Shootanto: Evolutionary Mayhem Review
Posted by Spencer McIlvaine
An evolutionary step for light gun shooters?
In the grand tradition of so-called “light gun” games, Shootanto uses the pointer function of the Wii remote to task the player with shooting targets onscreen as quickly as possible. Given the strengths of the Wii remote in this regard, the Wii should provide fertile ground for this genre. But is Shootanto the right fertilizer, or is it just another case of a WiiWare game developer flinging poo at anything that moves?
Like most light gun games, Shootanto features a range of targets onscreen that the player must shoot at with the gun. Because of the Wii remote’s IR pointer, no extra gun peripheral is necessary. However, because for some people this would take some of the fun out of the experience, Shootanto includes the option to play with the Wii Zapper. There are options for both Zapper controls as well as for those who prefer to hang loose with a non-Zappered Wii remote. So your controls are conveniently laid out regardless of your choice.
Also included is a bizarre third option to use the classic controller. We presume this option is included for “hard-core” gamers who are too cool for Wii remotes. And yes, playing a light gun game with a thumbstick turns out to be exactly as much fun as it sounds.
If not using the classic controller, players must use the nunchuk attachment. This is because, unlike most games in this genre, the game is not shown in a first-person perspective. Rather, the player’s character is visible on screen as in a third-person perspective. The nunchuk is used to move him or her left and right on screen. As a consequence, not every projectile heading toward you will necessarily hit you. Only those headed toward your character will hit you and only then if you don’t move out of the way, or use the dodge function.
Dodging is as simple as the press of a button, or the shaking of your Zapper. While dodging, your character will do a little cartwheel and avoid getting hit by incoming projectiles. You can dodge anything and everything this way and as a result it is slightly unrealistic as you cartwheel through boulders and dinosaurs and anything else coming your way and always avoid getting hit. The controls can be sluggish, however, and as a result you may be vulnerable for a brief moment in between executing two dodges. During that split second, you may still get hit even as you furiously smash the dodge button.
Most of the time, however, the system works well. And there is no point in dodging all of the time, as you cannot fire while dodging. So at some point you will have to plant your feet and get to work. After all, those lizardmen and mushroom plants aren’t going to kill themselves. To clear a level, you must shoot pretty much everything until the final boss shows up. Once you finish off the boss, the level is complete. Since much of the challenge in these types of games is in maximizing your score, there is some additional challenge to be found in trying to continue to clear all obstacles before finishing off the final boss.
Shooting things in the game is relatively simple. An onscreen crosshair shows where you are aiming. So the game is literally as simple as point and shoot. The real challenge comes in selecting which targets to prioritize, and in dodging incoming fire. But for the most part, the game is a fairly brainless button masher. Consider that most games of this genre require the player to find targets to shoot at, and to distinguish between hostile and friendly targets. Here, everything on screen is destructible and there are never any hostages or elderly women crossing the street to avoid hitting. As a result, players are rewarded for just mindlessly shooting everything, stopping only to step out of the way of incoming fire.
Mercifully, the game allows you to hold down the fire button for auto-fire. This will save your fingers quite a lot of wear and tear, as you can simply hold the button down indefinitely with two exceptions. One, as mentioned maximizing your score is one of the purposes for playing, and the game keeps track of your misses. So in order to maximize your player data, you’ll have to lay off the trigger finger lest some of your shots hit the only two non-destructible targets…the ground and the sky. And second, if you want to dodge incoming fire, you’ll have to take your finger off of the firing button first. Hesitation can result in your dodge order coming in too late as, once again, the controls have a fairly long delay between button press and action being carried out on screen.
The game is fairly easy to play as it is literally just a shoot ‘em up, however the difficulty is somewhat high compared to other games in the genre and there is very little time to get acclimated. Even on easy mode players will find themselves swarmed by a relatively high number of targets. And as the game progresses, players will gain access to sequentially more powerful characters, but at the same time the levels become equally more difficult to complete.
And the graphics don’t make things much better. Looking roughly like N64 quality, the graphics are blocky and not very pleasing to the eye. When staring intently at a target, one would like to be able to distinguish it from the others around it. But all too often the player is firing at nothing more than pixels representing characters in the distance.
A zoom option is included to help you make sense of what these distant targets really are, but while zoomed in you leave yourself open to incoming fire and so this feature is usually too dangerous to use. One single incoming arrow can cost you your life if you don’t see it coming while you are zoomed in on something else. And those arrows are difficult enough to see already, especially the ones headed straight toward you as your own character can overlay them on screen.
The game includes a local two-player co-op mode. Historically, this genre of game has been fun to play with friends. But more importantly, bringing a friend along with you may be your only option for beating the ridiculous Hard level difficulty.
Once you complete the main game, you can go back through on higher skill levels to access more game content, or play through individual levels in an extra game mode that allows you to play any level using characters from any time period. But in all cases, the name of the game is the same…Shoot everything and try to improve your score.
The game keeps track of statistics for up to seven different people and ties those statistics into your Mii. Numbers tracked include your hit/miss ratio, your number of times completed, and even the amount of time, calculated to the nearest second, that you’ve spent playing the game. Everyone who plays on the same Wii can see each other’s statistics and compare them to see whose life is most worth living. Hey, here’s a free tip to the makers of this and all other brainless button-mashers out there…it might not be such a good idea to remind your customers of just exactly how many minutes, hours, and days of their lives they have spent mindlessly repeating the same task.
Shootanto is one of surprisingly few light gun games available on the Wii. And it is one of the only such games to not feature zombies. As a result, it represents a time-honored genre in a relatively uncrowded field and should provide a short-term but enjoyable diversion. It has some good points such as customized Zapper controls as well as experimenting with the idea of having an onscreen character to move around. And then there is the budget price that certainly cannot be argued with. As a WiiWare game it is clearly a fair offering.
However, those good points aside, the sluggish controls and bad graphics prevent Shootanto from competing with the big retail releases. As a result, it should be considered only as a cheap and convenient supplement to a player’s collection, and not as a replacement for a good retail version of a game in this genre.