A war worth fighting
Even though it is a port of a Playstation Network game that has been out since 2009, Mushroom Wars took me entirely by surprise. I tend to not try out real-time strategy games on the consoles because of control limitations, but the iPad has proven to be an excellent place to revive lighter RTS games. Eufloria is another example of an RTS ported from other platforms to receive its definitive version on iOS.
Much like Eufloria, Mushroom Wars is a node-based RTS. Players control villages, towers, and forges that are spread across the map. Each node houses player units- which are regenerated at village nodes. Nodes can be upgraded to increase their efficacy and unit cap, but doing so costs the player some of their warriors. As the player upgrades their own nodes, they must also focus on capturing the nodes of the enemy player (be it a real-world opponent or an AI). The game ends when the enemy has been entirely destroyed, or when all capture points have been taken by a single player. I like that the entirety of each map fits on the screen without the need for zooming; having a static map helps players remain focused on the battle at hand.
This brand of node-based RTS gameplay isn’t new, but it feels fresh in Mushroom Wars. The game is frantic without being impossible, mostly because of well-balanced maps and simple, well-executed controls. Some maps do throw the player into a nearly impossible situation right at the start of the scenario, these maps are typically frustrating and require the player to start over after the map has been assessed. For the most part, Mushroom Wars’ difficulty modes are smartly balanced. Easy mode will telegraph enemy moves, and provide the player with the unit count at each enemy base. Normal difficulty removes these conveniences, and the player is left to count enemy units as they skip from node to node while never quite knowing which one of their bases will be hit next.
Because units can be directed to any node, there isn’t a true sense of a front line on Normal difficulty, so pushing units from villages with a surplus can leave those villages vulnerable to attack. Players can also easily choose how many units will leave when departing from a node, adding another wrinkle to the game’s tactics.
Mushroom Wars is one of the better RTS games available for iPad, and anyone up for a fast-paced tactical experience should definitely give it a shot.
Mushroom Wars is currently available for $0.99 (80% off) on the App Store for iPad