A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
There's very little to the story, but you play as a ninja who must defeat enemies through combat or stealth. It's admirable he "seeks the teachings of the last remaining ninja master," but he uses weapons to kill his opponents, so the gameplay's not so positive overall.
Positive Role Models
You play as Kuro, a young man on his quest to become the "Shadow Blade." Not much is known about his personality, background or motives. He seeks wisdom as a ninja, but he uses weapons to kill several enemies, so he's not the most positive character.
You can only play as a male protagonist, Kuro, and the enemies are masked, so you can't tell their gender, age, skin color, or race.
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Ease of Play
While Shadow Blade+ supports two different touch-screen options, there's no controller support for the iPhone and iPad versions of the game. A tutorial walks the player through controls, but overall, it's not very intuitive.
Violence & Scariness
Shadow Blade+ focuses heavily on combat, including slashing enemies with your sword or using a grappling hook. Defeated enemies fade away (instead of the corpses lying there) and the hero will also disappear in a plume of smoke. Therefore, deaths aren't graphic. The game was designed for teens because of mild to moderate violence. Blood can be seen on spikes, but not when killing an enemy, though you will hear bloody "spray" sounds when hacking and slashing someone.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
There is no alcohol seen or consumed, but there are bright neon store signs that say LIQUOR.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Shadow Blade+ is a downloable action game for Apple Arcade. The game features mild to moderate violence. That said, it's very cartoon-like and not realistic, or gory. Blood can be seen on some spikes, but not when killing someone (though there is sometimes a watery/splashy sound). Defeated (killed) enemies fade away after a second or two, and the protagonist, too, will disappear in a plume of smoke when he's killed. Neon store signs may say LIQUOR, but it's not shown in the game.
Is It Any Good?
While not an original game concept, and there's some repetition in gameplay and environments, this is a fun, fast, and fluid ninja game. Shadow Blade+'s ideal for when you've got a few minutes to kill (pun intended) as it's easy to pick up and fight or sneak your way through a few levels. It's great to find hidden areas worth exploring, and mastering the timing of jumps and parkour-like wall climbs to help you figure out a level's challenging design. The biggest issue with Shadow Blade+ is its touch controls on an iPhone and iPad. There are two touch options (swipes or virtual buttons) but neither one feels intuitive, and there's no option for controller support, which is a huge oversight. If you can use a controller on the Apple TV and Mac versions, why not give the gamer the option on iPhone and iPad?
The default swipe mechanic is confusing because you have to swipe or tap the side of the screen you want to go, instead of having a virtual analog stick. The learning curve means you'll no doubt fall to your death because you swiped the wrong way. Once you get past the learning curve, though, Shadow Blade+ is super fun. Not everything's unlocked at the start, but there are three big chapters in which to get through, as well as extra modes like Hardcore, Downtown (highly enjoyable outdoor levels), and Dojo. There are collectibles, hidden items, Game Center Achievements, and you're scored on your progress per level (adding to the replayability). The 2D-3D hybrid art style, smooth animation, and music are top-notch. But Shadow Blade+ would greatly benefit from controller support. Plus, since there is no multiplayer support or level editor, a little more meat here would have gone a long way. While not an instant classic, Apple Arcade gamers who enjoy platforming or action will no doubt enjoy find many hours of excitement in Shadow Blade+.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.