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Tenkai Knights: Brave Battle

Score: 50%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Developer: DELTA-ARTS Co. Ltd.
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action/ Fighting/ Platformer

Graphics & Sound:

Tenkai Knights: Brave Battle is inspired by a TV show about robot battles and boys, and has a line of toys to accompany it on retail shelves everywhere kids are likely to go. Holidays are now fully upon us, so the introduction of this game is not only well-timed to coincide with the show’s first year, but also the gifting season. Brave Battle as a game looks a lot like the new breed of visual novels making a splash on the scene, which is about the same as saying it looks like a TV show. There are tons of click-through animatics that tell this chapter of the Tenkai, Corekai, and Corrupted. The visuals are true to the show’s anime style, with some voice acting in spots.

Bookending the lengthy story sequences are mission levels that show off the actual robots in action, and this is the point where Brave Battle draws inspiration from its line of toys. The toys are reminiscent of LEGO, so when the action shifts to focus on the robots, you’ll find blocky characters with modular components and you can choose to customize them. Any vision of epic 3D battles you may have will be dashed once you get into the first level to find a big box with platforms patrolled by enemies that endlessly respawn. The only comparison we could think to make is to a toy that has some nice design touches, but ends up being made of the cheapest plastic components.


If that didn’t exactly set up the gameplay to seem enchanting, let’s dig into how Tenkai Knights: Brave Battle actually works. For starters, you’ll end up watching more of the anime storytelling sequences than actually fighting enemies. We’ve all complained in the past about lengthy cut-scenes, but Brave Battle is basically a cut-scene masquerading as a game. All the narrative will no doubt please fans accustomed to following the story on TV and serves as a nice introduction to the series for newcomers. There’s nothing especially deep about the story presented in the game; the heroes are tracking down pieces of the Tenkai Dragon under constant opposition from Vilius and his forces.

The objectives of each mission in the main story are generally split between defeating enemies, timed battles, and collecting items. The first and third are really connected since enemy drops are the source of items. The fact that enemies respawn makes it easy to camp out and kill the same enemy over and over again to satisfy almost all the mission objectives. In the first few levels, we thought we were just imagining this, expecting that at some point we’d discover it was actually necessary to move around the level and not just keep killing the same enemy. When you finally do get to a level where things work differently, the enemies are completely overpowered and the likelihood of rage-quitting jumps up by 1000%.


Yes, this is a story of polar extremes. Once you get deep enough into the rabbit hole with Tenkai Knights: Brave Battle, you’ll find it incredibly frustrating. There are some hints early on when otherwise weak enemies can trap you in a corner and pummel you to within an inch of your life bar. There are plenty of strange things about the way the battle controls and the edge detection works, but you’ll have no problem mastering a few button combos that will take out all enemies without too much drama.

The later stage levels feature some new mechanics, such as battling with oversized robots, forcing you to rethink the trusted combos that previously worked so well. It’s at this point that you realize why playing with a friend might be helpful, or calling in one of your companions. It’s true that the multiplayer option makes Brave Battle more fun, but only to a point. What really works best is to level up your equipment and look for new weapons, shields, and packs dropped by enemies. It’s mostly these that dictate how you’ll perform against enemies.

Game Mechanics:

The basic controls are typical of any fighting game, which is overkill when you consider that there isn’t much need for more than one or maybe two attack options. Defending is important, but it won’t be much help when you get cornered or stuck between enemies. There are at least three attack variations, plus some special combos you can trigger by moving and attacking. The default controls for defending are keyed to the Left Bumper, which is a bit awkward and works better assigned to one of the primary buttons on the face of the 3DS. Jumping and dashing work reasonably well, but jumping especially has some quirks that take getting used to. The battles are real-time and at least in later levels require mastery of a few combos. Otherwise, you can mash your way through the early levels.

You’ll be replaying those levels if you want to complete Tenkai Knights: Brave Battle without epic levels of frustration, since the upgraded equipment won’t be yours without some serious time on the fetch-quest front. Especially if you’re playing with a friend, it isn’t all that painful, but even with a friend who loves the show, it’s hard to see the point of such repetitive gameplay. At best, the battle levels are reminiscent of Joust, but the comparison does a disservice to that awesome arcade classic. Brave Battle is really only justifiable for very young or innocent gamers who love the show and need to collect every piece of related content. For the rest of us, the search for great branded entertainment goes on.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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