Wednesdroid: Battle Bears Gold

Wed, Jul 10, 2013

Android, Arcade, Casual, Features, Handheld, Mobile, Social

Industry critics and analysts love to throw around the phrase “console quality” when they describe high-end mobile titles, and it’s not difficult to see why. Mobile titles, particularly on tablets, have easily gotten up to speed with prior console generations in terms of graphics, animation, and scope, and a number of high-profile franchises have already made the leap to tablets, either as adaptations or direct ports. The inherent online nature of tablets, too, is finally being tapped for real-time multiplayer experiences, and we’re well on our way to seeing titles that — with just a little more tweaking — could easily match our fond console memories in any genre. Battle Bears Gold from SkyVu, a recent feature on the Google Play store, is one such title.

The short description of Battle Bears Gold is that it’s a four-on-four 3D shooter, with two teams battling from over-the-shoulder perspectives in a variety of deathmatch arenas. This, of course, is to ignore the free-to-play aspects, the platforming elements, and the deliberately out-of-place adorable charm. The battle bears themselves, you see — the avatars you will select and do battle as — are not exactly menacing or fierce at first glance. Each one resembles a teddy bear, brought to life and given access to automatic weaponry. They run around in colorful levels ranging from space to Aztec temples to skate parks, and they hop, shoot, and club their way through one another in a 3-minute dash for points.

It really brings home how closely Battle Bears comes to being a one-to-one console analogue, because the game plays, looks, and feels a great deal like Fur Fighters, a game whose art style, perspective, and gameplay felt very close to this — back on the Dreamcast in 2000. (Perhaps not coincidentally, Fur Fighters has also been ported to tablets.) From the absurd characters and their wholly fantastic weapons to the colorful nontraditional battlefields — and, especially, the anthropomorphic combatant design — playing Battle Bears feels like playing an old-school console deathmatch shooter. If one could pick up a controller and start battling bears with a dual-stick control scheme, there would be no appreciable difference at all.

Not to say that the touch-screen mechanics don’t work for Battle Bears; there are still two ‘sticks’ for running and aiming, they’re just on the screen. Still, if SkyVu were to enable controller support — say, through Green Throttle (a TriplePoint client) — there’d be fewer instances of accidentally swiping the options menu with one’s palm, for example. Plus, if you’re hoping to really recreate the console feel, well… it’s hard to beat an actual controller. Some games just fit the hardware more elegantly, and shooters tend to fall into that camp pretty well.

Regardless of whether you’re grabbing the tablet or the controller, though, Battle Bears Gold makes an excellent addition to your console-style lineup, and you can try it yourself here.

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