This unique handheld game uses the concept of physically rotating the console to switch between horizontal and vertical levels. This interesting design not only changes the play of levels but also the controls on the fly. Is this enough to make it a great game?
The lacklustre story of Rotating Brave is that your friend has been chosen as a Shrine Maiden. Your friend was trying to collect energy to stop the ongoing war, but something unfortunate happened and released the energy, destroying everything. You must now fight your way through ancient enemies and find your friend, and along the way you will collect lost memories. Rotating Brave starts in the vertical orientation of the console with your character standing next to a campfire. You can select your abilities along with purchasing upgrades. Each time you die, you will return to this same location. The problem with this is that you effectively have one life in the game, though by using different upgrades, you may have anywhere between two to six sections of life. I did find this somewhat irritating since most games allow you to have a checkpoint and resume at that point on a new life. The difference with this one is that once you die, you retain the points you collected to be able to purchase upgrades. Of course, once you die, you lose the existing upgrades you had. Over time, you will also unlock new abilities. I feel that this could have been executed better by allowing campsites like the original and the beginning of each level.
While the controls are simple, they change on the fly based on the level’s orientation. While the console is in its landscape orientation, you simply use the left joystick to move, the A button to jump/attack and the Y button for your ability. The vertical orientation, on the other hand, depends on the level. With the right Joy-Con on the bottom, the joystick is used to move, the X button is jump/attack and the A button activates your ability. While the Left Joy-Con is on the bottom, the joystick is used for movement, the right arrow (based on how the system is held) is used for jump/attack and the down arrow is for ability.
One thing I also look for in Switch games is Pro Controller support. I tried using it starting on a horizontal level, and the controls are the same. When it came to the vertical levels, I initially thought the controls did not work. Oh, how wrong I was! Not only do you rotate the screen, you rotate the Pro Controller as well. The same buttons are used, but you change from the left joystick to the right one. This is very interesting to see. You are rewarded for killing enemies and collecting shards with multipliers. The faster this is done, the higher the multiplier. This only counts if you collect the shards, not if you kill the enemy. Unlike most games, your multiplier does not drop due to being hit, but it is constantly dropping over time when you are not killing or collecting. You also collect points from this to allow you to shop at certain points in the levels to buy upgrades.
The music, in my humbled opinion, is the biggest downfall of the game. I am not saying it is bad, just to me it seems like it should be in an action shooter, not this spinning attack game. As for the graphics, they remind me of some classic Super Nintendo platformers. The character art is amazingly done. However, I feel that the enemies are basic. They consist mainly of basic shapes that are put together, except for a couple. One of these looks like Q-Bert. The level graphics are simple yet give off the feel of a classic Castlevania game.
Developer: Tissuetube/Horngyeuan Digital
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (also PC, iOS/Android)
Release Date: 21st February 2019