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Robocalypse: Beaver Defense - WiiWare Review

Game Info
Robocalypse: Beaver Defense

WiiWare | Vogster Entertainment | 1 Player | Out Now | 600 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (pointer)
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22nd July 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

Although there aren't many games of this kind on WiiWare at this time, there's a handful of Tower Defense games on the service already. Ever since the likes of Swords & Soldiers, I've been excited to see what other developers would do to represent this genre on this platform, but alas, not many have taken the initiative to do so. So when Vogster Entertainment announced that their successful DS game would be continuing with an innovative WiiWare release, I was optimistic, though I wasn't sold on the concept right away. What really sealed the deal for me was the promise of online and offline multiplayer. After getting a chance to finally play Robocalypse - Beaver Defense for myself, I came away with mixed feelings about the entire package.

    The Main Menu presents you with four different selections: Play, Options, Extraz, and Profiles. When you begin playing for the first time, you'll realize what Robocalpyse first does somewhat-differently, and that's in its implementation of a storyline. As the story goes, a nearby factory has been producing lots of toxic waste and spilling it into the city's plumbing system. The pollution has created a mutant beaver who gains a sassy attitude, and an increased sense of intelligence. He sends his forces after the scientists and workers responsible for the incident, vowing to get revenge for his mutation. Not exactly a surprising theme at all. 

Upon selecting the Story option, you'll be introduced to a cutscene that explains the above situation. Cutscenes depict glossy characters with a cartoony look, with dialog bubbles and limited animations. It's something that seems like it comes from a comic book which, in itself, isn't bad at all. The script likes to toss multiple instances of humor at you, which is great for those who are actually paying attention to what's going on. After the introductory movie, cutscenes that follow at the start of every new level feature no sound whatsoever, which is just plain boring. All things considered, the storyline is a bit uninteresting but in all fairness, though, not many tower defense games even have a story at all, never mind a deep one. So I suppose it's better than nothing.

    Before ready to go to war, you must first select from one of six different Hero characters. Each sprite has their own strengths and weaknesses, in the form of Health, Energy, Armor and Damage. They each have their own special abilities as well, such as being able to construct a fake, holographic, or organize your troops. At any point in the game you can select your Hero on the battlefield with your cursor, and then pinpoint where you'd like them to go. And there's also a special icon that you can press when their special ability is available for use. As you fend off swarms of enemies, you'll gain a measure of experience points. Gain enough and a Plus icon will appear off to the side of the screen, allowing you to upgrade one of your Hero's attributes. I thought this whole feature was well done, as it helps add variety and slight innovation to an otherwise-standard tower defense game.

In addition to the Hero characters, you'll also start off with a bunch of on-foot units that will help guard your base against the evil forces. These characters are controlled automatically unless you make use of the Squad Leader who can call out formations. As enemies approach, they'll open fire using the hand weapons they have in their possession. When your base starts to wear down from all the incoming attacks, you have special Repair Bots, which are also controlled automatically. As their name suggests, they gradually help structures recover from the damage they've received. Although they're not as useful as your Hero character, having these little units lurking around your HQ makes it seem more of a self-constructed base, rather than just a series of robotic, emotionless towers.

    Speaking of towers, what Tower Defense game would be complete without these? Using the scraps of the robots you defeat, you can purchase and enhance towers. As you progress in the game's Story Mode, you'll unlock different kinds of new tools that you can use against the enemy. As expected, missile launchers, turrets and laser-firing constructions are the kinds of things that round out your arsenal. I loved how the laser towers were unique in that they turned robots into a toaster, or even a fridge. Funny stuff right there. Each tower can be upgraded after it's been placed on the field, which shouldn't come as a surprise at all. What's interesting, though, is the fact that there are two different pathways of enhancements you can follow. For example, in the case of the turrets, you can either follow one set of upgrades that will increase the range of fire or increase the speed at which shots are fired. You can always downgrade later, but this is at the cost of points so think wisely before you jump in.

The layout used to manage all the action on-screen is easy to understand and it never gets in the way of your enjoyment of the game. On the top-left of the screen, you have an icon of your Hero, along with a meter that shows you the amount of time remaining until the next wave of enemies arrives. If you so desire, you can skip the waiting time and just advance to the next wave on demand. On the bottom right, you have a box that shows the number of points you have, as well as a red bar that shows the health of your headquarters. Beside this is your inventory of towers that you can simply go over with your cursor, press A and position it on the map. Later levels will require you to keep a lookout on a larger space, so at these times, the +Control Pad is used to scroll along.

    The entire map is presented as a flat background with the occasional environmental element or two. Units come on screen and will advance towards different directions. If you'd like to reduce the number of surprises, you can use towers to block pathways, but by doing so, things may become less manageable. There's a lot of humor in this game, and thankfully, you don't need to sit through the boring cutscenes to appreciate all of it. The villain of the game will pop up from a hole somewhere on the map after waves to hurl a tease at you that are occasionally funny. Enemy forces that are defeated in the middle of a battle will sometimes utter exclamations such as "Me got owie!" to keep things interesting. After a while, the cheeky sense of humor may wear off, though.

Completing levels in Story Mode will unlock them for play under Survival Mode. This is really where the game is at its best, when you're challenged with wave after wave to see how long you can last. If you find yourself not enjoying the difficulty (or lack thereof), you can head into Options to set it to the Easy, Normal or Hard setting. While levels can last 10 minutes in Story, they can go on for much longer in Survival, so just be prepared for that. 

    What I still can't quite wrap my head around is why the multiplayer was removed entirely. Perhaps it was due to time constraints or failed execution, but whatever the reason, it was awfully disappointing to realize that both the online and local multiplayer modes had been removed. I mean, the game does fine without multiplayer. However, playing online against opponents from around the world (or even locally) would've instantly given this game a higher recommendation, simply because of the lasting appeal that this mode would've presented.

    However, even with this disappointing omission, this is a great bargain for fans of this genre. For only $6, you get an adequate tower defense game that even has some slightly-unique elements to it. It may not be of the same fortitude as some of WiiWare's earlier offerings, but in light of how much of a bargain this is, it's still worth trying.

22/30 - Good

Gameplay 7/10 - Nothing all that innovative, some new elements, not confided to just towers, Hero characters are fun to experiment with
Presentation 7/10 - Not plain but not all that impressive, some special effects, cartoony in appearance, cutscenes get boring and uninteresting
Enjoyment 4/5 - Definitely addicting when you really get into it, best played when you're in a certain mood, could've been more fun with multiplayer
Extra Content 4/5 - Lack of online or offline multiplayer modes is very disappointing, Survival Mode offers replay value, still a really good bargain

Equivalent to a score of 73% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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Robocalypse: Beaver Defense
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