The original Paper Wars: Cannon Fodder from 2011 prided itself as being one of the “worst games ever” in order to make a splash in the gaming world. While the original Paper Wars seemed to hold up quite well on the wiiware store, the remade Paper Wars: Cannon Fodder Devastated holds up the legacy of the series quite well as one of the most dull games I’ve played on the Switch to date.
Right off the bat, the most striking feature in all of Paper Wars is the aesthetic of the game itself. Paper Wars, as the name suggests, takes on a very childish look akin to that of a child drawing doodles on their notebook in the middle of a boring class, complete with all of the misspellings and upside down text you’d expect from a kid scribble as well. While the game feels quite unique in its art style, it can still be incredibly distracting when menu options are purposefully spelled wrong or certain letters are just upside down. Even though the overall look of the soldiers is rather lazy, it never feels that way since it almost makes sense for paper soldiers to all look largely the same, and is more of an excuse than some other games that reuse the same three models willy-nilly. Paper Wars may not have the most groundbreaking art direction, but it was appealing enough for me to be intrigued by the game nonetheless.
That intrigue which was built up through the look of Paper Wars was almost immediately demolished when I began to play through the game itself. Paper Wars is divided into several levels, each with roughly the same task of defeating a certain amount of soldiers before they reach the end of the screen — if enough soldiers reach the end, then it’s game over. In order to defend yourself, you are equipped with a tank guided by a cursor that can be charged up to deal more destruction upon your foes. The tank can be controlled either using the joy-con sticks or the touch screen of the Switch itself, and both of these gameplay modes feel needlessly clunky. Using the touch screen means that you are forced into handheld mode, and your finger can put the cursor anywhere rapidly, while the joy-con mode can be used either handheld or on the television but the cursor feels unbearably slow and monotonous to control. Between the two playstyles, I recommend the touch screen simply even though it makes the game even easier, but this touch screen control makes Paper Wars feel even more like a mobile game than it already did.
There is very little variation in the overall gameplay flow of Paper Wars. The entire game is level after level of killing soldiers in the same simple way with the only real differences being the powerups granted on the field. To their credit, the powerups do feel quite nice — although a minor nitpick of mine is that shooting a powerup seemed to turn off my tank for a bit, meaning that if I accidentally miscalculated the radius of my shot I was out for a good 2 seconds or more. The levels themselves have next to no differences, with the main factor that changes them up is whether or not there is terrain for the soldiers to traverse and separate. Certain levels are time-based as well, but that doesn’t make the level feel any less repetitive since instead of killing a certain amount of soldiers you are simply killing all the soldiers for a certain amount of time. The only difference in the soldiers is how many hits they take and their overall look; there is nothing to defend or any other units to change up the game, and this definitely adds to the quick staleness of the game as a whole. There is also a survival mode, but that feels just as hollow and repetitive as the mission-based mode does and has very little to offer in terms of fun. By expanding on the idea of being a tower defense game, Paper Wars could have been substantially more enjoyable even with some of the other faults that it had.
Paper Wars: Cannon Fodder Devastated could have been on a phone app store and fit in way better than the Nintendo Switch. As it stands, the game is nowhere near worth the price and there are far better strategy games that can be found on the Nintendo Switch to sink your teeth in to. The gameplay is shallow and grows stale extremely quickly, and no amount of levels can change the fact that Paper Wars is a slog to get through.
Disclaimer: Backlog Critic was provided a code for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed in this review are the writer’s own thoughts and are not influenced in any way by the developer and/or publisher
- Charming cartoon art-style
- Unfun repetitive gameplay
- Very little replay value
- Janky joy-con controls