Mobile Game of the Week: Wind-up Knight (Android/iOS)

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Mobile Game of the Week: Wind-up Knight (Android/iOS)

Wind-Up Knight

Platform: Android / iOS
Developer/Publisher: Robot Invader
Release Date: 12/15/2011
Price: $0.99

Touchscreen buttons have been the downfall of many a promising mobile game. Just look at the hubbub over Super Crate Box’s unfortunate iOS controls. How do you know if you’re pressing the right button when you can’t actually feel it?

There’s a simple touchscreen solution found in Wind-Up Knight, an action platformer for Android and iOS: You don’t have to push the buttons too much. You control a wind-up toy knight who is constantly in motion. All you have to do is hit the buttons to make him jump, block or attack. With most iOS platformers you work both hands at all times, moving your character with your left hand and performing whatever other actions with your right. It can be hectic and confusing and lead to unnecessary frustration. By removing control over its character’s motion Wind-Up Knight lets you focus on offense and defense, deliberately picking out the right button for any situation.

That might make the game sound easy or boring. It’s neither. After a few brief tutorial levels you’ll find yourself alternating quickly between the buttons, jumping over spikes and swinging your sword on the way down to take out the giant bird that’s just waiting to strike. A single hit by anything will kill you, so there’s no room for mistakes.

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Another complication: the knight will run out of power and die if he doesn’t collect wind-up tokens throughout the level. If you miss one you might not make it to the next. Collecting isn’t just an aside with potential benefits, like the coins in a Mario game, but absolutely vital to success. Between the wind-up tokens, the copious obstacles and a slew of enemies, expect an increasingly frantic flurry of virtual button presses the deeper you get into the game.

Wind-Up Knight is an ideal mobile game. It uses the touchscreen interface of our tablets and smartphones in a smart and intuitive fashion, avoiding the vexations common with virtual buttons. The game gradually introduces new mechanics throughout. The levels are short, discrete chunks of action perfect for momentary time-killing but with increasingly complex design throughout the course of the game. It isn’t revolutionary in any way, or even addictive like the most pernicious of mobile games, but Wind-Up Knight is about as solidly designed as games come.