There’s something special that occurs when you have a good idea, the creative juices start flowing and everything seems to fall into place. Tenkai Knights: Brave Battle, a videogame based on a Japanese TV show about fighting Lego-like robots brought to the 3DS started off as a good idea.
However, there’s a lot that goes into an idea, and more importantly, a lot goes into the execution and the creators of Brave Battle probably should have studied that process a wee bit more before asking for the fans’ money.
The concept behind the game is rather over-the-top and thrown together; four male teenagers can connect with a planet that has massive robots and while it’s not explained why they need these specific teenagers, the boys are recruited to help the Knights defeat the general all-assuming “bad guys.” Instead of having these teenagers fight the enemy themselves they are instead able to simply control them with their minds. Just go with it.
I wish I could tell you more about the story but it’s so unnecessarily drawn-out and full of itself there’s no need to rehash the nonsense. Rest assured, the game goes through so many cut-scenes that really has nothing to do with the game and massive amounts of texts that the plot madness becomes never-ending. Once I actually started playing, I soon discovered the first problem with gameplay is just like the massive amounts of text; it talks a lot but doesn’t have anything important to say.
Despite being a 2D game, Brave Battle is visually beautiful and the fact that it’s on a tiny 3DS screen takes some of its beauty away because I wanted to soak in its entire graphics. It’s truly a bright and cheerful looking game with colors from all over the spectrum.
From the beginning Brave Battle dives right into the action with absolutely no instructions on how to play the game, which controls do what, or just basic game function knowledge. Basically I learned as I played but this was not a fun task. I often found myself just mashing random buttons until I got the results I wanted. Some might appreciate this while others like me found this to be a turnoff.
The task is simple: kill every robot in sight, nothing more and nothing less. The second this is accomplished tiny blocks and weapons are magically rewarded, however just like the instructions there is absolutely no reason given as to why specific prizes are given and how they would factor into the game.
Maybe a robot hoarder was in a giving mood or forced to throw out their colorful blocks in fear of being evicted from their robot home. It isn’t until much later it’s revealed these random items are needed for building and upgrading the robot’s parts (transformers anyone).
One of the upsides to a game being this simple is that it’s very short. The maps are rather small and the enemies can be frustrating but are rather low in quantity compared to what I expected. This is a children’s game after all and perfect for those easily bored. Despite the small amount of enemies, they are still annoying for they possess the lovely gift of respawning, which adds to the gameplay length rather haphazardly. This backfires terribly, since I had to do the same moves continuously.
…Thus begins the downfall of the game.
There’s something rather disrespectful about repetition — what started out as a good idea is just that, one good idea. The controls meanwhile, while not unplayable, are rather clunky. Fighting and moving are easier to master but there’s no finesse to anything. Add this to the fact that it’s impossible to move while jumping or running in the air and onto a platform, something that would come in pretty handy when random respawning gun-toting robots were after me.
This factor takes away from the overall experience of the game; while there’s technically nothing wrong with the controls, trying to compensate for the lack of basic actions causes gameplay to be slowed down and mashing random buttons becomes the unwanted yet familiar friend.
During some moments there are small glimpses of fun buried underneath the monotony. The Tenkai Energy allows for “special” moves which are sadly the same moves but delivers a more powerful blow. Of course this isn’t explained in the game, so it’s somewhat a surprise when I discovered this.
There are some special symbols that are spread through the levels that help during battle. Once again, nothing is explained so trying to figure out which item does what will take some time. These are often rather disappointing for they don’t cause much damage and trying to use the item instead of just doing the same sad moves can become rather tiresome.
A pleasant surprise comes in the form of “Titan Mode,” which results in the robots becoming bigger during battle. Remember how I explained how great the graphics are? This is where the graphics shine. However, like everything else in this game, what starts out as a good idea fails to be executed properly, so the gameplay and simple fighting remain the same. The mode is harder, though, and my thumbs were given a proper workout. It’s just a shame that there wasn’t any variety to my attack set, once again a wasted opportunity.
There’s also a depressing multiplayer mode that’s full of laziness. This mode is the exact same as single player mode, as there are no combos to learn, just simple fighting and jumping. This mode purely exists for friends to battle each other in a battle royal in a game of “Who Can Mash the Same Button Faster.” It lacks importance, any well thought out idea and it doesn’t add to the overall game, but if bonding with friends poorly is your thing then you might get a small amount of enjoyment from this mode.
Tenkai Knights: Brave Battle is a game that showed promise but somehow was released while it was still in the first draft stages. It’s not a bad game; it’s just extremely underwhelming, shows no variety and features lazy combat, poor mechanics, a pointless plot, and the even confusing cut-scenes that adds nothing. It’s like a bad dream that forced me to relive it over and over again. Even a child would grow bored of this and what’s sad is that it doesn’t feel like it lasts longer than an hour.
But the game does has one thing going for it: at the end of the day nothing can take away from the fact that it looks pretty. Sadly pretty is not enough and in this day in age of gaming, just being pretty is rather insulting.