Zangeki no Reginleiv

Norse nonsense.

Zangeki no Reginleiv is a terrible game, but don't hold that against it. Some of my favourite games are terrible, like Sumotori, or Michigan: Report from Hell, or Raw Danger, or Jambo! Safari, or indeed Earth Defence Force 2017, developer Sandlot's previous game. Zangeki - a Japanese-only, Wii-exclusive release - looks like a low-budget arcade game from the late nineties, it has ludicrously awful physics that send dismembered enemies whizzing comically across badly rendered landscapes, its trees look like seaweed on a stick, its cut-scenes stutter and jerk, the main characters spend half their lives caught on scenery and the camera doesn't work. Sometimes, it's enormous fun.

That's not to say that there aren't impressive things about the game. It has hundreds of different weapons, a really satisfying control system (when it works), and brilliant comic violence. You control talking hawks who transform into Norse gods on the battlefield, Frey and Freya, as they fight off a vast onslaught of ogres in order to... actually, I have no idea why. Zangeki does have a story, with cut-scenes and everything, but it's just random Norse gods being imposing at each other. You'll want to head into the options and switch the auto-skip on as soon as possible.

The meat of the game is senseless slaughter and dismemberment of these charmingly badly-animated beasts with a massive variety of weapons. Frey, the male character, can use swords, greatswords, hammers, bows and spears, equipping any two at a time. Freya, the female, is a ranged character who uses much better bows and a bizarre wand thing that spits globules of neon glass at ogres until they explode. A gauge at the bottom of the screen limits her ranged ammunition, and can be refilled by diving in with a sword for a while.

It's controlled with the Wii remote and nunchuck, with the addition of MotionPlus. You draw slashes on the screen to slice off bits of gurning ogre, achieving combos with good timing. At first it seems stupidly complicated and over-sensitive - it doesn't help that the game expects you to watch more than fifteen minutes of tutorial video rather than actually giving you an interactive tutorial (evidently the budget didn't stretch to that) - but it soon starts to click, and exploding six ogres at once into chunks with a hammer is uncomplicatedly satisfying. Each type of weapon feels significantly different to use.

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Honestly, this is one of the clearer screens we've seen.

Most of the motion control works fine, with the occasional blip, but dodging by flinging the nunchuck in the direction you wish to evade absolutely does not. Getting out of the way of attacks is a nightmare, especially when you're in front of a big enemy and the camera automatically focusses on the top of their head for no discernible reason. It won't let you operate the camera vertically unless you change it in the options, and as soon as you do your view goes flying all over the screen until you turn the sensitivity down.

The sword-shaped cursor wobbles around the screen like crazy and spears, for some reason, are so sensitive that Frey constantly attacks with them whenever they're equipped, even when you put the remote down on a table. You can avoid the inevitable fury of wrestling with motion control by using a classic controller, but then you lose the satisfaction of chopping up monsters with vicious hacking movements.

The enemies are absurdly numerous and often enormous - so much so that the camera has a lot of problems dealing with them. Smaller ogres just split in two, but larger ones can be systematically dismembered to hilarious effect. Hack off a leg or an arm and they'll lie, limbless but still alive, wriggling on the floor, with their comically basic polygons and static expressions. Chunks of ogre go flying around the screen. Blood effects are rubbish - even worse than Earth Defence Force's - but entertaining with it.

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