For those reading one of my Wii review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:
The Wii is often mocked for its game library, yet, it actually has a solid list of exclusives that are unavailable anywhere else. Though only Nintendo games were available where I am from, I was always interested in other games. Hence, I decided to play the top 50 Wii games as chose by GamesRadar in this list:
Without further ado, here is:
S: Battalion Wars 2:
Genre: Action, Real-Time Tactical Strategy.
Developer: Kuju Entertainment.
First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.
Fans of the Advance Wars series wouldn't immediately recognize it, but Battalion Wars 2 is the second game in a spin-off series of it. On closer look, you can see the stylistic similarities, as weapons of war are rendered in a stylistic cartoonish design. That's where the similarities end though.
Battalion Wars 2 is defined by its complicated and unique genre; Action Real-Time Tactical Strategy. Basically, you control one of many units in a squad like in a third-person shooter, and can issue orders to the rest of the units in real-time.
This duality in gameplay is the game's biggest strength, and it works wonderfully well. Yet, perhaps due to some limited scope, the game never reaches the full potential of its gameplay, as you can imagine many ways the game could have become a masterpiece.
"The Iron Legion had all but conquered the free nations of the land"
The game begins with an "ancient" battle in the game's world, where the Iron Legion was stopped from conquering the world through a superweapon deployed against them by the Solar Empire in their last stand. This weapon was then cast into the abyss so that it is never used again.
200 hundred years later, this legend inspires a fresh war between nations, as one country attacks the other in anticipation of another superweapon strike. It is a surprisingly engaging storyline, especially because you get to control several factions in separate campaigns, and also fight some campaigns in the past.
Of course, the entire story is told in colorful cut-scenes, and the nature of war is not discussed at all in the game. It is more a Saturday-night cartoon story than Saving Private Ryan.
Unfortunately, the game doesn't utilize its story well. Other than the intro text to each mission and the aforementioned cutscenes, there is little story content to ingest. It is as if the developers didn't trust themselves to add any meat to the skeleton of the story in fear of messing it up.
No meaty conversations with Legion's goons
These colorful characters do not interact much between missions (some dialogue and reactions after each mission would have been adequate), and there is no background information beyond the unit descriptions in the extras menu.
One item I hoped would have been elaborated, or at least shown in the extras, are the newspaper clips that are shown at the beginning of each campaign. These would have served as an excellent world-builder if the articles were actually readable and accessible between missions.
All of these are missed opportunities where the story is concerned, especially when the basic premise and the fact that you play from multiple viewpoints is such a good idea.
Multiple Viewpoints in the Campaigns: +3
Limited Story Building: -5
Colorful Characters: +3
"Tally-ho men. Nothing will stand between us and finding and destroying the enemy's superweapon"
It is no exaggeration to say that the gameplay in Battalion Wars 2 is extremely unique. With its blend of third-person shooting and real-time tactical strategy gameplay, this is a game that has few equals-if any-in the market.
You nominally control one unit while the rest of the squad follows you. For the unit you control, you can move and shoot freely from a third-person perspective. For all the units that follow you, they will be fighting normally against the enemy units in their vicinity. That is until you issue specific orders to them.
This scenario will make things a little bit clear:
You are controlling an Assault Veteran (heavy machine gunner) and leading a unit consisting of Bazooka men, Anti-air gunners, a tank, and some lowly grunts. On the coast, two battleships and an anti-air frigate are moving along with your unit as well.
As the commander, the unit moves with your Assault Veteran. In the distance, you spot some RPG and Machine Gun towers that could obliterate your ground force. So, you aim at them and issue commands to your naval units to destroy them. Meanwhile, to make sure your battleships are safe, you issue an order to your frigate to shoot down the incoming gun choppers.
After destroying the towers, you go ahead with your ground force to take over the enemy camps. You issue orders to the Bazooka men and the tank to destroy the enemy tanks and barricades while your grunts take care of the infantry. As you support your grunts in gunning down the enemy infantry, you notice a number of choppers heading your way but are too far from the frigates, so you order your Anti-air gunners to take care of them.
Use the correct units for the correct job
This is a simple example of how the game plays, and it extremely satisfying when everything clicks together. Especially since you can personally command each and every unit in the game, including bombers and fighter planes.
It is in those instances that the game shows some cracks though, as the control for all units is a little wonky, but flight controls are especially bothersome due to some motion control issues. You can get used to it, but not when you also need to focus on issuing commands to your ground troops.
Unique and Excellent Gameplay: +5
Access to a Variety of Units: +3
Some Control Issues: -2
"Honor demands we seek a war of retribution immediately. Hail the fleet. We sail to the Anglo Isles now"
With a sound gameplay system, the remainder was to make use of that system by crafting really good missions. In that regard, this game mostly delivers. I say "mostly" because, while the game does offer a number of missions with varied locations, objectives, and strategies, it still misses some strategic oomph that I wish was there.
Let's first talk about what's included.
Each campaign offers 3 or 5 missions, each that feels unique and is rewarding to go through. With a system that grades your performance, you know there is an optimal path through each mission, which is obvious enough. It is always the most fun way to play after all.
Usually, missions involve an initial defense phase, before you start gathering troops and capturing the enemy base. One thing that I felt was the case is that you either excel at the mission or get destroyed until you learn how to approach it. Unless you are using the right units for the right job, you can easily get decimated.
What could have been better is a more expansive level of control over your units, and the scenarios that could have been done with it. For instance, if you could do a tactical pause and issue some quick orders, this would have given Kuju Entertainment the ability to craft more challenging levels. Also, I wish there was a way to divide your force into two or three parts instead of having one large squad and some intermittent sea or air action.
I know that last bit is just a description of another game, but it is an example of how this type of game can be expanded upon.
Good Level Variety: +4
Doesn't Reach its Full Potential: -2
"Somewhere, somehow, someone is causing a heap of trouble and I don't know why. But sure as heck, I reckon I know who"
Finally, let's talk about the game's production. As you can see from some of these screenshots, the school of design is similar to the Advance Wars games, with colorful stylistic war machines. These are not perfectly translated from the awesome concept art, but they are well-designed nonetheless.
Sure, the Wii doesn't have the strongest graphical ability, but its standard definition graphics pop in this colorful design, and everything is clear for the player.
It is clear that tanks have some firepower behind them
While the same level of design excellence does not carry to the story character's, that is simply a matter of taste. I specifically dislike the design of the Western Frontier (The US) characters.
On sound, the game does a good job of producing bangs and bombs, but not as good in crafting a memorable soundtrack. Basically, other than a pretty standard main theme, I don't recall there being any impressive tunes at all.
Good Graphical and Sound Design: +4
Forgettable Music: -2
This is a game defined entirely by its unique gameplay, which has a little comparison in the market. As a package, Nintendo decided to loosely tie it to the established Advance Wars franchise, but that is a very loose tie indeed.
I can only say that the gameplay works, with some progressive learning involved, and I ended up being very proficient in a short time. Though be careful, the game is only fun when you figure out how to get the best of its systems.
The game has some cool concept art
Looking Back at Destructoid's Review:
There wasn't a Destructoid review of this game.
I am generally not interested in the sales of the games I like, and I don't measure my penis size through the success of games I like. However, sales data is interesting in studying market trends, people's general interest, marketing strategy, genre effect, and other factors. Which is why I am going to check the sales data of every modern game I review (Gen 4 and beyond).
When you look at the sales data of Battalion Wars 2, you may think that 340K Units sold is respectable for a second-tier Nintendo game. It is usually how much mid-budget Nintendo games sold on the Wii. Yet, when you look at the fact that the first Battalion Wars game sold 400K Units on the Game Cube (a console with a fraction of the install base), then you can see why both this series and its parent series both declined in Nintendo's eyes.
You can also control naval units and submarines
1- It goes without saying, but you should attack each enemy unit with their weaknesses.
2- As such, you need to learn what your enemy weaknesses are.
3- Leave vulnerable units behind (for example, leave aircraft behind when you advance to deal with anti-air machines).
4- Always do the secondary objectives.
5- Try and keep a zoomed out view to have more tactical awareness of the situation.
6- Use the map often.
This is another Wii game I wouldn't have played if not for this list that I enjoyed. Not as great as I could have, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Next game will be my final Wii review, and the game is Shiren the Wanderer, one of the most famous Roguelike brands that released games on Nintendo devices. I am not a big fan of the genre, but this is a game that I bought on an impulse and so I am going to play and review (unless I hate it too much).
For Previous Wii game Reviews:
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