The arena platformer, as good as it can be, has not seen as much prominence as it actually deserves. There have been some good ones in the App Store, but one has still yet to hold dominance over the genre. Perhaps this one will actually make it, a game called Spellsword by Everplay Interactive.1
Spellsword is a game that has both platformer and RPG qualities, making it suitable for mobile gaming. The visuals are quite pretty with colorful and detailed sprite-based pixel art, as well as various effects that stand out without being overpowering. This style has worked well for a lot of RPGs, especially those made for 16-bit consoles, and this proves that it still works to this day.
The gameplay system features a lot of things that most fans desire in an RPG. The combat system is such that you’d want to keep picking up spell cards to help with taking out everything in your path. You can upgrade your chosen spells later on as you like, so you can have your own character build to suit your intentions and style of play. Most of your attacks are melee based though, so having a few spells to back you up when fighting at a distance can be quite helpful.
While other arena platformers would just keep score to track your progress but do not much else to reward you for playing well, Spellsword gives you missions to accomplish so you can be driven and play the game more to finish tasks. These winning conditions may not seem much at first, but they add quite a lot to the gameplay experience and replay value.
The controls aren’t that bad either, considering how touch controls tend to be subpar for platformers. If you’re not one for the conventional touch controls, you can make use of the iCade, which is an accessory that turns your iPad into a mini arcade cabinet. The good thing with Spellsword is that it supports the iCade, so you don’t really need to complain about bad controls if you do have one. While the support isn’t as seamless as it should, it’s still a good thing to have nonetheless.
Since you can’t reset your character, you better make sure that whatever you spend on is really what you want. Sadly though, this is one of those games where items can make up for skills, so players who grind more will get out of it. This is actually a bad thing for RPGs since it rewards mindless grinding and less cerebral character planning. Time spent on playing is not the only factor that makes a game good.
As an arena platformer, Spellsword does bring one or two new things to the table, which is more than what most games can boast nowadays. Everplay Interactive has done well with this effort, turning out a well balanced game with solid mechanics and nice visuals. If you’re a fan of this genre, or even if you just like old school RPGs, then you should give this title a try.
Tested in iOS. Final Score: 7.5/10