It’s not exactly controversial to say that platformers generally aren’t the best types of games to play on touchscreen devices. Shadow Blade isn’t your average platformer. The game itself isn’t anything all that different from what you might have played before, but the controls feel so natural that you may find yourself falling into a Zen-like state when you’re playing.
One element that really sticks out in this type of game is the wall-jumping. In most games you need to hold a direction on a D-pad and tap the jump button to touch the wall, then press the opposite direction and tap jump again. In Shadow Blade, you just need to be close enough to a wall, and continue to hit the jump button, and the character does the rest. It’s a small thing, I know. But controls can really make or break a platformer, regardless of the system it’s on.
In Shadow Blade, you control a ninja who is on a mission to become the Shadow Blade. In doing so, you need quick reflexes to move past traps and defeat your foes. There are two control schemes that you can use, one with virtual buttons, and one based on gestures. They’re both good, but I found that virtual buttons worked well on the iPad, and the gestures worked better on the iPhone. This might have been due to how much screen real estate I had to work with.
The levels don’t take long to move through, and once you’re finished you’ll receive a rating of one to three ninja stars. The stars are given out by completing the level, collecting orbs, and discovering the secret symbols within the level. I was expecting the items that you collected to be used somehow, whether it was to power-up your character, or to use in shops. It’s a little disappointing that those items are just there to be collected, and that there isn’t a real purpose behind them, aside from attempting to achieve a three-star rating.
It’s also surprising that there’s a lack of extra content. Aside from the hardcore mode that unlocks during the main campaign, Shadow Blade’s offerings in regards to replay value is minimal.
Shadow Blade is an old school platformer at heart, one that has a very nice art style, and moves with a satisfying flow. Being a by-the-numbers platformer with minimal replay value might hold the game back from greatness. However, that being said, it’s a game that will reward you with a good experience if you decide to give it a shot.