An ninja-themed action game from the makers of the addictive word puzzler Alphabear
Price: Free (+ optional IAP)
Size: 121 MB
Platform: iPhone / iPad
Developer: Spry Fox
Bushido Bear is a slick action game about sword-wielding ninja bears fighting evil monsters. An endless survival slash-em-up against increasingly tough waves of enemies. Don’t just sit back: it’s time to bear arms with your, erm, bear arms.
A wise old Forest Guardian explains the main mechanics of the game in a brief, playful tutorial. It’s easy to learn: draw a line with your finger and the bear will speed along it, swords akimbo. Enemies within slashing distance will be immediately sliced in two, but if you accidentally run headlong into a bad guy, you’re dead meat. You can tap to dash around the screen, dodging projectiles while waiting for the perfect time to attack. This is a game that marries quick wits with Zen-like patience in a way that only a ninja could.
Bushido Bear plays a little like Fruit Ninja, only instead of swiping straight through flying fruits you’re swiping a path around evil critters without touching them directly. Special attacks, powerups and sushi-collecting bonus rounds add some extra spice to proceedings, while the enemies get tougher and more plentiful the longer you survive; eventually giant boss creatures rear their ugly heads. Once you get used to the dodge, plan, attack sequence of play it feels natural and (more importantly) fun to hack your way through swarms of demons.
Combo multipliers awarded for taking down entire hordes in a single slice encourages riskier play and requires additional cunning from the player. Though it’s safer to bide your time and pick off enemies one by one, if you spend too long dealing with a batch of enemies the game launches the next wave anyway. It’s a smart system that stops players acting too cautiously, and it’s a good job too because racking up big combos is not just efficient but incredibly satisfying.
There are a decent selection of enemies set over three stages, each with unique movement patterns and attacks. One of the most interesting aspects of the level design is that each wave is randomly generated (within certain limits) so that each playthrough is different. The waves get tougher, and you will see repeating elements and layouts, but the fact that you never know exactly which combination of monsters is going to spring up next certainly keeps you on your toes.
Bushido Bear has an extra layer of collectibles and currency to keep players interested longer term, breeding addiction through repeat visits. Coins are earned through combat and can be gradually used to unlock characters, stages and colorful new sword trails. Every bear can be customized and improved, and you can use three different fighters per game. There are daily quests to complete (kill X baddies, etc) and new content is unlocked via an ancient shrine, in which you can deposit hard-earned coins or watch an occasional video ad in return for a reward. Broadly speaking, these elements don’t detract from the gameplay and are fun to collect.
It’s a very slow burn to get new stuff, though – with a minimum of three real-world days just to unlock the second level – and it can feel at times like the game is being artificially lengthened to keep players coming back beyond their natural boredom threshold. Which is a shame, because the gameplay alone is naturally pretty addictive. In fairness it doesn’t allow you to buy your way to the top of the scoreboards, the optional in-app purchases speeding up unlocks and removing ads rather than granting extra turns or score multipliers.
Bushido Bear doesn’t have a great deal of depth, but everything on offer is charming and fun so it’s easily forgiven. Despite slight concerns that it’s trying a little too hard to stretch out the experience, crucially we found ourselves wanting to come back for more. To play that little bit better next time, to reach a higher wave. Considering it’s free, we’d call this one a bear necessity for action fans.