Paper Wars: Cannon Fodder

Bombs Away!

Is Paper Wars: Cannon Fodder a worthy Mini or the worst Mini?
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: February 25, 2011
It's not often we review Minis, probably because most of them are not much more than converted $.99 apps from the App Store that now cost 5 times as much and don't really control that well without a touch screen. Another reason might be because we don't usually even know that they exist. However, when a developer goes out of their way to make sure we know they have created the worst game ever made, we can't help but stop and take notice. Yes, iFun4All has laid claim to being one of the worst developers in the world (have to say their name certainly gives one pause) and purport that Paper Wars: Cannon Fodder has finally allowed them to create the worst game of all time. Having played Demons to Diamonds on the Atari 2600, I had a hard time believing this.


Say what you will about using "teh internetz" as the aesthetic for your game (I personally despise it, but our own Ryan probably finds it brilliant), if using "z"'s for "s"'s is still cool, well, consider we warmed up. Paper Wars embraces this attitude and runs with it, but despite that, I have to say the game has it's charms. Essentially a Tower Defense game with just a single tower that you control (think Missile Command) and just a handful of enemies with no A.I. to speak of, the game manages to pack enough in it to be pretty robust for a Mini.

Each level plays out the same way. Groups of enemies will inexorably march from the right to the left, and your stationary tank fires a stream of area effect projectiles from the lower left corner attempting to prevent any of them from completing their journey. Your foes do nothing to fight back, and their only real defense is to speed up on occasion which is annoying but not all that effective. On occasion power-ups will dot the landscape and hovering over them and pressing square will unleash mine explosions and carpet bombs, or slow down time for a few seconds allowing to even more mercilessly bombard the little guys. Level objectives range from stopping all the enemies (before too many reach the other side), stopping a certain type of enemy (before too many reach the other side), or holding out for a set period of time (before too many reach the other side). That's about it. There are three difficulty levels and 28 missions in the campaign. Getting through the first 10 in any level will unlock the "Winter Assault" where the graphics change a bit and you have limited ammo for your tank. Completing 10 levels in Winter Assault unlocks "Cyber Warz", where you have to select the correct color of ammo for the correct color of enemy. In addition, each campaign has three level of Survival with the goal of destroying as many enemies as possible until they overwhelm you. A robust series of Achievements might not unlock any trophies, but they give you an excuse to keep pounding on the poor peons.

What really sets Paper Wars apart is the graphics. I can't be 100% sure, but they appear to be entirely hand drawn doodles that were ripped out of a notebook and then scanned and imported into the game. When I say hand drawn, I mean like something I, who has no artistic talent, might have done. Every last thing in the game uses this technique, save for the background images that appears to be digital photographs someone took around their house. It actually ends up giving the game a really unique feel and somehow makes the repetitive gameplay more palatable. Even the edges of each sprite seem to have irregular, ragged tears as if the were haphazardly stripped out of a large sheet of paper.

After spending quite a few hours with Paper Wars, I have come to the conclusion that while iFun4All might have the worst company name of all time, they still have a ways to go before they can claim to have created the worst game ever. Paper Wars deserves to take up a small amount of space on your PSP memory card.
The Verdict
7.5

Yes, it really gets by just on charm, but there is quite a bit of content to keep you interested for a few hours on the pooper or the train ride. Definitely one of the better Minis available.

8.5Graphics:

This unique take on "hand drawn" exudes a lot more charm than it has any right to.

5.0Sound:

Stock explosions and marching sounds are about all you get out of this one.

9.0Control:

I'm not really sure how this could be done wrong, except for the fact that the PSP hardware itself makes any game control poorly. With a DS3, it is impeccable.

7.5Gameplay:

Fun, but repetitive, which is probably something that you can say about any Tower Defense game. For a Mini, it's about par for the course.