The image you see above is the first image of Heavy Sword that appears on your respective device. With its cloudy, dreamlike world, I was expecting a solid action platformer, and from the opening moments I was confident it could reach the heights of Mikey Shorts. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.

As the intrepid young hero Pike, you must fight various monsters, dodge the stinging arrows of archers, jump over lava, and unlock different treasures in a quest to save Princess Lucinda. There are four controls on your device, and on the surface it seems easy enough to master. The B button is used to slash your enemies with your collection of swords, and the A button is used for jumping. The directional arrows on the left side of your device is self-explanatory.

One of the positive aspects of this side-scroller lies in the acquisition of gold coins and power-ups. To grab an extra life, a more powerful sword, or a completely different weapon, Pike must head butt specialized blocks. Once the power-up appears, he has several seconds to jump on the block and grab it. Some gold can also found in these blocks, and once the head smashing takes place, the currency flies through the air and lands on the ground. If Pike doesn't run or leap for these coins, they will also vanish into thin air.

There are also little touches that I found slightly amusing. While shopping for items, there's a dude named Dave Dexter who greets you before you head to the counter. Just like having a cow in the middle of a level which serves no purpose, sometimes putting something in the game just for the sake of it works if you're in the right mood. Plus, the chance to wield a mighty sword in a platform world where most characters just run and jump was refreshing.

All of that goodwill evaporates when you hunker down and try to control Pike. If you want a nuanced jump or even a seamless move to the left or to the right, don't count on it. Monster Robot Studios committed a cardinal sin by making Pike so difficult to control. Since Heavy Sword requires players to time their jump to the next block or even avert a group of enemies that are headed their way, seamless controls are absolutely mandatory. But even though your fingers were trained to run and jump from numerous platformers, those skills will be thrown out the window with Heavy Sword. The biggest enemies aren't the cool looking bosses that may pop up at the end of the level, it's those four buttons on your device. Dying by your own hand is literally the most popular form of death for Pike.

With all the wonderful visuals and solid action in this platformer, it is downright heartbreaking that the controls are an absolute mess. The poorest analogy I can make is it's like finding your perfect mate, only to discover that they're a figment of your imagination. Such a malady probably needs a heavy dose of therapy, but for people who don't have time for the pain, don't download Heavy Sword until they fix this one major flaw.


App Store Link: Heavy Sword for iPhone & iPad | By Monster Robot Studios | Price: $0.99 | Version: 0.0.1 | 35.8 MB | Rating 9+

4.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating