A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Gryphon Knight Epic is a downloadable fantasy shoot-'em-up reminiscent of many arcade space shooters: Players take on the role of Sir Oliver and his Gryphon mount Aquila and blast their way through hundreds of human-, monster-, and trap-filled environments. Though the controls are easy to pick up and learn, the sheer number of opponents and hazards on-screen at one time could frustrate some players. Enemies explode or vanish when struck with arrows or other magical weapons, but there's no blood.
What's it about?
GRYPHON KNIGHT EPIC is a tale set in the land of Valiantskies, which was plagued by a dragon until a king gathered seven heroes to save the kingdom from its destructive attacks, as well as rescue his kidnapped daughter. The band of heroes, led by Sir Oliver and his trusty gryphon, Aquila, managed to defeat the dragon. But while his friends were looting the dragon's treasure hoard, Oliver rescued the fair princess, whom he later married. Unbeknownst to the heroes, the treasure was cursed, intensifying the evil sides of each person until he or she actually became a villain. It's up to Oliver and Aquila to ride forth once more, return his former friends to their heroic selves, and prevent the curse of the dragon from bringing evil back to the world.
Is it any good?
This fantasy shoot-'em-up has classic arcade-like gameplay and mechanics, but its difficulty and unbalanced extras could keep some players from fully enjoying the side-scrolling action. Gryphon Knight Epic seems like a very straightforward game at first: You're a knight with his trusty mount trying to save the world. But players will discover they're not restricted to going in one linear path. Similar to the Mega Man franchise, players can select which stage they want to take on, giving a bit more flexibility to how the "story" plays out. During missions, Oliver can rapidly shoot his way through enemies or charge up his attacks to provide stronger blasts. But you're not constantly forced to go in one direction; Aquila can reverse direction with the press of a button, allowing you to explore new areas or attempt to avoid incoming threats. You'll even be able to purchase new power-ups that strengthen the power of your attacks, give you healing potions, or give you squires that provide new abilities in the middle of combat.
Unfortunately, some game features don't play out as well as they could or should. Your squires randomly use their abilities during play, but if you take incoming fire, they'll lose power so quickly that they'll frequently become ineffective. Each time Oliver loses a life in battle, he also loses a significant amount of cash. Since you can't replay completed missions, this means you'll never have enough to fully power up Oliver or gain the gear you may need for each stage. But perhaps the most infuriating problem is that Oliver and Aquila are such a large target (compared to some of the opponents) that the dozens of bullets that come flying at him are almost guaranteed to make contact. This spikes the level of difficulty so high that even skilled shooter players will get frustrated trying to dodge attacks they'll never be able to escape. There is some enjoyable gameplay to be found in Gryphon Knight Epic, but the spikes in difficulty keep this game for the hard-core shooter fan only.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in shoot-'em-ups such as Gryphon Knight Epic. Should more games go the "arcade" route when it comes to depicting in-game violence? Why does this work for this game and not for others?
Talk about friendship. To what lengths would you go to help your friends? Would you do the same for family, or would you go farther for family?
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