In a medieval world where players duke it out for royal supremacy, Little Tournament Over Yonder is a modest endeavour from Gevo Entertainment that takes its roots from the game of Chess we all know and love. Incorporating a nice blend of strategy and action elements, Little Tournament Over Yonder provides a good multiplayer experience, albeit one that not everyone will appreciate.
Little Tournament Over Yonder
WiiWare | Gevo Entertainment | 1-2 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now | 800 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk
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25th December 2009; By KnucklesSonic8
You can't help but notice how much the game feels like a medieval-themed Chess game, albeit with more excitement. The goal of this turn-based game is to (you guessed it!) defeat the opposing team's young, royal throne bearer within 60 minutes. To do that, players are supported by an entire party consisting of a series of units that has some resemblances to the game pieces you'd see in a game of Chess. The game contains a good variety of units that one can equip their team with, ranging in abilities and attack patterns. The Knight unit, for example, is the standard unit in the game. Essentially serving as the game's Pawn piece, Knights not only have good movement abilities on the board, but they also have good melee attacks. Units can also be leveled-up, which increases their health and defense stats, and makes their attacks more powerful against an enemy.
Characters are represented not with fierce-looking character models, but with a cutesy style that's also extended to all other aspects of the game. Even the music is soft and cheery, without containing much intensity. As players get closer to victory, the in-game music changes and gains more of a climatic feel than the standard music that plays during the rest of the game. On the note of presentation, most will quickly observe that the in-game text is a little on the small side and many will start wishing they could enlarge it. Make no mistake, though: in spite of what the presentation may suggest, Little Tournament Over Yonder is a surprisingly robust game.
Similarites to the classic board game of old stop once you realize that the game contains a whole other dimension of play beyond the board aspect itself. When two units of opposing teams are right up against one another, they can opt to do battle with one another in a rather tense match. Battles take place in a separate, confined area where players have exactly 60 seconds to try to knock out their opponent. In addition to a defensive Block ability, each unit has a Primary and a Secondary attack that can be used to damage another unit. The game has an imposed system that requires players to wait a bit before they're able to use an attack again - a great feature which prevents attack-spamming. Each character has their own set of abilities which requires players to become familiar with them, learning their strengths and weaknesses in such areas as health, defense power and attack power. As an example, Archers may be swifter than other units but their attacks are weaker and their arrows must be aimed carefully since they don't home in on an enemy.
In addition, the arena contains a series of environmental objects (i.e., bushes) that add even more challenge in trying to chase down your opponent and attack him/her or, alternatively, these obstacles can be used to your advantage to protect yourself from some attacks. It's because of these obstacles that the battles are more interesting than they would've been otherwise, adding a sense of strategy to the game's battles.
The game also features a chain system which should get you to think carefully as you move your pieces across the playing field. When two or more units are linked together, their abilities become stronger and even the weakest unit can become a force to be reckoned with. If someone from the other team tries to do battle with you while you are linked to other units, you'll have more attack and defense power going up against an opponent than you normally would on your own. Additionally, when you're linked to other units whilst on the board, you can also gradually recover health. The link system adds even more strategy to the game and it's a neat system that works well.
In terms of mode selection, the Main Menu sports a Tournament mode for the single-player to romp through against a series of AI opponents, a Versus mode where 2 players can do battle and a High-Score section where players can view achievements as well as their overall battle record. In the Tournament mode, the single-player aspect has players battling a series of CPU's through a 9-round tournament (with 3 matches each). If the mode sounds long to you, it's because it is. It's strongly advised that you pace yourself here because although the length can be a problem for some, there are more pressing issues with this mode that could very well leave you feeling annoyed.
In theory, the single-player aspect should work well as you're basically just facing off against the computer, cumulating points at the end of each match to level up or switch out your units. Unfortunately, many will find that the computers take away much of the enjoyment of the single-player experience. The AI is very challenging, for one, making the game rather difficult for those of a younger age group and just plain frustrating for others who give the game a shot. The "divide and conquer" strategy is practically forced on you if you plan to get anywhere against the CPU since they use the "strength in numbers" strategy almost all the way through. Although it teaches you discernment in knowing when to move forward and when to step back, it takes away from the strategy elements that exist in the game.
During battles, you'll find that the CPU's make it feel like a predictable boss battle that you'd see in a platformer like Crash Bandicoot. Once you start playing against a unit, you'll observe their attack patterns rather quickly and how cheap they can be at times. Really, you're forced to adapt to the predictability of the situation and develop methods of defeating them. One such method is by using the bushes to protect yourself, or by mastering certain units such as Mages when the computer is being really sour. Many times you'll find yourself running away rather than taking an offensive stand and, again, this forces you to use long-range attacks from a distance. As if this wasn't annoying enough, once you manage to control the situation and leave them with very little health, they'll suddenly act like cowards and run away from you. The computers are just too cheap and predictable overall, and this is ultimately the biggest complaint to be had about the game. Thankfully, as mentioned before, this can be controlled to a reasonable degree so after the initial frustration, one will just grow accustomed to it.
Obviously, one shouldn't purchase the game for the single-player aspect alone. The real reason to get this game would be to play against a friend in the game's Versus Mode, where the game is much more enjoyable. When playing against someone in the same room as you, you can develop strategies and techniques that you normally couldn't because of the CPU's attack and movement patterns in Tournament mode. While the CPU's are very predictable, Versus Mode adds a level of surprise and uncertainty when participating in 1-on-1 battles, not knowing what to expect from the other person. Although the game may run on a bit long for some, those that enjoy board games may very well find a good level of enjoyment from this game in battling against friends.
Little Tournament Over Yonder comes in at only 800 points and for what it is, it's a decent purchase. Sure, it can be a bit slow-paced for some people's tastes and some may lose interest in completing the lengthy (albeit, shallow) Tournament mode. But much like the game it shares its roots with, while the game can be played by yourself to hone your skills, it's really meant to be played with another human being. Despite its mild drawbacks, there's quite a bit to like about this game, especially for avid board game players.
20/30 - Good
Gameplay 7/10 - Reminiscent of a Chess game with its own flair, good variety amongst the units, chain/link system, lots of room to learn strategies
Presentation 7/10 - Cutesy, cartoony feel to it, medieval theme is well-executed throughout, text can be hard to read, good music
Enjoyment 3/5 - Single-player tournament is kind of fun, computer opponents can be cheap/predictable at times, Versus Mode can be tense
Extra Content 3/5 - Good value for $8, lengthy battles for those with a longer attention span, fun multiplayer bouts, quite replayable
Equivalent to a score of 67% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)