Would it be too far to call this game DSiWare's answer to Geometry Wars? Yes. But it's still pretty good.
DSiWare isn’t really known for gritty action games. Once you get past the excellent Dark Void Zero, there aren’t many worthwhile options. B Team Episode 1: Dust and Steel aims to change that.
In this game, you control a team of three soldiers on a series of missions ranging from search and destroy to rescue to good old-fashioned “kill everything on the map.” You only directly control one soldier, and while all living team members will shoot, only that one will take damage. You can complete a mission with just one of the three soldiers still alive, but every surviving fighter will level up for the next mission, increasing his health and firepower.
The gameplay in B Team is reminiscent of something like Geometry Wars, mainly consisting of running and shooting. The game uses the D-Pad for movement and the touch screen for shooting. Shooting is straightforward and effective: just point at your target on the touch screen. Movement control can be problematic, however. The game just isn’t suited to a D-Pad, analog stick controls are practically required. However, the situation is remedied somewhat by playing the game on a 3DS. Even though it’s still a digital input, the Circle Pad works much better for this game.
The missions are arranged in a campaign, but there doesn’t appear to be any kind of overarching story linking them together. The intro to each mission is simply an outline of the objectives, and upon completion you’re just given the option of whether to continue or back out to the menu. The entire campaign can also be selected mission by mission in the Scenarios section, with no need to play the campaign first.
While there are several different mission types, they all feel fairly similar. Most won’t require you to kill all enemies in the area, but there’s no benefit to leaving anyone alive, and doing so will get you killed. The missions are usually fairly linear, so whether you have to destroy a certain series of targets or rescue allies, you’ll move through the level in mostly the same way. Despite the similarity, the core gameplay is good enough that it stays fun until the end.
The best parts of this game, though, are the boss fights. They really ramp up the difficulty, and require precise movement and pattern recognition. The only issue is that the hardest bosses are the first two you’ll run into, so you’re thrown right into the deep end.
B Team Episode 1: Dust and Steel is a very solid DSiWare title. The controls duplicate a dual analog setup surprisingly well, especially if you play it on a 3DS, and the gameplay, while sometimes lacking in variety, is fun the whole way through. This is one of the better action games on the service.