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Rival Knights

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad


Product: Rival Knights | Publisher: Gameloft | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action, Arcade, Sports | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.0
Rival Knights iPhone, thumbnail 1
It's easy to see why namby-pamby football has become the sport of choice for much of Europe.

Our ancestors used to get their sporting kicks from riding at each other with pointy sticks. Imagine trying to do that on a Sunday afternoon after a roast dinner. Messy.

Rival Knights harks back to that time when men were men, horses were horses, and losers were the recipients of multiple fractures.

Medieval pageantry

The game sets its stall out well. It's a handsome package, with expertly rendered horses, lush medieval backgrounds, and wince-inducing rag doll physics effects.

The jousting system at its core is easy to grasp, but relatively tricky to master - a combination that always works for us.

There's also a compelling tournament structure that sees you climbing the ranks. You start off against scruffy squires and foppish lords, and move onto ruthless knights

Along the way you'll encounter special one-off challenges that require a perfect start, or which don't allow a restart. There are also multi-bout challenges, practice rounds, and multiplayer events.

Saddle sore

The jousts themselves comprise of three basic stages.

First you need to get off to a good start, which is done by tapping the screen at exactly the same time as the 'Go' command.

IAPs explained
The premium currency here is gemstones. You need these to refill your seal bank, as well as to purchase one-off boosts for each joust, and to buy some of the fancier equipment.

Prices start from £1.99 / $2.99 for 40, and go up to a ridiculous £69.99 / $99.99 for 3,000.
Then, as your horse gallops towards your opponent, you must tap the screen rhythmically each time a swing meter hits the green sweet-spot in order to build up speed.

Finally, the view shifts to your opponent while time slows down, giving you the chance to align your shaking lance by dragging it to the designated target point.

Get more of these elements right than your opponent, and you'll send them clattering to the floor in a tumble of broken wood and metal. It's a satisfying experience. Or at least it is to begin with.


The trouble with Rival Knights isn't so much its free-to-play system. It's how that free-to-play system has been allowed to spoil the core gameplay.

At first, knocking your opponents off their horses feels like a pleasantly fresh game of skill. Soon, though, you hit the dreaded pay wall, and it becomes apparent that skill is a disappointingly small requirement for success.

If you don't have the right equipment, you don't have a chance. And equipment costs money.

You can grind away at earlier levels to earn the coins for your horse, armour, and lance upgrades. But the game also restricts the number of fights you can enter with an irritating seal system. You can wait for these to recharge, or (of course) buy some more.

It's a shame, because Rival Knights has all the makings of an original and highly polished arcade time-waster.

But its skill-based elements are diluted by a nagging upgrade path that places too much emphasis on mindless stat pumping, when all you want to do is ride and fight like your ancestors.
Rival Knights
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 10 June 2014
A promisingly fresh arcade joust-'em-up that's knocked off its stride by a heavy-handed free-to-play upgrade system
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