Saturday, May 15, 2010

XboxLive Indie Game Look - Mamotte (Protect Me) Knight!

Let's go ahead and get this out of the way. At its core Mamotte Knight is a Tower Defense game. Yeah I heard the collective sighs of everyone on earth but hear me out. This game is totally worth your time. It's a unique take on the genre that combines chaotic action with just the right amount of strategy for some of the most fun I've gotten out of the XBL Indie Service.

Ancient isn't exactly a well-known developer. Their most famous work is the Beyond Oasis and Legend of Oasis games (on the Sega Genesis and Saturn respectively) and the only other title I know of by them is the incredibly obscure Valtva(Import Saturn only). While this game takes the retro approach with its NES-style graphics and sound it by no means limits itself to being just another nostalgic wankfest. Yeah yeah it's got the cartridge-blowing and everyone speaks engrish but otherwise it's very nonsensical and to me that's very important.

The goal is simple really. The princess is in dire trouble cause every Goblin, zombie, dragon, lizard-man, daemon, and probably some other stuff is out to beat the snot out of her. She's the helpless type but she's backed up by up to four big strong heroes all with unique abilities. It's up to the player to protect the princess, attain love-points, clobber foes endlessly, and maybe build a wall or two to manage things somewhat. If all else fails the player can even push the princess out of the way of danger, or push her into a pit of lava cause she is a bit of a prat. Regardless of your feelings for her you need her love to become stronger and she needs to survive or else the game is over.

Cause if there's one thing Goblins love to punch almost as much as princesses is walls. They're easily distracted by those wacky contraptions of stone and wood and will not stop until they're reduced to rubble. It's kind of odd how this works out cause these guys will even destroy walls that are nowhere near the princess. It's alright though cause smart AI isn't required in this game. You can repair these walls by smacking them with your weapon or you can take that same weapon to the enemy and that's where the real fun is had.

Each of the ten stages offers up anywhere from 20 to hundreds of easily dispatched foes. Taking somebody out causes them to fly through the air, making them easy targets for the player's repeated assault or even the occasional attack from their ally. While these guys can only be juggled a few times before they fall off the screen by using the player's "killer attack" special moves like flying axes, fireballs, and explosions can continually juggle enemies which leads to big combos. Big combos means lots of love from the pretty princess and that can be invested into more walls or more importantly upgrades for any of the heroes.

The enemy will fight back and that's something to look out for. If the hero takes too much damage they're down for a few seconds and precious love-points disappear. This is a factor to be wary of for the aggressive types unless of course you're the beefier warrior as opposed to the wimpy mage. Each character does a fine job of catering to the play-style of the gamer.

In-between each stage the characters can decide what skills they want to upgrade. More HP is always handy but since monsters are usually focused on pounding royalty it's probably better to increase strength and killer attack ability. I highly recommend bringing up those killer attacks because watching the screen cascade with goblin corpses and 100+ combos never gets old.

Each of the ten stages ends with a boss encounter. Some of them are pretty mundane like a slightly stronger enemy but most of the time expect to see something different like a giant sword-wielding lizardman, a dragon that stomps through walls like bread-crumbs, and a giant centipede cause hey...why not? Each of the stages also has some new trick to look out for like a different type of enemy, new traps to slow the player down, or maybe just a bunch of those dreadful reapers who love to pelt things from a distance.

Still no matter the odds the game ends just as quickly as it begins but there's no reason to fear the short time it takes to beat this game. There are four difficulty settings to challenge and a scoring system that rewards the player weird rankings like "Over Protect Me Knight +1". It's more than enough value for the price and none of that will even matter when you're chucking tomahawks and seeing them make short work of goblin armies like a ping-pong ball from hell.

There's just one thing keeping Mamotte Knight from reaching stratospheric levels of fun. There's no online-play. Oh sure the game is more than enough fun by yourself but if you're like me and all your friends would rather play World of Warcraft or Call of Duty well that's just too bad. I shouldn't really fault Ancient on this one considering just how great this game is but realistically I gotta say it cause my friends suck. Instead I'm just going to have to imagine the fun that three other people can bring into this game. Heck maybe we could even organize strategies to ensure the princess's safety while maximizing our love-potential but alas only in my dreams.

The presentation is even pretty amusing. I usually don't go for this retro stuff cause most of the time it's repeating the same popular engrish quotes like "A winner is you!" and "Put fish in you mouth." forever and ever. Mamotte Knight just turns the dial until it pops off and creates one of the more charming "translations" I've ever read. It makes sense when you read it but it's like whoever was responsible just made up sentences by picking random english words out of a hat. It's probably not the best idea for the tutorial but who cares? You'll pick up on how this game works in a couple minutes.

In the end it might still be tower defense but your energies will be focused on clobbering foes by the dozens and not watching over some walls and guns plink away at zombies or whatever the crap towers need defending from. It's the right combination of depth and chaotic action that makes for a superb purchase and will spend more than enough time in your active videogame rotation.

Oh yeah check out Beyond Oasis too cause that's one of the best games ever made.

Game Rating - 4 out of 5

This hurts me more than anything cause really the lack of online-play sucks a goblin's club. I should be motivated by this to seek out local gamers and spread the word about this brilliant little game but I don't know, I'm so used to whining about everything it's become rather comfortable. Otherwise I can't think of much of anything that the game does wrong. Some kind of endless mode with non-stop enemies would have been pretty neat I guess but oh wait how much did I pay for this game? $3. Okay maybe I'll just shut up now.

My Rating - 5 out of 5

No doubt about it I love this game. Everything about Mamotte Knight is just pure class and its rare that I can sit down with something that's so naturally entertaining. Usually there are those games where I have to play for quite awhile until I hit that moment of pure bliss but with this game it's a few seconds after I hit the start button. I totally must reiterate that I do love this game, so much.

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