Banzai Blade slices through genres but to what effect?

Jul 3, 2012
Games

If forced to pick a favorite genre of iPhone game, I’d probably run and hide, there are simply too many strong choices out there. That said, “endless runners,” games you could conceivably play forever in an effort to rack up the longest distance or score, would be near the top of my list. Add in […]

If forced to pick a favorite genre of iPhone game, I’d probably run and hide, there are simply too many strong choices out there. That said, “endless runners,” games you could conceivably play forever in an effort to rack up the longest distance or score, would be near the top of my list. Add in light RPG elements like upgradable weapons and armor and Banzai Blade should be one of my favorite iPhone games ever. But weirdly, it’s not. It’s not that Banzai Blade isn’t fun, it just feels like it’s missing a certain something.

The premise is interesting enough. Rather than a side-scroller that has you dodging enemies or a game where you’re constantly scaling new heights, Banzai Blade gives the player an over-the-back camera view a la Crash Bandicoot, and lets them swipe their way through waves of floating enemies. On paper, the “Fruit Ninja meets Above” concept sounds like a great combination. The game’s various enemies all must be disposed of in specific ways, and soon players are being asked to slash carefully, because they might even slice a bomb open and end their game.

But it gets repetitive too quickly. The backgrounds in Above never changed, but at least there were three of them to choose from. In Banzai Blade, you run through the same forest forever. Even if its twists and turns aren’t exactly the same on every play, it doesn’t really matter after long.

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The RPG elements are appreciated though, and give the game a bit more of a purpose other than “Just play this forever until you beat your old high score.” but it doesn’t click like it should. Fruit Ninja is fun because it is insanely frantic at its most difficult points. Endless runner games are fun because they task the player with split-second decision-making that will keep them alive or end their game with the wrong jump. Banzai Blast lacks the intensity or urgency of either genre, and instead what remains is a game that is good enough to play, but not great enough to become addicted to.

Banzai Blade is worth it for players looking for a change of pace, but if you’re a huge fan of Above or Fruit Ninja, you might just want to keep playing those two apps for now. They might be a little long in the tooth, but they have a firm grip on what they do incredibly well – Banzai Blade doesn’t. Not yet, anyway.

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Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.

 

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