This is the type of review that I’m not happy to write. Super Heavy Sword is an extremely disappointing game, yet seems to have so much potential. For all I know, it very well could be living up to it, but the game has a bug that precludes me from getting far enough into the game, to really get a feel for what it could be; this is to say nothing of other critiques that I will offer as well. So here is my review, for what I could play.
Super Heavy Sword is a Super Mario clone, along with influences of other classic games. The developer, Monster Robot Studios, makes no bones about this and states it up front on the Play page. Considering the high level of appreciation I have for that character, that scored points in my book, and I’ll touch on some the similarities. For example, there are gold coins sprinkled throughout the various levels. Second, there are “warp pipes” of sorts, only they’re wells instead, yet otherwise function in identical fashion. Third, there are blocks that float in the air and are most often comprised of bricks; they respond to jumping up to hit them in the exact manner you’d expect from a Super Mario game, coins and all. The style of the graphics seems to harken to Super Mario World, as well as the layouts of the levels, including the fact that they’re timed. The game even had blocks with question marks on them, that typically would contain an upgrade to my sword’s length when the block was struck by jumping from beneath it, or striking it. And every one of these aspects worked, and I appreciated them.
As one might expect in a game named like Super Heavy Sword, gameplay focuses on the sword being the weapon of choice for the heroes. This game picks up where the prequel leaves off. It begins with an intro that is patterned after the original, so orcs/goblins break into the castle and kidnap a bunch of young people that I presume are the progeny of Pike and Lucinda (the hero and damsel-in-distress from the previous game, as far as I can tell) who are seen together in the introduction. From there, I’m offered a choice as to which of these two I would like to play as, and then begin the game. I began the game in an over world, from where I could choose from few levels to play, with about several of them locked until I’d acquired enough medallions to proceed through them.
Most of the levels I tried were your typical platformer, laid out horizontally with the player proceeding to the right. I was apparently looking to progress to the level’s end, while finding medallions and collecting coins, but this was never spelled out for me in any form, let alone specifically and clearly. And this is one of the critiques that I’d like to offer here. Short of how to handle my my character, nothing else is really explained as well as it should be, and I’m compelled to infer how I’m supposed to navigate through the games non level-specific features. So from the over world, I can tap on a location, and a square will pop up over it (that was large enough to have obscured my character and the spot for the level), with a dark space in the shape of a medallion; tapping on that square starts the level (but this isn’t explained).
At the start of the level, there is a box that pops up containing some floating medallions, which are referred to as Princess Coins, and I presume they are the number available for me to find in the level, but again, it’s not really explained as well as I would’ve liked. There are signs sprinkled throughout the first world (a LA Super Mario World) that open up text balloons as you walk past them, collectively work as a tutorial, and explain how the more advanced controlling features like Wall Jumping work. There’s a variety of enemies in a given level, from flying bat-like creatures to smallish goblins, that I can kill with my sword or by jumping on to them. There are other animals in the game that don’t harm players, such as cows. I was awarded an achievement for “tipping” one by jumping on it, so kudos to the developer for that one. Within the first world there are other, different spots to visit. First was a level where I was trying to collect 100 coins before time expires and I died. Another was comprised of both the King’s castle and surrounding town, where I could enter various shops to spend the gold coins that I could procure in the other levels, and I could purchase other weapons, as an example.
The controls are simple. In the over-world, there’s a virtual joystick in the lower left-hand corner, while in a level the joystick is replaced with a pair of buttons that will move the hero either to the right or left, similar to Super Mario. In both the over-world and levels, there are two buttons in the lower right: “J” for jumping, and “A” for attack. Joystick not withstanding, the controls can be dragged around the screen to re-position them; considering that they weren’t spaced to my liking on my tablet, I was thankful for this option. The colors can also be tweaked on the four buttons as well. I noticed another option for screen graphics, which allows users to toggle between low-res and hi-res, with the default being set to low-res. No matter how many times I switched it, the game would boot up with it set for low-res. I guess I shouldn’t complain too much though, as I couldn’t tell the difference in resolution between one setting and the other. On the whole, the graphics had a SNES feel to them. Regarding the soundtrack, there was a very catchy tune that starts at the outset, and each subsequent tune was also simple and catchy. They’re all a touch repetitive, but so are all the classic video game chiptunes we know and love.
And here is where I will address the bug that absolutely nukes my ability to play the game: once my character died, regardless of the cause (falling into a pit, running out of health, time expiring, etc), the screen would turn a dark shade of gray and stay there. The buttons were gone, and I was left with no way to interact with the game at all. As far as could tell, my progress with coins, both monetary and Princess varieties, was in tact. Everything else? Well, it’s hard to say. I don’t know if I have multiple lives or not, as the game always began fresh again, intro cartoon and all. I always began at the over world, so I have no way to know if that was on purpose or not, though the changelog on the Google Play page seems to indicate that I wasn’t supposed to end up at the over world when my hero died. I attempted to contact the developer, but a week later I have yet to hear back, and I’m doubtful that I will, given some of the reviews I’ve found on the game’s page describe this same problem and same lack of response. So this review becomes as much of a warning as anything else. The game purports to be a solid platformer, but with this bug, it’s anything but. Look for your platform gaming elsewhere.