Developer: Dead Mage Games and Crescent Moon Games
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad Mini Retina

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

The trial platformer, akin to Super Meat Boy on PC or League of Evil on mobile, is a genre that often requires patience and precision. Thanks in large part to its touchscreen-friendly controls, Shadow Blade rocks the house.

ShadowBlade-3Players control a ninja who must get past enemies and traps; pulling off acrobatic jumps and deadly attacks to fell those who would dare stop this shadowy warrior. The ninja can double-jump, dash in the air, execute stealth kills from behind enemies or in the air, and just slice the opposition until they’re no longer a threat.

The controls for Shadow Blade work quite well. There’s a virtual button scheme that works well, but the gesture-based controls are a bit more fun to use. They’re a bit sloppier, but they feel more natural to the game and make doing maneuvers like air dashes more fun. Plus the game is forgiving of sloppiness, so it’s really not a big problem. Also, in a nice touch, dying before hitting a checkpoint resets the timer. I am annoyed when games don’t do that and force me to hit restart for no good reason whatsoever. The animation is incredibly fluid, and the game is incredibly colorful – it’s a quite stylish game to behold in motion.

ShadowBlade-7Getting three stars is hard. Collecting all the orbs and the two secret icons isn’t usually so tough; it’s doing that and beating the level in under a minute to get that third star. Oh, and it’s not possible to get the stars separately so good luck with getting all three. Seriously, at a certain point I just got to be happy with two stars. The game’s got about 40 levels so it’s not overly-long, but there’s certainly the possibility for updates, and really, the game has just enough content as it is. I had a hard time putting this one down.

Really, Shadow Blade surprised me to be one of my favorite trial platformers of recent vintage. It’s got style, solid controls, and plenty of fun factor to make it extremely satisfying.

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