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Invincible Tiger Review
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Invincible Tiger is Blitz Arcade’s retro styled arcade beat-em-up with a very eastern feel. Published by Namco Bandai, it’s the XBLA equivalent of a meld of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee squashed flat and being sworn by enemy after enemy, after enemy. So how does this game pan out for the weighty 1200 Microsoft points? The fortune cookie says…

7976 300x168 Invincible Tiger Review

Story - 4
You play a martial arts hero named Han Tao who battles across China to reclaim the star of destiny from the Evil Overlord. The Evil Overlord has a plethora of foes from henchmen to ninja’s, even the un-dead try to stop you. The story is very forgettable and though the mid-chapter cut scenes are well presented with a film grain art style there is nothing enigmatic about the story and trying to even have any semblance of empathy with your own character is a real struggle. Between levels the story unfolds in a static styled image and narration affair which often found us just pressing the A button to get on with it all.

Gameplay – 6
Invincible Tiger is an all out retro button smasher with an added dodge attack to mix it up a bit, unfortunately your attacks are limited to punches and kicks with the occasional throw. Although this is pretty original to the retro roots, it really isn’t an excuse. Fortunately you can stun your opponents by kicking clay pots into the faces of your enemies or push objects to throw them off the game map to add a little variation. In the game you can collect the souls of hit men which become imperative to staying alive as it re-gains your health quicker the more souls you hold. Along with this health regeneration, if you can find a quiet moment from mashing buttons you can also meditate to re-gain your health bar. Trust me, even with these two health gaining solutions you’ll still have your ass handed to you in a bread basket as early as the second level.

This is where Invincible Tiger fails, the difficulty spike increases too quickly, enemies come from the sky, doors and ladders quicker than you know it and even if you make it through the 11 chapters per level you don’t necessarily get the chance to meditate your way to being healthy before the next onslaught of ninja’s and warlords. Han Tao does have a hyper state feature which turns him into a steroid/amphetamine fuelled martial arts maniac but you’ll rarely come across the chance to use his extra speed and power through the later levels of the game because, your Zen powers never generate to the levels needed when you are constantly dying.

To give you more value for money Blitz Games have given you an additional time trial mode (where you have to clear a level in the best time) and also an endurance mode (where you have to kill as many enemies as you can before dying) whilst making these components available online also. Whether this adds any variation in game play is questionable and you most certainly would need to be a real fan of the game to even bother with the time trial mode at all.

Where Invincible Tiger rescues itself a little is down to the pace of the combat, it’s relentless and with the ability to interact with varying platforms, you can take your combat from the bottom of a garden, right to the roof tops of different battle arenas. It’s quite nice to see Han Tao zip across the night sky, or shimmy up pipes to escape foes, in some respects it has a kind of Lode Runner homage to it. Whether that was the vision of Ollie Clarke (Project Director) it’s not clear, but it’s an element we like and could have been really well executed had the enemies been a little slower in catching you up, at least that way you could refill your health meter a little easier. It certainly would have made the game less infuriating.

hantao 1 300x168 Invincible Tiger Review

Graphics & Sound – 8
The game doesn’t have the fantastic visuals of say, The Shadow Complex (same price) but Invincible Tiger has its own art style that represents the eastern vibe and martial art story well, it’s just a shame this level of detail wasn’t used a little more in the after level story progression areas. Although the renders of Han Tao and his foes lack any real detail, the arena’s themselves have a lovely hand drawn feel about them which intertwines with the film grain overlay really well.

Although we didn’t get the opportunity to test the 3D elements of the game out, it’s a nicely added feature which supports a varying array of 3D glasses, from the retro red & green to digital 3D glasses, there is support for 3DTV and non 3DTV owners alike. It’s most certainly a sure fire way of making their purchasers return to the game when they have the equipment available to get the full experience.

In terms of sound in the game, it has all the nice samples you’d expect from a martial arts game, comic styled slaps and punches, a cool menu soundtrack, it works nicely and thankfully there isn’t anything irritating about the games audio, like cheesy background music or badly done character narration.

Tiger The Legend of Han Tao 300x168 Invincible Tiger Review

Online – 8
Blitz Games Arcade have added a nice online feature which unfortunately is seemingly abandoned by the online community, luckily if you have a friend online who has the game, you can easily boot up and get the ass kicking (or your ass handed to you) started relatively quickly. I think the game is best served in multiplayer and it’s mostly enjoyed as an offline multiplayer experience, it’s a real retro throwback when played with others. Other than the co-op the rest of the online options (the same as single player) are forgettable and aren’t really worth investing your time in. The reason why we feel the online warrants an 8 is simply down to the fact that local multiplayer was given support, when all so often it’s ignored by game developers lately.

Fun Factor – 6
As a single player experience, you’ll want to chop off Han Tao’s ridiculous ponytail, as a multiplayer experience you’ll find some fun in battling hordes of enemies whilst completely ignoring the plot of the game. With some nice achievements to be had, it isn’t the worst game on XBLA but it isn’t the best either for your money, by a long shot.

Overall Score 6.4/10
Whilst graphically the game presents itself well and the online is you’re only given hope of ever enjoying this title, the story lacks even your attention, the single player is agonisingly difficult and the price is a little steep when you consider Castle Crashers and The Shadow Complex come in or under the same price of 1200 Microsoft points.

6.4/10

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