At the beginning of this month two remarkable things happened, I began writing for Touch Arcade (thanks for all your kind words) and I got to look at Justice Royale(Free)by Zapling Studios in its soft launch. You may remember my preview, then again it was only my second piece for Touch Arcade so fully understandable if you bypassed the new writer.
At the time I put my first impressions together I knew the game was fun but was struggling to beat the boss, well I finally got my fingers to co-operate and took that sucker down. It was an exciting moment, followed by the big twist ending which blew me away.
I was finding the petty reason to fight the bullies refreshing, there was none of the usual “rescue the damsel in distress" syndrome so many brawlers fall prey to. However, when I got to the last episode there it was, the girl got kidnapped and I would fight the big muscle-bound thug to save her. No biggie, I figured at least the whole game wasn’t about saving the helpless girl. I found out exactly how cool Justice Royale is when I killed the boss man. Kidnapped on purpose and peeved because you ruined her masterplan, that damsel is gunna kick your ass.
As a woman gamer in a world which can at times be largely male orientated it’s a breath of fresh air to see a genre known for gender stereotypes step out with a girl who doesn’t need or want saving. This along with the other amusing reasons for your little renegade to fight their way across the city make for an enriching experience. There is a selection of different dudes (and dudettes) to fight, watch out for the guys on bikes, they run you down and lay you out flat if you aren’t ready.
The moves are easy to get the hang of and the touch controls are simple, there is still the tiny problem of swiping out of the game if you play on an iPhone X, but as I got better at swiping it seemed to happen less. Whether you want to precision learn all the moves or just mash your fingers (just like mashing buttons on a controller) and pray, you will be able to come out victorious most of the time, with the exception of the big thug in the final episode.
Mr Boss Thug (MBT), who earnt this glorious term of endearment by repeatedly kissing me with his fist, is going to take a little bit of finger moving skill and a whole lot of strategy. The first few times (ok, ok, first fifty or so) I ran straight in offensively and started wailing on him, it didn’t work. I’m not sure why it took me so long to regroup and think of attack tactics, like I would with any other boss fight, but it did. I’ll share my strategy with you, feel free to use it or create your own.
Defensive manoeuvres work best with MBT, remember you guard and rolling moves (just like you would in any From Software game). Keep out of his way until he does his big jump and gets his fist stuck in the ground then run in and give him a couple of uppercuts. Keep this up and eventually he is done and dusted, and you rush off to rescue, um, fight the damsel in supposed distress.
The difficulty levels are another cool feature of the game, you have five levels, easy, normal, hard, mad hard and WTF. I haven’t made it up to mad hard or WTF yet but seeing them as options made me smile. If you like games with humor, that don’t take themselves too seriously, Justice Royale is this kind of game, you could even say it just is a Royale with Cheese (Boom, goes the dynamite). Even the ability to personalise your avatar is comical, in my preview I wasn’t really a fan of changing the colours, However it grew on me and I am now rocking a hero of purple and green with red gloves (my three favourite colours).
I like to make up backstories for my game characters and in my mind it’s a cute little alien dude called Spork, out in the world learning our customs and trying to find friends. The first thing it experiences is violence perpetrated by those bigger and stronger than them, so it goes off and gets strong to join in to what must be just some strange ritual of friendship. Sadly, Spork hasn’t made any friends yet, but it’s a big city, we will keep trying.
There is only four episodes, but with five difficulty levels and bonus rounds popping up to give additional experience you don’t really need much more in a freemium game. You get exp for fighting and then trade this in for skills to make you stronger. You can purchase exp as an in-app purchase to accelerate your development, but with patience you will still get there in the end. Any purchase you make will permanently remove the involuntary ads, so you can (like me) make the smallest in app purchase and view it as buying the game.
Apps with ads make Sarah something, something, all Simpson references aside, this trend of allowing a small fee to remove involuntary commercials and videos is tremendous. Play the game for free with the ads till you know you like it, then throw the developer some money for making a great game. What a win for everyone. I don’t mind paying for greatness and I don’t know anyone who does. For me, this game certainly falls into the pay for greatness category.
Justice Royale is unique enough to never need to fight to steal attention from other brawlers in the App Store, while retaining a strong sense of that classic, back in the day arcade fighter feel. If you haven’t checked it out yet I strongly recommend it. It is the first release for Zapling Studios and in my opinion has really marked them as a must watch developer. I truly can’t wait to see what they will work on next.