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Developer: Black Neko
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.1.3
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Battle Frontier: The Adventures of Arthur is one of those games that really can’t be accurately understood without a long-winded explanation, a video or just simply playing it. It looks interesting, sure. It also has a slew of positive user reviews. But while the screen shots do show gameplay they still don’t give much of an idea about what the experience is like. That’s what I hope to do here, along with justifying all those glowing App Store scores.

The story takes a back seat to everything else, but it does mention that Arthur is looking for the Holy Grail. And that his search takes him across all manner of varied realms. The game itself is much harder to summarize. It’s kind of like a turn-based strategy game, but it’s also like a “runner” if it were played one step at a time. It also has light RPG elements. It even includes an almost chess-like system of incorporating special units with their own set of skills into the formation. And units can be swapped-out for new ones, hired on the spot on the battlefield, at any time.

The actual gameplay is fairly straight-forward, no pun intended. Players can select individual units, a handful of specific ones or even the entire group and move them around the screen. Once everyone is in place they have to march forward toward the end of the level, hopefully besting every critter that gets in their way. Proper formation management is essential here. Stuff like putting archers behind the fighters and so on. Sometimes it’s also necessary to shuffle the group around individually for maximum damage or defense, usually when facing off against a boss monster.

Combat is automatic, and units will attack and heal without instruction each turn (i.e. step). Defeated monsters yield experience as well as coins that can be used to resurrect fallen comrades. When a unit has gained enough levels, they’ll attain a new class and possibly learn a new useful skill such as gaining a dexterity boost when similar characters are in the group or the ability to attack from a longer range. The player, group (20 mercenaries, max) and individual units’ progress are always moving forward. It’s so simple and yet incredibly hard to pull away from.

I’m not entirely sure if I’ve managed to properly explain Battle Frontier: The Adventures of Arthur properly, but I’ve done my best. Just know this: even if what I’ve said still leads to a bit of head-scratching, the simple truth of the matter is that this is a compulsively entertaining game. It’s full of Pokemon-esque mercenaries to battle, hire and train. With a ton of extra levels and characters planned for future updates, I think it would be silly to pass this one up.

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