Games that come equipped with character and charm can instantly win you over effortlessly when everything clicks. That is exactly how I felt within the first 10 minutes of playing Wonder Blade, a new 2D beat em up that feels like a love letter to Streets of Rage and Castle Crashers. As a stone monster eats your pet pig and then steals the princess from under your nose, you give chase whilst various baddies strike comedic idle poses. No sooner do you catch up to the monster and knock it out, your pet pig is spat out. You leap onboard and so begins a new level where you ride your pig away in a chase battle. Welcome to the wonderful world Wonder Blade.
You play as a nameless guy who was busy killing people to claim his princess. Now you are travelling across around 15 worlds, with several levels in each, battling for your girl. It is a simple set up but that is all you need as an excuse to kick butt. You’ll start off with just a sword and some light and heavy attacks which you can chain up into combos with jumps. As you level up, more moves becomes unlocked that allow you to really find a neat flow to battle. Add into that a dodge roll to escape damage that requires a short recharge and you’ve got a beat em up that is easy to pick up but to really master and hit high scores, you’ll need to master.
Wonder Blade lets you level up relatively quickly early on and playing defensively and cautiously is definitely recommended too. Each time you level up you get 2 stat points to attribute to your power, health, magic or critical attack chance. You are free to build your character how you want as alongside this, you can use skill points to unlock or level up certain skills too. This means you could run faster, regain more health from eating food or boost your fire magic once you’ve unlocked it. Whilst some of these upgrades are gated against certain level limits, it is still very freeing to choose your own fate.
Customisation doesn’t stop there. There are 12 unlockable or purchasable (with coins dropped by enemies at the quote ‘shitty store’) outfits to choose from. These all have stat alternations and not all of them are positive. I often found the cheese head one useful as it meant enemies dropped more food to replenish health. You can also choose from a variety of pets to take with you too. Expensive to unlock, they provide either extra attacks, defence or buffs for you and the AI handles them well. Early in the game, you won’t be able to afford them but after a while you’ll be having fun experimenting with different combinations and seeing what works best for you.
The combat is fluid, the gameplay throws in chase sequences, snowball runs, mini games to smash up cars and barrels like a Mortal Kombat ‘Test Your Strength’ game and has some great music and comedic moments. The boss battles are also quite fun although if you stay defensive, you can wear most of them down over time and they can pose less of a challenge that initially thought. All in all Wonder Blade is a superb game. There is just a single downside – its a single player only experience. I’d have loved to play in co-op throughout or even had a second player control the pet but alas this is a single player only experience. When I was playing, I have to say I didn’t mind or notice but it was afterwards when this game made me go back to have a quick blast on Castle Crashers that I realised it was missing.
If that doesn’t put you off – and hopefully it hasn’t – Wonder Blade is a superb entry into the beat em up series.
One of the finest single-player beat em up experiences aimed at the more casual fan I've played in years.
Very easy to pick up and play.
Tons of unlockables and customisation to build your character how you want to play.
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