Bored medieval folk didn't have casual mobile games to help them while away the hours. So instead they did stuff like jousting to keep them entertained.
Oh what a knight
Rival Knights is a game that puts you in the saddle of a jouster, giving you a real sense of the adrenaline that courses through your veins as you hurtle towards your rival on your trusty steed.
The object of Rival Knights is as brutally simple as the real thing: to knock your opponent off their horse. It's a genre that's been surprisingly overlooked in mobile gaming, and aside from the excellent Joust Legend on iOS, you won't find comparable rivals in app stores.
Rival Knights includes a single-player campaign and online events. In on-player mode you progress through the game by taking on increasingly tough opponents, working you way through different 'leagues' and tackling some of the most noble knights in the land.
Online events pit you against players from around the world, giving you the opportunity to win prizes (in-game items and currency) and get your name on the leaderboard. An interesting element in Rival Knights is the ability to recruit 'teammates' from your Facebook friends or other players. These teammates also earn stuff for you so you can keep playing the game.
On the theme of in-game currency, each match requires you to pay one 'seal'. There are different seals for online and single-player modes. You can recoup seals pretty easily by winning them, but it's frustrating when you run out.
There's a shop in Rival Knights where you can purchase armor, lances, horses, and such, all of which can be upgraded with coins won in the game. This gives you a motive to keep playing, although you may tire of the repetitive nature of the game. It really doesn't differ much from just running at another guy on a horse.
The game mechanics in Rival Knights are threefold. Once your horse is lined up at the starting point you'll get a countdown from three and must try to touch the screen as soon as it says 'Go'.
Then, you need to maintain acceleration by tapping the screen when the moving indicator in the speed gage reaches the green area.
After doing this several times you'll be level with your rival knight who is charging towards you in the other direction. Then it's time to strike with your lance. You do this by swiping the screen and tapping on the target, which shrinks as you get closer. This is the most fiddly part of the battle process in Rival Knights and if you get it wrong you'll be sent flying off your charge faster than you can say "woah horsey".
There's a training level at the start of Rival Knights which lets you practice the battle mechanics. However, there's no way to go back and try out again once you've completed it. This is a shame, because it can take a few rounds to get the hang of it, and you may waste precious seals in the process. That said, training rounds can be unlocked later in the game.
Fit for a king
The overall look and feel of Rival Knights is excellent, and you really get the sense that you've been transported back to medieval times. The 3D knights and horses look realistic and move in a very authentic way. The slow motion ragdoll effects when a knight is dismounted are breathtaking at times, especially if it's your opponent getting spun through the sky.
The backgrounds are lavish, with weather and time of day changing between events.
Sound effects are very lifelike, and the harp music that plays when you're in the menu screens really completes the feel of the dark ages.
Joust enough to warrant a look
There's no getting past the fact that jousting as a sport is very repetitive. Gameloft has tried to liven it up with upgrades, online modes, boosts, and the like. But for me, virtual jousting becomes pretty monotonous.
Still, the game's concept and exceptional presentation make Rival Knights worth checking out if you've never jousted before. Which you haven't, I'm sure.