Developer: F.K. Digital
Release Date: June 2013
Available on: Mobile, Playstation Vita
Editor’s Note: I played the Playstation Vita version of this game. There may be differences between versions.
Mononoke Slashdown is a 2D hack and slash game that pits you against various Japanese monsters and demons. It’s repetitive, simplistic, and hard for all the wrong reasons. But there is still some basic fun to be had in the game, if you don’t mind those things.
Mononoke Slashdown puts you in the role of a ninja named Kagemaru that happens upon a town under attack by demons and monsters. He decides to help them and then goes on to further eradicate the demon threat. Part of the problem with the plot is that it’s almost completely hidden from that point, only appearing if you tap the little scrolls that are on the bottom of the screen before you start the level. The other problem is the almost hilariously bad engrish in the game. For the life of me I can’t tell if this is intentional or not but the grammar on nearly every line is messed up. You see such great lines like “Before talking finished yet” and “The stars in the sky are unusually increased.” If there was any attempt at a serious story here, it’s completely lost now.
On it’s surface Mononoke Slashdown is an extremely simple game. You have a single basic attack that you can chain into combos by hitting enemies. You have another button to throw knives at enemies from a distance and can unlock a screen-damaging magic attack later. You can also get access to a single combo attack, but the fighting is really hilariously simplistic. The game is five chapters long, each of which contains six missions that you can tackle in any order you want. The missions themselves last about one to three minutes each, which makes the game pretty good when you only have a couple of minutes to pick up and play. After you finish those six missions the chapter ends in a boss fight. The majority of the missions are some form of “kill every enemy on the screen” or “kill all of a specific enemy” which is when the game is best. While the fighting is simplistic, there’s no denying that some fun can be had just laying into a giant hoard of enemies, and when the game lets you do just that then it’s a lot of fun.
The problem is when it gives objectives like protecting townspeople and shield crystals. The shield crystals aren’t so bad since they only stay in one spot, but every part of protecting townspeople made me hate playing the game. They all have very very little health and have no problem running (or walking as slowly as possible) into the enemies. The focus here is less killing enemies and more knocking them around to keep them away from the townspeople, but if you kill an enemy there’s a very high chance they’ll respawn next to the person you’re trying to escort. Plus if even a single person dies you fail the whole mission and have to start all over again.
This is why it feels like the game is artificially difficult. Eventually the combat missions start to suffer from it as well, spawning so many enemies and keeping you juggled for prolong amounts of time while you’re helpless to their attacks. Boss fights are a problem too, using difficult to avoid attacks and having a ridiculously huge amount of health. Later in the game they make you refight the bosses with other enemies helping them, and it’s just out of control. The whole thing feels like an uncontrollable mess with you getting flung around every few moments.
The most you can do to combat this is by grinding the first few levels of the game to get money. You can spend this to upgrade your items to take less damage while dealing more. You can also grab a few extra attacks to do things like knock enemies in the air, or slam onto the ground with a lighting bolt. While they help for a while, by the last chapter I felt the amount of grinding I had to do to continue was far outweighing the fun I was having in the game. Don’t get me wrong too, there’s fun to be had in crushing hoards of enemies. Even with the simplistic fighting there’s an almost Dynasty Warrior styled joy in slaying enemies. When the game lets you go crazy on them it’s really great fun sometimes. It just doesn’t let you do it enough.
Besides the story there’s also a hoard-like mode where you fight 50 waves of enemies back to back, with every 10th wave being a boss fight. You don’t get to keep any money you make in this mode so the only real reason to do it is for the fighting, something that’s not really worth it.
In the end that’s the whole problem with Mononoke Slashdown. It’s a game I can pick up every now and again and play a few missions of, but it’s not the kind of game that really has any sort of longtivity. I can grind out some money, buy an upgrade, and take another shot at a late game boss fight. After the game gets cheap a few times I can stop and put it down. For that it’s great, but if you need a game you’re going to play longer than 30 minutes then this is not the game for you.