Make a quick search for RPGs on Google Play and you’ll find numerous quality Japanese RPGs (JRPGs) from publishers like Square-Enix, HyperDevbox, and Tecmo Koei. Although pretty much every RPG fan knowsthe Final Fantasy titles by heart, it can be difficult for even genre enthusiasts to tell the mass of mobile JRPGs apart.
COLOPL, a Japanese developer who specializes in mobile games, has found a way to make RPGs seem fresh and new: add slingshot mechanics! Slingshot Braves is a free-to-play JPRG with the most unique battle system in town. Instead of menu-based or action-oriented combat, players attack by slingshotting their characters into enemy monsters. The slingshot combat and 2-player co-op missions make for a surprisingly fun and distinct entry in the role-playing genre.
The power of three
After engaging in one of those climactic teaser battles that shows you what the game is going to be like, players awaken in the building of a heroes’ guild. The first thing you’ll do is customize your anime-style character from a too-small assortment of pieces. Then comes the fun part: deciding on your slingshot.
Slingshot Braves initially offers three main types of slingshots, each of which affects the mechanics of a character’s attacks (two more types unlock later). All can be aimed simply by pulling back on a character and then releasing.
Attacks with the blade cause a character to ricochet around until he or she stops hitting targets, not unlike a pinball. The lance pierces through multiple enemies in a straight line, usually reflecting off the wall for extra hits. The hammer strikes all enemies within a certain radius, usually producing massive combos as a result.
The choice of weapon for your main character won’t lock you down too tightly, as the other two weapons are shared by your second and third party members. Players only control two characters at a time during battle, but either one can be swapped out for the third in order to recharge health or mix up combat strategies.
The different combat styles are a joy to use, although I found the blade’s ricochet path harder to predict and use effectively. I’m not exactly a wizard at pool, either. The more subsequent/simultaneous hits a character gets during a turn, the higher the damage they deal. Heroes can even reflect off of each other during an attack for a quick and easy combo bonus. You can also charge up and use special moves to deal extra damage or heal teammates.
Slingshot Braves is a role-playing game, but with an understandably greater focus on combat than story. The heroes do have a reason for embarking on quests and fighting monsters, at least. A demonic uprising threatens the land. To save humanity, our heroes must uncover an ancient artifact before the enemy hordes. The story comes to life mostly through text-based conversations with guild NPCs. Your teammates have zero dialog or personality, oddly enough.
Players engage in missions by selecting them from the map screen, not unlike Pac-Man Monsters. Each mission consists of one or more battles against increasing numbers of enemies. Thwart them all to receive lots of crafting ingredients that I honestly have no idea what to do with – the inventory system could be explained a lot better. Special daily and limited time missions provide increased challenge and greater rewards.
Another potential highlight of the game beyond the great combat system is the ample assortment of co-op missions. These can be played either by local Wi-Fi or online. The matchmaking system and menus are extremely clunky, but you should be able to find a partner eventually. Or you could add me (EastX) as a friend! Go to Friends, Find Friends, and enter PACEVEDO to send a friend request.
During co-op missions, each player takes only two characters into a battle – no third wheels allowed. Both human partners will take turns attacking the enemies and can even combo off of each other. If one person gets disconnected (which happens too often in my experience), the AI will automatically fill in for the other player. Even if you die, your partner can go on to win the mission and earn rewards for you both!
Slingshot Braves uses the common stamina system to encourage in-app purchases. Each mission players go on will drain a little stamina. Your stamina bar increases as you level up, but you’re bound to run out if you play a lot. Stamina refills cost gems, the premium currency. Other uses for gems include expanding your storage, changing your character’s appearance, and playing the “Gacha” game to win random premium items.
Brave new world
Even the most stalwart fan of JRPGs must admit that turn-based battles can get old after a while. Slingshot Braves shoots right past that obstacle with its slingshot-based fights and optional co-op battles. I do wish for a better story and more intuitive equipment and crafting menus, but those elements don’t throw the game too far off course.
Hopefully COLOPL continues to support Slingshot Braves with more content and special events for a long time to come. Be brave and give this adventure a try!