Imagine there was a world that was cube shaped and called Quarton. Imagine that world’s main resource was shape shifting bricks with magical properties. Now imagine two factions at war trying to take the very essence of these magical bricks called Tenkai to use for their own gain, one of which wants that essence to grow in power and take over the world. Well that’s the basis of the plot in the brand new game in a brand new series called Tenkai Knights: Brave Battle for Nintendo 3DS. Developers Namco Bandai have taken a lesser known television series and projected it into the western world through our dual screen handhelds. Tenkai Knights is an anime style children’s programme shown on Cartoon Network. It surrounds five teenage boys from Earth who are chosen to protect the Tenkai from the Corrupted Army and the evil lord Vilius by becoming legendary Tenkai Knights. The game pretty much follows the same premise except there are only four boys.
The problem is though, the story is terrible and seems as though the entire aesthetic was thought up by a toddler. The teenage stars of the game are hard to relate too and don’t go into any real depth as to the history of how things came to be and who the characters are but their Knights look awesome and have cool names, Bravenwolf, Tributon, Lydendor and Valorn. Before playing this, I didn’t know a thing about Tenkai Knights, it was intriguing for me as I loved Transformers and Lego as a kid, and Tenkai Knights certainly made me wander into it thinking the combination of the two franchises would be present here, I was sorely disappointed.
What I got was a poorly executed Smash Bros wannabe with the dumbest AI I have ever seen in a video game. In the story missions and the single battles, enemy knights patrol back and forth on 2D battle arena levels at set positions, players then control their chosen Tenkai Knight and embark to take them all out. It’s a basic premise which certainly works in Smash Bros but in Brave Battle, the execution is excruciating. Your knight walks just like a robot left and right and jumping has near no animation to it making the whole game feel like a poorly made indie game. Attacking differs depending on your chosen armoury you kit your knight out with as each Tenkai Knight has customizable body parts with ranged weapons and melee weapons on offer as well as different legs which affects speed and even a jet pack to allow you to reach higher ground or glide. Making up your mini robot is the best part of the game as the Tenkai Knights look cool, like a miniature Megazord known from the Power Ranger series. In action, that’s where things fall apart. Melee attacks carry no weight and the knights all only have one combination of moves usually three or four moves long, it’s all you need to complete the entire story. You also have a dash attack if your knight has a booster on his back which is an effective move to take out these numb nutted enemies. They don’t have any varied attacks, they just walk left and right until you enter their line of fire then they attack but it’s avoidable and easily counter-able. With friends, things don’t get any better as the game-play is the same but in single versus battles, you can choose the bad guys like Vilius and his bad-ass looking black knight.
Visual wise, Tenkai Knights: Brave Battle looks surprisingly better than it plays. Each Tenkai Knight and corrupted look like blocky transformers but look great which carries on to the story mode cut scenes. The levels on the other hand are just unoriginal and unimaginative battle arenas which can be navigated easily using the map which fills the bottom screen. Sometimes though your knight can unleash a flashy looking attack which triggers a cool cut scene but these do nothing to make the overall experience worth anything more.
Not the greatest offering from acclaimed developers Namco Bandai. Terrible story, gameplay and mediocre graphics make Tenkai Knights: Brave Battle very brave to stand up against the likes of Smash Bros. Its awful presentation and aesthetic as well as the limited move set and terrible controls make this an ultimately forgettable title.
Story - 2/5
Graphics - 2/5
Gameplay - 2/5
Overall - 2/5
Version reviewed - Nintendo 3DS