Review: Spanker’s Army (XBLIG)

Spanker’s Army puts you in the shoes of Spanker, or one of several other bodiless heads, to fight your way across various levels to reclaim farmland, the town and a castle back from the minions that apparently serve a demon from hell.  As you fight your way past bobbing enemy heads using melee and range attacks you are able to rescue non-playable characters who serve as your “army” and fight along side you in your quest to beat the demon thing.


Story isn’t the game’s strong point.  Most levels had a head say a random line or two before you ultimately get to work trying to find the exit and move on to the next level, piecing together a very random story that I think revolves around you saving a town from some sort of invading force made up mostly of monster-like creatures. You’ll fight them on the farm, you’ll fight them in the sewers and you’ll fight them in the castle; but even Churchill couldn’t really make this sound epic.

Visually the game looks kind of like a child’s drawing, but not the drawings of a particularly talented child.  Most of the characters consist of a floating head that occasionally lashes out with a weapon, while making a weird face.  The environments are of about the same quality and everything has a very “Microsoft Paint” look to it.  The game’s soundtrack consist of some various techno/electronic tracks that vary from working nicely, to completely out of place.  But none of them have been edited to provide seamless audio leaving large gaps of silence in-between tracks and appear to just be on a random play list.  Outside of this, there is no sound to speak of. No sound for when you get hit, no sound for when you attack the enemy, nothing, making the silent moments in the soundtrack even more apparent.

The gameplay is pretty much the only thing that saves Spanker’s Army.  It is incredibly simple.  Move (very slowly) with the left stick, direct your attacks with the right stick and switch between melee and range attacks by clicking the right stick.  You can also issue some basic commands to your army, but you will likely just leave them on “attack” 99 percent of the time.  Your army consists of up to seven NCP’s at a time and they vary in strength and attack style.  Any time you “rescue” a recruit when your army is already full they are saved in a bank that you can access between levels.  The army edit level allows you to pick and choose which of your available recruits you want with you for the next level, but is unavailable mid-mission.  Getting caught without an army is pretty much a guaranteed death warrant unless you can just run for the exit without taking too much damage, but enemies are often overwhelming in number. Some of the later levels are still incredibly difficult even with some strong recruits in your army.  You are also able to upgrade your weapons through a basic collect gold buy new weapons system.  For some reason though it doesn’t save what you have already bought so if, for example, you wanted to go back from the lance to the long sword you would have to re-purchase the long sword.  Very odd.

Ultimately this gameplay has a slightly addictive quality to it in that it manages to keep you playing when almost every sense is telling you that you should probably quit.  Additionally, trying to pick just the right seven recruits to make up your army has a slight degree of strategy to it and there is also room for strategy in how you fight. Do you bulk up on melee attacks and sit back trying to peg off enemies with a long bow, or do you go the opposite route and post a line of archers and get into the fray yourself (or something in-between)? Depending on the level, these tactics will have various results and some of them you will simply get your butt handed to you no matter what you do.

When all is said and done though, I’m not sure the limited enjoyment one is likely to get from the simple gameplay makes up for the rest of the game’s shortcomings.  The game is by no means painful to play, but most of the total package will have you saying “meh” and thinking about what you are going to play next. In short, the best way to describe this game is that towards the end, I found myself hoping that the level I was on would be the last one, as I was quickly loosing the minimal interest I did have in Spanker’s Amry.

Final Rating: 5/10

CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360 – XBLIG
Approximate Time to Completion: ~3 Hours
Gamer Score Earned: N/A
Price Bought at: N/A – Review copy furnished by Cam and Lane
Current Price: 80 Microsoft Points ($1)
Recommend Purchase Price: Literally doesn’t get cheaper.

So maybe I didn’t love the game, but a free game is always a sweet experience.  We know how this works by now.  I’ve got an extra download token (codes so that one of you will be getting a copy of the game! Please read the details on how to enter below:

First entry: For your first entry I want you to go ahead and tell me what matters most to you in a game! Simply respond with one of the following three answers in the comments below:

Visuals and sound
That’s it! Just pick one of those, tell us and you are entered to win!

Second entry: Follow us on twitter and send the following tweet:

@ClearanceBinRev is giving away the #XBLIG Spanker’s Army and all you have to do is answer a single question! Details:

Remember that you have to follow us; any winner we attempt to DM via Twitter who isn’t, automatically forfeits their win. If you enter via Twitter include your twitter name in your post below, winners who have their twitter listed will receive their codes immediately after winning.



Third Entry: Like our Facebook page and then simply like the post on our wall for this article.  Simple as that. (Keep in mind the article may be lower on the Facebook page towards the end of the contest and it may take a minute or two to post on FB)

Contest will go until Friday at 8pm CST.  A pool of all eligible entries will then be randomly selected from and the winners will be notified. CBR reserves the right to disqualify any entry we feel either violated the rules or spirit of the contest, including attempts at duplicate entries. Winner selected with no twitter name provided will be notified by email and have 24 hours to respond.  We do not announce the names of contest winners, but do encourage them to post about their win.


About Tristan Rendo

I've made movies, written and performed music, and in January of 2011 got bored and started the awesome gaming site you see before you. My gaming roots began with the original NES, and endless hours spent spilling quarters into machines at the local arcade. I have a personal collection of over 200 Nintendo 64 games, and for many years it was the only system I owned. I re-entered the modern generation of gaming consoles when I decided to purchase a 360. I typically prefer the single player experience of games, so I’m usually playing through some single-player campaign, but can occasionally be found doing some damage in Halo Reach.