Twin Blades Review—Bloody Good Fun

TwinBladesTitle

In all honesty, I am completely fed up with zombies. They have been beaten to death so many times in movies, books, and games over the last several years, but they just keep on going like, well, zombies. So, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to this, as it is full of zombies. But, I was pleasantly surprised when I started playing Twin Blades, the latest Mini brought to us from Sanuk Games, originally by Press Start Studio.

It’s a zombie survival game (like Dracula – Undead Awakening or Age of Zombies), but it plays like a side-scrolling beat ‘em up, albeit a very basic one. You move your character, Sister Angelika, along the stage from left to right and kill zombies along the way, either with your gun or your scythe. You can jump, but there isn’t any platforming involved.

You'll mostly be using the scythe.

You'll mostly be using the scythe.

At first, the control layout seemed a bit odd, with the gun mapped to the Triangle button, but it works out well because you don’t use it all that much. Initially, this is because the basic gun is very ineffective, but later on, it’s because the better guns drain your energy very quickly. You’ll mostly use your scythe, which is mapped to the Square button and is also how you regain energy for your gun.

The zombies are pretty tough, as they take several whacks with either your scythe or gun to kill. Some also wear makeshift armor which makes them even harder to kill with a gun. If you let them get too close, they will grab you—requiring a very simple QTE, tapping the O button—and the good sister takes damage. Thankfully, every so often a zombie will be helpful and drop a healing potion when you kill him.

As you kill the zombies, you earn money (their hearts, actually), which you can use to buy upgrades for Sister Angelika and her gear. The biggest thing is buying new types of guns, some of which are actually useful, in particular the flame thrower and holy beam. You can also upgrade these guns (along with your trusty scythe) four times.

The flame thrower is more fun than useful.

The flame thrower is more fun than useful.

There are two modes to the game, Survival and Story, each with separate difficulty levels and high score tables (very basic, just scores, no initials) and, of course, different play structures. In Survival, you simply go through stages one by one, stopping occasionally at a shop screen to buy upgrades. The goal here is to survive for 31 days, each day being over when you reach the shop screen.

Besides actually telling a story of sorts, Story Mode gives you more control over how you play. There is a map screen, and you can select which stages you want to play or go to a shop to buy upgrades. You only start off with two stages unlocked, but then after completing those, you are confronted by a boss stage. And once you beat that, it repeats, 2 more stages long with another boss, and so on. Except you also need to go back and beat the previous stages you’ve beaten.

So, having to play the earlier stages over again can be somewhat repetitive (going along with the already repetitive game play), but the stages do change slightly because of a day/night cycle. The boss stages are also pretty short and quite different. They are a lot more challenging. Part of it is because the normal stage is just easy, but it’s also because the boss special attacks are a little hard to see, as they are so quick. And damaging—you can only take 2-3 hits from them. You need to try (and die) a lot just to figure out what is going on.

The story mode map. Zombie icons show stages infested by zombies; skulls are boss stages.

The story mode map. Zombie icons show stages infested by zombies; skulls are boss stages.

The game looks gorgeous. It’s something of a weird mix of cartoon styles. Sister Angelika looks like something from a Nippon Ichi game, a somewhat sleazy anime character. The zombies remind me more of something from a newspaper comic strip (Foxtrot, actually), and the backdrops are lush, detailed and charming, like something out of The Smurfs.

As you slash zombies, the screen gets splattered with red blood. Which is kind of a strange effect, considering I didn’t think they had blood, much less red blood (I also wonder why the game is called “Twin Blades,” when a scythe only has one). The zombies do tend to look alike, but as you progress further in the game, they start wearing different items and carrying different weapons.

Probably the most common problem in ports from the iPhone has been a terrible frame rate. But, that is not the case here; it runs quite nicely and controls very smoothly. That shouldn’t be a surprise, since Sanuk has been consistently excellent in their porting of games to the Minis platform. The only negatives I’ve found are somewhat lengthy loading in between stages (about 15-20 seconds) and the font used in the dialogue in Story Mode, which is quite small and a little hard to read on a PSP.

Why this got a Mature rating in North America.

Why this got a Mature rating in North America.

It’s a lot of fun (it’s hard to understate this), but at the same time, it’s extremely repetitive. It’s not something that you’d want to play for more than 15-20 minutes or so. Or could, without your thumbs getting sore. The difficulty progression could also have been smoother; it goes from a normal level which is pretty easy to a boss fight which is frustratingly hard.

To me, Twin Blades highlights the downside of iPhone games (or, for that matter, Minis). The basic design just cries out to be made into a full-fledged game with more stages, enemies, and so forth, maybe something along the lines of a Castlevania or a Guardian Heroes. Then again, considering it comes with a small price, it more than delivers in terms of value and fun. I just wonder what could be….

8.5/10

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Comments

18 Responses to “Twin Blades Review—Bloody Good Fun”
  1. awesomeness says:

    Hi everyone!!!

    I was just wondering since I already have fly fu (WHICH ROCKS) should I get this?

  2. snif says:

    If you liked Fly Fu you will like this too. If you looking for something different so no.

  3. awesomeness says:

    Thanks snif I think I’m gonna pass on this one. They look a little too similar. Oooo welll :/

  4. Coolyfett says:

    What is the price tag on this game on PSN?

  5. JeremyR says:

    It’s 2.99 Euros and will be $3.99 when it comes out in NA

  6. Ofaliss says:

    The NA version is rated M?! It would be the first mini to receive that rating, right? I don’t care personally, it’s actually kinda cool!

    “Sister Angelika looks like something from a Nippon Ichi game, a somewhat sleazy anime character.”

    That’s almost blasphemous! Good thing Hellboy has gone missing, he would probably go AS (apesh*t) over it! :D

  7. Jasper Nikki says:

    this is the mature version of WackyLand Boss.

  8. Shazbots says:

    Nice game, I really want to play it, but is not available in the NA PSN store =(. Any word on when it will become available on the PSN store?

  9. onmode-ky says:

    Sanuk’s website (which is linked in the review) says North America will get it on February 22nd.

    Oh, and helloooo, plunging neckline.

  10. JeremyR says:

    Hero of Sparta was the first M rated Mini. I think that and this are the only ones…

  11. I was happy to let the ESRB rate the game as ‘M’ if they like (although I think an M rating is not deserved) since it does not prevent Sony from distributing the game.

    But then came one issue that we did not anticipate: Microsoft pulled the game from the Windows Phone store when they heard about the rating, as they have a ‘no mature content’ policy.

    http://www.wpcentral.com/twin-blades-pulled-marketplace

  12. Ofaliss says:

    Man, that sucks. It’s not like it’s even realistic violence.

    But they did give Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops a M rating, and it had less violence than Peace Walker in my opinion.

  13. onmode-ky says:

    I think Microsoft is being a little absurd about this. The game was fine for their marketplace before it got a rating. R-rated movies and explicit lyrics in music are fine for their marketplace, and a video game with cartoony gore is fine for their marketplace, but put an ‘M’ on that same game, and it’s a no-no.

  14. Rob says:

    Looking forward to this one, NEVER can have enough Zombie splattering games!

  15. thumbbandit says:

    This is hypocrisy at its finest… I mean, two words… ‘Itchy & Scratchy’ anyone… and that (the Simpsons, I mean) is family viewing.

  16. CecilMcW00t says:

    Age of Zombies got a Teen rating and it has just as much, if not more, blood effects than this game.

  17. mikkemans says:

    don’t have this one
    is it 16+?

  18. jokatech19 says:

    a pretty game, but there’s something disturbing about when beat em ups are put on rails like this. It feels alittle to walled in.

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