Can you stay alive long enough to complete your mission?

Spellsword is an excellent and almost blindingly fast-paced arena-combat arcade game with addictive RPG elements, super-cute 16-bit fantasy art, and often hypnotic chiptune sound.

Spellsword is an excellent and almost blindingly fast-paced arena-combat arcade game with addictive RPG elements, super-cute 16-bit fantasy art, and often hypnotic chiptune sound.

At first glance, Spellsword shares some similarities with another great game, Super Crate Box: Both have you dodging enemies and chasing powerups around a satisfyingly cramped playscreen--but Spellsword adds a couple of twists, with a mini RPG-style purchasing system (you collect "rupees," which you can then use between levels to buy equipment and make your powers more effective) and a unique take on power-ups with "spell cards." As you bounce around the (sometimes moving) platforms on each level, weaving through tight clusters of enemies, you have to choose between rushing to the next spell card to release some wide-ranging deadly effect (such as fireballs, poison, or a "shadow slime" black hole) or to continue fighting with your sword, which temporarily carries the power-up for your previous spell card (ranging from a simple fire sword to a devastating wind generator).

While simple at first, especially with the straightforward objectives of early levels (like killing a certain number of enemies), this combination sets up a devilishly gratifying tactical choice every few seconds: you know what power-up you have and how much longer it will last (the seconds tick off onscreen), and you know where the next spell card is (often somewhere inconvenient and menacing) and what it will do, and you know what you're fighting and how much health and/or time you have to finish the level. This simple, cyclical gameplay makes for a tightly wound clockwork of arcade satisfaction--and hard-to-resist, once-more-unto-the-breach repeat play.

We'd love to see improvements--like additional levels, cross-device syncing, and more thoughtful costing of the RPG purchasing--but as it is, Spellsword is a very fun and addictive game. And as an indie game, Spellsword deserves extra praise for leaving out in-app purchases for additional rupees.

CNET Top 5
Companies Apple could buy with their billions
Apple's sitting on a massive pile of cash. Here are five interesting ways they could spend it.
Play Video
 

Member Comments