App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Wonder Blade is a beat em’ up with a clear source of inspiration. If you played any amount of Castle Crashers back when it released on the Xbox 360 in 2008, Wonder Blade feels extremely familiar. It sports the same sense of charm and smooth animation, but has some peculiarities of its own that keep it from being a must-play.
Flashy first impression
The first thing you’ll notice about Wonder Blade when you boot it up is that it’s a real looker. It’s got a bold and charming cartoony visual style that animates really smoothly. This smoothness transfers into Wonder Blade’s overall feel, which gives the impression of a beat em’ up that really gives you tight control over the whole thing.
As far as what you do while observing these nice visuals and flowy combat, it’s all pretty standard beat em’ up stuff. Your hero enters a scene full of baddies, you use a variety of simple attacks to defeat them, and you move onto the next screen. Between levels, you can upgrade your hero and unlock new costumes, but this doesn’t really change things up too much.
The only thing special about Wonder Blade’s take on the beat em’ up genre is just how closely it resembles Castle Crashers. Aside from having a similarly strong aesthetic, Wonder Blade goes as far to have multiple level designs that are lifted straight from Castle Crashers that play almost exactly like they do in the original game.
To be fair to the developers of Wonder Blade, they’ve chosen wisely. Castle Crashers is a fantastic game that never got ported to iOS, so having a game that so closely imitates it closely on mobile is kind of great. The only shame here is that Wonder Blade might not feel like the most original experience out there.
By aping Castle Crashers, Wonder Blade is able to make a great first impression when you first fire it up, but the game’s shine wears thin the further into it you get. At first, these appear to only be the same problems with most beat em’ ups (difficult to judge character depths, repetitive combat, etc.), but there are some issues exclusive to Wonder Blade that hamstring it even further.
Most of these problems are tied to Wonder Blade’s combat system. Although this system feels remarkably fluid and responsive at first, digging deeper into it reveals it’s a weird, imprecise mess. If you’re just a casual button masher, you might not notice these problems—like how some special moves activate even when you’re just pressing the basic attack button—but if you’re looking for a game that gives you any sort of deep or satisfying combat system, things like this will stand out like a sore thumb.
The bottom line
Wonder Blade’s initial stages make such a splash that it’s easy to just sit back and enjoy the spectacle. There’s charming art everywhere, level design that imitates one of the finest beat em’ ups there ever was, and combat that looks really neat and satisfying. The only real problem here is that the game itself doesn’t give you complete control over its combat, which could make it unsatisfying if you are looking for something with a little more depth.