Games on mobile platforms have been slowly improving over the past few years. Today, instead of playing games like Jewels, we can run characters through immersive 3D worlds.
One game has caught my attention with its high definition graphics and an interesting theme: Wind-Up Knight. Read on for the full review.
The Game’s Design
To be honest the controls let this game down quite badly – not a great first impression. The positioning of the icons you tap to make Wind-Up Knight use abilities are either too close together. They also look quite similar when you only have a fraction of a second to check them. The jump and attack buttons in the bottom corners are especially easy to get confused when you are trying to change moves quickly. If the designers gave these different colours, that would help immensely.
I also found that the buttons were sometimes unresponsive or laggy, causing me to die one way or another – although this may have been because I pressed the buttons right at the point my phone slowed down (explained next).
The attack and jump keys are easily confused, even on the first few levels when other abilities haven't been unlocked yet.
The overall appearance of Wind-Up Knight is that of High Definition cartoons. Everything from the texture style to the way Wind-Up Knight runs reminds me of cartoons. The graphical requirements of this game are quite high – so high that the Android Market page recommends using Tablet devices to get the best results. I get a tiny fraction of jerkiness on my Desire HD, nothing too much and certainly not worth worrying about. However less powerful devices may not fare so well. The Market page recommends nothing less graphically able than a Nexus One.
The gameplay makes me think of a Mario-Sonic hybrid. The Mario feel comes from having to jump around, and the Sonic feel comes from having to get your timing right to catch gold rings. However everything moves much more slowly than either game, since you need good time to plan your moves (although you can buy items to increase your speed). This simple gameplay style is rather addictive, and apart from when I get frustrated by being unable to complete a level, I find this a difficult game to put down.
Though I said this game makes me think of a Mario-Sonic hybrid, your character has a few more abilities than in the classic 8- and 16-bit games. You can roll, double jump, slide down walls, amongst many others. Something I especially liked was wall-to-wall jumping. In some of the later levels you have to quickly flick between walls to climb up onto the next plateau.
The challenge of the game lies in anticipating and calculating when to roll instead of jump; get it wrong and you have to restart the level!
Here Wind-Up Knight is sliding down a wall, if he doesn't jump quickly he will hit the spikes.
Over 50 levels are available for you to play through, each one progressively harder than the last. There are many varieties of obstacles too, which helps to keep the game feeling new and interesting. In one level you have to deal with chickens and spikes, and then it is fire and chasms, or ogres and trapdoors.
If you are ‘Mega-Hardcore’ as the Android Market page challenges you to be, then you can unlock all the levels in this game for free over time, simply by earning more and more in-game credits by playing. However if you prefer to let go of a few dollars to unlock all the levels automatically, that option’s also available.
Unfortunately if you have multiple devices you cannot transfer your unlock rights between devices.
One of the annoying factors in this game is its checkpoint system – or rather its lack thereof. The levels are quite long, especially when considering how many jumps and sword-swipes you have to perform to complete them. If you make one wrong move then, regardless of progress, you have to restart that level. I don’t find this challenging but instead rather frustrating. A checkpoint halfway through each level would be very welcome.
There are many variations of scenery in this game. Here is a level set in the countryside.
As I just mentioned, you earn in-game money by playing the game well and destroying your enemies. This money can be exchanged for items that boost Wind-Up Knight’s abilities. Such perks include fire-resistance, speed boosts, falling-object-protection, and armour that gives extra lives.
I think this gives the game a nice feeling of progression, in that as well as unlocking levels, you are earning ‘money’ to buy yourself upgrades to become more powerful and resistive.
This is the in-game store where you buy all these upgrades
Overall Wind-Up Knight is pretty fun and, as always, free games are all the more appetizing. If you fancy playing a highly detailed side-scrolling action game, then you’ve found it here.
For the Appstorm rating I think Wind-Up Knight deserves 8/10. It is fun, engaging, and has an attractive cartoon style, which altogether keeps you occupied when you need to be – the true purpose of any Smartphone game. The two marks lost are caused by all the aforementioned problems. Don’t be discouraged by them though, give this game a try yourself!
To answer my own opening question, the graphics and gameplay do help make a good game, but they are only a small contributing factor overall. The real enjoyment from games like this one are from the feeling of progression and achievement, as has always been the case.