|System: Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Salt Lake||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 04, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
September 2, 2008 - Light gun shooters are nothing new on the Wii. The system has long been championed, even before its release, as the destination for games of this popular genre. Because of the Wii-mote's ability to act as a pointer, playing these games on the Wii has always been fairly convenient. Instead of having to purchase an all new light gun accessory, players are able to just snap their Wii-motes into one of the plethora of plastic gun-shaped shells that continue to flood the market. Come November, Wii owners will be getting yet another gun shell to choose from.
Nerf N-Strike is a game developed by EA that will come with a peripheral that has been developed by Hasbro, the toy company responsible for the wide variety of Nerf dart guns. However, this peripheral is far from the standard Wii-mote casings we're used to. This gun will not only be able to house your controller to play the game, it will also be a fully functioning Nerf gun out of the box. You will be able to fire Nerf darts and at any time, take out the firing mechanism and insert your Wii-mote to play Nerf N-Strike. This is an interesting idea that seems ingenious, as it perfectly targets the game's audience - eight to twelve year old boys.
This gun feels incredibly solid whether shooting darts or using your Wii-mote as a virtual dart launcher. It is a bit weightier than many of the other light gun casings on the market and has a very comfortable grip. The folks at Hasbro have even thought ahead, as there is extra space found at the back of the gun where the newly announced Wii Motion Plus will be able to fit naturally. However, without this add-on fixed to the bottom of the Wii-mote, I found this extra space as an excellent place to rest my thumb. This helped me to better steady my aim and felt very natural when firing off hundreds of rounds. One of these guns will come packaged with the game and others will be made available separately for $14.99 apiece.
Peripherals aside, Nerf N-Strike looks like it will be a fairly entertaining light gun shooter. The story involves a boy named Shane. One day he is approached by Bob, a recruiter bot, who attempts to enlist him in the N-Strike Elite. With the promise of being given a plethora of Nerf blasters, Shane agrees to join. Later, he finds out that he will actually be competing against four other children to be named the Elite Striker. While the storyline doesn't seem to be incredibly deep or compelling, it does serve as a good enough excuse to blast a ton of robots with a variety of Nerf guns. N-Strike will offer twenty five different blasters, twelve being real life products and the other thirteen being fantasy weapons in the prototype phase of development.
The single-player experience unfolds as you might expect, blasting your way through various on-rails levels. Since the game is made for a younger audience, there are no human enemies to be found in the game. Instead, players will battle against hordes of the game's seven different robotic foes. Each robot type will have several variations in color and performance. Every enemy has its own weakness that can be exploited, so players will need to pay close attention to their movements and habits. An example is a flying enemy I saw that opened its protective shell just before it unleashed its attack. Destroying this enemy normally can take several shots, but if you attack it when it lowers its defenses, it will take significantly fewer rounds.
Nerf N-Strike also has an assortment of multiplayer offerings that will potentially keep players coming back even after they've completed the single-player campaign. From the multiplayer modes I was able to experience, there was a surprising amount of variety to be found. The highlights were two modes that had clearly been influenced by other games. The first was a Galaga type game that had you blasting robots as they flew in specific patterns across the screen. This mode was full of power-ups, even though they weren't working in the demo, which should help to keep the gameplay interesting and competitive. The other mode was an obvious light gun version of EA's own Boom Blox. Players take turns shooting at clusters of blocks, trying to uncover the one that will end the event. After each player's shot, the camera would reposition itself, making cheap wins where one player uncovers the block and the following player gets to shoot it slightly more difficult to achieve.
While there are already several light gun games available on the Wii, there is always room for one more. This is especially true when they look to deliver as much depth and variety as Nerf N-Strike appears to contain. The fact that it isn't overly violent or adult only helps its case, as there are many younger gamers who own a Wii that can't play most of the other available light gun shooters on the system due to their teen and mature ratings. The excellent quality of the gun casing peripheral should also add to the overall value of this package. Look for Nerf N-Strike to likely hit the mark with its target audience this November.
CCC Staff Contributor