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Chaotic Shadow Warriors

Score: 68%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Fun Labs
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: RPG/ Strategy/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Chaotic Shadow Warriors is basically a sad, pixelized mess. Even the pre-rendered CG scenes look like they've been run through several layers of compression. There was more than one occasion that I found myself asking "is this a PS1 game?" The main character, Tom, has a face that looks like Mr. Potato Head. Seriously, the source material is not very complicated, but it's as if the artists were allowed to see it once, then locked away in a dark closet for a month before they were allowed to start work.

The really bad part about all this is the sloppy menu design. This is essentially a card game, so being able to view and compare stats quickly and easily is a must. Instead, you'll probably be left staring at the screen trying to make sense of things for some very silly reasons. For example, there are icons that represent basic stats for each creature. Unfortunately, I can't tell you what they resemble other than little swirls. The pixelized little icons are hard to distinguish in battle, but since they show up in the same order and have different colors, you can eventually remember that the "red smudge" means courage and the green smudge means wisdom. Even more aggravating is the Battlegear system. When you choose Battlegear for each creature, you have to scroll through a list of different gear. Each item has a description, but it is contained in a small box where the text scrolls up slowly. It's not as if the designers could not have arranged the screen so that you could see the entire description. Heck, they could have even let you have manual control of the scrolling, but no, you are stuck waiting for each description to take its time scrolling up so that you can read it.

The sound effects match the quality of the graphics. Tom sounds like he's walking on dry cereal all the time, and other sound effects are equally crackly and staticy. The voice acting in this game is decent, but like many cartoon-inspired games, they weren't given much to work with in terms of script. The music sounds like a kind of orchestral movie soundtrack score. It's all very dramatic, all the time, and it gets old. Almost as if they were trying to ensure that player could not avoid it, the music actually gets louder when you pause the game. I don't think I've ever played a game that was quite this cruel (well, there's always Dante's Inferno to look forward to).


In a fashion similar to the popular cartoon series, Chaotic Shadow Warriors follows the adventures of Tom and his Chaotic creature friends. Actually, his human friends seem to be missing from this adventure, so it's probably not the best game for fans of the cartoon. The story is a rather forgettable tale of stolen Battlegear. Tom goes around to various creatures asking them about the stolen equipment, and along the way discovers that some of the world's creatures are "acting strangely" and have red glowing eyes, hence the "Shadow Warriors." None of the events of the game seem to connect in a cohesive or compelling plot, and it feels a bit like listening to a story being made up as the storyteller goes along.

The main mode of the game is the Story Mode, where you play as Tom and lead him through a 3D platforming environment from battle to battle. You find "Mugic" (uh, just magic really) and Battlegear cards along the way that will help you in the battles that occur. Tom has to battle pesky insects with a gun called the Pyroblaster. Against the pixelized, muddled background, it's hard to make them out. Since the gun auto-targets, the answer to that is to continually press the fire button all the time to ensure that you don't get snuck up on. A lot of games make you do some pretty pointless things, but this is pretty high up there on the depressing scale.

Encountering enemies will initiate a battle between their army of creatures and yours. Of course, battles seem to be a simplified version of the Chaotic card game. There's no need to worry about calculating and comparing most stats, as the damage or healing value of each move is calculated for you. You do have some control over the situation, as you can earn bonus attack points or healing points based on how well you complete a sequence of motions with the Wii-mote. You'll also have to decide between choosing to block enemy attacks or to scan them while they attack you. Obtaining scans is the only permanent way to upgrade the stats for the creatures in your army, so it can be a tough call to make.

There is a Versus Battle Mode where two players can use pre-set armies of creatures to compete against each other. There's nothing new here that can't be found in the Single Player Mode, and really nothing to obtain here either. It's just a way to play a quick match against a human being.


Chaotic Shadow Warriors doesn't present much of a challenge, but much in the way of frustration. Like any platformer, there are sequences that will give you trouble. With the muddled textures of the background, it can be hard to make out where you need to go, or when to jump. Even without this handicap, some sequences seem downright unfair. For example, there is a jungle full of poisonous flowers that spray their poison after you pass by them. The trick is to stick near them, but this can be hard to figure out and doesn't always work because of the glitchy nature of the game. Also, there is at least one sequence of moving platforms that will actually get out of sync. This means the level is impossible to complete until they reset themselves or you restart the level. I don't believe I've ever seen something like this in a platformer before, and I've played some pretty mean, badly designed ones.

Other than the frustration issues, Chaotic is not a difficult game in the strategy department. It's possible, however, to become hopelessly stuck due to the nature of its "leveling up" system. You need scans to improve your creatures' stats, but you can only obtain scans by going into battles. This isn't the type of game that has random battles, rather, there are only a pre-set number of battles that you will encounter. If you're not industrious about obtaining scans, it's possible to fall behind. Thankfully, bonus Battlegear and helpful Mugic cards are not hard to find, and can supplement most battles to the point where you will eventually win. Still, the possibility is there.

Game Mechanics:

With such a dismal display of graphics and gameplay, it's no surprise that Chaotic Shadow Warriors throws the arbitrary waggles in as well. In order to gain bonuses to attacks or defense, you'll be shaking the Wii-mote. Attack bonuses don't seem to be too picky about the direction of the flick of the controls, but they do ask for a certain rhythm that seems to be tricky to master. Blocks are rather easy as well, as they only require you to make a shaking motion in order to build up a block meter. About the hardest thing, in fact, may be the scanning mode. It requires you to follow a moving target in order to scan your enemy, but it may be hard to "find the screen" since the cursor only shows up when you're briefly in this mode.

The only good thing I can say about this game is that it does feature some characters from the cartoon series, and it does feature 3D versions of the card game. How true these elements are to their source material becomes irrelevant when there is no other reason to want to play this game. It's a hollow, test-run of a game at best, and only the truly dedicated will be able to get through it. If you simply want to play a digital version of the game, you may want to take a look at the free Chaotic website before you drop any money on this game.

-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

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