Friday, July 6, 2012

Third Rate Game Play: Swords

Game: Swords

System: Wii

Developer: Panic Button Games 
    (Attack of the Movies 3D)

Publisher: Majesco Entertainment

Player: Alex

Experience: Blind

Check out the article after the jump!

When Nintendo unveiled Wii Sports Resort and the Wii MotionPlus in 2008, developers began to work on creating games which made use of the new peripheral to help answer the cries of Wii gamers for a better motion-controlled gaming experience.  One of those games to try enhancing motion-controlled gameplay was Swords, developed by Austin-based Panic Button Games and published by New Jersey publisher Majesco Entertainment.

Panic Button Games was formed in 2007 by industry veterans with an aim to produce original IP and ports via contract for a number of publishers.  Before producing Swords, the company created three notable projects: Go Play Lumberjacks and Attack of the Movies 3D for Majesco and We Wish You a Merry Christmas for Destineer.  Both Go Play Lumberjacks and WWYAMC are mini-game collections whereas Attack of the Movies 3D is an on-rails shooter which comes with 3D glasses and special 3D modes for the game itself.

Publisher Majesco Entertainment was formed in 1986, acting as a republisher of older titles for Nintendo and Sega systems.  Majesco was behind the rereleased Sega Genesis, dubbed the Genesis 3, while Sega worked on the Sega Saturn; the company also rereleased the Game Gear as the Game Gear Core System.  Years later, Majesco began game development under Pipe-Dream Interactive, producing such titles as a Dreamcast port of Q*bert and a number of Game Boy Advance titles.  It worked with Terminal Reality on BloodRayne and BloodRayne 2, both of which were met with relative success.  However, in 2003, the company was met with great financial difficulty; Double Fine Production’s Psychonauts had failed despite a big push by the company, while GlyphX Games’ Advent Rising was a critical and commercial failure.  Another unique IP in development, Taldren, Inc.’s Black9, was cancelled in the final stages of development.  Further large cancellations occurred in 2006: Terminal Reality’s Demonik and Taxi Driver (acting as a sequel to the movie).  The company was on the verge of pulling through the hard times, however, when it began publishing casual games, specifically the DS hit Cooking Mama (developed by Office Create, now titled Cooking Mama Limited).  Majesco’s focus remained on Nintendo DS and Wii, where it produced casual products such as Sandlot Games’ Cake Mania as well as smaller core titles such as WayForward Technologies’ remake of A Boy and His Blob.  As stated before, Majesco worked with Panic Button before on Go Play Lumberjacks and Attack of the Movies 3D.

Swords pits you against the best of the best from past, present, and future in the ultimate sword fighting contest. This is what you’ve trained for, this is your destiny. Make your way from the dojo to the Final Showdown, and prove that you are the greatest swordsman of all time! 
The Wii Remote, with Wii Motion Plus, is your ultimate weapon! Experience the realism of 1:1 sword movement, real time blocking, and advanced combos!  Travel through time and space, compete in challenging tournaments, and face-off against the masters of each style in brutal boss battles.  Increase your skills and learn new combos in training challenges, like carving, sparring, blocking, and even battling a horde of zombies!  Battle against 8 unique characters, each with a distinct look and home arena that represents their fighting styles.
-Official PR

Swords is a sword battle game which pits you against a number of enemies from a variety of time periods.  The game starts off with a basic story mode with little background.  You are the student (and adopted child) of Sensei Musashi, and he entrusts you with the skills of a swordsman in order to compete in a grand tournament.  This tournament, for no real explanation at all, takes place over the span of many time periods, starting off in the ancient times of Vikings to the era of Egyptian reign and even into the far-flung future.  Only after defeating the final, mysterious fighter will you be called the master swordsman.

The game is played with the Wii MotionPlus, and the game’s battles are dependent on two factors: offensive swings and defensive poses.  When an enemy attacks, it is imperative to block and push back at the right moment so that you may knock them off guard for a few extra swipes.  You can also dodge enemy attacks that may be unavoidable, and when enemies throw projectiles your way, the game gives you a short moment to point at the screen and select them for a quick deflect.  All the while, the historical figures goad and mock you to fight better, not to mention give away their impending attacks.  Between battles, Sensei Musashi sends you to training mini-games to hone your skills, ranging from carving wooden blocks correctly to surviving a wave of zombies as they approach your position.  These mini-games, as well as a unique battle mode, are available for multiplayer, as well.  After defeating a foe, a player may also face off against the foe again at any time.

Following the release of Swords, Panic Button would work with Majesco one more time, but this time it would be for the Xbox 360 and with Kinect: Hulk Hogan’s Main Event.  Since then, the company has worked primarily with Microsoft Game Studios.  Its first project with Microsoft was the space flight mission mode for Kinect Star Wars, a Kinect-focused mini-game collection developed by a number of game developers (Terminal Reality, Microsoft Studios, LucasArts, Good Science, High Voltage Software, Hydrogen Whiskey Studios, Ruffian Games, Frontier Developments, and many other smaller developers).  Currently the company is in the process of porting Twisted Pixel’s Ms. Splosion Man to Games for Windows Live as well as selling its own Kinect boxing game to publishers, currently named Big Time Boxing.

Majesco Entertainment continues to release games focused on motion controls and the Cooking Mama franchise to this day.  In regards to the Mama franchise, the company published Crafting Mama, Babysitting Mama, Gardening Mama, Camping Mama: Outdoor Adventures, and Cooking Mama 4: Kitchen Magic.  The most recent string of major releases for Majesco is from the Zumba fitness craze: Zumba Fitness (developed by Pipeworks Software), Zumba Fitness 2 and Zumba Fitness Rush (both developed by Zoe Mode).  Other significant titles published by Majesco since Swords include Monster Tale (developed by DreamRift), BloodRayne: Betrayal (developed by WayForward Technologies) and Nano Assault (developed by Shin’en Multimedia).  Currently, Majesco is working on publishing three key titles: Double Dragon Neon from WayForward, a Kinect-based basketball music game called NBA Baller Beats (from HB Studios), and Zumba Fitness Core from Zoe Mode.

As of this post, there have been no sequels announced, planned, or otherwise for Swords.

With an interest toward budget games on the Wii, not to mention more ways to use the Wii MotionPlus attachments, we got a copy of Swords to play and experience.  In our short time playing the game, we explore the first three opponents and some of the game's mini-games which are placed in between each one.  We feel that we get a good enough a view of the game from our time to properly analyze the product.

Swords is not what I would call a great game.  It lacks a level of polish expected from games nowadays, and on top of the uneven feel, there is not a lot of content to work with.  The game’s plot is nonsensical, but even disregarding that, the game feels like a disjointed mini-game collection with a focus on sword-fighting other fighters across time.  Unfortunately, it does nothing to really stand out further than that, and the experience becomes more boring than entertaining as the game progresses.

Controls are basic but at times fail to register in the right way.  Some instances in which the sword should block and attack yields nothing, and swings sometimes fail to register at the right speed or direction.  While it might interest some, Swords simply sits as a generic sword-fighting game with mini-games thrown in for good measure.  It was not a game for us, that was for sure.

As for our self-critique, it was a decent show.  We stopped when we knew we could not conjure up much more material, and our hastily changed positions to standing worked out in the end.  It is a little quiet at times, but other than that, the episode itself seems solid production-wise.

3RM Says: So...many...swords...

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