By Spencer . February 19, 2010 . 8:26am
Before we get into Zangeki no Reginleiv I want to discuss Sandlot, the game’s developer. Sandlot makes games where tiny people battle giants like Robot Alchemic Drive and Earth Defense Force 2017. Part of what makes Earth Defense Force a “blast” is how ridiculous it is. Shooting overpowered weapons, watching buildings explode around you, and fighting through (but easily killing) waves of giant ants is like a guilty pleasure.
Zangeki no Reginleiv has a similar feel with the added thrill of slashing giants with Wii MotionPlus. When you swing the remote you can chop off a giant’s arm with a vertical slash. Freyr and Freyja, the two Norse gods you can play as, have a basic shake and slice combo that closes with a finishing move like a spinning slash.Before flickering out of existence monsters explode in a bloody mess with torsos and body parts flying in the air. It’s over the top. It’s Sandlot. Some giants will continue attacking after you cut off a limb or two or three. After the blood stops gushing, amputated giants retaliate by stepping on you or crawling on the ground while swinging their fists. You can block attacks by raising your shield with the Z button.
Zangeki no Reginleiv supports a standard remote, but motion controlled slashing doesn’t work without MotionPlus. Now is a good time to mention that slashing is not the only way to kill giants and later robot-like things. You can fire arrows, an effective attack against flying enemies, by drawing the remote back like a bow. Pick Freyja (the female character) to cast magic too. When equipped with a wand, Freyja stands still and shoots what you point at. The controls feel similar to a light gun game, with limited bullets. Freyja has a magic meter that depletes a bit after each spell. Switching back to sword mode and slaying giants restores her magic power.
Being a pure melee character, Freyr starts the game with more life than his sister. He has a unique set of weapons that include spears and giant hammers. Enemies don’t drop weapons in Zangeki no Reginleiv. You unlock them by spending crystals, collected from fallen giants. All of the weapons are linked in a branching tree, similar to Muramasa: The Demon Blade.
Townsfolk actively defend their homes from the giant invasion. They fire arrows on their own if a giant is in range and love to scream over the background music. Computer controlled civilians can actually defeat giants, which still explode into a mess of body parts even when hit by arrows. One thing that surprised me in Zangeki no Reginleiv is how big the maps are… and how slow your character runs on them. During cutscenes Freyr and Freyja transform into birds. Their pace is more on par with a morning jog in battle. Sandlot made a dash move, but you have to shake the nunchuck forward to do a short sprint. Getting from one group of giants to the next takes a lot of nunchuck shaking, too much since the “dash” is really meant to be a dodge. Shake the nunchuck backwards to do a backflip and left or right to strafe. While the move usually gets you out of harms way, shaking the nunchuck doesn’t feel responsive. Sometimes you’ll shake left and Freyr will go right or backwards.
The online mode works better than the controls. Zangeki no Reginleiv has features most Wii games don’t have like lobbies where you can find players without using friend codes. Once in a room you can chat and outfit your character for battle. What happened to all of your weapons? Oh, those are gone. Your online character is separate from the story mode characters. Sorry, you have to level up and collect weapons all over again.
Cooperative missions support up to four players and even though I’m playing an ocean away from Japan I haven’t experienced much lag. Each mission has the same goal, kill everything or die trying. You get one life per party member and these are shared with your party. So, it’s possible to fail a mission if one teammate keeps dying. Zangeki no Reginleiv only supports text chat and preset phrases are selected with the d-pad. The system is cumbersome, especially when surrounded by enraged giants. Fortunately, you don’t need to call for help if you’re near death. The game automatically notifies all players that you’re in a pinch when your life meter is low. After completing the mission all players return to the lobby where the host can set up another mission.
The Monster Hunter-like online mode was an attempt to broaden the game’s user base, but this is really a hack and slash game, not a loot collecting RPG. Zangeki no Reginleiv and all of its flying giant limbs is mindless fun with a little wrist strain from nunchuck dashing. However, Zangeki no Reginleiv is so mindless I imagine people are either going to love it or hate it.