By Krooze L-Roy
(parenthesis are jails for words [and brackets are prisons])
While I find it impossible to believe that Sword Master has, at any point in history, been someone’s favorite game, neither can I visualize any form of creature who couldn’t get at least thirty solid minutes of good fun out of it.
A moments repose on the title screen will initiate perhaps the greatest story sequence ever programmed into a video game cartridge. Delivered without the tiresome burden of text, this sequence is a montage of overtly fearsome demons, openly evil wizards, unambiguously distressed damsels, and a phalanx of what are unmistakably skeleton warriors, all set to a rousing piece of adventurous music. This a game that knows it’s own identity.
Gameplay is equally direct, to the point where I don’t need to waste any valuable language in describing it, since the above screenshot tells you absolutely everything you need to know. Be this as it may, there’s a bit more depth than you may be inclined to believe, and the game is far from brainless. You character is in possession of an EXP gauge, so right there the game is every bit as brainy as any RPG. Sword fights too are more than the button mashing you’d probably expect, requiring fancy jumping strikes, hasty retreats, well-timed blocks, and potent overhead swings. These fights can actually be fairly intense and challenging.
The platforming is uniformly awful, but luckily the game seems to realize this and keeps it to a minimum. Most of the time the game sticks with what it excels at; doing battle against swarms of giant bats, jump-kicking lizards, and annoyingly tough knights. It’s also worth noting, barely, that the game allows you to double jump, though doing so is difficult and inconsistent to the degree that I’m not even sure it’s not just a glitch. Another hilarious pseudo-feature is the continue screen. Unlike every other game that has ever been created, with absolutely no exceptions, letting the timer count down to zero will continue, rather than end, your game. This actually came surprisingly in handy, since I often end games out of frustration, when all I really need is a gentle push in the right direction.
I also suppose I should mention that after a couple levels you gain the ability to play as a (presumably wise and old) wizard, who gains new abilities after each subsequent level. These abilities are useful on some of the bosses, but unless you happen to be looking for some escapism from your real life as a golden knight with horns, you probably won’t be spending much time as the wizard.