War is an unrelenting gauntlet of hell, I think, watching a band of heavily armored rainbow ponies spill over a grassy field. Bursts of mortar fire end their horror-trotting advance, but the opposing men can't replenish the ammo quickly enough to stop what's next.
A shadow crawls over the European countryside, darkening the prospects of all who look up to see a great, looming doom. It's a castle floating on a cloud, primed to end the war with a devastating slash adorable glitter-nuke.
The diorama of battle has taken a more playful hue in Toy Soldiers: War Chest, which sees developer Signal Studios returning to miniature battlegrounds and an effortless mix of strategic tower-defense and shooting. Toy Soldiers: War Chest, coming to PlayStation 4, PC and Xbox One stores in early 2015, expands the war between diminutive soldiers on a tabletop to include four factions, including Starbright's rainbow-colored army of cute bears, rotund rolling cats and ponies.
Each of the game's toy factions – two of which are still being kept under wraps – is hinged on a leading hero. For the army men, World War 1 hero Kaiser Wilhelm returns to oversee the battle, though players can summon him and shoot things on foot (and in the foot, depending on your aim). As enemy waves flood the environment, players have to build different kinds of turrets, upgrade them with the funds coming in from kills, and manually fire down the sights if the situation needs some human influence. A sound strategy will protect your toy box from incoming infantry, armored vehicles and the new super-boss units, like Starbright's floating cloud fortress.
Starbright shatters the dour war aesthetic of previous Toy Soldiers games with fairy wings and a gun that shoots deadly, uh, bubbles. Her tower defense basics are similar to Kaiser's army, bolstered with goofy turrets that lob golf balls and fire moonbeam lasers at incoming waves. Starbright also has a unique battleground to defend: an idyllic playground with paintbrush bridges, compared to Kaiser's European meadow.
Signal Studios, now working with Ubisoft as publisher, plans to reveal the other playable factions and environments in Toy Soldiers: War Chest at a later date. If you can handle armored rainbow ponies, you can probably handle whatever else the team scoops up from the messy playroom floor.