When my copy of Nerf: N-Strike Elite arrive I thought someone had sent me a Nerf gun as a joke. The latest chapter of the series comes packed with a plastic Nerf gun that houses the Wii remote as well as doubling as a real dart tosser. The concept behind the game is definitely unique as it uses the light gun game mentality combined with soft projectiles to create a shooting game that anyone can play. Of course as an older gamer it is harder to take shooting robots with foam darts serious, but that doesn’t change the fact that the game is actually quite entertaining.
As you can imagine this is a game aimed at a bit younger demographic. The idea of shooting Nerf guns to save the world is something that sounds like a plot out of a Saturday morning cartoon and for good reason. You get to choose from one of four protagonists and the goal is to stop an evil robot manufacturer from creating doomsday devices out of his robots. You may be wondering how a foam dart can stop a robot, and if you are this game is certainly not for you. Surprisingly the voice acting isn’t atrocious and the cut scenes do a nice job of conveying the story without coming across as too cheesy.
The plastic gun that comes bundled with the game is actually quite nice. You will need to remove your Wii Motion Plus to fit it in the cradle, but once you do it becomes a light gun for lack of a better description. The game really doesn’t use a lot of buttons and most of the time all you do is aim at the screen and pull the trigger, but it works. When you are not playing the game you can attach the launcher back to it and torture your friends by shooting them with the darts. It is definitely a gimmick package, but one that manages to work for what it was intended. Not to mention it is fun plastering people with things that don’t actually hurt.
The core mechanic works well enough to not feel broken, but it does become tedious the longer you play. As with any good light gun game variety is the key and N-Strike simply lacks a lot of that. Most of the levels and enemies will feel familiar and outside of shooting canisters that help you unlock new weapons there isn’t much here to keep you interested. New weapons also don’t add a lot to the gameplay so collecting them all is simply for the completionists.
Another entry in the gimmick category is the “Red Reveal” feature that comes packed into the gun. At certain intervals you will need to flip a small target on the back of the gun to see various objects and puzzles on the screen. Kind of like the old Transformers power readers found on the classic toy boxes. This becomes annoying after the third or fourth time and could have been completely omitted.
Amazingly even with the monotony and repetition the game still manages to be quite a bit of fun. The idea of shooting mindless robot after mindless robot keeps you entertained long enough to make it through the game. I highly suggest not trying to barrel through the entire thing in one sitting as it will only make it more painful, but as fifteen minute bursts the game is actually more enjoyable than it really should be. The banter between characters is well done if not a bit elementary, but let’s be honest this game wasn’t designed to be something to tug at your emotional strings.
The visuals are surprisingly pleasing delivering a solid color palette and plenty of onscreen action. The enemy designs leave a bit to be desired, but everything else is solid including the environments. Frame rate stays steady and outside of the muddy resolution that comes to be expected with Wii titles the game looks relatively decent. The voice acting is solid if not a bit juvenile and the sound effects do their job. The menu system is easy to navigate thanks mostly to the fact that the game truly only uses the onscreen pointer and the trigger button for nearly everything.
Nerf: N-Strike Elite is a solid if not predictable shooter that manages to get the gimmick right. The included gun peripheral is a nice novelty and the shooting is actually quite enjoyable. The repetition will start to wear on you after a while but if you can look past that it should be a good time with the kids. If you love Nerf and are looking for a non-violent shooter to play with your kids I highly recommend checking out this quirky, but entertaining title.