After playing through the main campaign of Joust Legend (out now, $1.99), I have come to one conclusion: jousting is freakin’ dangerous, man. I mean, did anyone survive doing that more than two or three times? My impression of medieval times is that people barely lived into their thirties just being alive, let alone racing towards each other on horses while brandishing giant spears. Luckily, these days we have the ability to experience things like jousting (or any physical activity, really) while sitting comfortably at home with our fancy devices of choice. And in steps developer Rebellion Games to provide exactly that.
In Joust Legend you take control of an up and coming knight with a dream to be the best jouster in England. To achieve this goal you’ll partake in a variety of events, including wager, prize fight, and practice matches. King’s Tourney, the final event type, is where you’ll progress through the story and eventually beat the game, sort of. More on that later.
After naming your knight and horse (“ghmmm” and his trusty steed “asdf”, thank you very much) you’ll be thrust into a brief tutorial explaining the basics. To launch your horse, you simply tap when the on-screen bar fills up to a certain point, golf game style. The closer to a “perfect” launch you are, the more likely you are to break your lance during the joust and earn a better score. Next you swipe down to lower your lance and tap or hold the screen to keep a diamond in the right spot on another bar to deliver a crushing blow. Just like in real life.
Alright, so it’s not exactly a sim. It doesn’t really matter, though, as the medieval dressing makes the ultra simple mechanics pretty satisfying anyway. From the eerily realistic animation of the horses to the impressive lingo (targe, caparison, quintain… these are real things, right?) it’s clear that the devs went all in with the presentation. It makes you feel like you’re really there, minus the rats and syphilis. In fact, one of my favorite aspects of the game isn’t even the jousting; it’s the little blurbs about each opponent that appears before a bout. Sir Marcellus the Grim, for example, is a “veteran of the battles of St. Albans. Trained to joust from the age of 5.” The game takes itself entirely too seriously, and it’s delightful.
Other than jousting, jousting, and more jousting, there is also an in-game store where you can purchase armor and lances for the betterment of your jousting. Notably, there’s no IAP to buy more coins or anything like that. (Ye olde school, I suppose.) Once you’re all suited up in the best that 15th century gold can buy, you can return to the tilt and try to progress a bit further in the King’s Tourney. Interestingly, you don’t have the option of redoing matches that go badly. You either win, or you lose. I learned this the hard way when I more or less breezed my way to the very end, only to be crushed by the final boss. The game told me I lost, taunted me a bit with the pesky Frenchman who unhorsed my sorry English butt, and threw me back to camp to try again from the very beginning.
And that’s Joust Legend. Despite the fact that each of the four modes is basically the same, and that the game mechanics themselves have little to do with jousting directly, the game is still good fun for a few hours at least. And trust me: you don’t want to try the real thing.
iFanzine Verdict: It’s a bit light on content and gameplay variety, but Joust Legend is still a surprisingly fun little game. The presentation and atmosphere look great and add volumes to what otherwise could have been a pretty bland experience. At $1.99 the price is right, too, so I say grab your lance and make the King proud.