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Swords (Wii)

Teen
ESRB Rating
Genre
Perspective
Gameplay
Setting
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Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Written by  :  ResidentHazard (3566)
Written on  :  Feb 10, 2011
Rating  :  1.43 Stars1.43 Stars1.43 Stars1.43 Stars1.43 Stars

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Summary

A complete fiasco

The Good

Swords basically attempts to pull the Punch-Out formula into the world of 1-to-1 motion-based sword swinging combat. Unfortunately, this segment of this review is unlikely to yield much to read.

One of the few nice things I can say about this is that it's nice to see someone trying to make a game that actually uses the Wii Motion+ accessory (or the revamped Wii Remotes). At least they tried, right? And if they weren't going to be very original about it, they at least took inspiration from the right place--as this game's core was clearly lifted right from Nintendo's classic Punch-Out series.

Every now and then, the graphics aren't too bad, and at times, the gameplay actually works and swordy slash movements seem to respond fairly well.

Several new weapons can be earned, and special attributes can be added to the swords to affect gameplay, such as poison or freezing, etc. There are a couple mini-games present scattered throughout the story mode, and playable anytime afterwards. The zombie slashing one, at least, isn't too bad. The block-cutting works, but has issues.

The Bad

However, this game fails so catastrophically, so frequently, and in such irritating ways that no amount of good inspiration can save it. Let's start with the Punch-Out-style set-up. Our hero character here is never as remotely interesting as Little Mac. Sure, Little Mac isn't the deepest character in the world, but through pretty much any Punch-Out game, we still felt as if we were getting to know him. We went through his training, got to know him when he got beat up, saw him when he was down, etc. Here, the hero character is basically a hollow shell that vaguely represents the player onscreen. The Sensei is never very interesting in any "conversation" either.

Rather than feature different leagues or circuits to work through, the game runs basically in a straight line from start to finish as the player fights his way through the enemy characters. Don't expect some deep, rewarding experience such as that in Punch-Out. How a character attacks and how the player responds is not nearly as deep or thoughtful as in Nintendo's brawler. Characters don't have too many attacks, and blocking is mostly a matter of holding the Wiimote left or right, or at a 45 degree angle. While it's certainly feasible to learn attacks and respond in kind, there is almost no depth, and luck factors into this in a very unnerving manner (I'll get to that).

For the most part, the characters are bland and uninteresting caricatures of normal game characters. They're so boring that remembering them offhand is actually kind of challenging. There's... a Viking of course... an Arabian Princess of some sort... your standard knight. There are only 6 regular characters, plus a final boss. So that's it. Seven characters. That's literally about half the characters of the Wii remake of Punch-Out. They're from all different time periods, and don't make any sense at all being together in this game. One of 'em is a damn robot.

So, we've got about half the characters of Punch-Out, and none of them have any of the depth--both in narrative and in fighting styles and complexity--than Nintendo's Wii remake. The story makes little sense (it's mostly vapor), and there is no logic behind anything here. Characters are practically devoid of personality, and character designs are just flat-out generic.

The mini-games are generally bland and repetitive. One simply has players swiping a slash across the screen at a specific time to cut various silly objects in half that are thrown to the player. Stuff like UFO's and stuffed animals and fruit. One has the player striking blocks of wood to certain shapes--always squares and pyramids. One has players striking a suit of armor at specific points, and one has players slashing zombies. Sometimes the zombies have bits of resistant armor, requiring some strategy to the attacks.

However...

As with the blocking, fighting, and mini-games, the same fundamental flaw carries through the entire game. True, the 1-to-1 sword fighting action works--but it works for only--literally--about ten seconds at a time, if that. I'm not exaggerating here. The fight (or minigame) starts, and the onscreen representation of the player's blade moves pretty smoothly. Swing a couple times, make a few attacks, and that calibration vanishes completely. After only a few attacks, the onscreen visualization already becomes randomly skewed, meaning that successive movements will always be wrongly attributed to an incorrect starting action. So how is this overcome? By constantly pausing the game, setting the Wii Remote on a flat surface, and recalibrating the blasted thing. Several times during most any match, this is exactly how I played the game. Routinely pausing and recalibrating the damn controller because the game couldn't be bothered to keep track of it for more than a few moves or maybe ten seconds. This means that the bulk of the game basically negates any of the supposed depth as frantic flailing of the Wii Remote becomes the norm. Strategy is barely used or usable.

When it comes to the minigames, the "slash the thrown object" game, which should be straight-forward swing-the-controller gameplay becomes frustratingly broken. In the block-cutting game, I was often faulted for striking the block of wood, as if I hit it on an upswing when I had, in fact, not really moved at all. In the story mode, this takes on an extra level of frustration as the player is required to complete these stages to advance.

Now, that story mode--otherwise known as the main mode of the game--sucks. Sure, it's nice that you can save your progress, but that doesn't change the fact that the entire thing only takes about one or two hours to complete (depending on how many times the crappy controls steal a victory). And when that's done... that's pretty much it. Sure, there's a vapid two-player mode, but it too is a lame rip-off of Punch-Out, wherein both players are pretty much the same guy fighting each other. It was lame enough that Punch-Out's two player mode was just "Little Mac versus Little Mac," but for this game to essentially do the same thing? Come on. Sure, here it's not technically the same character fighting himself, but the game developers dreamt up a sparring partner that may as well be a cookie-cutter clone.

Music and sound effects are completely generic, and generally unforgettable. The graphics, likewise, while not terrible, simply aren't good enough for what the Wii can do. There are no bells or whistles. They do not push or utilize the system to any of its strengths at any time. Overall, this looks like an early PS2 game--like a first generation title from a decade ago. You know, before they knew what the PS2 could really do (like with God of War). Which means that, on the Wii, a system arguably four times the power of the PS2, this is pretty pathetic.

The Bottom Line

So, here's the gist of this: Swords is basically a watered-down, extremely shallow, and fundamentally broken rip-off of Punch-Out with swords in place of boxing gloves. It has almost all the modes and the like of Punch-Out with the exception of largely uninspired mini-games in place of Punch-Out's practice mode.

I bought this game because I found it on clearance at Target for a something like $6. Six bucks brand new. Honestly, I don't even feel it was worth that. Seriously, I got about two hours of staggeringly frustrating gameplay, much of which was spent angrily recalibrating the Wii Remote.

I can't even say this a "valiant though flawed effort." Because it's not valiant enough, and it's much too flawed. Seven characters to fight, almost no depth, and every attempt to simply play the game results in frustration. With such broken control, the game is rendered almost unplayable. Though, since I finished this monstrosity, it's obviously possible, but essentially worthless to do so. Avoid this one completely.