Version tested: Android
Mercilessly tapping into the same vein of "one more go" gameplay that powers mobile hits like Doodle Jump, Jetpack Joyride and Ski Safari, browser game turned Ouya title Knightmare Tower is one the micro-console's most accomplished and addictive games.
You're a knight, and after getting yourself started with a makeshift medieval rocket, you must bounce and slash your way to the top of a gloomy tower, using the various monsters swarming around you to keep yourself moving upwards.
In practice, this means shifting left and right to position yourself over a creature, then dashing down to strike. Kill the monster and you gain some momentum which shoves you onwards. Combos result in an even bigger speed boost, and there's a flood of lava rising behind you just to keep you on your toes. Miss the monsters and you drop off the screen, deposited back into the action by your rocket and forced to regain whatever speed you lost.
Complicating matters are the various enemy types, which start off simple and easy to slaughter and quickly start to display abilities that force you to be more subtle in your strikes. Some have spikes that pop out, costing you a heart from your life bar. Others will shoot fireballs or slime, either up the screen or across it. Some are small and fast, others large and slow, and the amount of lift gained varies from critter to critter.
There's a joyful, cartoon elasticity to the game, aided by visuals that suggest Castle Crashers' even more boisterous cousin and stirring music that keeps the energy high. It's one of those games that is easy on the eye and hell on the thumbs, a fiendishly playable little distraction that quickly escalates into full-blown obsession thanks to a tight feedback loop that drops you from the game, into the shop to buy power-ups with your in-game gold (no micropayments, thankfully) and then back into action in a matter of seconds.
Those power-ups are what make the game a worthy long-term prospect, as they enhance everything from your sword and armour to how long you can hang in the air before starting to fall. Potions can be unlocked, and with each floor of the tower you burst through, you rescue a princess who gifts you another bonus item that can appear when you defeat enemies. Before you know it, the screen is awash with bombs, hearts, potions and horns - the last of which summons a giant legendary monster that splits into smaller versions, Asteroids-style, for a massive coin payout.
Knightmare Tower began life as a browser game, but it's a natural fit for playing on a joypad and the colourful graphics absolutely pop on a large TV. More to the point, it's one of the few games on the Ouya store that would be equally at home on the App Store or Xbox Live Arcade. If Ouya can encourage developers to launch this sort of quality morsel on their console first, rather than inheriting it from Newgrounds, it could be the start of something special.
8 / 10