Bad Breaking

Wreckateer embraces the joy of demolition but little else.

By Drew Toal • July 26, 2012

In Minecraft, players are tasked with building structures using pixilated resources. The Minecraft landscape has seen a large number of awe-inspiring virtual construction projects since its release, including startlingly accurate recreations of Game Of Thrones’ Westeros, the starship Enterprise, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.

As a spiritual counterweight to Minecraft comes Wreckateer. Also available on Xbox Live Arcade, Wreckateer puts your avatar under the tutelage of a bald Scottish ruffian named Wreck Wreckington. He’s going to teach you the ropes of wrecking—firing an array of ballista ammunition at goblin strongholds that infest the kingdom. Using the Kinect motion sensor, you load up the shot, aim, pull back, and let fly the wrecking dogs of war, scoring points based on how much destruction you manage to inflict.


Wreckateer pretty brazenly trades on the rubble-strewn path blazed by Angry Birds. Instead of launching disgruntled fowl, you’ll be firing everything from heavy rocks to the feared flying shot—a steerable missile that resembles the German V-1 flying bomb in appearance and destructive power—into goblin-filled castles. The foes are helpless against your relentless onslaught. They seem content to just kind of hop around and explode when you hit them with the heavy artillery.

There isn’t a lot of time to sit and ponder the morality of burying a helpless, non-aggressive enemy under tons of rock and debris. The laws of manifest destiny are clear. Hopefully, they’ve had time to make peace with their slavering goblin gods. Wreckateer is strictly Kinect operated, which means you have to mime out firing the giant crossbow and use your hands to steer, and in some cases activate, the shots. Fortunately, wrecking isn’t a precise art, so the Kinect’s spotty control issues don’t greatly impede gameplay. The main issue is one of space—to pull back far enough to get maximum power, I was squatting on the back of my couch.


No one is going to sit and argue that demolishing buildings is an art requiring a finely honed skill set, but the learning curve for Wreckateer is flat as a castle after a good wrecking. Your score for each level falls into bronze, silver, or gold range, and you get an optional “mulligan”—a redo—as a reward for smashing the goblins who man the parapets. Advancing to the next castle generally requires at least a bronze, but a blind wreckateer with muffins for hands could still do a fair job of making these medieval estates resemble Berlin circa 1945. To not get at least a bronze medal’s worth of points, you pretty much have to miss the castle deliberately, bringing shame to the prestigious Wreck Wreckington School Of Wrecking Stuff Good.

The Kinect allows you to manipulate airborne shots for greater destructive power, but—flying buzz bomb shot aside—this feature is about as useful as steering a cream pie two feet from someone’s face. My problem isn’t so much that it defies the laws of physics, more that it’s just not necessary, fun, or conducive to bringing down the house. Destroying someone else’s property is as cheaply thrilling as ever, but the rather extreme levels of repetition and easy mastery ensure a quick end to whatever intrinsic pleasure Wreckateer has to offer.

Developer: Iron Galaxy Studios
Publisher: Microsoft
Platform: Xbox 360 (Kinect accessory required)
Price: $10
Rating: E10+

Share this with your friends and enemies

Write a scintillating comment

290 Responses to “Bad Breaking”

  1. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    As far as difficulty is concerned, it should be noted that this game was originally devised as a rehabilitation tool for the “Olly Wheatgerm Convalescent Home for the Sightless and Pastry-Handed”, but proved popular enough for broad release.

  2. George_Liquor says:

    Dammit Disqus, quit eating my comments! I was trying to say the most interesting Minecraft construct I’ve seen is a fully functional 8-bit CPU, complete with RAM.

  3. HobbesMkii says:

    Because what I’ve really always wanted from those Castle-smashing games that are all over the Internet (and have been for ages prior to Angry Birds) is to control it by gesticulating around in front of my TV screen like an idiot.

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      So, this or Steel Battalion? I kid, I kid. But I’m damned tired of feeling as if the Kinect is nothing more than an expensive Beta test (which it is), as developers learn how to actually make games that utilize it fairly, and the engineers figure out how to make the Kinect better at recognizing the subtlety of what you’re actually doing. Never mind the fact that my apartment is so small, I’m always pressed against the wall in order for it even SEE me . . . I hope they work on fixing THAT real soon. I’m all for new forms of control . . . but the emphasis has to BE on the control. 

  4. caspiancomic says:

    So how does one go about getting muffins for hands? I… have a friend.

  5. Effigy_Power says:

    Wasn’t there a somewhat popular line of castle smashing games in the earlier days of PC games? I remember something vaguely… with players hiding siege engines behind walls and firing at each other.
    Well, whatever that was, this just sounds like a really short joy, if any at all is to be had.

    • HobbesMkii says:

      There were there ones where you took turns firing at each other’s stationary cannons/catapults/whatever by entering in input data (velocity, angle of attack, etc). Funnily enough, “calculate a firing solution using trial and error” doesn’t seem to stand up to today’s gamers’ standards of fun, so those seem to have died off except in for the basic sketch lingering on in the DNA of games like Worms. I’m not sure if that’s what you mean, though.

      • Merve says:

        They should make a Kinect version of Worms. Could you imagine trying to control a Super Sheep with your arms? It would be hilarious.

        • Aaron Riccio says:

          This will be followed by Kinect Lemmings. Although I feel as if Pikmin 3 is already satisfying all of these goals, no? And the Wii U potentially has the ability to give you the fine control you’ll need to do more than just walk off cliffs.

    • George_Liquor says:

       There was Rampart, a game where you built castle walls and fought off an invading fleet of ships. After each match, you used Tetris blocks to rebuild your castle walls before the timer ran out.

      • Aaron Riccio says:

        And my mind flashed immediately to Rampage, a game in which you just climb skyscrapers and wreck the shit out of them, without all the needless “flinging” mechanics. Just get right in there and do the nittygritty yourself. Always more satisfying.

        • X_the_Anonymous_Man_or_Woman says:

           I’d love a nice uber up to date Rampage where you run around whole cities wiping them out.

          Or a good King of the Monsters with the city destruction of old japanese monster movies.

      • Fixda Fernback says:

        Cannot like this comment enough. Still one of my favorite games for just sitting around with a few buddies and going crazy in the game. Three-player matches could get seriously intense… it’s such a great game for drinking or just sitting around smoking, too. Shit… now I have to find my copy.

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      There’s a whole slew of them that were on Kongregate. I think they predated Angry Birds, and they were moderately entertaining, but I guess the moral is that if you’re crushed one castle, you’ve crushed them all. And I’ve got no real interest in flinging the same shit over and over again. 

      Unless it’s a Monty Python mod, and I get to fling shit, elderberries, cows, and Trojan Horses at attacking knights. 

  6. The only thing i like about this game is the hot chick at Microsoft’s E3 conference giving a horrible preview of the game.

    • HobbesMkii says:

       About 15 seconds into that video, her forced delivery really gets to me and she becomes the worst part of it. Your comment seems to align with the top voted YouTube comment, though.

      • Merve says:

        Breasts are almost always the subject of the top-rated comment on a YouTube video. It’s pretty disheartening to realize that half the comments on an average episode of the Dtoid show are about Tara Long’s chest.

        • Fixda Fernback says:

          Haha, I actually had a top-rated comment for the longest time on a YouTube video for LCD Soundsystem’s “Dance Yrslf Clean”… it had like close to 2 million views, so I felt pretty badass. And it was, thankfully, not breast related!! 

          I think YouTube has a time limit for top comments, because I had around 150 or more likes I think, and when it went away finally the top comments only had like, 50ish? It was just a goofy off-the-cuff comment, too, about being careful on account of spontaneous dancing at the break down at 3 minutes into the song. And I barely ever comment on that site, so it was pretty random.Now if only I could get that damned Comment Cat to recognize my greatness…

      • doyourealize says:

        I was embarrassed for her and stopped watching. She must have drawn the short straw for that preview.