Sunday, August 30, 2015

Wind-up Knight 2 (Wii U eShop) Review

An elusive Sunday evening review has been spotted at SuperPhillip Central! This game is a port of a mobile title. It's Wind-up Knight 2, and if you're into temple runner-like games, then get ready to get Medieval on this one! Here's my review.

This knight has might!

For the mobile gaming illiterate, Wind-up Knight 2 originally released on smartphone devices, offering accessible gameplay that suited the touch controls of the hardware just fine. Now, this mobile game has made the move to the Wii U, granting players much more reliable analog controls, off TV play, and the same humor and polish that made the original release on mobile so celebrated. Developer Robot Invader did not just push out an non-optimized, uninspired, unimaginative port onto the Wii U. Instead, it's a fantastic game that should be played by anyone looking for an engaging auto-runner.

In this auto-runner, you have the ability to jump, wall jump, slash your sword, raise your shield to counter falling debris and shots from catapults, and roll along your way through each of the game's 30+ uniquely designed levels. The caveat is that your knight has a gauge on the top left corner of the screen that constantly depletes. If it empties, the knight explodes, resulting in you either restarting the level or beginning from the last checkpoint. Thankfully, you can collect wind-up keys that replenishes lost energy from the gauge.

Every knight's journey starts with one jump.
Each level has four goals to complete to earn crests. Having enough crests means you can open later levels. However, only about a third of the side quests need to be completed to see the ending level of the game. The initial goal of each level is to simply complete it. Here, you can try to go for an "S" ranking by collecting all of the coins in a given level as well as finding a usually well hidden gnome hat. Thankfully, retrying levels from a checkpoint or dying do not ruin your chance of getting an "S" rank. Getting all "S" ranks in the game unlocks a brutal difficulty called Nightmare Mode.

As usual with any beanstalk, I certainly hope there's no giant at the top.
Once a level has been initially completed, three side goals open up. These range from getting through the level without defeating any enemies, avoiding deadly purple coins, and collecting all of the diamonds to dodging acid rain, capturing faeries with your net, and rolling into assorted pins to earn strikes like you were the best Medieval bowler ever born. These side missions are enjoyable to play, as they make you tackle the levels in ways different from how you normally complete them.

Being chased by a giant boulder?
Who do I look like-- Indiana Jones!?
Levels constantly throw new surprises at you, such as ceilings that drop barrels, requiring you to raise your shield to block their run-ruining advances, spikes, trap doors, grass that slows your knight's movements to almost a crawl, ice that is slippery and speeds up movement, mushrooms that bounce your knight high into the air, and switches that open doors. While new surprises are great, sometimes these can feel a bit cheap, as there are some sudden deaths that occur which anyone except someone with perfectly proficient timing wouldn't be able to avoid. However, there are so many checkpoints that most of the time the-- for lack of a better term-- "cheap deaths" don't punish the player too much. 

Heads up, Wind-Up Knight!
There is some honor as a knight for not dying or requiring a checkpoint in a given level. There are also some nice rewards for doing so, outside of particular achievements. You earn coins for completing levels, getting "S' ranks, and other skilled honors. These coins can be spent on new armor combinations for your knight, granting such benefits as making you a coin magnet, being able to get hit one time without dying, and a slew of other bonuses. It's not just for your benefit either, as you can deck out your knight in some truly fashionable duds.

I'm too sexy for my armor. So sexy it hurts!
Each level introduces tips and tricks in the form of a Medieval Twitter-like interface, as well as humorous quips and comments from various users like the oblivious king, the strong-willed princess, and the hamster-loving black knight. These are written so well, and you can tell that like a lot of other aspects of the game, a lot of love was put into these "tweets."

I'm RTing this for Danzig.
Wind-up Knight 2 performs rather admirably in the presentation department, too. Although the visuals are a little bland and sterile, the backgrounds and environments have a fair amount of detail to them, which is quite impressive. The frame-rate of the game stutters a bit at the start of levels, but otherwise it isn't a problem. On the audio front, the music is suitably Medieval, using Renaissance era instruments to great effect. However, I did encounter an audio glitch once during my play-through where an endless grinding noise played over everything, forcing me to exit out of the game to the Wii U home menu and enter back into the game. Fortunately, as stated, this only happened once in my six hours of playing.

A mobile game arriving to a home console could have been an unmitigated disaster, but Robot Invader definitely did a wonderful job bringing Wind-up Knight 2 over to the Wii U. With a wide array of challenging levels, plenty of side missions to stab one's sword into, a surplus of unique armor choices, and a mode where players can compete for the best score via Tournament Mode, Wind-up Knight 2 shows that this knight indeed has might.

[SPC Says: A-]

Review copy provided by Unity Games.

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