Swords & Soldiers – Nintendo Wii Review
When Mario popped from 2D to 3D it was as if we had previously only seen him through a glass darkly, but now could see him in full.
Sure, his pixel moustache was at last rendered in polygons, offering us a more vivid portrait of the plumber than we’d yet known. But far more than that, the added dimension gave Miyamoto’s venerable mechanics room to flex and unfurl, revealing their full, unrestrained potential for the very first time. Never before had we experienced the platform game in such terms, and never again could it be the same again.
The real-time strategy genre, by contrast, has never enjoyed the sort of epiphany that platformers underwent with the release of Mario 64. Ever since Herzog Zwei, they’ve always been viewed from a top-down perspective, units moving to and fro over a map in a race to dominate the opposing force. As a result, the transition from sprite to polygon was irrelevant to the genre’s underlying systems, which have remained largely constant from hardware generation to generation.
As such, Swords & Soldiers, a side-scrolling RTS game, is a regression back to a formative period that never was, imagining what the genre might have looked like had it started life as Super Mario Bros. Viewed sideways on, its mechanics have been necessarily compressed and flattened to focus only on the core elements of the modern RTS title.
That’s not to say the game is regressive or overly simplistic. Ronimo Games, the Dutch studio best known for the freeware version of de Blob, press the game’s nose hard against the boundaries they’ve imposed for it, extrapolating on their core ideas in interesting, creative ways over the game’s 30 core missions. But it’s a focused game, one that trims the fat from the form to present a familiar yet novel experience quite unlike any other.
You can read the rest of this review over at Eurogamer here.