Developer: Hudson Soft
Price: $9.99
Version Reviewed: 1.2.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

After thoroughly enjoying the fantastic game, The War of Eustrath, I was excited to get my hands on another strategy game. I tried my best to wash away any expectations that I may have had with the genre, but with the $9.99 price tag sitting on Knights of the Phantom Castle, I was definitely expecting something epic.

Instead, I got a game that feels a bit clunky. It’s a game that definitely reminds me of some of the long and arduous games that haunted my NES playing childhood, and not in a good way.

Knights of the Phantom Castle (KPC) plays a lot like an RTS, but with clunky game mechanics and some strange controls. Each level starts you with a selection of a certain amount of units, picked by yourself, to complete the level ahead. Once you equip your troops with various treasures that you receive throughout the game, you go into the game itself.

Most of the levels boil down to killing all the enemies on the screen. Some levels have other quests, but they also tend to boil down to killing everything on the screen. Just forget what the game tells you and then kill everything on the screen; you’ll be much happier that way.

Each troop has a main combat move, a tap move, a hold move, and a drag move (each move is performed by the synonymous action). Tap moves and hold moves are easy enough to perform, but the rest is a bit of a crap shoot. The problem with the game is that moving requires you to touch and drag, and so does the normal attack, and the drag attack. The moving and attacking mechanism works well enough (although it gets tricky with ranged attackers), but the drag attack takes 4-5 tries to actually be performed. Sometimes you will accidentally perform a drag attack on accident and you’ll hurt your own units. It’s really a pain.

My biggest problem with the game is the lack of a real story. While other games in the genre try to grip you with their characters, KPC provides a weak story and a handful of nameless soldiers. Sure, the game goes on forever and a day, but never do you really get attached to anything enough to play on. Your continued gameplay hinges only on your love for the combat system, and let me tell you, it won’t hold you for long.

If you do like the combat system though, and you are impressed by the admittedly high difficulty, you may really enjoy KPC. There was definitely some work put into the game, but its control system and lack of gripping characters leaves me wanting more.

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