Sometimes a game comes out with a title that explains everything you need to know. Obviously, this is a game about jousting while shaking a spear up and down. Although there's a bit more to it than that, you already have a firm understanding of what to expect.
The only bit of story that's presented comes in the form of a silent film where you're seen proposing to a woman who then points out of a window at some knights jousting. I guess this could mean a lot of things, but I'll assume it's about a dude who wants to marry a woman who isn't interested in him unless he pokes other men with his giant stick first. Anyway, Shake Spears! consists of brief jousting matches that end when a combatant runs out of health. These matches are played by aiming both your spear (to harm your opponent) and shield (to block your opponent's attack). It's an interesting mechanic that has the potential to make matches quite intense. However, it quickly becomes clear how repetitive the matches are after only playing a few of them. There are elements that add some complexity and hence help make the gameplay more fulfilling, but the fact that the core mechanics are incredibly monotonous remains.
Graphically, Shake Spears! is comprised of cartoony two dimensional characters and backgrounds. The combatants are animated well as they charge at each other while riding their steeds. As they approach, the camera zooms in to showcase the pinnacle of the action. There's nothing particularly wrong with the way Shake Spears! looks, but there isn't anything special about it either. The music featured in battles adds a great deal of tension although the repeated fanfare to announce each turn becomes annoying. Also, the victory and menu music clips are brief and will get on your nerves after a while as well. Like the graphics, the music isn't particularly bad, just too generic and repetitive. Sound effects make hitting your opponent satisfying but some are too cartoonish and feel out of place. In the end, Shake Spears! is generically presented, but at least this doesn't get in the way of the gameplay.
A couple of systems help make the gameplay more interesting. One of which is the magic system. Basically, you can purchase and equip up to eight spells that you can use at any time with only one of each being usable per battle. These spells can help you gain an advantage by applying effects such as destroying your opponent's equipment, repairing your own equipment, growing your shield, or blinding your opponent. This makes the gameplay more similar to a card battle game. If you enjoy games like that, then you have a wide variety of much better games to choose from. You can also level your character up by purchasing new pieces of equipment and improving their class. Although it is rewarding to buy spells and level-up, it takes a long time to afford to be powerful enough to take on tougher opponents. Therefore, you can either keep grinding or use real money in order to progress.
Shake Spears! features a few modes including career, multiplayer, and survival. Career acts as the main single player mode and contains 20 tournaments. After you complete all of them, the game loops and becomes more difficult. Just 20 tournaments take long enough to get through so you'll feel inclined to put the game down once you see that it starts again. Multiplayer is an online mode where you joust against other knights from around the world. It's the most rewarding way to play since the level-up and progression systems are more complex than they are in single player. That being said, you'll still have to endure the repetitive core gameplay although it does have more lasting appeal online. It should be noted that progress in career mode does not carry over to multiplayer and vice-versa as each features its own currency. Because of this, if you decide to purchase currency then you have to pay separately for each mode. Anyway, survival mode consists of defeating consecutive groups of enemies with the chance to heal and level-up in between. Overall, it seems like a throwaway mode with not much thought put into it. This is especially true when you look at the fact that your currency is shared between career and survival, yet your character always starts survival with the same basic equipment.
If you don't mind repetitive gameplay and endless grinding then you may appreciate the bare-bones battles of Shake Spears! However, if you're looking for some actual fun jousting action then you should probably stick to Midway's 1982 arcade classic.
- + Level-up and magic systems add some complexity and strategy to gameplay
- - Extremely basic core gameplay becomes boring and repetitive almost instantly
- - Repeated music clips are annoying
- - Requires lots of grinding (unless you pay)