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Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars

Video Game Reviews

Ratings are based on a five-point scale, in homage to the the late, great Next Generation Magazine.

Revolution Software
Gameboy Advance

Rating: * * * *
Broken Sword - video game reviews
Broken Sword screen shots - click for closeup

February 19, 2005

And now, as a benefit to my readers, allow me a few words about a little-seen, but critically-received game called Broken Sword. This blongs squarely in that category of Gameboy Advance titles that deserved an audience, but came and went without much notice. A diamond in the rough.

Older fans of computer games will recognize the name. It was a successful series of adventure games from that bygone era, and they still invite a warm nostalgia to anyone who remembers them.

These kind of games were more common in the 1980's and 1990's, when home computers were content to let the consoles have all the fast, arcade games. A graphical adventure game like, oh, Broken Sword (can't let myself wander too far) is a slower, more literary experience. It's much more about creating a vivid word with character and story, and not about running around and shooting things.

The story involves an American on vacation in Paris, who nearly becomes the victim of a cafe bombing. Despite the pleas of the local authorities, he is determined to solve the case singlehandedly. Perhaps he is a little like Joe Cotton's character in The Third Man, something of a mild caracature of cowboy Americans. To bad there aren't any Orson Welles cameos.

In any case, he discovers some leads, meets several interesting people, and finds himself caught in something far bigger than himself. It would be cruel of me to reveal any more of the story; you will have to discover all the great moments for yourself.

This installment in the Broken Sword series, titled The Shadow of the Templars, is a port from the PC, where it was a best-seller. It's remarkable how the entire game was translated to the handheld format without any cuts or compromises. Revolution Software deserves our appreciation.

The game's visuals are striking, bold; they stand out as among the finest this handheld as ever seen. There's a terrific amount of detail on the tiny screen, and I'm impressed how clear everything looks. Everything is drawn in a realist American cartoon style, a little bit like Brad Bird's little gem The Iron Giant.

If you own a Gameboy Advance and you're looking for something a little different, then you absolutely should give this a chance. I think you'll thank yourself for the effort. It ranks among the best of the lost gems. I can't recommend it enough.

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