Bad North | Nintendo Switch Review

Bad North to me is a lite version of Mega-Lo-Mania or even a little like Cannon Fodder, albeit the latter being more attacking based and has larger maps. I think that’s a pretty decent compliment to Bad North as I loved both. What started out as a demo on a Saturday afternoon with an hour or so of play, promptly lead to a purchase of the full version on the Nintendo eShop. Bad North is an indie title so didn’t break the bank, let alone chip its teeth. It’s inexpensive and quite frankly, worth it.

Bad North is a rogue-like game by Plausible Concept. I had to Google that as not familiar with the term. For me, it’s a real-time strategy game, or RTS, in the vein of Command & Conquer or Starcraft. Well, same category but nowhere near the depth. I’m just going to stick to this as being an easy to pick up strategy game to keep it simple, stupid. Watch this space as future write-ups will likely contradict this with a rogue-like comment.

Bad North is a bit of a rogue

This rogue-like strategy game (see?) has you fending off Viking invaders, starting off with your own two units to position across the procedurally generated maps (yeah, had to look that up too – think No Man’s Sky. Well, you don’t have to think about it really) and bash the scallywags over the head with a pointy sword until they stop arriving in their boats. That’s right – boats.

Bad North is island based so that means you can expect attacks from these marauders at all angles. The purpose of each Viking horde is to burn your houses down and potentially use all your toilet paper with no please or thank you’s. They will show up unannounced as can be expected, though will know they’re on their way when you hear the funky beats of Viking drums emerging out of the pea soup.

Each island, or wave, allows you to place your units in strategic positions to meet and greet with force. At first, you can point your units to the shoreline by issuing simple commands – move, attack, heal, flee and special attacks – but the baddies get tougher. Simply standing still waiting for them to land can result in the boats wiping out some of your men. In addition, when the high-level units are introduced, there is the issue of one-hit kills. Applying a strategy would be to implement your classes made up of archers for range attacks, spears for defence or sword and shields for all-around lackey stuff.

Winning coins on Bad North

Elite units and murder, death, kill

The jump in difficulty can be somewhat discouraging when you start facing different enemies like the archers (not the BBC show and you’re over 50 to even get that reference) or the berserkers who confidently arrive as single units initially to show how badass they are. The body count will go up on both sides and splatters of claret to make Pollock blush, so to tackle this you will need to upgrade your units.

There are three levels with the last being the elite units. Be warned though: while this makes the game much more bearable (the change in difficulty can be quite unforgiving), if your unit dies, that’s it. Proper dead. You’ll need a replacement unit but if they’re all dead, game over, mon ami.

What about replacement units then? How do to keep the squads alive? Easy peasy – you can command them to replenish health at any point during a wave. The unit will retreat to one of the houses with a timer appearing above the building while they heal. This ideally needs to be at a good/safe time as you could be caught with your pants down. If the building is destroyed with your unit is still inside – murder, death, kill. I didn’t facilitate this until about halfway through the game as I’m an idiot but when I did, it made everything better as my units weren’t dying.

Give the troops a break

Unlike other strategy games, you don’t build units or structures in Bad North. Instead, you will see flags on some of the islands between waves. Manoeuvre to the said island and you can start using the new unit immediately. Depending on how far you get into the game, some of them come pre-loaded with a rank up. Units already have a class. You can’t change them to implement a spear, sword or shotgun. *Spoiler alert* There are no shotguns in this game.

Moving between islands in Bad North is a bit of a nuisance though. Your troops get tired and between waves, you will need to rest them before fighting the next campaign. You can rotate commanders before each stage. However, as per my earlier foolishness of not replenishing my units, I never had any extra to play with.

Rest for a turn and on the map screen an area behind you will grey out which basically means you can’t go back, though that’s not an issue at all really, unless you repeatedly rest without ever fighting and that defeats the object of the game.

The final stage shown on the world map in Bad North

Difficult, but welcomed on the Switch

There are a couple of items you can use during the game. A ring that increases your unit number (my favourite) or a bomb to lob at the hordes. You can use special moves such as volley shots or jumping off a cliff and doing dive damage. I seldom did this so couldn’t really endorse if it’s worth upgrading this part of the tree.

This isn’t a Switch exclusive but even without playing the other versions, this is the most desirable. The graphics are gorgeous and from my experience, was faultless both in docked and portable modes. I’m not one to take my Switch with me when out and about but I do like to play in handheld mode when sitting with the family – especially when I’m outnumbered and we end up watching [insert Disney film] for the umpteenth time.

I prefer to use the Pro Controller for comfort, but the joy-cons worked fine. There’s a downloadable demo on the Nintendo eShop but to be honest, just buy it. I finished it the same day as purchase and promptly started again as I enjoyed it so much. Though be prepared to experiment with the difficulty until you get the hang of it (which shouldn’t be long).

A typical isle to defend in Bad North