Growing up, I always found a special charm to Real-Time Strategy (or RTS) games thanks to classics like Warcraft, Command and Conquer, and of course StarCraft. Over the years, my interests pulled me towards other genres, and it’s like I left that part of my gaming past behind me. I’m not sure if it’s because of the time sink needed for competitive play or shifting my attention towards console/handheld gaming vs PC gaming, but it had been several years since I had picked up and played an RTS game. Then I got word about a game coming to the Switch called Mushroom Wars 2 from Zillion Whales and decided to give it a try in order to see if this could re-kindle the old spark I had with the genre ages ago.
To begin with, I’m going to get the obvious out of the way. Mushroom Wars 2 is a port of a mobile title and thus doesn’t have the complicated strategy elements of a game like StarCraft. I know some people might find this a turn off, but I actually found it a welcome change of pace. I don’t have the time anymore to calculate the best strategies, and that time sink is one of the reasons I haven’t fired up any of the old classics. That doesn’t mean Mushroom Wars 2 is watered down either. There’s a lot of depth to this game, but it has such an easy pick-up-and-play feel that hooked me from the start.
Gameplay happens on a single-screen map, so there’s no worrying about what’s around the corner or sending some drones out to uncover new map features. There’s also no resource-gathering, which always slowed down the pace of RTS games for me. Even though I was never a fan of “Zerging,” as I did prefer to build up an empire before taking out my enemies, it is a nice change of pace with Mushroom Wars 2 that everything happens quickly.
Let me roughly explain how it works. You usually start with an occupied base (sometimes you may have more than one). Each base will always produce units that you can use to conquer other locations. The amount and speed that they produce depends on how much they are upgraded, which costs units to do so and is a worthy investment. From this base, you can send off your units to other locations to conquer. Sending units is a simple as pushing a button, highlighting the location you want to send them to, and then deciding do you want to send 25, 50, 75, or 100% of the units at that base to the desired location, such as additional bases. This makes taking over new areas really quickly as your base will automatically start making more units while your army marches forward.
It’s not just other bases that you can take over. There are turret towers for defense, buildings that enhance all your troops, special buildings needed for objectives, etc. Not only that, but you can convert one building into another. If you find you have enough bases but you want to power up your troops, select a few bases and convert them. The game gives you the freedom to play the way you want. Just remember that everything is happening in real time, which means that while you’re doing your actions, your opponent is also making their moves.
That brings us to objectives. Usually the objective is to destroy all of your opponent’s units and conquer all their bases. Sometimes there’s more than one opponent, which throws a whole new monkey wrench into things. Other times you need to capture certain buildings to win. Another variation has you holding those special buildings for a certain amount of time. There’s even boss battles where a boss will interfere while you’re trying to take down your opponent. Each mode feels fresh and fun, and the game does a good enough job varying your objective and the map layout each round!
As for modes, the game sports a very hefty single player campaign. This includes tutorials and two episodes filled with a ton of missions. Each mission can be played on any of four difficulties (Easy, Medium, Hard, and Expert) so there’s a ton of replay value just in the campaign depending on how much of a challenge you want. The game also sports multiplayer, both offline and online so you can tackle your friends or enemies however you like. You can play ranked matches or set up custom matches with up to 4 people for free-for-all fun or 2v2.
At the end of the day, is this the deepest RTS game on the market? No. Is it a ton of fun and great to kill a few minutes/hours? Absolutely! It is especially great on the Switch, since you can play a round or two anywhere. This is my new go-to game before falling asleep as each match is challenging but a ton of fun. If you’re a fan of the RTS genre or just curious about it, I recommend you give this a try. It’s on pretty much every platform but due to the pick-up-and-play nature, I recommend you get the Switch version!
GAME: Mushroom Wars 2
MSRP: $19.99 US
RATING: E for Everyone
OBTAINED: Code from developers/publishers for press purposes