Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed starts with two options: Battle and Missions. There is no tutorial, and the introduction to the game's setting is brief and obligatory. It expects, practically demands, that you know exactly what you're getting into before you even hit starts. And what you are getting into amounts to the videogame equivalent of picking up several action figures and smashing them together. It's the kind of simplicity that is inoffensive overall, but is clearly aimed at fans of the series and nobody else.
Wild Blast Engaged!
The plot of Zoids Wild takes place in Ferroterra, a sci-fi world full of vast unexplored landscapes and simple villages. But there are also robotic animals roaming the world called Zoids, and brave travelers who tame and ride them. There's an evil organization called the Dark Metal Empire that try to capture and control the most dangerous Zoids in a bid for world domination, and there are other factions who try to either stop them or work with them for their own selfish ends.
This set-up is given maybe two sentences tops in Blast Unleashed's story mode, then immediately throws you into simple, static text screens with main hero Arashi and his Zoid Liger going about business as usual, namely getting into barely connected adventures and occasionally fighting the head honchos of the Dark Metal Empire.
It was arguably the most alienating first impression you can get. As I mentioned before when I first previewed this title, I remember liking Zoids growing up and that Zoids Wild was meant to be a reinvigoration of the brand, which is weird that this game just assumes you've watched the new anime and are already on board.
That alienation slowly went away once I got into the gameplay. Zoids Wild:Blast Unleashed is a straightforward 3D arena-fighter. You have light attacks, armored medium attacks, and strong guard-breaking attacks, special abilities unique to each Zoid, and their Wild Blast super mode.
All of this is standard fare for an anime tie-in title, and to the game's credit it is done well enough. There are sixteen playable characters on the roster, each one with an unlockable alternative mode, and there is a lot of personality felt in their animations and attacks. Despite there being no proper tutorial, it is pretty easy to just pick up and play with solid auto-combos and simple inputs for special attacks and ultimates.
The only real problems with the combat is found in the details. For all of the decent fundamentals at its core, Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed adheres more to authenticity of its source material than interesting counterplay with its characters, which can lead to a gangly gameplay balance. Battalia's Needle for example has the ability to poison her opponents, but that very poison's effectiveness feels completely arbitrary. Another example is Gigaboss and his T-Rex Zoid, Demise, having an ultimate attack that is practically a one-hit-kill with no real downsides to offset it. This is especially felt with certain characters feeling outright overpowered, a leftover from when they were DLC in the original Japanese release, in comparison to the original roster.
Coupling these imbalances is a general sluggish feel to the combat. While I did enjoy mixing up combos and figuring out the best way to get around my opponent's special abilities, there was this sense of imprecision I had throughout each fight. Blocking takes a beat too long to put up, the dodge practically demands you to read your opponent's mind for it to matter much, and despite whatever strategy I had in mind it quickly fell away under me just mashing the same attack strings over and over. This happened even when I had the AI cranked to its highest difficulty.
Wait, That's It?
The story mode can generously be called padded. There are over 100 missions scattered throughout this mode. You play as one character for about ten missions, and eventually you unlock an alternative path that let's you play as a different character for ten missions of their own. Each and every one of these amounts to one-on-one fights with no real twists or gimmicks added on. Every now and then you'll get involved in a boss rush where you'll fight multiple opponents in a gauntlet, but they're few and far between. Despite Blast Unleashed trying desperately to add narrative context with pre and post-battle banter between characters, the shear repetitive nature of the combat renders a lot of it pointless. It's a bad joke that gets worse once you unlock Secret Story Mode, which is just the entire story mode again with the AI's difficulty set to max.
And aside from this and a straightforward Arcade Mode, there really isn't much else here. There is a Versus mode where you and a friend can battle it out, but it is local multiplayer only; there is no online functionality at all. It doesn't get much better when your unlockable extras are model viewers, a jukebox for the game's small list of original songs, and artwork stills from the Zoids Wild anime.
If this seems unduly harsh on a product meant for a very particular audience, it's because I've seen the standards and quality for licensed games rise in recent years. We live in an industry where nWay's Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid, a super simplistic fighter that recycles assets from a mobile game, has online connectivity, crossplay across all major platforms, and its own deeply passionate competitive community. Even by other mindless brawler standards there is plenty out there that does a lot more with a lot less. If Takara Tomy really want this franchise to reach out to new players, they'll need to do better than just good enough.
Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed | Final Thoughts
If you're a kid and really like the new Zoids Wild series, you will find something to like in Blast Unleashed. The characters' personalities are translated perfectly and the whole production maintains the series' sound and look. If you're the kind of player that expects a certain amount of content for your money invested, the mission structure of the story mode will give you plenty to do, even if it's mostly tedious grinding. But if you're looking for something that excites and gets you invested rather than just meets highly adjusted expectations, you'll have to look elsewhere.
TechRaptor reviewed Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed on Nintendo Switch with a copy provided by the publisher.
- Solid, Serviceable 3D Combat
- Long Story Mode
- Enjoyable Portrayal of Zoids Characters
- Severely Lacking Content
- No Online Modes
- Boring, Repetitive Story Mode Missions