Imagine a future in which all disease is cured through the aid of tiny nano-bots flowing through your bloodstream. There would be no need for medicine or doctor visits, as all illness would be taken care of internally. It's an incredible proposition that makes for an interesting sci-fi storyline that can be taken in so many directions, including being turned into a disappointing Wii U eShop game.
Entering the fray of eShop games made cheap, Internal Invasion is the latest title to be developed through the Nintendo Web Framework, many of which have been average at best. Not one to break out by going above and beyond to achieve new heights, this is yet another budget game that feels exactly that. The gameplay here is not particularly fun or innovative, and no successful attempts have been made to at least give this one the appearance of something that might be worth your money or hard drive space. It’s very sad when you consider that the intention of the Web Framework is to allow fledgling developers a chance to showcase their work, but instead it appears to have opened the floodgates for substandard games to appear on the platform.
Keeping it simple, Internal Invasion sees you taking charge of Ro’Bert, a nano-bot implanted in an apparently ill person’s body to fight off an infection that has been ravaging its host. Rather than actually doing any form of fighting, your task is to merely guide Ro’Bert deeper into his host’s body by launching him using a series of cannons. The goal is to make it from one end of the stage to the other as quickly as you can and by using as few cannons possible. As the stages progress more and more obstacles will stand in your way, including cannons that fire by themselves, lasers bent on sending you off course, and even enemy viruses – all of which look suspiciously like Kracko from the Kirby franchise – that must be avoided. Completing a stage will earn you a local ranking, easy fodder to lure in the perfectionists among us.
The gameplay is reminiscent of the barrel blasting from any Donkey Kong Country game, but the repetition can become grating over time. In Donkey Kong, this mechanic was used to break up stages and add a bit of challenge, but when the entirety of gameplay focuses on this one aspect it quickly loses its charm. There are 50 stages to slog through, all of which employ the same gameplay, and it all stops being fun way too early on.
Despite gameplay being similar to a Nintendo classic, Internal Invasion controls much more like mobile behemoth Angry Birds. Opting out of physical controls, Ro'Bert is launched from cannons by pulling back on the GamePad's touchscreen and releasing at your desired strength and trajectory. The controls are far from perfect and lack any semblance of tactility, though they work well enough for what is demanded of them and add an interactive element to an otherwise straightforward game. All of the action is displayed on both the television and GamePad screens, but due to the touch controls it's likely that your eyes will be fixed on the controller's screen most of the time anyway, rarely having reason to look up at your TV.
For a game as presumably untaxing on Nintendo’s hardware as Internal Invasion, there is a significant amount of lag. Whenever you launch Ro’Bert from one cannon to another, the frame rate drops to a staggeringly slow pace, sending your nano-bot clipping across the screen. There is usually bound to be a bit of slowdown in even the most polished game, but the amount here is inexcusable. This is unfortunate because the art is attractive otherwise. Most stages look exactly the same, featuring pink fleshy environments with bones protruding from random places, but the cartoony style lends itself to the lightheartedness created by the easy-to-grasp gameplay. Appealing aesthetic aside, the drop in frame rate is substantial and impossible to overlook, at points to the extent of being nearly game-breaking.
There aren’t really two ways about this: Internal Invasion is laggy, repetitive, and downright boring. For a game that boasts an original enough plot to initially grab our attention, it’s very disappointing that the rest of the package falls flat and lands with a thud. From uninspired gameplay to its awful frame rate issues, this is one game that needs a serious update before it can be recommended to anyone. As it stands, the entire package feels incomplete, more like an early build or a tech demo. He may be an adorable nano-bot with the best of intentions, but one illness that Ro'Bert can't cure is that which we feel while playing this game.