We’re in a season full of major releases, but we want to make sure we keep covering the smaller indie productions as well. Here’s a look at Arenas of Tanks, Kid Ball Adventure and Tower Princess.
Arenas of Tanks review (PS4)
When we started playing Arenas of Tanks, which was recently released through Ratalaika and was developed by Petite Games, we quickly got a sense of deja vu – going back to a game we first played on the PlayStation Vita. And while that platform is no longer supported, this one is available on all current consoles.
That other game was Attack of the Toy Tanks, which was made by the same developer. Both have a similar look and feel, and revolve around simple twin stick shooter mechanics in which your left stick controls a little tank and your right stick aims your turret. Viewed from an overhead perspective, it’s a very accessible concept and almost arcade-like in its execution. The main difference between the two is that Toy Tanks has single screen levels, whereas Arenas of Tanks features larger levels (or arenas) to play in.
Other subtle changes include the ability to bounce bullets off the side walls, which makes positioning your tank a bit more involved and lets you get a little more creative this time around. The game is relatively low on content though, with only two gameplay modes and five different levels to play in. Those modes aren’t drastically different either, with an arcade mode where you basically shoot for a high score until you die and a challenge mode that forces you to focus on specific objectives (while mostly still doing the same thing). These objectives include grabbing pickups, or surviving a wave without getting hit.
Arenas of Tanks also introduces an upgrade system, but isn’t exactly a deep game. This is one you play for a quick diversion, although it didn’t help that the launch build had a few glitches and bugs in it. At least it has a super easy platinum though, and as both the PS4 and PS5 version are included you can be two platinums riches well within the hour.
Kid Ball Adventure review (PS4)
At first glance, Kid Ball Adventure from Eastasiasoft and developer Spoonbox Studio looks like just another challenging retro platformer, similar to the likes of Awesome Pea – which also happens to feature a protagonist without arms and legs. It’s out for all major console platforms and the PC, and we checked out the PS4 version.
Here, our protagonist is a little yellow ball, who gets a bit of added personality thanks to his purple hat that he wears backwards. These aren’t happy times though, as his beloved has been kidnapped by a dragon and you need to save her across 100 stages of precise platforming where death is always a pixel away. Expect spikes, blades and enemies – the usual stuff – as you try to get to the exit, grabbing keys and collectibles along the way.
Where Awesome Pea went for a Gameboy-like color scheme, Kid Ball Adventure has very colorful backdrops and enemies, and goes for a retro-modern look with an HD approach of what you normally see in a pixel art style. You also get the usual energetic soundtrack to keep you bouncing along, and although the levels are quite small and can be completed, the challenge factor and sheer number of levels makes sure there is plenty of content to enjoy. You can even return to them later in a time trial mode, adding lasting appeal.
The controls are simple and responsive, so we had a great time pushing on to the end of the game. You don’t have to get anywhere close to that for a new platinum though, which pops after the first few handfuls of levels – which are also the easiest ones. There is plenty more solid platforming to enjoy after that though, so this one is easy to recommend to fans of similar games.
Tower Princess review (PS4)
HypeTrain Digital’s Tower Princess recently came out for PC, PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Switch. It was developed by AweKteaM and promises a mix of roguelike elements and platforming. We took a look at the PS4 version.
Visually, the first impression you’ll have of Tower Princess is that it’s a mix of games like Fortnite and Dungeon Defenders, with its cartoon-like visuals. It even has a similar fantasy theme to Dungeon Defenders, using the classic “knights and princesses” concept and putting its own spin on it. Your job, as a knight, is to go ahead and face an evil dragon that has kidnapped a bunch of royals – with a range of dungeons and traps in your way.
The game combines 3D action/combat platforming with roguelite mechanics, and you can either choose a ranged or sword-based combat style – both of which offer upgrade paths. One fun twist is that you can also pair up with one of eight princesses – though these are AI-controlled and there’s no multiplayer co-op here. They offer unique abilities though, and also like to add endless banter to the proceeding, adding a bit of character to otherwise rather formulaic gameplay. Oh, and you’ll also notice there’s a novel way of upgrading their abilities. As your knight is quite the gentleman, your currency for upgrades is a present that you can gift to your partner.
While the procedurally generated parts of the game feel a bit repetitive, the boss battles are well designed and provide highlights in each run you start. What adds to the repetitive nature isn’t just the roguelite structure though, as traversing the same sections more than once is something you anticipate in a game of this time. A bigger problem is that the PlayStation version, at least at launch, seems a bit unstable and glitchy, even to the point where we weren’t able to progress past the first boss. Despite some promise, this is one where you’ll want to keep an eye on the patch notes.