Back in July I reviewed an interesting game from Zen Studios that left me rather surprised. CastleStorm, their take on the tower defense genre, was a delightful mix of physics destruction, real time strategy and role playing that was just as addictive as their much loved pinball games. While it played quite well with a mouse and keyboard, in the back of my mind I couldn’t help but to think that it would be an ideal game to play on a console with a touch screen. Well, I wasn’t the only one who thought so, and along with a port recently released on the PS Vita, gamers now have the opportunity to experience this quirky title on their Wii U console.
The story has not strayed far from the PC version. Certainly nothing outstanding, what is offered will make you snicker at times as you play through the campaign. Playing the role of the dashing hero Sir Gareth, you fight your way through waves of Vikings to return a sacred gem to the kingdom. Quite simply, your goal is to destroy the enemy’s castle or steal their flag, all the while protecting you own. Armed with a ballista, you hurl a number of different projectiles at approaching enemies as well as at their castle. An interesting arsenal is at your disposal, from spears to spiky apples, and even sheep, they all make for some hilarious moments in battle.
As well as your ballista, you can spawn troops like archers, knights, eagles and wolves in your quest to destroy your enemy; however, each unit does have a cooldown period, they are not in endless supply, and they must be fed before they can be increased. To support your army of archers, knights and wolves, there a few heroes that you can unleash on the battlefield, using their brute force against the onslaught of enemies, and spells that can be cast to heal. There is a fair bit of micromanaging, and for those like myself who are not particularly skilled in RTS genre, things can get a bit hectic at times.
There is a learning curve and it will take more than a few games to get the hang of things, but there are a number of tutorials to play through that will ease this pain. Controls seemed a bit difficult to master at first, and are oddly placed in my opinion. Rather than using the trigger buttons to shoot your weapon or cast spells, these functions are mapped to the A and X button, which felt a bit awkward at times. The trigger button is used to switch projectiles. Oddly enough, and something that is not mentioned in any of the tutorials, you can choose to use the touch screen to launch your projectiles and quickly switch types in the midst of battle, and this felt considerably more comfortable in my opinion. You can also drag your finger to pan the battlefield, to check on the status of your castle, and look for an incoming baddies up to no good. The touch screen is used quite well and help the control aspect quite a bit.
There are a number of premade castles that will get you through the game, but you also have the option to construct your own. Building and customizing your own castle to your play style is a lot of fun! Building rooms in your castles adds different types of units to your army, and gives you passive bonuses that increase the size of your army and increase food supply to fuel your troops. Before each mission you can prepare your army for battle by purchasing upgrades with the gold coins that are rewarded at the end of each mission. Upgrades include adding new types of projectiles to your arsenal, leveling up your troops and selecting what spells (like healing) to use in the midst of battle.
Much like the PC version you will play through a number of different scenarios in the single player campaign. There is quite a robust single player campaign with multiple levels and objectives to complete, as well as skirmish, survival, and hero survival modes. With online leaderboards and stars and coins rewarded at the end of each level, there is much replay value for those who play this game. There are three multiplayer modes as well that can be played both locally and online. You can play against a friend in a standard versus mode or play together in the Survival mode where one player uses the ballista and the other fights as the hero on the battlefield. As I did on the PC version, I found that I very much enjoyed the Hero Survival mode in which both players use their special hero units to battle waves of incoming enemies. Nothing says fun like taking out the hordes of enemies with a friend.
While the music and voice acting is much of the same on the PC I must say I was rather surprised by how gorgeous this game looked on the Wii U. Seemingly more detailed and much better looking than it did in the PC version. The gorgeous 2D environments and characters really stand out and the detail I missed on the PC version now really pops on the Wii U. The things happening in the background, the facial features on the characters, and I especially appreciated the little details in each room of the castles…..like looking into a dollhouse! It looks just as amazing Off TV on the GamePad as it does on a TV, and personally I preferred playing on the Wii U GamePad
The interesting combination of tower defense, physics destruction and real time strategy work surprisingly well in CastleStorm. With highly addictive gameplay, a fun single player campaign, competitive leaderboards and online multiplayer offering replay value, the new touch screen controls and gorgeous graphics, all of this makes CastleStorm on the Wii U an absolute joy to play. For the low cost of $9.99, Zen Studio’s CastleStorm is highly recommended.