If I had to describe Paper Wars: Cannon Fodder Devastated in a sentence I would describe it as ‘an overpriced glorified mobile game’. This is quite possibly the most dull, repetitive gaming experience I’ve had on the Switch and I’ve played 1-2 Switch. The trailer for this game signals the quality of it, if it didn’t have the Switch intro before the gameplay, you would honestly believe that this was just a generic tower defence game that you’d find on the Play Store or App Store. It isn’t enticing in anyway and it doesn’t even look any better than a mobile game visually; in fact I would argue that it looks less polished than some free mobile games.
The premise of the game is very similar to most tower defence games. You control a turret whilst attempting to stop waves of soldiers. Each level gets progressively harder and some levels are slightly different, I found the game to be very repetitive though. The levels barely changed apart from the introduction of an obstacle or two for the soldiers to navigate; why the developer didn’t think to allow the player to choose where these obstacles were positioned is beyond me. My favourite levels were the ones that were a bit like ‘Where’s Wally’ meets a Tower Defence game as you only had to kill specific soldiers; although these were still hideously tedious; it also doesn’t help that the soundtrack for the game is rather annoying as it is overly repetitive and it doesn’t create any sense that you’re going to war with the opponent; there is very little motivation to play this game.
There are very few positive things that I can say about this game, however, I do like the art style of the game but it isn’t unique, it reminds me of Cartoon Wars and Bloons which is both a good and bad thing. It’s good in the sense that those games are pretty decent tower defence games but it’s bad because they’re both mobile games and they’re also both significantly cheaper. Another thing I quite liked were some of the power-ups, particularly the rage one which allowed you to fire a barrage of missiles as often as you wanted for about 10 seconds; this allowed me to decimate the soldiers within seconds. However, some of the power-ups made very little sense like the reverse one, it would make sense for a cutscene to explain what the power-ups do and how to use them effectively within battle. It is particularly aggravating that this was excluded from the game as the trailer does show what some of the power-ups do so it could have easily been implemented into the game.
The controls are reasonably intuitive and responsive so it is quite easy to pick up and play. I do think that the developers definitely wanted you to play it as a touchscreen game but this does prevent a few issues when the Switch is docked. I did play with the joy-cons and it was still easy to play although you couldn’t move the turret quite as quickly as you could with the touchscreen. However, the vibrations that you feel through the joy-cons when you fire a missile are rather annoying, luckily you can disable it in the settings. I do believe that the developer could have utilised vibrations more effectively, especially since the joy-cons feature HD rumble; they could have made the vibrations correspond to where the missiles landed on the screen.
Paper Wars: Cannon Fodder Devastated features three different campaigns: the Classic Campaign, Winter Assault and Zombie Warz. You can initially only play the Classic Campaign but you unlock Winter Assault after completing the first 10 levels; you unlock Zombie Warz when the first 10 levels of Winter Assault are completed. For the most part, the three campaigns are exactly the same, which diminishes the replayability of this game and it makes playing it feel like quite a chore. Zombie Warz was my favourite of the three campaigns (and that’s not bias because this is a Zombie Chimp review) as it requires a degree of skill and strategy that are lacking in the other two campaigns. Within Zombie Warz the power-ups are less common and the zombies are either red, green or blue and you can only kill them with the corresponding missile colour. This led to some frequent strategy decisions as I had to work out which zombies to kill first whilst also rationing out my missiles. I vaguely enjoyed this game mode because it did challenge me, it’s just a shame that you have to suffer the other two campaigns in order to play it. There is the option of survival mode but that is just a never ending level so I ended up just giving out of boredom after a while.
It’s also particularly frustrating that Paper Wars was developed by the same company that did Serial Cleaner, which I have played in the past, as that game is actually pretty good. You can tell that they put thought and effort into that game and it feels as though that was lacking when they developed Paper Wars: Cannon Fodder Devastated. The level design is incomparable, Paper Wars just features a generic background that changes colour every now and then to reflect grass, sand, snow or a graveyard. Also, I have a problem with the name of this game, it’s too long! It also makes it appear as though it is a sequel to an existing game but, as far as I’m aware, this is the first in the series. It lacks the catchy title of Serial Cleaner as well as the heart of that game too.