Knightmare Tower has been a reasonably popular Flash title for a while now, but hasn’t hit a console until the OUYA. It’s a bit surprising because like Jetpack Joyride, this seems like a perfect free-to-play game on either PSN, XBLA, or the Wii U’s eShop. KT takes the principles of a free runner and marries them with a hack and slash game, and results in something that is incredibly fun in short bursts that quickly turn into longer than expected play sessions due to the allure of trying to get further up the tower with each consecutive game.
The core game is fairly simple – as one might expect from a browser title converted to a console. You just fly up a tower in a rocket, float around maintaining and increasing your height with each kill. As you go through each tower, you’ll save a new princess and slay tons of enemies. A simple press of the O button (where the X button is on a PS3 pad or A on the 360 pad) is all you need to propel yourself downward swiftly to either kill enemies or grab loot. The loot varies from health pickups to items like a horn to move up the tower faster, and best of all – gold to spend at the in-game store on upgrades.
All OUYA games require the developers to make a portion of it free, and here, it would appear that you can play through every tower as long as you don’t mind having your upgrades capped fairly quickly. If you’d like to nix that cap and gain access to everything the game offers, that will cost you $4. That doesn’t just get you the game though – you’ll also be able to view a cute kitten photo upon purchase, and on-demand viewing whenever you want in either the game or via downloadable wallpaper on your computer. The free game gives you a good enough idea if you’ll like the full game, and in that sense, is fairly perfect as you don’t feel like you’re getting cheated for spending time on it when the “buy now to upgrade” screen pops up. You’ve been able to play enough of it to determine whether or not it’s worth $4, and if you just want to play it for a minute or two, sticking with the free option might be best.
Those who decide to spend $4 will find a game that gets more and more addictive as you not only go through each tower and increase the amount of feet you’ve conquered, but also doing so enough times to upgrade your gear. The sense of power that comes from going from a weapon that takes a few shots to kill harder enemies to something that can fell them in just one is incredible. Having so many levels to each upgrade adds to the addictiveness as well, and because the game is so fun to play, replaying the game over and over never really gets old even though the concept is simple.
KT can become a time sink easily – you can start it up expecting to just want to play for a few minutes, kind of like what you’d normally do with a browser game to pass a bit of time before a show, and then wind up seeing that an hour has passed and you’ve got a $100,000 to spend on pretty much anything you’d like. Outside of gear upgrades, you can also buy the ability to bypass certain quests (which are really just little achievement like killing X amount of a monster), or buy the ability to unlock certain potions as loot that offer up temporary boosts.
Knightmare Tower is simplistic, but in a very good way because anyone can pick up how to play the game in a few minutes and have a lot of fun with it. The controls are mostly rock-solid except for when slowdown creeps into things. It’s really the only thing that mars both the gameplay and the graphics, since you’re unable to aim properly or figure out exactly where you are in relation to things on-screen until everything goes back to normal. The art style doesn’t show off a lot of detail, but is very bright, and fits the light-hearted nature of the save the princess plot. What isn’t so light-hearted is how enemies get sliced in half. Given that the game is classified in the all ages section, that aspect was surprising, but the sight does really drive home how brutal the kills can be – and that adds to the addictive nature of things. Sometimes, there’s no better motivator than good old bloodlust. The soundtrack is repetitive generic fantasy fare, so feel to mute the game if you want. All you’ll miss out are some nice slicing effects, which honestly aren’t really worth hearing given how irritating the soundtrack is. The music isn’t very good and actually audibly loops during play, so yeah, that’s easily the game’s weakest point.
Despite the crappy soundtrack and slowdown, it’s still very easy to recommend spending four dollars to buy it if you enjoy the free game in the slightest due to how addictive it is. The concept is simple, but like so many classic arcade games of days gone by that are thankfully more recent than the medieval days represented in the game, if the game is fun, it’s worth coming back to over and over again. Knightmare Tower plays exactly like the kind of game you’d spend a quarter on once, and then spend forty trying to get further and further. It’s a shame there aren’t any leaderboards in it to top, because that motivation would make it an even easier recommendation since many aren’t going to be satisfied with new personal bests in a game.