Bardbarian (iOS) Review

Ned Jordan
In Short
Brad the Bardbarian rocks!

Award of Excellence Brad is a barbarian warrior sick of the grind, so he converts his battle axe to different kind of axe, an electric lute, and uses the power of music to get others to repulse the constant monster attacks faced by his village. Thus, the Bardbarian is born, and his righteous metal licks will defend his village and its precious power crystal from harm.

Have you ever wondered what you would get if you mixed tower/castle defense with dodge ball and then set it to a symphonic metal soundtrack? If you have, then you're a step ahead of everyone else because that's basically what you get with Bardbarian. At one edge of your side-scrolling village lies the power crystal that you must defend and at the other lies a forest from which monsters emerge with the goal of destroying that crystal. Since Brad has hung up his weapons you won't be able to attack these monsters directly, but you will be able to use his music to summon others to fight at his side and shred some tunes that will buff your party. There are a variety of units that you can summon, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, but the number that you can have active at once is very limited so you'll need to choose wisely. Most of the trade-offs between the units in the game will be familiar to those who've played castle/tower defense games before ' long-range but weak single shots versus short-range multi-shots, attack units versus support units that can slow enemies or heal your party, ' you get the idea. No matter who you choose your party will stick close to Brad, so each wave is a dance of danger as you try to move in to make your attacks while trying to help Brad and his party constantly dodge the enemy attacks directed their way.

The mana which powers Brad's buffs and allows him to summon party members to replace the fallen is music, or rather musical notes, which Brad generates constantly during battle ' although at a much faster rate when he's standing still ' and which are also sometimes dropped by defeated foes. Casting and summoning are done by hitting the corresponding buttons around the bottom right corner of the screen, which cause Brad to break into a solo and perform his magic. In addition to the occasional musical notes, defeated enemies also drop gold which can be used between games to upgrade Brad and units, or to unlock new units and make them available for the next game. The game limits the unit types that you can bring into each battle, though, so even if you unlock everything you'll have to find the mix that best suits your play style.

The game manages to hit that sweet spot for mobile games where a simple concept is made both fun and challenging; running around the screen dodging attacks while jamming on a guitar is a blast. Getting past the initial levels will be a challenge at first, but you'll eventually be able to buy enough upgrades to get past the first boss and to the next set of levels. While this may sound like grinding, which ironically is why Brad quit the business, I was having too much fun to notice. You probably will, too.

Final Rating: 90%

Transmitted: 5/20/2024 10:11:00 AM