Swords and Soldiers HD

Ronimo Games releases prototype for cancelled console project

Ronimo Games releases prototype for cancelled console project

Snowball Earth would have featured yetis and robot doggies.

Ronimo Games is the Dutch studio behind cartoony chaos such as Swords & Soldiers and this year's hectic MOBA Awesomenauts. Before working on either of those titles, however, the team sank a year into an intriguing action game called Snowball Earth - and now that it's long since cancelled, they're releasing the demo for free via torrent.

Back in 2007, Snowball Earth was planned as a Wii or Xbox 360 game, and, according to Ronimo, it tells the story of "a robot boy who thinks he accidentally started the last ice age." Don't sweat it, kid; we've all been there. With that on his conscience, he's been sent back to the frozen planet to try and thaw the place out - with the help of his robot doggies, naturally.

What he discovers down on the surface is a touching tale of betrayal and revenge, centring on an unscrupulous refrigerator manufacturer that's been hawking its wares to the local yetis. More importantly, you get to tool around some chunky, colourful 3D environments, banishing winter and restoring life to the world. It's basically the kind of thing Al Gore dreams about every night.

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App of the Day: Swords and Soldiers HD

The lineage of almost everything you do in Swords and Soldiers can be traced back to the great RTS games, but this is nothing like an RTS game. Everything's changed by flipping the perspective from top-down to side-on 2D. Swords and Soldiers plays out like a retro beat-em-up, while looking like the best cartoon Saturday mornings never saw.

Originally released on WiiWare, the iPad proves a natural home for Ronimo's broadly-drawn and twitchy take on strategy. The fat icons, which you're using constantly, are now in a line across the top of the screen. It makes building stuff instantaneous, which is constantly needed. A smart touch-zoom to any area of the level and pop-up research menu complete the job, making this format the game's most comfortable fit.

In single-player, you're always fighting left-to-right. The start of most levels sees you building workers (up to a maximum of ten) who then automatically collect gold. There are three armies, each with their own campaign, but gold always works in the same way. It's used to unlock different troops and spells, then spent again to build them.

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