(3DS eShop)

Swords & Soldiers 3D (3DS eShop)

Game Review

Swords & Soldiers 3D Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Finally facing its Waterloo

Four years ago, Swords & Soldiers made its debut. WiiWare has always been a mix of titles ranging from brilliant to terrible — with a thick middle section of "mediocre" — but Swords & Soldiers immediately established itself as a must-have. We awarded it a much deserved 9, taken as we were by its charm, its intuitive controls, and its great multiplayer. Now it's available for download on the 3DS as Swords & Soldiers 3D, but rather than an enhanced version of the original game, this feels like a huge step backward.

Swords & Soldiers 3D is very similar in structure to the WiiWare original, but scaled down for the worst in just about every way. The music, we have to say, sounds fine. The sound effects seemed a bit high in the mix, but that was easily fixed by a trip to the settings menu. That about does it for the good news.

The first, and probably largest, piece of bad news is that there is no multiplayer on offer here. At all. For an RTS, that's disappointing. For Swords & Soldiers, where it was practically the game's backbone, that's even worse. Certain options in the game refer to "player 2", but it's just a tease; it's always the CPU.

We know online multiplayer might have been asking a bit much — though, certainly, that would have increased the value of the game tenfold — but the lack of any kind of local two-player mode is a massive disappointment, and it's sure to be a rude awakening for fans of the original who download this one expecting to have the feature intact. Perhaps this should have been called Swords & Soldiers Lite.

Of course that wouldn't be as much of an issue if the single-player campaign were anywhere near as fun as it was on WiiWare. For many, many reasons, it's not.

First of all, the frame rate is a major issue. While it may begin as a relatively minor annoyance, the lag quickly becomes seriously problematic. Inputs are often ignored or misinterpreted, presumably as a side effect of the game's difficulty in rendering its own assets. Even the simple animation of a single unit walking to the right leads to frame skips, a problem that is alleviated only slightly by switching the 3D off completely. It's a big issue, and the resulting loss of responsiveness is even worse.

Additionally, the game controls terribly. While you'd be forgiven for thinking that a game that once controlled with the Wii Remote could now just as easily be controlled with a stylus on a touch screen, you'd be wrong.

If the action took place on the touch screen, then simple taps and swipes should have sufficed. Instead the developers really wanted the game to be in 3D, so it takes place on the top screen instead. Considering that anyone interested in a tolerable frame rate at all will have the 3D switched off, this was pretty clearly the wrong priority.

Instead we control the action on the top screen by using an interface on the touch screen, and this is no Kid Icarus: Uprising. The laggy and imprecise nature of the inputs means you'll always be flicking your eyes from one screen to another to handle even the simplest tasks, taking the "strategy" out of "real-time strategy" and replacing it with "blind, flustered stabbing".

Instead of simply tapping a unit to cast a spell on them, as you should be able to do on a touch screen, you need to find the solider on the top screen, look down to the bottom screen, tap the spell, hold the stylus, look back up to the top screen to see where the cursor is, move the stylus to get it into position, and then press L. If you manage to do this to the correct unit in the heat of battle, you deserve a medal. As it stands, we lost units even in the introductory battles simply because the most basic commands were entirely too cumbersome to execute.

The stages are also constructed in a side-scrolling fashion, which was something we very much enjoyed about the original game. Here, however, it just adds another layer of frustration to the proceedings as scrolling the screen to find the unit you're looking for is far too slippery. You can use either the circle pad or the D-pad to scan left and right across the battlefield, but even the slightest of taps send it sailing away, and by the time you manage to stop it in the correct place the odds are good you already missed the battle, and you'd better hope you won.

Additionally, dialogue boxes and information windows are extremely poorly handled. In the first case, dialogue pops up in the middle of fights, obscuring what's happening without pausing the action. By the time you tap through them, you may well find your units dead. The information windows are meant to convey descriptions of units and spells that you can use, and they display when you tap and hold on the icon. However doing so still counts as a tap, which activates whatever it is you were trying to learn about. This means that if you don't know what something does, there's no way to find out without just buying it. That's not a feature; those descriptions are there, they simply don't display the way they're supposed to. It's bad programming.

The original game was so much fun because its simplicity allowed us to be swept away by the charm. Here the charm stands no chance in the face of constantly wrestling with lag and a terrible interface.

There are three different "races" you can control in the main game, each with a campaign of their own, but if you're interested in this you're better off playing those same campaigns on WiiWare, where you might actually enjoy them. You can also set up one-off battles against the CPU and play some smaller challenge stages (which test how long you can survive, how far you can get in an endless stage, etc.), but they suffer from the same issues above, and are consequently no more fun.

Swords & Soldiers was a simple game about sending some troops to smash enemies to bits. It was basic, quirky fun. This undeserving port, however, is ugly, laggy and lifeless, and unworthy of its own name.

Conclusion

In our review of the original Swords & Soldiers, we said this: "Naturally, an RTS game cannot go without a multiplayer mode", which means it shouldn't come as a surprise that the single-player only approach of Swords & Soldiers 3D is a disappointment. Much more disappointing, however, is just how badly that single-player experience is marred. The frame rate is terrible, the controls are about as poor as we could possibly imagine, and numerous unfortunate design choices intrude on any fun that could be had. Having Swords & Soldiers on the go should have been an easy war to win. Instead, we advise you to beat a hasty retreat.

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User Comments (45)

Jamouse

#2

Jamouse said:

I suspected this from the moment I heard that CIRCLE entertainment was handling the port.

datamonkey

#4

datamonkey said:

I agree this game is boring!

I got it on Wii then iPad and must say I wasn't playing that long...

cmk8

#5

cmk8 said:

Nooooo, I really wanted this game and it looks like it's been ruined for the handheld. It's Settlers all over again...

stipey

#7

stipey said:

Circle need to either stop putting out so many games and start working on fewer games with better quality, or have their damn eShop licence taken away. This game is brilliant, and they've gone and ruined it.

Spoony_Tech

#8

Spoony_Tech said:

The frame rate is inexcusable. There is still fun to be had here but I was left wondering what to do control wise a few times. I wouldn't say its as bad as a 3 but it definitly could be better.

Yasume

#11

Yasume said:

The WiiWare version was incredible. Never played a multiplayer match and still loved it.

rjejr

#13

rjejr said:

Well that's disappointing. The controls sound worse than the PS3 version, both pre- and post Move support. I'm pretty sure I also played this on my iPod Touch last year and it worked fine.

This is listed as $7.99 in the US eShop (I checked yesterday and just now) but NL has it $6.99 both here and in a previous post about the US update.

Mnight

#15

Mnight said:

I have the PC version, and it's great. After playing the 3ds version I would say a 3 was generous. Not sure if anyone else has played a match long enough to where the game goes into Speed Up! mode, but once it does the game slows down by what seems like 50% or more, and remains that way until the match is complete. This along with the control issues made this game unplayable to me.

KnightRider666

#16

KnightRider666 said:

I'm kind of surprised this wasn't at least a 7 or 8. From all the hype this game was getting, you would figure it would have been better. I never really liked RTS anyway, . Now TBS on the other hand...:) Gimme another AW: Days of Ruin, but put it on the 3DS; and I'll be busy for months to come!

eduardopaulo

#17

eduardopaulo said:

Very disappointing indeed. On a side note: thanks Nintendo Life, now I've got ABBA's "Waterloo" stuck in my head for at least the rest of the day.

dumedum

#19

dumedum said:

interesting how they messed it up. usually a transition from wii to 3ds works well. and it's a masterpiece on Wiiware.

Linkuini

#20

Linkuini said:

I wanted to give CIRCLE the benefit of the doubt, but I knew they blew it as soon as I saw the trailer on the 3DS eShop. What a shame.

Datasun_7

#21

Datasun_7 said:

Darn! I was going to get this as I did not get this on Wii, genuinely disappointing

Morphbug

#22

Morphbug said:

This doesn't sound like a 3 from the review :|
The game sounds pretty much unplayable, shouldn't it get a 1?

WesCash

#23

WesCash said:

Shame. I loved the Steam version and I never even touched the multiplayer.

Midnight3DS

#25

Midnight3DS said:

This slipshod treatment by devs for e-shop is getting annoying. Subjective things, fine. But tech issues are inexcusable.

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#27

Philip_J_Reed said:

The game sounds pretty much unplayable, shouldn't it get a 1?

It's not unplayable. Just unenjoyable. ;)

brianvgplayer

#31

brianvgplayer said:

Yikes! It sounds like the Swords & Soldiers mini game in Wario Ware DIY is much better done than Swords & Soldiers 3D.

Zodiak13

#32

Zodiak13 said:

Thank you for the review I was just about to DL based on the wii's versions status as a great game. I guess I will put that toward Starship: Damrey.

DarkEdi

#35

DarkEdi said:

This is an excellent game... except in 3DS. I love the Wiiware version, better you download this version in Wii or Wii mode. It is great, but it is a shame the 3DS portable version isn´t.

Henmii

#36

Henmii said:

Ouch, a 3?! That's bad! I guess the Wiiware version is the better option!

WiiLovePeace

#37

WiiLovePeace said:

Damn. I was hoping that this would review well so I could buy it & finish it finally, even though I have it on WiiWare. Multiplayer didn't matter to me, but if the single player component doesn't work in 3D & stutters at the smallest of infantry then that's quite disappointing. Guess I'll have to load the game back up again on my Wii sometime, its a great game from what I remember :D

nickwarrior5

#40

nickwarrior5 said:

Actually the game is fun. Lag? The soldiers walk slow! No lag! Frame skipping? I dont see any. When a person talks it does freeze the battle untill hes done talking. Really I was excitied and I was right. Everyone has their own opinion and really you cant experience a game till you play it. Some people may say the other version is better. That may be true but this is still fun! This article is way off! More like somebody who hates 3ds posted something to get users to dislike. With the boulders, challenging gameplay, sun gods, vikings,ect. I couldnt ask more. I was playing for hours! For those people who have trouble with controls dont just stare down. -_- You guys are lazy much.

notchucknorris

#41

notchucknorris said:

im with nickwarrior5. the game is still Awesome. the review is WAY OFF!. and comparing it to the Wii version is just absurd, not everybody owns a Wii, and maybe they do and just want a portable version. anyway some of the points in the review are just WRONG,

1. i always turn the 3D off anyway, so does almost everyone i know.
2. multiplayer would be pointless for a game like this, finding another person who owns the same game would be pretty impossible, and at what point would you just pop in Mario Kart, Street Fighter, or Star Fox to get your multiplayer fix?

3. the controls are fine. your meant to use the stylus. the circle pad is for emergency when you need to snap back to your home base, and the D-Pad has slower navigation if you prefer, but on the top of touch screen there is a bar display where you slide forward or backward with stylus to navigate.

4. frame rate is fine. i dident notice any problem. the reviewer dosent realize your supposed to wait for the warrior icon to recharge before creating another one.

5. yes, you have to look at the bottom screen to select items, just like almost every other DS or 3DS game, its actually better that way because you dont have all the icons cluttered on your viewing area.

6. why should i "deserve a medal" for a simple command even a child could perform, go to where the warrior is, then tap the item, then move it over to him and press L. its really not that hard.

7. the action pauses when a dialog box comes up, so thats just a total Lie. also, learn what the items do in a practice run. again, not that complicated.

so yeah, the review is way off.

pigwarts5ever

#45

pigwarts5ever said:

Ugh. I really wish that this would of gotten a better review. I prefer handheld to home consoles. Looks like I'll just pick up the much better Wii U swords and soldiers.

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