Lead the Brave, by Hiromu Kato, is a tiny game in the App Store with retro-styled 8-bit graphics and a simple premise: get to the end of the stage. The only rub is that the directional buttons change with every move you make. Can this little puzzle game keep you invested? Or maybe it ends up leading you away from it?

Lead the Brave is as tiny as a game can get. Not only does it take less than a minute to make it through the game, but the download itself is only 4.6 MB. You're put in control of a tiny little hero who needs to save some princess or whatever. The story's not really fleshed out, but then again, it doesn't really need to be. Why? Because the point of Lead the Brave is to get to the end of the stage as quick as possible.

As soon as you move, the timer starts. You might feel a bit of pressure to move quickly because of this, but you'll find that it's not as easy as mashing as fast as you can on the virtual directional pad on the bottom of the screen. Every time you move, the configuration of the directional buttons changes, as you can see from the screenshot above.

There's no set pattern either, so all of your movements will test your hand-eye coordination. You'll have terrible scores at first, so don't worry if you're not some wiz, blasting through the five short levels in under 30 seconds. The best strategy to have to shave down your completion time is to memorize the directions you have to take on a map and then just looking for the corresponding buttons whenever they pop. For example, the second stage would be: "right x5, up x2 and left x5."

It's a shame that the surefire way to cut down your time keeps you from actually looking at the screen, because some of the sprites and backgrounds are pretty cool. They're not the best-looking retro graphics you'll see, but they do call to mind some classics such as The Legend of Zelda, Mega Man and some old Japanese role-playing games.

And that's really all there is to Lead the Brave. If nothing else, it helps you train up your hand-eye coordination, but not more than, say --- playing catch outside could. But hey, it's free, and can waste a bit of your time.

It would have been cool if there were other features, such as monsters in the field or hidden areas to explore, but going from Point A to Point B gets rather boring. But, if you ask me, the only thing that Lead the Brave has led me to is a hunt for better games on the App Store. I suggest you leave it alone and search out better titles!


App Store Link: Lead the Brave for iPhone | Hiromu Kato | Price: Free | Version: 1.0 | 4.6 MB | Rating 4+

4.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating