Clones are the bane of the mobile industry. For every title that gains a following, there's a plethora of cheap knockoffs lazily imitating it in hopes of achieving a cheap success.
However, there's a twist in this tale of counterfeit culture: what happens when a game takes the good, leaves out the bad, and adds its own flavour and flare?
Enter Toukiden: The Age of Demons.
Toukiden is essentially Monster Hunter. From the character creator, to the health and stamina gauges, to the way small areas interlink with one another, it's Omega Force's take on the Capcom classic with a few tweaks.They got rid of weapon sharpening. Rejoice!
Tedious elements like weapon sharpening and feeding aren't present in Toukiden. In some ways this makes it come across as Monster Hunter-lite, but there's no denying that for some the omission represents an improvement.
Another noticeable change includes a full 360-degree camera, as opposed to Monster Hunter's fixed, awkwardly moving camera, which was rubbish.
All the minor changes are welcome. Monster Hunter isn't the most accessible game to series newcomers, and Omega Force was clearly aware of that going into Toukiden.
Of course, while the parallels with Monster Hunter may be numerous, they only work if you've played it. So, what exactly is a Toukiden when it's at home?
Toukiden sends you out into a world to do battle with monsters known as the Oni. Oni range from insignificant imps all the way to gargantuan bosses that can only be defeated by learning their movement patterns.
Clue: if it's big, chop at its legs until it falls comically to the ground.Talkin' smacks
Combat is where Toukiden's at its best. Using a spear to vault into the air, only to come crashing down on an enemy's head, never gets old. Likewise, using knives to spin in a circle through hordes of baddies simply reeks of baddassery.
One mission sets you the task of defeating 100 imps within five minutes. It was easy enough, but the way the sequence plays out makes you feel like a demi-god.
You press the Square and X buttons to go into a sprint, and then press Square some more to pull off a drive-by attack. Instead of plodding from one enemy to the next, there's always the option to speed across the battlefield killing anything that's dumb enough to get in your way.
Whether it's an over-sized sword, spear, knives, chain and sickle, or a bow, there's a type of weapon for every playing style.
There's a story that ties everything together, but it's boring and often gets in the way, so we won't go into it other than to say it's supposed to be your first day as a monster-slayer, and you're abetted by a cast of extremely generic characters that inspire no affection at all.
Toukiden is all about the combat, loot-hunting, crafting, and collecting. It's a shame the story couldn't be more coherent, but you won't really miss it while you're having fun with the game's more successful elements.Mitamagic
Among the new features Toukiden throws into the mix are the Mitamas - spirits of fallen warriors that can be looted from corpses and then equipped to weapons. Each comes with its own powers to be used in battle by holding down R trigger, be it healing, attack, and so on.
Mitamas add a fresh element to combat. You can use them to buff damage output, or to cast spells, or to dart forward across the battlefield. Also, each Mitama can be levelled up and customised to allow for different innate powers, making them indispensable in missions.
It's not exactly revolutionary, but it helps to keep things moving at a fast pace. In between looting for materials, or while completing the boring missions that you have to slog through in order to advance the story, you might come across a new Mitama, which means having a new toy to play with to break up the dull sections.
Toukiden: Age of Demons may not be everyone's cup of tea. The Monster Hunter crowd may find it too different to be enjoyable, and newcomers may suffer from its repetitive mission structure.
But there's a time for deep, thought-provoking games, and a time for smacking hordes of enemies upside the head with a vast selection of weaponry.
Toukiden may be a clone, created with the sole aim of replicating Monster Hunter's success. But while most clones are hideous experiments gone wrong, Toukiden just about earns its right to an independent existence - especially while Vita owners wait for a real Monster Hunter game to arrive.