Outright Games have been super busy over the last few weeks, two weeks ago they published Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia, last week it was Ben 10: Power Trip, today they release Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed, and next week they’re launching Transformers: Battleground! Although we have a review for all of these games coming very soon, today I’m taking a look at Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed on the Nintendo Switch. I’ve personally not seen the show or heard of the franchise before playing the game, so my impressions are that of someone with no prior knowledge, I’m also a lot older than the target audience but I’ll take that into consideration.
Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed was published by Outright Games, as previously advised, as well as Takara TOMY (TOMY owns the IP) over in Japan. The developers are both Codeglue (who I remember for their super fun Rocket Riot game) and 8ing, a Japanese developer who has worked on titles such as Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, and Zoids: Field of Rebellion.
As such, expectations were already quite high before I even started the game, I was expecting a kid-friendly combat game based around a popular TV show which feels solid in combat and fun to play – but was I happy with the result? Let’s find out…
The first thing that jumped out at me when I started playing Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed is the sheer size of the game and multiple gameplay options. There are modes for local multiplayer, training, a mini-story, and an impressibly huge ‘story mode’. But, before we look into these, what is a ‘Zoid’?
Basically, each Zoid is a massive robotic animal-looking creature that roams the world, complete with the imitated animal’s instinct. However, despite being independent beings, once a human joins forces with one of these fantastical beasts it unlocks their hidden power, an ability known as the Wild Blast. You begin the story as Arashi, a young lad who is in control of Liger, a tiger-like Zoid, on a quest to find the Ancient Treasure Z. After beating the crap out of Quade and his Zoid, you learn about Zoid Subspecies.
Zoid subspecies are a variant of the Zoid you’ve already bonded with, usually presented as a different colour and with a new set of abilities and features. As such, this becomes your new goal – you want to seek out the ‘twin’ to your Zoid and obtain the ability to tame and control it so you can face all of Team Supreme and show them who’s boss! However, this is only Arashi’s story, there are 16 connected stories that play through over 150 battles! Seriously, did I mention this is a big game?
Before I jump into the gameplay aspect, as it’s the same in all the modes, I thought I’d dwell on the modes themselves first.
Story Mode: As you’d expect, this is where you can play through the story of all sixteen characters and their Zoids. However, you don’t simply pick a character and away you go, the game has a rather interesting timeline flowchart as the story progression mechanic. Each of the nodes on this chart is battles that you must beat in order to progress with the story, learning more about the path you’re on and what’s happening. At certain points, after you’ve beaten a new character, the timeline branches off and lets you now experience that person’s story and agenda.
The branched-off stories also have their own branches to other characters, all of them varying in length. It’s a very interesting way to go about the story and allows you to see how certain characters interweave with one another whilst following their own goals and interests. To put the size of the game into context, I completed Arashi’s story and I was only 7.77% of the way through the entire Story Mode.
Each of the nodes (battles) grade you based upon how much damage you take and the length of the battle. I’ve been generally getting an S in the majority of the battles, with a few A’s and B’s, but it’s never stopped me from progressing onwards and I’ve not seen any benefit in getting all S’s (as there are no trophies) – there could be some unlocks later on, but I’ve not seen any… yet.
Continuous Battle: Push your Zoid to the limit by facing seven enemies one after another – This is, surprisingly, a mini-story for each of the 16 characters (once unlocked). The mode consists of seven battles, some are mandatory but you also get a few optional ones where you can pick from two Zoids that you wish to battle. The interesting thing is that each character has an actual story (a narrative just like in the main game), and after each battle, you can increase one of your stats – which you can’t do in the main game. This is because the fights get harder as you progress, so investing points into levelling up certain aspects are the key to victory.
You also don’t have to complete this all in one go, you can quit, play the main game for a while, then return and it’ll carry on from where you left it – which is nice.
Training/Practice: There are eight training battles that teach you everything about the game with hands-on tutorials. You’ll learn everything from pulling off combos to how you can utilise your powers effectively within a battle. If you’re struggling at any point, I highly recommend you play through these for extra guidance.
Battle Mode: This is where you can jump into a 1v1 battle with the CPU or against a friend locally (there’s no online multiplayer). Once you’ve picked your Zoid, the skin you’ve unlocked, and what ability you want your Blast Effect to have, you’re presented with a few options to customise your event. If you want a handicap, you can increase your health, have an always-full Action and Blast Gague, and reduce the CPU difficulty, or you can do the reverse and make the game very challenging. You can also set the number of rounds and time limit.
There are fourteen battle areas to choose from, each with its own distinct look. Unlike the Zoids though, you can pick from all of these at the beginning, you don’t need to have unlocked them prior to jumping into this mode. Another nice touch is that you can push X and the game will auto-set the options to the game’s Practice Mode, setting the perfect options for those looking to just simply bash around the CPU and get some hands-on experience with the mechanics.
In terms of the controls – you can play Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed in two-player local multiplayer either with two Joy-Cons, Pro Controllers, or Joy-Con pairs, so if you only own a Switch then you’re already kitted out for MP goodness! I’ve personally been playing it with my PS4 NACON Controller – but that’s for another article!
So far, so good – there are lots of modes, a massive Story Mode, a separate seven-battle mini-story for each character, and a fun multiplayer option. but, what’s it like to actually play? To keep it blunt, smooth, fun, exciting, and a solid fighting game.
You control the Zoid, as you’d expect, in a 3D area that is kinda small but not too small. There are two main attacks you can perform, light and heavy, by pushing Y or X. However, if Koei Tecmo‘s Dynasty Warriors series taught me anything, it’s don’t judge a game by the number of attack buttons! There are a number of simple combos for each Zoid and an alternative attack which is initiated by holding R and pushing Y, X or A. that’s not all, holding R and pressing the same activates various defence moves and holding both R and L puts you into Wild Blast mode – this boosts a certain effect (which you choose outside of the Story Mode) and the above L and R combos now become new unique special moves.
It’s a game that’s simple to just pick it up and play, yet there’s a lot of options to master the combat so you can face and defeat the harder foes later into the game or within Battle Mode. In a way, it’s like how I felt with Power Rangers, I thought that game would be simple yet it’s also got a lot of in-depth mechanics hid under the hood as well.
Most battles are the best out of three rounds, requiring you to just reduce your foes heath to zero, but I’ve seen a few that change it up by having you fight a horde of enemies one after another with a single life bar. As such, the combat can feel a little ‘samey’ after a while as, other than the Zoid you’re using and the arena, the gameplay mechanics don’t really change too much. But, that never bothered me as it’s a game I’ll jump into every now and again, I won’t spend hours working through the massive story in one go, it’s a game that’ll last me weeks, maybe even months!
As you progress in the story, you’ll begin to unlock various items by simply completing certain battles – I’m not sure if you have to get an S or not (this could be why the battle nodes are rated?). The various things you’ll unlock are new characters and Zoids to us in other game modes, a Zoid viewer to look at the 3D model, music, character voices, and photos. I really liked the photos as they don’t appear to be stills from the game, they’re actual extra images – one even looks like the toy rather than the anime or game.
Speaking of, the game does open with, what I presume is, a clip from the anime. I would have loved more of this but it seems there’s only that one part – unless there’s one at the very end as well?
I don’t know how they do it but developers seem to get certain games to run incredibly smooth on the Nintendo Switch, especially when they’ve been built exclusively for that system – Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed is a Switch exclusive. I think it’s because switch gamers are more accepting of a lower resolution in order to maintain a solid framerate, unlike Xbox and PS gamers and execs who love pushing pixels above performance. So, how does this game feel? Without knowing the actual numbers, Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed felt like it was running in a solid 60fps in both portable and docked mode.
There is a small caveat that comes with the framerate – the resolution. In docked mode, on my 4k TV, the game looked great. I’d say it’s 1080p or very near that as the image was sharp and clear. However, when playing in portable mode the game seems to run at around 540p, you can tell it’s not 720p as it’s a little fuzzier, the shadows are blockier, and you can spot artifacts when in motion. It’s not unplayable or bad on the eyes, it’s just been optimised for the slower clock speeds.
What I did find is that the UI seems to be the full 720p, or at least it’s super clean in portable mode. It just appears the 3D rendering may be operating at a lower resolution. That’s great as it means the text is always easy to read.
But, thanks to the adjustment in resolution, the game ran super smooth no matter how much action was on the screen. The only negative I have about the performance is the load times – they’re not really long but you have time to take a sip of your drink whilst it’s loading up the next battle. Considering that’s really the only negative I took from my experience with the game, I’m happy to say that I’m overall very impressed and happy I got to play it.
Despite the fact that Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed is a game aimed at children, I really enjoyed playing it and can’t wait to finish the incredibly long Story Mode! The combat within the game is really smooth, each Zoid has its own attacks and unique special moves, there are multiple colours and variants to unlock, and even a secondary set of mini-stories for each character! The game is bursting with content, offering hours upon hours of enjoyment and entertainment. The bonus extras were also a nice touch, rewarding you with various media just for simply playing the game.
Fans of the show will love this game and people who want a casual fighting game that’ll last a long time should also seriously consider picking it up.
A few days ago Swipe Right PR and Outright Games sent me our first-ever physical Press Kit for this game in the form of a ‘Battle Box’. I couldn’t provide a video as I’m currently fighting COVID-19 and can’t talk without coughing, but I did a full unboxing over on Twitter HERE. If you’re not already, give us a follow on there so you’ll know when we post our future reviews and articles – we have three more Outright Games reviews coming very soon!
Just in case you don’t have Twitter, or can’t view via the link, check out the images below to see what we received within the package…
Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed£34.99
- - Solid performance with silky-smooth combat and animations
- - The Story Mode has tonnes of battles to work through
- - Each character has an additional seven-battle mini-story
- - A bunch of unlockable bonus media
- - Simple to pick up and play yet there's enough depth and unique moves to keep the gameplay fresh and exciting
- - The loading times are a little long but not too long
- - Characters must be unlocked in order to use them (other than the initial batch)