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Castle crashing with Kinect

Wreckateer is coming soon to Xbox Live Arcade.

Wreckateer is coming soon to Xbox Live Arcade.

Wanton destruction has always been fun. We didn't need to fling angry birds at hapless pigs to tell us that.

In Wreckateer, goblins have taken over all the castles through the kingdom, and some mouse traps, insect repellent or cockroach bombs just aren't going to get the blighters out. The only way to get rid of the vermin is to raze every last structure, and fortunately, it's your (very fun) job.

Rather than flicking a catapault on a touch screen, Wreckateer uses the Kinect sensor to let you get hands-on with the destruction, controlling a huge ballista with your body as you try to topple towers and entire medieval castles.

Dave Lang, CEO of small Chicago-based studio Iron Galaxy, says Wreckateer is the result of extensive testing with the motion-sensing device.

"We knew the visceral grabbing and releasing would be fun, so then we had to work out what to do with that. Blow things up, right?"

Lang says Wreckateer was actually the third Kinect project the studio had undertaken following two aborted efforts. "We figured out what it's good at, what it's bad at, and designed the game around the Kinect."

Best known for their iOS port of Scribblenauts, Wreckateer is Iron Galaxy's first original property and will be published by Microsoft on the Xbox Live Arcade service in the coming months.

Naturally, Rovio's iPhone smash hit was a big influence on the game, but Lang says other games were also important. "Our inspiration was Angry Birds, plus (EA and Steven Spielberg collaboration) Boom Blox, and we mixed in some Burnout Crash mode, which was the inspiration for the after-touch stuff."

That "after-touch stuff" is what makes the game really fun.

As Lang says, "a high-level Wreckateer player isn't just pull back, aim, shoot and watch the destruction.  It's 'now that it's in the air, how can I manipulate the shot to accrue these bonus icons along the way?' That's what is going to separate the great scores from the good scores."

As you progress through the levels you receive a variety of different munitions to hurl at the castles, all of which are controlled differently while in the air.

Standard shots can be only subtly guided in mid-air by (amusingly frantic) swipes to curve the shot before it hits the target. But there are also guided missiles you control with outstretched arms, split shots that are guided in unison and bombs that can be triggered to explode at your command.      

Later levels demand real precision to collect bonus icons, such as hurtling through a tunnel on route to a castle structure.

You also often need pinpoint accuracy to make a building tumble, such as blasting the support legs off a structure, targeting a weak spot that will cause a chain reaction, or hitting some helpfully placed dynamite crates.

Players get multiple shots on each level, and can earn mulligans which enable you to rewind time if you make a mistake with one of the attempts. 

Lang promises "a bunch of things that are unlocked as you progress through the game".

"You've got the different shot types, we've also got a bunch of different power-ups like shields and things that give your shots different abilities like making shots explosive or make them go super-fast.

"Mixing all of these elements together we can come up with a really nice difficulty ramp. At the start of the game it's not super-hard, anyone can get in and start wrecking stuff. Later in the game it gets devilishly hard and we cater to high-end players."

Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded according to the levels of destruction on each level and the bonuses accrued.

Lang says the game's core is pure "score attack".

"Like Trials HD, it's about competing at the highest possible levels on leaderboards with your friends and trying to beat them."

It's also going to be a fun party game with a crowd of people taking turns, cheering when a structure falls, and jeering when the player's frantic attempts to get a shot back on course are a miserable failure.

Over to you now, Screen Play readers. What are your favourite games over the years that have allowed you to cause destructive mayhem?


twitter Screen Play is on Twitter: @screenplayblog

12 comments so far

  • The crash levels on one of the Burnout games was heaps of fun, and a good party/drinking game with a bunch of people taking turns.

    *sigh* Is 32 too young to be nostalgic?

    Date and time
    May 08, 2012, 8:05AM
    • Old school? Rampage!

      The Cow Level
      Date and time
      May 08, 2012, 9:10AM
      • Die Hard Trilogy on the PS1 allowing you to break all those windows. AMAZING!

        Date and time
        May 08, 2012, 9:15AM
        • Angry Birds is fun and all, but Worms is probably my favourite back in the day :)
          A game that would be good to play is something similar to this one, but it would be cool if you were a giant, and you could go around picking stuff up to throw and actually throwing them to destroy the castle! Or even just walking up to it and doing the damage yourself, while NPCs or other players try to stop you :)

          Date and time
          May 08, 2012, 9:23AM
          • I second the Worms suggestion.

            Multiplayer was so much fun. Our games always used to be very close best-of-3/5 affairs. Using unlimited ninja ropes, slowly taunting my opponents as I made my way across the screen to get them (or acidentally fall into the water...). Good times.

            Date and time
            May 08, 2012, 12:03PM
        • Rampage, Rampage, Rampage .... Seriously, how can you go past Rampage? Hulk: Ulimate Desctruction was pretty fun, too. And I had some fun with the demolition suit in Lego Batman setting a bomb and timing it right to blow up the bad guys literally to (Lego) pieces.

          Central Altago Plains
          Date and time
          May 08, 2012, 9:26AM
          • I always enjoyed playing Rampage with my brother on the N64. It always got quite boring and repetitive after a while, but it didn't stop us from renting it from the video store time and time again.

            Wow, video stores seem like so long ago.

            Date and time
            May 08, 2012, 9:43AM
            • Nothing tops Red Faction Guerrilla for destruction in 3D. In no other game can you shoot some soldiers, steal their armoured truck, drive it at speed through the wall of a multi-storey building, chuck a couple of limpet mines onto the truck, then detonate the whole lot and watch the building topple over.

              Guerrilla had all kinds of flaws, but the sheer destruction on show made anything else forgivable.

              Just Cause 2 comes a close second. It lacks the wonderful destruction physics of Guerrilla, but there is just so much shit to blow up. Few things in gaming have ever been as satisfying as stealing a helicopter gunship and blowing the crap out of a massive fuel depot, including support trucks, power generators, and guard towers.

              MCDexX on XBL, PSN, Steam, and iOS GameCentre
              Date and time
              May 08, 2012, 9:49AM
              • had so much fun Battlefield Bad Company 2 in multiplayer destroying things, collapsing buildings to kill people or destroy objectives, blowing holes in walls to make shortcuts, dropping buildings to provide line of sight to the objective for snipers. its a shame you can't do anything like that in Battlefield 3.

                Rampart was a fairly fun multiplayer game that had a timed tetris like mode to build your walls before firing cannons at your oponents structure

                Steam & XBL: Blahzy - PSN: Blahzy78
                Date and time
                May 08, 2012, 10:16AM
                • I tried to play Rampage on my iPad via the one of the multi-game arcade apps. Terrible, just terrible controls, damn virtual joysticks. I almost threw my iPad at the wall.

                  Regarding destructive mayhem - I loved the original Crackdown, especially once you had upgraded your character enough. Juggling vehicles with rockets, piling up buses and explosive barrels and lobbing in a grenade... good times.

                  Date and time
                  May 08, 2012, 11:05AM

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