two Tribes has included Wii Remote pointer controls, as per the WiiWare original, to allow you to enjoy the spruced up visuals on the TV. The cartoon-like, caricatured units are still as full of verve as ever and look terrific — the visuals pop on a HD screen and stand up well to current-day standards. The downside of TV play is that the Wii Remote simply doesn't offer the speed and precision of touch, so it's down to individual players which option suits them best. For our money the GamePad is the way to go for the best performance.

Beyond the single player campaign there are unlockable challenges — one for each tribe — and a Skirmish mode, which allows you to customise aspects such as difficulty and map size for ad-hoc battles. Most notable is the return of local Multiplayer, which is a good example of how titles can be genuinely improved on Wii U beyond a superficial HD upgrade. As opposed to a split-screen each player now has a full screen each, with one using the GamePad touch screen and the other utilising the TV and pointer controls. It's a nice way for both players to have full viewpoints, and those interested in fairness will probably alternate between control schemes. If you beat your opponent with the GamePad and Wii Remote, you'll truly be the master of that battle.

Having played a dozen or so single player campaign levels and dabbled with the other modes, we're confident that this is a faithful and attractive port of the excellent original. It retains its appeal in the current day, as the simplicity of building resources and sending auto-moving soldiers forth is combined with a surprising degree of strategic depth. We're already noticing that same difficulty curve, and mindlessly spamming the wrong units or wasting resources does get punished. As we argued in our WiiWare review, there's more to this than may be obvious at first glance.

We're certainly positive about this one, on the way soon and likely at a thoroughly reasonable price. With Swords & Soldiers II currently in development this HD remake, with some GamePad bells and whistles included, could be an ideal warm-up for the future Wii U exclusive.

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User Comments (35)

dumedum

#3

dumedum said:

Loved the first one, but honestly can go straight to the sequel. The WiiWare version is perfect as-is so I don't really need the remake.

ejamer

#7

ejamer said:

Anyone who missed the original on WiiWare should definitely pick this up. It's a fantastic game (although apparently the 3DS port has some serious issues... shame about that).

Do I want another port? Not sure I care that much since I own the original... but that just means I'm not the target audience.

C-Olimar

#9

C-Olimar said:

@shaneoh They didn't develop it, they're just publishing. And their games are awesome anyway!

The best part about this is the price - £2.69! Bargain!

Reuf

#11

Reuf said:

@shaneoh crap! Which games did you play? Ok tell me how can we make our games more interesting to you?

faint

#12

faint said:

@Reuf hahaha love you guys. Personally I dug toki tori, edge, and rush so I will be picking this up.

DiscoGentleman

#14

DiscoGentleman said:

Looking forward to this release a lot. I didn't play the WiiWare version and I love that this release includes original and new controls. Perfect for a fresh spin on the game and the speed that the GamePad gives, without alienating fans who prefer the Wiimote controls and to enjoy the HD visuals.
On top of that, local co-op utilizing two separate screens- the GamePad being a full screen for one player has always been one of my favorite aspects about the GamePad for local co-op.

JaredJ

#16

JaredJ said:

too bad this game doesn't support the Pro Controller. I enjoyed the demo on PS3 with the dual shock.

faint

#18

faint said:

@theberrage for the sounds of it....you may be right. they did just shut down two tribes publishing to become a smaller operation.

burninmylight

#19

burninmylight said:

Slipped passed my radar on Wii, but will definitely be picking this up now. I'd actually like to see a few more WiiWare games ported up to the Wii U eShop, with the same common sense features added, like adding GamePad controls while keeping the original Wiimote controls as an option and separate screen multiplayer.

brandonbwii

#20

brandonbwii said:

@Reuf
So I take it this game doesn't feature online play? Didn't the one on WiiWare have that feature? I'm still getting it but I might rethink the sequel if it doesn't have online play.

Love your Wii U releases thus far. Except Edge as a matter of personal taste and a somewhat dull set-up and Toki Tori 2 as the puzzles can be a bit TOO hard sometimes.

Also could you talk to Nintendo about getting Minecraft released? (Joking! Mandatory Miiverse inside joke). :p

Reuf

#21

Reuf said:

@brandonbwii this version features local multiplayer, not online. The original version also didn't have online play. We obviously thought about online play as well, but the current development already took 4 months and adding online play could easily take another 6 months. Yes it is THAT difficult! :( And at the incredibly low price we are selling it for, we couldn't justify the additional dev time. But I personally love the game the way it is now, even without the online play. Hope you guys will too! :D

Reuf

#22

Reuf said:

@faint with 4 months of dev time, I wouldn't call this quick :) Also Publishing never got shut down

Sean_Aaron

#23

Sean_Aaron said:

I gave up on the original one, but it has a lot going for it so I'm happy to give it another go.

Andyjm

#24

Andyjm said:

Missed out originally but like a few others, I've enjoyed the games Two Tribes has touched so will give this a blast. When's it due???

rjejr

#28

rjejr said:

I highly recommend this game, just don't think I can buy it again after buying it on Wii, PS3, and Android. Will buy S&S 2 day one though. Maybe I'll finally be done w/ Advance Wars by then, 84 hours and still gong. Who knew?

shaneoh

#29

shaneoh said:

@Reuf
Edge, Rush, and Toki Tori. They just didn't deliver the enjoyment that I would have liked out of them, not to say that they're bad games (I've certainly played worse), just not suited for me.

erv

#30

erv said:

I think three euro's is a great deal for a replay of this game. Especially with the multiplayer involved, split up between wiimote full tv and gamepad controls.

markybbop

#31

markybbop said:

people will get bored without online multiplayer. its essential for all game releases now.

Viper9_QC

#34

Viper9_QC said:

I already have it on PC and Wii, so I won't buy this one. But Sword and Soldiers 2 on Wii U looks awesome.

THENAMESNORM

#35

THENAMESNORM said:

I bought the original on WiiWare, and I also bought the PSN version. I will also be buying this as it is simply one of the most enjoyable experiences I had on WiiWare. One of the few WiiWare game's I played until the end.

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