The Wii shop's closure was announced a few months ago, which was sad news. I've bought a fair number of games from it, but there are plenty that I haven't played yet, so now was a good time to finish off one of them at least. I'm a huge fan of developer Intelligent Systems, who are behind Fire Emblem (my favorite video game series of all time), as well as the Advance Wars, Paper Mario, Pushmo, and WarioWare series, amongst others, so I was looking forward to their one-off game, Eco Shooter: Plant 530

Eco Shooter is definitely not their best work, but it has solid mechanics and is pretty fun overall. The premise is that "the earth’s empty cans have been brought to life by the Cannoids, an alien race determined to destroy the planet", and basically the game is an on-rails light-gun-type shooter where all the enemies are made up of cans. The setting is a recycling plant, so the visuals are fairly drab, and although they're all made up of cans there's a decent amount of enemy variety. The game has a novel mechanic where both your ammo and your health are taken from the same reserves, and when you defeat enemies you have to "vacuum" them up to collect more energy. You have a limited amount of time that you can pause the action to vacuum before your gun overheats, and you'll need to strategically alternate between shooting and collecting energy.

The main common complaint about the game is that it's too short, and although I usually don't mind a short game, in this case I would have to agree. The mechanics are fun, but there isn't much difference between the three levels. It took me several tries to get in the groove of blasting enemies and sucking up energy and also to efficiently beat the boss character (who is pretty much the same in each stage). But once I had mastered the game mechanics, blowing through the three levels and getting the high score was pretty easy. After you beat the three levels, you unlock a "challenge" mode where you have to defeat the three levels back to back, but I found this to actually be easier than beating each stage individually. Although the levels in this mode are slightly harder versions of the standalone stages, you carry over your energy between stages, which makes the second and third stages much easier.

No doubt the developers at IntSys were limited by the constraints of WiiWare (namely the maximum file size), but I can't help feeling the game could've been so much more. It was fun to see Intsys branch out and do something completely different, but otherwise this is a game that's pretty forgettable, and there are much better alternatives available for Wii.

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