Wreckateer review for XBLA

Platform: XBLA
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Iron Galaxy
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: Leaderboards

Wreckateer might not be the game that?ll light this year?s Summer of Arcade promotion on fire, but it?s definitely the most straightforward experience you?ll get out of the five games offered. There are a whole lot of comparisons to stuff like Angry Birds being bandied about, which it honestly feels pretty close to. But Wreckateer offers a fair amount of challenge and fun for its asking price, and is certainly worth a look for starving Kinect owners out there.

The concept is simple enough. You?re a dude tasked with clearing out goblin infested castles for the kingdom, and apparently the only way to do so is to literally lay waste to the entire castle. Apparently it?s like having bed bugs, but way worse. In order to destroy these various structures, you?ll have use of a ballista and a variety of ammo types to bring as much stone to the ground as you possibly can.

Of course, just destroying castles might not be that exciting, so there?s a whole score chasing factor in place, requiring a bronze medal to be earned in order to proceed to the next event. There are also a number of optional things to hit and collect, like score bonuses and items that?ll change the property of your shot to other things. And because it?s such a score heavy game, there are a number of online leaderboards present to compare against the world and friends, giving you some incentive to improve. Another aspect that I enjoyed is a chart after every stage that?ll compare your scores across each individual shot, giving you some idea of where you do well, and where you could improve in any given round.

Being a Kinect game, the biggest thing to worry about here is how Wreckateer actually controls, and honestly it does a pretty decent job. There?s definitely a few occasions where it?ll lose track of m and jump back to its starting position, but overall I?m fairly impressed with how much precision the game allows. It helps that you?ve got an ability to control the ball post launch, which helps to alleviate some lack of precision in the actual launch, meaning that if you?re off by a little bit you can generally get things back on track.

A few different ammo types allow for after effects or different controls, usually triggered by throwing your arms up in a ?V? shape. Some ammo will explode when this is done, whereas other will get a momentary lift of air, while another will sprout mechanical wings and allow you to fly it as if you?re flying around your living room with arms spread wide. Knowing when and where to use these shots is key to scoring high, which seems relatively easy on the first couple stages but ends up being quite a challenge as you advance.

Another thing that Wreckateer does well is that it staggers progression and new elements nicely. There?s a point towards the end where you?ll simply be using all your learned skills, power-ups, and unique shots in tandem with each other to score big. But there?s a lot of build up to that moment, and Wreckateer doles out its various mechanics at a decent enough clip to not overwhelm the player, but also does so quickly enough to keep you from feeling bored.

Again, Wreckateer might not be the most exciting entry in this year?s Summer of Arcade entry, but I found myself having a fair amount of fun with it. It?s a neat little game for Kinect owners to check out, and makes use of the accessory in all the right ways. It definitely feels like it works, but I?ll freely admit that I wish the game had some type of optional controller support like Child of Eden. Still, as a Kinect only experience, it?s worth checking out for owners of the hardware that are probably finding little reason to keep it plugged in at the moment, and I think you?ll definitely get some enjoyment out of it.

Grade: B