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Battleheart Review: Mika Mobile Does it Again

Mika Mobile has created some of the best games for the iPhone platform, starting with Zombieville USA.  Back then, there was no such thing as OpenFeint, leaderboards, and achievements.

It was all blood, gore, and an overwhelming dose of addictiveness.

And most importantly of all, Zombieville USA was fun.  The artwork was impeccable, the quality was stupendous, and ahh — the memories were fond ones.

Now fast forward to more than two years later to arrive at Battleheart, their third game released on the App Store.  It’s their first game to be universal, and it’s also their first RPG.

In Battleheart, you traverse through different levels by controlling your party: draw lines to direct their path along with using the lines to attack the enemy.  After each level, you’ll receive a certain sum of money along with some experience points to level up your character.  New abilities are unlocked every 5 levels; so at level 5 you’ll receive two new abilities, at level 10 two otehrs, and so on.

As usual, the cartoonish artwork is more than appealing, and the animations that go along with it are seamlessly implemented.

My only main problem with this is the lack of achievements and/or leaderboards; their previous games did that only because they could.  OMG! Pirates was released during a time when social platforms were fragmented and none really stood out.  Zombieville USA was releaased when social platforms just flat out didn’t exist.

But in this day and age, games like these always require some sort of achievement system, and since Apple released GameCenter for all developers, there’s really no excuse.

Likes

Artwork: The artists over at Mika Mobile are extremely talented.  All of their work has been top-notch quality, and I honestly believe that games from Mika Mobile contain some of the best artwork on the App Store.  Battleheart is no different, as I believe the artwork in here is their best work yet.  It also helps given the fact that it’s Retina ready and iPad optimized.

Gameplay: It’s original.  And most of all, it’s fun.  Battleheart is simple—extremely simple—but the gameplay ramps up to the point where you’re tapping quickly, casting a spell, switching characters, casting another spell… the list can go on and on.  I would have to say that Battleheart is the definition of a pick-up-and-play game for the iPhone: it’s easy to learn, extremely difficult to master, and it provides either one minute or 30 minutes of play.  You can play it while you’re waiting, while you’re eating; heck, even when you’re on toilet if you’re that addicted.

RPG Elements: The RPG elements are light, but they definitely add a lot of twist.  There are different spells you can choose, but wait, you can only choose one out of two new spells.  One is offensive, the other defensive — which one will you choose?  Along with that, there are a number of recruits you can hire from the tavern, with each having their own skills.  Magicians usually are high on power but extremely low on defense.  Knights are balanced offensively and defensively.  Rogues are a little more offensive than defensive… again, the list goes on.  You have to strategize which character to put in at what situation, which spell you want to choose for each character; there are so many different strategic scenarios that it does add some depth to the otherwise simple gameplay.

Universal: Who can forget this?  While it would have been nice if Zombieville USA was universal (if you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a huge Zombieville fan), I’m glad they made Battleheart so.  The iPhone version works fine, although it is difficult pinpointing a character within tight quarters.  I do find myself scrambling to pick the right character, and that’s usually an indication that a bigger screen would be better suited.  This is not a gripe towards Battleheart but to universal applications as a whole in that I wish I was able to transfer my save data from the iPhone to the iPad; otherwise, you pick one device and that’s the device you’ll use for the rest of the game.

Dislikes

User interface: The user interface looks fine, but navigating through everything does get quite confusing sometimes.  For instance, it would be nice if the keep contained information such as what each character is wearing or what each characters’ abilities are.  Instead, you have to switch out party members, then go into the Armory section just to see what the reserve character is wearing.  Then, if that character is really just a reserve character, you’ve got to back and switch everyone out again.  It’s a small gripe, but a hassle nonetheless.

GameCenter: I don’t understand Mika Mobile’s unwillingness to add a social platform, and Battleheart is desperately in need of one (or more like I’m desperately wanting one).  Achievements seem like a perfect addition to this game, and it would be a shame if the developers don’t decide to put it in.  Again, it’s a mystery as to why they don’t just implement it already.

Tight quarters: Like I mentioned before somewhere in this review, the iPhone contains some pretty tight quarters.  You’ll select the wrong character nearly 50% of the time, and that’s not exactly a good thing once things become hectic (especially when fighting that huge spider).  I’m not sure how you would fix this, since the controls look like the only viable option, but maybe that’s why they made it universal; maybe it was made for the iPad.  Whatever the case may be, this is just a warning to those purchasing to play on the iPhone.  Not a game-changing problem, but it does get frustrating every once in a while.

Battleheart is the epitome of casual gaming on the App Store.  It goes alongside Fruit Ninja, Flight Control, and Canabalt as one of the best casual games I have ever played.  Sure, there seems to be an end to it.  But there’s an endless mode, there’s always the possibility of replaying the levels, and I’m pretty sure all the characters won’t have each ability unlocked by the time you “beat” the game.  There’s just a lot here to dig into, and the RPG elements work fantastically.  Do yourself a favor, skip that cup of coffee, and buy this game.

Battleheart was developed by Mika Mobile, and I played through version 1.0.5 on my iPhone 4.  The price is $2.99.




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