Review: Paper Wars: Cannon Fodder

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Have you ever been bored in school, passing the time by doodling in the margin to make it look like you’re taking notes like a good little student when in reality you couldn’t be any more oblivious to what’s coming out of your teacher’s mouth? I know I’ve been there and done that…many, many years ago.

In my time, I remember drawing plenty of stick figure battles, which would often turn into full-scale wars with bunkers and bases and tanks if I was in a particularly unproductive mood. And if I happened to have a red pen or marker handy, I’d draw in blood and stick figure entrails for comic violence. Ahhh…those were the days!

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If you fondly recall similar times in your life or simply want a quick dose of mindless paper-on-paper violence, rush on over to the PSN Store and download the PlayStation Minis (an iPhone/iPad port also just came out this week) title Paper Wars: Cannon Fodder, iFun4All’s self declared “worst game ever.”

Paper Wars is a tower defense game stripped down to its most basic form. Enemy soldiers march across the screen from right to left, and it is your mission to keep them from crossing the battlefield and exiting at the left side. If a certain number of soldiers survive the bombardment, you fail the mission.

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To hold these doodled warmongers at bay, you have but one ‘tower’. A stationary tank placed in the bottom left corner of the screen is your one and only line of defense, and as forces begin to march across the field of play in waves, you aim the tank’s cannon crosshair with the analog nub (or d-pad if you prefer) and unleash hell by holding down the Cross button. The longer you charge the cannon before firing determines the impact of the explosion.

Variation is introduced through three different campaign themes – the Classic Campaign with a standard military style, the Winter Assault campaign set on a snowy battlefield, and a Cyber Wars campaign with futuristic neon visuals straight out of Tron. Beyond the artistic differences, each campaign has unique power-ups and other subtle twists. In Winter Assault, for example, you get special missiles that freeze soldiers into little ice cubes, and in Cyber Wars the soldiers are color coded, meaning you have to cycle back and forth through three different colored bullets – red, blue, and green – and match your attacks to the color of the target.

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Other than that, there isn’t much strategy to Paper Wars at all, and if you intend to play the game for long stretches, you will get bored quickly. However, the game is loads of absurdist fun in bite-sized chunks of no more than five missions at a time, and the pencil-drawn graphics and cheap-sounding music and sound effects give the game an endearing amateurish quality that ties everything together.

Paper Wars: Cannon Fodder is by no means a great game, but it is a great time waster, and that’s all it needs to be. It’s an ideal game for quick doses of fun when you have time to kill or just want to let off a little steam, and with over 80 missions, three difficulty options, survival play and built-in achievements, there is more than enough content to make the $5 buy-in worthwhile (and the iOS versions are even cheaper, as usual).

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Pros:
+ Great time-wasting fun in small doses
+ Plenty of missions to keep you busy
+ Charming doodled graphics

Cons:
– Gets old very, very quickly when played in long stretches

Game Info:
Platform: PlayStation Minis and iPhone/iPad; Reviewed on PSP
Publisher: iFun4All
Developer: iFun4All
Release Date: PSN – 2/22/2011, iOS – 3/28/2011
Genre: Tower Defense
ESRB Rating: N/A
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!