Not all warfare is fast and furious. This is especially true when the combatants on each side of the conflict are only capable of crawling a few centimeters a minute. Literally charging into battle is absolutely not an option. Slug Wars may offer an unusual twist on warfare that moves along at a snail’s pace, but issuing split second commands can still make all the difference between victory and defeat. When battlegrounds are littered with the slime trails of fallen enemies and piles of salt are deadlier than a barrage of napalm dropped from above, you have to tread, or ooze, carefully.
Slug Wars pits two opposing factions of creepy crawly creatures against one another on a small, three-lane battlefield. You’ll conduct your assault by sending a medley of slug forces slogging across the screen into the path of your enemies, while your opponent does the same. When combatants clash, the victor will continue marching on, but they’re left prone to attack by other adversaries approaching further down the line. The first side to push through enemy defenses and land three hits on the other end of the screen is declared the winner.
Each side starts out with a limited amount of funds to spend on troops, and you’ll pick up more by eating flowers that pop up randomly on the field. Fallen slugs also create flowers at the spot where they perished. Since every unit type moves at a different speed and deployment costs vary from one to the next, there’s a certain measure of strategy in balancing between when to preemptively launch attacks and when to thing about taking a more cautious, defensive tact. The most crucial moment is when you’re looking out over a bare field at the onset of each match. Those first few units can make a big difference on how the battle plays out, though the makeup of your enemy’s army at any give moment also plays a major factor in what happens.
Campaign Mode gradually introduces new units every few levels, and the motley crew of slugs and snails at your disposal comes in a broad variety of sizes and skills. Initial grunts are cheap and move at a medium pace, while their slightly pricier snail cousins are much slower but come armed with long range rockets. There are lightning fast slugs with machine guns, giant sloth snails with cannons and missiles, kamikaze bomber slugs armed with salt, and other variations of troops that ramp up the straightforward gameplay.
Timing is a key component to victory, while strategy is another – at least that’s how the theory goes. All of the different strengths and weaknesses of each unit can make for some interesting possible approaches to battle, but I stumbled upon one sweet spot strategy that allowed me to beat almost every level without much effort by simply spamming the field with medium level units round after round. There wasn’t much of a need to mess around with the more expensive units, since it simply took too long to accrue enough resources to use them until the end of each match. This unfortunately makes the game a bit of a bore unless you’re playing against a human opponent by sharing opposite ends in a single iPhone. But even then you can see what they’re planning before it happens. Ultimately, Slug Wars is too basic to be of much fun in the long run.