The sidescrolling strategy game is back for a new life on Nintendo's hybrid system.
Swords & Soldiers II was one of the best games on the Wii U eShop. The side-scrolling RTS kept me engaged for hours on end. It didn't matter if I was replaying missions from the campaign or duking it out with friends in custom matches. Every piece of content in the game felt unique and was enough to keep runs entertaining. Given the circumstances of the Wii U, I was always sad about the game not doing better. The game felt like a pretty complete package, yet not many folks were picking it up. Now, the game is getting a second life on Nintendo Switch, which is a big plus. I got an early look at a new build, which I will naturally tell you tons about.
If you never played it before, Swords & Soldiers II Shawarmageddon is a real-time strategy adventure in which you don't control the movement of your characters. You can make meaningful choices, however, by building towers, adding units and upgrading them, and using magical spells. While there is a certain simplicity to these actions, in theory you are just selecting the set pieces; you could be fooled into thinking that you will learn all the tricks in a matter of minutes. The individual tactics encourage players to come back for more and try harder when you lose. The matches are frantic and often come down to the wire, which makes them quite satisfying. With three different factions, which you can mix and match to create your own teams, the ways you can overthrow your opponents feel different every time you play.
The campaign, which sees you leveraging the powers of all factions, makes its grand return. From the few missions I've played, I sense that the balance has been tweaked a bit. This update ensures that some terrible odds can still be overcome. You just require a sharp mind to reach your full potential. There are other improvements as well. Some of the Open Battles and Bonus Challenges have become required for progression. Previously, these elements were all optional, causing some players to look past them. Giving the side modes a new life is appreciated as I found them the most demanding missions in the game.
For the multiplayer, Ronimo Games is making their biggest effort yet. In addition to playing the traditional local experience on the television, there is now online play and tabletop mode. The former marks the first time the series is going online. This inclusion is exciting and can extend my time with the game even more. In tabletop, you can remove the Joy-Con and flip the screen vertical for a cozy multiplayer run. For those familiar with the original Swords & Soldiers’ iPad release, this orientation will feel right at home. The major difference is that you can opt to play with just a Joy-Con.
As far as new content is concerned, the developers have promised a selection of brand new maps. This is clever as every map in the original played with your expectations. Some maps required more effort to reach the opponent's base, while others thrived on almost immediate combat. There are certainly gimmicks from the main campaign that went woefully unused, and Ronimo Games seems very keen to rectify that. All in all, that is what I was hoping for, outside of maybe a few new campaign missions as a cherry on top. The game ran well, as expected, in handheld mode. The version was early with the new content not completed implemented just yet, but the build was extremely stable. It was very encouraging to see.
Swords & Soldiers II Shawarmageddon is a wonderful get for the platform. While you can't do the unique multiplayer set-up of the Wii U game (link up multiplayer please?), the traditional one-on-one experience is there in droves. I adored the game particularly in tabletop mode where it is really built to keep people playing. The online multiplayer and campaign tweaks offer great extras as well, making this port the ultimate version of a unique independent Wii U release.