Sunday, 17 December 2017

Brave Blade (Arcade)

I'll start by being honest here, and admit that the thing that drew me towards this game is the graphics. They're that amazing kind of 3D graphics that was prevalent among arcade fighting and racing games from the mid-90s up to about the turn of the century, but it's a rare example of a shooting game in that visual style. And it does it with flair, too, as Brave Blade is set in a great-looking medieval/world war I/giant robots world, with all kinds of cool stuff in it. The developers clearly knew what they were doing too, as the first stage is very short, and ends with a boss fight against a giant tank that transforms into a robot with an awesome animation, and that boss (and its transformation animation) appears prominently in the game's attract mode too.

So, the game itself? You pick one of five pilot/knights, each with different weaponry, and you shoot and slash your enemies, of course. You've got three buttons: shoot, which just shoots, slash/guard, which is your powerful melee attack when tapped and a guard when held, and your power up button, which activates your powered up mode, during which you're invincible and can only melee attack. Regulating all of this is a power bar at the bottom of the screen, which goes up when you destroy enemies (or certain kinds of enemy bullets and missiles that can be destroyed) and goes down when you guard. You can only activate your powered form when it's full, so I recommend never bothering to use the guard (though I'm sure there's probably expert players somewhere who'd tell you I'm incredibly wrong and stupid, I can't see the advantage of it).

The scoring system is centered around the collection of Battle Garegga-esque medals, which at the most basic level, work in the same way as Battle Garegga's: their value starts at 100 and gradually works its way into the tens and even hundreds of thousands, though if you let one drop off the bottom of the screen, it's back down to 100 points a pop. The twist Brave Blade adds is that you can accelerate the accumulation of value in medals by repeatedly attacking them with your melee weapon, which also makes them bounce up the screen a bit, giving you a little more time to collect them too. Of course, if you're doing this, that'll take your concentration away from fighting the enemies and dodging their attacks, so there's a lot of risk/reward play going on. Personally, I'm a bit cowardly, so I only juggle the medals while I'm powered up.

Brave Blade is an excellent game all round. It plays great, with a bunch of fun systems that all interlock together well, and it looks amazing too. I definitely recommend playing it. It's just a shame that it'll probably never get any kind of home port like some other, more well-known shooting games have been getting in recent years.

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