Since its early days, the strategy genre, known for offering well-prepared titles in countless presentations, has been part of the industry. Some of the most iconic creations of gaming belong to the singularity that its guidelines hold; it is one of the most successful series of the genre; a unique character to which we can add without fear of a doubt one more sensational name: Mushroom Wars 2.
However, we should note that the work of Zillion Whales, far from its peers’ inestimable magnitude, is outstanding for reasons other than the usual. Despite its obvious inherence, we find ourselves before a unique adventure that borders on tropes that transcend the status quo, thus showing unique gameplay and graphics that manages to build a firm structure over a solid foundation, even with its shortcomings, Mushroom Wars 2 is to be a well-made sequel and an entertaining title overall.
Surprisingly the game lacks an interface. Unlike series such as Age of Empire and Civilization, or more specific installments such as Act of Aggression, the first characteristic that emerges with notoriety is that the Mushroom Wars 2 HUD is intermittent and appears only exclusively when you press certain buttons in the game. They occur when you need to execute the management of units and buildings. Although, its operation allows us to understand the approach with which the developer has built its core mechanics. It is imperative to emphasize that they accomplish the task with complete clarity.
Each game focuses, with its respective number of variants, on dominating the structures of a map until they are all captured by our army. With a maximum capacity of four players, the goal is the gradual expansion of troops to increase the range, production speed and several warriors at our disposal; values on which the skirmishes are located because, in addition to representing the attack force that we will use to avoid the enemy, each member of the army, instead of the usual environmental resources, is used as a currency of exchange, thus allowing us to raise the level of each of the trenches where they are at the time of the transaction.
These upgrades not only serve to amplify the amount of the army but can also be modified to become a tower, which shoots at opponents from a specific range – which, in turn, can be strengthened -, or in an armoury, which grants a weapon to each individual, when attacking an opponent’s building, can make more effective casualties and take it more quickly. Considering that the number of function buttons is only three types, it’s straightforward to get confused during the heat of the battle, and you start pressing the wrong buttons. As you progress into later levels, you need to make quick decisions, and the whole mechanics may get a bit frustrating.
Mushroom Wars 2 subtracts the detailed and schematic thinking to add more intensity and momentum to the equation, offering a balance rather than skew towards one paradigm. On multiple occasions, the possibility that risking and turning towards the attack is the correct response will be much more recurrent than in other strategy games since simplicity prevails here and, framed in it, on those multiple occasions mentioned, calmness is usually more of a hindrance than an advantage. All this, of course, can be a reason for many players not being attracted by the deposit of their bet, however. Due to the same reasoning, it could represent a sufficient reason to interfere within the genre, a detail that, at the end of the synderesis, fluctuates in quality depending on who judges.
On the other hand, and returning to the path of minimalism, Zillion Whales adopted a new decision on dealing with the absence of an interface: it all boils down to the mouse. Although, as we will see later, the keyboard has its relevant later participation, it is in the mouse where the magic of the title happens, this being the whole body of the mechanics. Using the left button to select, the right to improve each building by clicking on it and to send troops to the destination we want, and using the wheel to vary between the percentages of soldiers that we want to be expended – between values of 25%, 50 %, 75% and 100% -, the reality is that the study, with excellent efficiency, summarized the complex controls and convoluted commands of the genre to a single peripheral, and that is an issue that, on one more occasion, can mean a greater or lesser pleasure. Still, it is also true that it was developed with a simplicity worthy of admiration.
In different terms, each map influences how we play in numerous ways. Beyond not being excessively abundant in heterogeneity, the battlefields offer other canvases, all with their respective lines to adapt to. Some notches will force troops to go around them; ice crystals will spawn and periodically freeze soldiers within a wide range; there will be land that will not allow buildings to produce troops; flames of fire will emerge that will eradicate what they touch; flowers will sprout where the structures will gestate more recruits … These properties, coupled with morale –a mechanic that increases the speed, defence and attack of the troops after any positive development during the battle -, they converge to create an immeasurable number of possible combinations, which give the work a plurality that, over time, together with lick thanks.
There are two main modes to pick from story mode and an online mode. The story is just a series of challenges with excessive slowness as an introduction to the game’s main mechanics. Many missions planned to make us discover how to function between mushrooms have turned out to be an unnecessarily extensive movement for the purpose that, in reality, ends up being fulfilled, and the presence of final bosses, unfortunately, does not do justice to cover the shortcomings.
However, any shortcoming arising out of its campaign is at least rescued with the presence of a multiplayer format that underlines and thrives every one of the benefits of its most basic gameplay. It is not only that the company of an individual, replacing the AI, makes the gameplay more rewarding, but also the sublime inclusion of the heroes: characters of great power and excellent aesthetics that add four capabilities to our arsenal – which we can activate after inevitable splinters of our men are killed – each avatar with their playstyle and abilities that add an extra dimension to the gameplay.
Perhaps Mushroom Wars 2 is not the frequent strategy title that fans and newcomers are used to seeing on the market; however, regardless of how much it emulates its predecessor, its gameplay and the graphics, without a doubt, stay true to its previous version.
Through hilarious but straightforward gameplay and design, an astonishingly captivating multiplayer mode, controls as minimalist as they are surprising, and an impeccable, fantastic, unique visual section that goes without saying, it is one of the most lovely creations from the studio. Although the sequel does not grant a journey as complex and technical as other equivalents, and even though a local cooperative and competitive format is missing, what Zillion Whaleshas shaped deserves, at least, an opportunity.