Zanshin Review: Are You Ready to Fight, Young Grasshopper? Not Really.

I have yet to find a good martial arts game on the App Store, as most of them are very unrealistic and cartoony. As soon as I saw Zanshin, I had high hopes for it – it had realistic tournament fighting rules, training, free play, survival, and practice modes, and multiple fighting moves and combinations. This game has somewhat satisfied my craving for a martial arts game, but I keep thinking that it could have been better.

The effort the developers put into this game is quite noticeable. You can see that they really wanted to create a realistic martial arts game, as they have classic fighting moves and a nice, fitting backgrounds. You can go by a two, three, four, or five point scoring system, just like in a real tournament, and one hit will knock down your opponent. As I’ve said before, realism in a fighting game is necessary to attract someone, and Zanshin is full of it. It’s probably the best and most realistic martial arts tournament combat game I’ve ever seen.

The Bluetooth multiplayer function works beautifully, and when I played with a friend there weren’t any problems at all. Matches ran smoothly, and there was no lag or stutter.

We know that controls either make or break a game. In this case, this game’s controls somewhat cripple it. Though there are two different control schemes and three levels of complexity for each scheme, they just don’t work that well.

The D-Pad based controls are unresponsive, and every time I want to switch movement direction or attack, I have physically take my finger off the screen and then put it back on the screen and press the new button. Sliding my finger back and forth doesn’t work at all. The gesture based control scheme isn’t much better either, and is still somewhat unresponsive. However, this doesn’t mean the game is unplayable, it’s just difficult to adjust when you need to.

Sometimes I just want to play the game for a little while, but it turns out that  I can’t pause the game when I need to. In addition, I can’t save the progress I’ve made in Tournament mode, so I have to either finish the game in one sitting, or play for a few minutes and then lose all my progress. This should really be fixed, as starting over time and again doesn’t really please me, to say the least.

The game is completely silent from the menu screen to the matches. The only sounds I hear are the yells and hits of the fighters, and the referee’s voice. Other than that, there aren’t any sounds at all. Some background music would definitely be welcome.

Overall, Zanshin does what it tries to do – simulate a real martial arts tournament and have authentic moves and piont allocation. I guess the game captures most of the spirit of a tournament, but it’s really missing something that would make it a good game for everyone, not just martial art practicioners and enthusiasts like me. Until then, Zanshin is worth a look, but you should consider your purchase before buying it.

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