App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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I’ve honestly never given much thought about what Super Mario Bros. might be like if the titular brothers carried swords, but someone over at Monster Robot Studios (dynamite icon, by the way) must have. Because that’s probably the best way to sum up HEAVY - sword: as an earlier Mario game with a sword. It might be tough to know how to interpret that but rest assured I mean it as a compliment.
A horde of monsters raid a castle, kidnap a princess, and a lone hero sets out to rescue her. Because apparently there are only like two or three people in the whole kingdom or something. Regardless, what unfolds is an adventure not unlike the stereotypical plumber’s romp through the Mushroom Kingdom. A few simple virtual buttons control movement, attacking, and jumping. The complexity is more in the levels and power-ups. The former works much like a typical platformer with plenty of blocks to leap from, coins to grab, enemies to jump on or slice to bits, and special “princess coins” to collect that act as each stage’s three-star rating system. The latter function oddly like most power-ups found in many SHMUPs in that they’re tiered; the more the player collects, the more powerful they get. Get hit and the effects are knocked back a spot.
HEAVY - sword is a good-looking game with plenty of quirky sprites and detailed backgrounds. However it’s the exploratory nature of the levels and the ability to acquire an unnaturally gigantic sword that steal the show. Much like the platformer I keep comparing it to, success depends on skill rather than being armed to the teeth. Wielding a sword that’s five times the size of the main character certainly helps, but it’s not an absolute necessity. Of course that’s no reason to avoid scavenging every corner of each stage in order to find one.
Unfortunately HEAVY - sword isn’t immune to a couple of significant platformer foibles. First, the jump height is fixed and super floaty. A light tap or a hold doesn’t matter, the character jumps the same either way: ridiculously high and slow. Second, the movement buttons don’t support thumb sliding. In other words, if I’m moving right and slide my thumb left to adjust my direction the character will continue to move right until I release the screen. It’s a shame to see such simple yet common and irritating mistakes in a game that’s otherwise quite charming and fun.
Being an iOS game means that HEAVY - sword may very well see a few updates that address things like awkwardly overlapping text boxes in the shop, jumping problems, or movement controls. However it’s not a guarantee. Still, despite its problems I still had a lot of fun bouncing all over the place and slaying dozens of monsters with a single swipe of my city-sized sabre.