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The Game Effect Review

Mecho Wars Review

iOS Port to PSN Functions Well But Loses Touch of Multiplayer

By Nick Schneider on 1/15/2012
There are some rare gems for iOS that make their way into the world of console and handheld gaming, and Mecho Wars is one such gem. Following in the footsteps of the Advance Wars franchise, the little known turn based strategy title from Oyaji Games delivers just enough on the tactical side to make it worth the price of admission.

Story Unfulfilled

There comes a problem when discussing the story in a game such as this, in that there really isn't too much to be said. In Mecho Wars players assume the role of Sparnus and the Rookie in their campaign to defeat the Landians and their nefarious generals, Meccini and Jumali. Throughout the course of 13 levels, players are tossed into a struggle between to nations after momentous natural disaster. The conflict itself is haphazardly explained, and the campaign is mostly used as a means to introduce players to the various gameplay mechanics and troop types.

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The Winged Crusades campaign only factors in at roughly 3 hours for a skilled tactician. However time with Mecho Wars is extended, as players are given the option participate in the Landians' campaign, but once again outside of some minor intrigue involving a son of Meccini, very little is done with the plot except to provide seven more maps. The length of the campaign isn't as troubling as the fact that no real resolution is provided. In the Winged Crusades' campaign there seems to be a definitive ending, but the Landians campaign just feels unfinished and forgotten.

Gameplay Begets Poor Storytelling

What Mecho Wars lacks in its campaign is more than made up for with approachable and well designed gameplay tactics. Similar to Advance Wars, a player's objective is to capture the enemies headquarters using infantry, heavy units, air, and sea forces that compose their army. The strategy included within is the basic rock, papers, scissors formula that fans of similar titles will easily pick up and learn. Infantry are strong against air, but weak against heavy. Heavy are weak against air, but strong against infantry. Air forces are best suited for taking on heavy and sea, but can easily be picked apart by well placed ground troops. The vessels you obtain at sea are slightly different, their only weakness lies against air units and provide devastating blows to anyone unfortunate enough to be in their range, however they also do not sustain damage as well against other troops.

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The rock, paper, scissors formula works well, and mastering a balance is often crucial to each victory. Similarly, capturing factories, which increase your overall troop support, and cities that provide increase in funds, requires players to be constantly on the offensive. Simply playing defense will likely see an enemy take advantage of your lack of movement and ultimately lead to defeat. However, there are instances during the course of the single player campaign where it seems that the AI takes a nap. During the course of one battle, my army was all but laid to shreds, yet the AI was unable to create an infantry to capture our headquarters due to troop size restrictions. Rather than dismiss any of its units, the computer repeatedly moved each individual troop around my HQ until I was able to defeat one. What should have been a quick defeat turned into thirty agonizing minutes as the AI attempted to maneuver over and over again.

The AI issue is only exacerbated in other instances, as the computer controlled forces attacked randomly in some cases, and in others could execute a cohesive deadly assault with little problem. It is understandable that the campaign is mostly intended as a means to introduce players to the overall mechanics, but these problems detract from what should be a brain burner. These instances can be overcome with a solid multiplayer opponent, however unless you have a friend sitting in your living room, this is not an option.

While Mecho Wars has an online component attached to the iOS version there is no online multiplayer to be heard from on the PSN version. This aspect feels like a highly missed opportunity to take advantage of the free service available with Sony's console, and only serves as a reminder of how this game could have turned out.

16 Bit Graphics and Great Music Aren't Always Enough

With the sharp, albeit slightly flawed AI, Mecho Wars sports great 16 bit visuals, the first reaction to be had is a reminder of the Sega Genesis classic Shining Force. Accompanying the bright and colorful graphics comes one song, and that song plays on repeat. While at first the tune doesn't strike up any nerves, after about 3 hours players may find themselves hitting the mute button and queuing up their favorite online playlists. The track is still great to listen to, and in short bursts, which Mecho Wars was originally designed for, the grating irritation of one song over and over wouldn't be as noticeable.

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Overall Impression

Again, it's hard to fault Mecho Wars for some of the flaws that come with the bite sized game. As a port of an iOS app the game succeeds in drawing the player in for the five to six hours it will take to complete the two campaigns. But where Plants Vs. Zombies managed to add community layers to the port off of your iDevice, Mecho Wars shoots for a strict translation that also strips some of the multiplayer aspects that would have made this game a steal at full price. Playstation 3 or PSP owners with Plus who enjoy turn based strategy games would be remiss to pass up on a free game with the quality of Mecho Wars, however everyone else should avoid this purchase unless your strategy driven brain is itching for a quick fix.
The Good
  • Nostalgic 16 bit Graphics
  • Easy To Pick Up and Play
The Bad
  • Poor AI
  • One Song Irritates On Extended Playing
  • Lack of Online Multiplayer
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