Black Citadel Review

Black Citadel's whack-a-mole combat system functions much better than you'd imagine, and, combined with related innovations, it works to make Black Citadel more than just a charming, low-budget production.

Black Citadel is a role-playing game for the casual mobile audience. While Black Citadel is conventional in many ways, and includes a rather hackneyed high-fantasy plot, its gameplay is more akin to whack-a-mole than anything else. This unusual combat system functions much better than you'd imagine, and, combined with related innovations, it works to make Black Citadel more than just a charming, (presumably) low-budget production.

You'll have to press quite a few of these...
You'll have to press quite a few of these...

After choosing a name for your adventurer, you'll be informed (in broken English) that monsters are roaming the forests and surrounding human settlements. It's your job to investigate the appearance of these aberrations and ultimately stop them from further proliferating. To this end, you'll be spending a lot of your time exploring dungeons and finding keys to open the many doors therein.

Enemy encounters are random on the world map, while in dungeons, encounters are initiated through contact with a patrolling creature. At this point, your opponent will pop up in one of nine positions on the screen. These locations correspond to the buttons on your keypad, which must be pressed quickly, lest you take damage. You'll have to catch each monster many times, sometimes in several positions in rapid succession. The damage you deal and receive in combat is determined by a stat system, which rolls for damage and for critical hits. While inveterate role-playing game fans will at first be confused by this system, genre newcomers may actually find it more accessible. After all, mechanized whack-a-mole has been an amusement park staple for at least 50 years. This familiar gameplay also keeps the game's difficulty level manageable for all gamers.

It's just too bad a whack-a-mole theme wasn't somehow woven into the game's story. Just think--the hero could win a mysterious necklace by playing whack-a-mole at a medieval-themed faire. Already dressed the part, the hero is transported back in time, where his mole mallet becomes a powerful mace. Unfortunately, Black Citadel's actual story is practically nonexistent. A role-playing game should feature a great story, which is something even casual gamers can appreciate. Alas, the whack-a-mole mechanic (and much else) goes unexplained.

Perhaps Black Citadel's best feature is its least visible one--and that's exactly the point. The game uses an item-management system that automatically equips new items as you acquire them. New, higher-damage weapons are automatically equipped. Shields, which each protect our hero from a single retaliatory hit, are also auto-equipped. As Black Citadel seems to have been designed with the casual gaming audience in mind, this is a welcome simplification.

After all, you'll be busy searching for keys and levers, which are essential to advancement in dungeons. The game's dungeon designs are generally very creative and will frustrate you with their intricacy. It's only too bad Kaolink didn't incorporate additional puzzle elements. Wandering around in search of that one switch you missed can get pretty boring.

Graphically, Black Citadel is a solid effort. It has a distinctive style that is executed well. Still, much more is possible on the Sony Ericsson K700i, and, when compared with other games in the genre, Black Citadel looks a bit amateurish.

Denied!
Denied!

Audio was given much less attention. You'll only hear sound when checking out the game's splash screen. Even then, it's minimal, which makes you wonder why a "disable sound" option was even included. However, the game vibrates more than a pickup truck with busted shocks, so there's technically some very low-frequency sonic feedback going down.

Black Citadel feels a little rough for a number of reasons, beginning with its brief, poorly translated story to its nonexistent audio and average graphics. Fortunately, the game's unique battle system, lengthy quest, and cool dungeon maps make up for this.

The Good
Interesting dungeon layouts/puzzles
Whack-a-mole gameplay actually works very well
Great equipment management system
Lengthy
Decent graphics
The Bad
Nonexistent sound
Poorly-translated, barely-there story
Graphics could have been better
More variety in dungeon puzzles would have been nice
7.4
Good
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Black Citadel More Info

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  • First Released Sep 1, 2004
    released
    • iOS (iPhone/iPad)
    • Mobile
    Black Citadel's whack-a-mole combat system functions much better than you'd imagine, and, combined with related innovations, it works to make Black Citadel more than just a charming, low-budget production.
    7.6
    Average Rating19 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    imcgames, Kaolink
    Published by:
    imcgames, Kaolink
    Genre(s):
    Role-Playing, Action