As most parents with young children know, robots and dinosaurs mix well. Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed brings that combination to the Nintendo Switch, but how does it play?
Of course the mix above will make a lot of parents (and kids) think of Dinotrux, but Blast Unleashed is actually based on the anime Zoids Wild – with in turn is a spinoff for the Zoids franchise that centers on robotic animals. While still focused on a younger audience, it has a more mature feel to it than Dinotrux, and that generally makes for a better videogame experience.
Existing fans of the Zoids Wild franchise will recognize plenty of familiar faces here, and there is – especially for a Switch game – plenty of detail in the 3D character models. All the characters on the roster are also animated well, and have distinct features and movesets, giving a unique feel to how each character plays. As a result there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to an individual Zoid’s controls and how to make the most of their strengths, but because the movesets are relatively limited this is still an accessible game that younger players can also enjoy. Button mashing is definitely an option as well, partly because the controls in Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed aren’t as responsive as those in games like Street Fighter, Tekken or even Mortal Kombat.
Another big difference with the fighting games mentioned above is that Zoids Wild’s fights take place inside small arenas rather than finely crafted locations with options to interact with the background or even switch to a different area mid-fight. As such, the fights aren’t as thrilling or visually exciting to watch as you’d want, looking at how gorgeously detailed the on-screen protagonists are and how the original anime looks.
Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed features a story campaign, but for a game that has its roots in an anime series the narrative feels underdeveloped and merely serves a thin veneer around the core mechanics of fighting each other inside arenas. The story that’s there isn’t told with much fanfare either, with a ton of text to read rather than having the characters pop out of the screen in animated sequences – something that’s done so well in-battle.
With so much love and attention poured into the core fighting experience, it’s a shame that Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed is so low on content and game modes. The DLC from the Japanese version is all included and once you’re done with the story mode you’ve got a good roster of 16 Zoids to choose from, but besides 1 vs 1 battles there is not much you can do with them. Luckily, they all look and move wonderfully well, so fans of the anime – and probably non-fans who like dinosaurs and robots as well – will still find enough to enjoy here. An accessible dino-robot-fighter that looks good on the Switch that’s marred by a lack of content.