At the Pax East Romino Games booth, I had the pleasure to give a go at the latest Awesomenauts has to offer and the Wii U exclusive of Sword and Soldiers 2. Both fit the theme of distilling a genre down to a vibrant and accessible 2D game, a trait at Romino. I’ll run down what I saw.
Running with its latest build of its Sandstorm (kickstarted) DLC expansion on PC was Awesomenauts, showing off the recently released update to attendees. From the exhaustive list of tweaks and millisecond adjustments, update patch 2.3 polishes some effects and add on a few new things. Game currency of solar doesn’t just vanish once you pick it up, the amount pops up at you, showing a +1 or +20 (depending on the amount) after every pickup. In addition, a Total Biscuit-themed skin for the crime duo of Vinnie & Spike.
Yet the biggest inclusion is the new character of Penny, a fox on the hunt for adventure, matches her animal likeness with speed. Out the gate, leap aids her agility with a double jump. Ability of pounce lunges at enemies. Energy pulse emits an attack going through multiple foes. Both abilities need not only a finished ability cooldown, but stored charges to enact action. Regaining said charge requires a successful claw attack, a melee swipe, the default attack for Penny. Play her right (in-and-out jabs and escape) and the added nuisance won’t factor in so much.
Sitting inches away from the Awesomenauts stations, Sword and Soldiers 2 shows off the color of the Wii U. From the demo I tried, Romino had its training wheels attached, much of the level was showcasing the mechanics embedded with the story about meeting your grandpa out for golf. Or a barbeque. No, defending the grill was secondary to destroying the enemy base until Ol’ Larry popped his head out. Anyway, from what I gathered, the story’s nonsensical and goofball as if the cartoon take wasn’t evident enough. You go on adventures as Red Beard, the Viking from the original, heading back home to fight demons. And you have medic units throwing slabs of healing ham.
For a refresher, Swords & Soldiers is a simplified RTS on a 2D plane (one lane most of time, tug of war) using the controller sticks to select what units to produce or spell to cast. You gain money to spend on units and buy spells to use on the battlefield, then semi-strategize your unit placement. Units form up in a line, much like Awesomenauts’ bots, frontline units received the brunt of the damage until death then the next follow suit. Being on the Wii U, your second screen controller actively displays what you see on screen and the unit/spell select on the touchscreen
After a half-minute of fumbling around, it clicked with me. The user interface was easy to use and straight forward, everything you needed to know was there, just small nuances down the road (new enemy types, new powers/units, etc). what aids Swords & Soldiers II is humor. “Ok, you’re cutesy I get it” is the reaction I had for most of the game, little snickers here and there. Then something bizarrely humorous happens. One instance of this was one of the special units charged onto the front line (liquored-up) with a pint as frothing, brown ale clouds the screen. Ok, you have my attention now.
Romino Games plan Swords & Soldiers II for later this year solely on the Wii U eShop.