Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed Review – A Franchise Best Left Forgotten

    Title: Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed
    Developer: Codeglue
    Release Date: October 16, 2020
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: Outright Games
    Genre: 3D Arena Fighter

Does anyone remember Zoids? No? I certainly didn’t until I heard about Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed, the newest game based on a surprisingly old franchise. I remember seeing Zoids on TV when I was younger, but it was never on my “must-watch” cartoon list. Imagine my surprise when Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed shows up on my Switch, reminding me that Zoids is still alive and well; Or at least alive enough to get a mediocre arena fighter.

Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed is loosely based on the plot of the Zoids: Wild anime, though the game does a pretty bad job at explaining it. Blast Unleashed is clearly meant for fans of the anime that already know what the series is about, as the story mode only gives incredibly limited descriptions of the plot and characters.

From what I can gather, Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed follows a team of Zoid users battling an evil empire that wishes to use Zoids to take over the world. The story as a whole isn’t anything special and is really only there to usher players from one battle to another, so don’t expect to become engrossed in anything.

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At its core, Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed is a relatively straightforward 3D arena fighter. Combat consists of light and heavy attacks that can be chained together to dole out simple combos. Additionally, each Zoid has three unique special moves that can be used to mix things up, along with a usually overpowered, flashy ultimate move that deals more damage than it really should.

I’m typically fine with arena fighters feeling like button-mashy messes when the mechanics allow you to at least feel satisfied after taking down an opponent, but there has to be some balance. Sadly, Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed only really offers a mindless battle system with over-the-top anime finishers that are nice, but nothing about it feels rewarding. Each of the 16 or so playable characters features unique move sets and ultimate moves that are cool in concept; now, if only something came from it.

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When it comes to engaging gameplay, Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed is entirely lacking. Pretty much every fight in the game comes down to a button-mashing contest, with the winner being determined by whoever happens to land a hit first. God forbid one of the fighters’ land an ultimate, however, as these massive attacks can take out more than half of your enemies’ health bar in one hit. If you manage to land one of these, the fight is basically over before it even started.

Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed is pretty lacking in all areas of an arena fighter. The game was clearly made on a budget, but that doesn’t make up for its shortcomings in terms of providing a decent experience for players.

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There are three main modes in Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed: battle, story, and continuous battle. Battle is exactly what it sounds like: a 1-2 player versus mode. Unlike many of its contemporaries, it doesn’t feature an online mode. However, if you want to challenge another real person, you better have friends or family willing to play it with you. Outside of just messing around and having fun, there are no real rewards for playing battle mode, so this is more for honing your skills than anything.

Story mode is where players will likely spend the bulk of their time. The game features an original story that, as I previously mentioned, is pretty throw away and forgettable. It amounts to an excuse to get players to participate in several challenge matches against CPU enemies and unlock the entire cast of fighters for battle mode use.

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Outside of unlocking characters, completing missions in battle mode also unlocks bonuses in the game’s gallery. Here, you can view character models, listen to songs from the game’s soundtrack, and view pictures from the game and the Zoids: Wild anime. These are really only here for super fans, and, while I really didn’t care much about them, it’s nice to have them there as a little reward for making it through the story.

Though the story mode is relatively uninspired, it is fun to make your way through it. Pretty much every mission is the same, however, so it would have been nice to progress through missions seamlessly instead of exiting back to the mission select screen after completing a battle. It’s not like the game has long load times, but it is still annoying to load in and out of every single fight.

The final mode worth mentioning in Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed is Continuous battle. This mode features a unique string of battles for each character in the game, challenging players to get the highest score possible. The only thing that makes this mode unique from story mode or normal battles is that players can upgrade each Zoids’ attack, health, or defense after each battle. While this may make a difference in subsequent battles, it never felt like any of the decisions I made really affected anything tangible.

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Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed is a relatively harmless licensed anime arena fighter. Superfans may enjoy its presentation, but nothing is here to rewards them for their time. The fighting system lacks any real depth of engagement, which boils down to a mindless button-masher until there’s a winner. Like the franchise, for me at least, Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed is just forgettable.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Jake Yoder

Lover of all things gaming, anime, film and theatre. Shonen anime/manga enthusiast.