148Apps Network Post
Developer: TBS
Price: FREE
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Oddly enough, the file size for Bonzai Blade is what captured the bulk of my attention. I mean it’s pretty darn big (108 MB), especially considering that it’s “just” a finger-slicing game. But all that space has a purpose, and I’d be lying if I said that the unexpected storage occupancy wasn’t worth it.

Demons are beginning to infest the Earth (again), and its salvation is in the hands of a lone warrior (again). In this case it’s a ninja who goes around chopping up Oni. Onis. Whatever the plural form is. As the little sword-slinger rushes through a given area demons of various sorts will pop up and require dispatching. Some need swipes, others need multiple swipes, and those obnoxious dragons can only be hurt by deflecting their fireballs back at them. The real test of a player’s ability comes by way of reaction time and technique, as the baddies need to be gotten rid of before they can do any damage. At the same time they also tend to appear in patterns and will grant multipliers if several are taken out with a single well-placed slash.

Bonzai Blade keeps the action from getting stale by including various missions that can be completed in-game. These can include a number of different goals, such as buying that first sword in the shop, and will earn extra blossoms on top of whatever’s acquired via taking out enemies. Blossoms can be exchanged in the shop for new weapons, armors, items, and upgrades that can all have a significant impact on all that running and slashing. Oh, and all that memory usage becomes apparent fairly quickly thanks to a surprisingly polished pairing of visuals and presentation. It’s probably not going to blow many minds, but it’s a lot more fancy than the average finger-slashing iOS title.

It’s a shame, then, to see so much repeating scenery. I imagine it’s meant to curb even more storage use, and in truth it’s more likely that people will be watching the action over the background, but having to watch the little hero leap across the same broken bridge several times in a row after each shrine is cleared of Oni is rather disappointing. Hitting enemies can sometimes be a bit problematic as well. The Oni have a tendency to move slightly before they attack which makes properly connecting with a horizontal attack difficult at times. By the same token, those multiple fireball-spitting dragons often “hide” a flame burst behind another and usually results in getting hit unexpectedly.

While it might look like more of the same at first glance, Bonzai Blade is still very much worth a second (even third) look. It’s familiar, yes, but it does plenty of things differently – better, even – while still utilizing the expected elements that have made the genre so popular in the first place.

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