Swashbuckler Review

Our Review by Jordan Minor on November 27th, 2012
Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: STRANGER TIDES
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This new platformer from the mind of the mind of Paul Frank checks all the boxes but without much creativity.

Developer: Paw Print Games
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 0.15
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Controls Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Playtime Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar

In theory, Swashbuckler is great. Like Mirror's Edge, it combines the simple, mobile-friendly controls of an infinite runner with the complex, layered level design of a full-fledged platformer. Add in a couple of minigames along with the artwork of cartoonist Paul Frank and it sounds like a real winner. In reality though, Swashbuckler’s execution of these great ideas can only be described as passable.

Players take control of Julius, the iconic Paul Frank monkey, as he travels across different worlds trying to save his girlfriend. To do so, he will make use of the many moves at his disposal and this is where problems start to arise. In addition to running and jumping, Julius can walk, stop, slide, jump at different angles, change directions in midair and even glide across chasms using his pirate hat. However, these are all activated using a handful of the same touch gestures. The game moves at a fairly slow rate so players rarely die because their inputs were misread but the muddled controls drag down the experience just the same.

Also dragging down the experience is how weirdly generic everything seems. Levels are fairly long and have a decent amount of things going on in them like tons of collectibles and Donkey Kong style barrel blasting sequences but somehow they still feel uninteresting. Meanwhile, Paul Frank's cheery pastel artwork only works well for the characters themselves, not the environments. The music too is happy and pleasant enough but not very memorable.

Fortunately, the game packs in a surprising amount of free content. In addition to the five worlds made up of several levels each, the game features two minigames. Pufak's Dash is a standard infinite runner where players try to cover as much ground as possible. Clancy's Emerald Frenzy however is a bizarre little puzzle game where players deliver colored emeralds to the proper spots in a very Mario Bros. style map. They are both ultimately distractions but surprisingly robust ones especially when compared to the relative simplicity of the main game itself.

Swashbuckler is a technically solid game that lacks a creative spark. It isn't bad. In fact it's not even mediocre. However, it isn't quite good enough to whole heartedly recommend.

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