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A Knight out of his element in the Xbox Live Arcade

Courtesy of Digital Reality Publishing Ltd.

Since my copy of the new Devil May Cry was delayed, I thought I’d do something different this week and download a new game from the Xbox Live Arcade: Black Knight Sword.

The title basically describes the entire experience; you’re a black knight and you have a sword. There is, of course, a bit more to it. The intro sequence depicts a princess who’s gone mad for some reason or another (I really couldn’t determine why), and a black knight who sent to kill her because she’s messing things up (again, what she is messing up, I couldn’t tell).

From the lack of explanation, it seems the writer of this game has never heard of the words “coherent” and “simple exposition”. With a title like this, you might think the game would have a medieval tale, but the only things “medieval” about it are the knight and the story’s generic narrator.

The levels of Black Knight Sword are just weird; the first level had me traversing the rooftops of a 20th century city to fight a huge wolf with a human head. On the next level I was battling my way through a sewer to defeat a giant fire breathing chicken. All the while I kept thinking “what does this have to do with slaying an evil princess?” The slideshows shown in between levels don’t help to explain the plot and seem to only tell what kind of boss you will fight in the next level.

Let’s move on to the gameplay, because thinking about this game’s plot just gives me a headache. Despite it’s maddening downfalls, Black Knight has more cons than pros. Its gameplay is reminiscent of the old 2-D side-scrollers of the ’90s, but not necessarily in a good way. The jumping and platforming work well, and the combat is varied enough that it doesn’t get stale. One feature I will point out is that you have the ability to use to the camera to extend your view slightly, which in turn eliminates the threat of leap-of-faith gameplay that has been a stain on this genre.

Similar to the side-scroller Super Mario, Black Knight has you collect items in order to get power up. But, also like Mario, you have a limited number of lives, so when you die, the level restarts. What’s even worst is that when you lose all your lives you also lose all the power ups that you had collected in previous levels.

The knight’s sword looks more like a candle stand crossed with a glow-stick. I don’t know who was in charge of the art of this game, but they must have been tripping on acid; The enemies include walking potato heads, spiked wheel chair guys, and bouncing pink horses. I finally quit half-way through, not because it was hard, but because I was frustrated and wasn’t having fun. Not to mention, there’s an achievement for dying 100 times — a very smug statement.

Black Knight Sword feels like it was designed by a pretentious artist, who geared it toward the hipster crowd, but spent too much money on it for it to be classified as an indie game. This game’s just not for me, and aside from the people i’ve identified in the previous sentence, I’m not sure who to recommend it to.

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