It’s refreshing to come across something different in a world where basic concepts are re-used over and over. Shake Spears! is a new iOS title from developer Alaware Entertainment that does just this, and while it hasn’t risen terribly high on the top paid iPad charts, it has breached the top 100 paid iPhone titles, currently reaching #58.
Released just last week on July 14th, the game is on sale for $0.99. Extraordinarily simple, Shake Spears is a decently long game that provides an entertaining experience in short bursts. That said, frustrating fail mechanics force players to replay the same content multiple times.
Shake Spears is actually a jousting game in which players try to win the heart of a fair damsel by winning a series of competitions. Atop an automatically charging horse, players must guide their lance toward vulnerable areas of their opponent’s body in order to disarm and dismount them. All the while, however, players must worry about defending themselves too.
On opposite side of the screen, there are two control areas. In order to control the vertical orientation of the lance, players slide their finger up and down the right side, and control their shield with the left side. With each pass of the horses, the two avatars strike each other and inflict damage based on where the lance strikes. In general terms, hits to the head do the most damage, while hits to the shield do the least. Should enough damage fully deplete the opponent’s health, the character will dismount sand the player will play through as many rounds as needed until either they or the opponent are defeated.
It is also worth noting that enough hits to a specific armor piece (e.g. shield, breastplate, etc.), will shatter it. That leaves an area exposed opens the player or their rival to greater damage with the next charge.
To add strategy to the game, players also get a gamete of special abilities to use each round that are classified as either Knight, Mechanic, Warlock, and Alchemist spells. Each “class” has four attacks that can be purchased with currency earned during each joust, many of which differ quite dramatically. Knights can destroy enemy armor while Warlocks become ethereal and impossible to target. The only real problem is that for each spell, another pair feels very similar, boasting the same general function (e.g. increasing attack or defense).
Regardless of class chosen, spells from each group can be purchased and equipped (up to eight total) and used once per opponent. Moreover, the spells are tiered, meaning that the prior one must be purchased before a more powerful one can be bought. In addition to this, the virtual currency can upgrade the player’s health and armor.
The amount of money they earn is linked to their performance in jousts; they earn more the faster the opponent is defeated (which is measured by one to three stars). The game also earns revenue by charging players for packs of coins from 5,000 to 50,000. They cost between $0.99 to $4.99.
In terms of downsides, the only irritant is that players will work their way up to a boss character on some levels. Far stronger than the normal opponents, these bosses are exemplified by their ability to win if the player makes even one simple mistake. This, in and of itself, isn’t a big deal, but what is unbelievably frustrating is that the game forces the player to fight every opponent in that level (there are four prior to the final opponent) each time they lose!
Aside from this annoyance, however, Shake Spears is a game that comes off as both entertaining and fairly original in terms of its concept and controls. Along with OpenFeint and Game Center integrations, this new title is likely to continue to rise up the top paid iOS app charts; at least for the duration of its introductory sale, that has reduced the game to $0.99 for iPhone and $1.99 for iPad.