Archive for the ‘Role-Playing Game (RPG)’ Category

Final Fantasy

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Final Fantasy

Square Enix has repeatedly dipped their toe in the water, with regard to the app store, but they finally released what the fans have been craving; the original Final Fantasy, a time-honored classic. This is the first title in the long-running series, brought up to semi-modern day standards, and converted quite capably to the iPhone platform.

For me, this game will always hold a special place in my heart. Is it because I imported the original title from Japan, before people even heard of importing video games, and struggled through the game with barely any translation? Nope, I believe that would be Final Fantasy IV for the Super Famicom. You see, I realize I will have zero street-cred when I say this, but…I never owned an NES. There I said it. I spent my childhood in arcades and I couldn’t believe anyone would release a system without a real joystick. Even my Atari 2600 had one! I got over it, much later, when I played Sonic the Hedgehog, but I digress.

The real reason this game means a lot to me is because this game ushered my 3-year-old daughter into the world of RPGs. Not the original…the iPhone version, just last week. After playing for hours and hours, she looked up at me with her big blue eyes and asked if I had any games like this “for the TV”. I bolted upstairs and then returned with armloads of Super Nintendo and Playstation titles, out of which she chose Final Fantasy IX. We played for quite some time, but she still liked the original better…true taste. I told her there was another series that was “daddy’s favorite” and in goes Dragon Quest 7. She loved it and we spent the weekend playing that and Dragon Quest 8. Best weekend of my life and out of all the games we played, Final Fantasy was still her favorite and we both enjoyed every moment of it.

Rating: ★★★★½ icon
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Space Miner: Space Ore Bust

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Space Miner

If these guys would have told me they were developing an Asteroids/Sinistar RPG, I would have said they were nuts. Well, after playing it, I’d have to say you would be nuts not to buy it. It’s an  innovative hybrid with quirky characters, humorous dialog, a beautifully engineered progression system, and addictive gameplay.

The idea here is that you have a space station that serves as a hub for your adventures, populated by a small but diverse group of characters, each with their own motivation and personality. You receive quests here and then pilot your ship out into the surrounding sectors of space to not only complete the mission, but also to mine for ore, which is used to upgrade your ship.

Ship upgrades have both breadth and depth. There are a total of seven ship sections to upgrade: hulls, reactors, engines, collectors, weapons, shields, and scanners. Within each of these categories, there are countless upgrades of varying costs and abilities, enough to scroll off of the screen. Hours of gameplay, witty banter, and upgrade goodness here; don’t pass it up.

Rating: ★★★★★ icon

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Sword of Fargoal

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Sword of Fargoal

This remake of the classic Commodore 64 Roguelike really plays well in short bursts on the iPhone. I’m a big fan of dungeon crawls and this one is no exception since the C64 was my computer of choice as a child, due to the great selection of games and the low barrier-to-entry (which here means, “rock-bottom price point”).

This translation may include the same old skool sid-chip sound effects, teleport traps, and buried treasure that you know and love, but what it adds is the real surprise. The developers have obviously put a significant amount of work into updating this to modern-ish standards. The artwork for the random dungeons is now in smooth 3D, the character art is much better (if you can believe it from the screenshot), they’ve added super-smooth fog-of-war, and also swipe controls (which act a little strange, but you get used to it).

What it has over similar games like NetHack is that it is very accessible. No pages and pages of cryptic commands, no ASCII graphics (*sobs*), and in turn, not as much depth. Still, it’s a really fun romp through a multi-level dungeon, as it always was, and its arrival on the iPhone is a pleasant surprise.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Sword & Poker

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Sword & Poker

Prior to PuzzleQuest, I most likely would have told you that an RPG/Match-3 hybrid would be ridiculous, but it was awesome. Well, Gaia Co. LTD. chose an RPG/Poker hybrid as their first US game release and it too makes for a fun game. Each encounter begins with a 3×3 layout of pre-seeded cards on a 5×5 grid. The player looks at their hand of 4 cards and chooses 2 to put on either end of a 3-card row. This column, row, or diagonal line of cards is then scored as a normal Poker hand (pair,  2 pair, 3 of a kind, etc.) Points scored from the hand damage the opponent, who happens to be a monster. You see, the player enters a dungeon, making simple decision as to which route to take and then encounters a monster to play poker against. Sounds pretty straight forward, right? After exiting the dungeon, the cash earned from winning battles can be spent on equipment and such. This gear will improve the player’s abilities in combat. Abilities matter too, whether it be weapon damage multipliers, a fatter sack *ahem*, or a shield to mitigate damage. Magic spells can be equipped, as well, to perhaps sway the battle in your favor. The card play can be relatively interesting, with all of these variables in play. Denial is an important tactic too, since the hands are in open view, you will oftentimes want to forego your big move to block an even bigger one from the opponent. While the core gameplay is addictive and fun, it can sometimes devolve into when to chuck your cards and pass your turn, because the big combos that score multiple rows are generally seen near the end of the match. I can’t fault the developers, though, because they came up with a pretty original game here that has a ton of replay-value as the player levels up their character. The art, soundtrack, and gameplay evoke a wonderful, if somewhat quirky, theme and everyone that plays it, loves it.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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2 Minute RPG

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

2 Minute RPG

As the name suggests, this lolfest packs as much stunning gameplay as possible into the 2 minutes allotted per game. You move around the barely drawn landscape, talk to NPCs, battle monsters, grind in the dungeons, collect phat lewts, and then register a score after your 2 minutes expires. It is a clever idea and it’s actually kinda fun, to tell you the truth, but it’s too bare bones to really taken seriously. What the developers have proven is that it possible to make a Pick-Up-and-Play RPG and I applaud them for it.

Rating: ★★½☆☆ icon
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Ravensword: The Fallen King

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

ravensword

At first, Ravensword feels like a decent attempt at making an Elder Scrolls-style game on a mobile platform. The player character wakes up in a small medieval town with…guess what…amnesia! The player must sort out the mystery of the evil sweeping across the land. This is the long-term goal, but just as any other RPG worth it’s salt, the short-term goals is to slaughter truckloads of rats first…pesky varmints. From the early presentation, my assumption was that the stage was set for an intricate progression curve to be min-maxed within an inch of its life by skill choices and gear selection, but it turned out not to be the case.

Character customization is almost non existent in this game. Sure, you kill stuff and gain levels to progress, but there are very few meaningful drops from monsters and a skill tree is nowhere to be found. You do pick up some rune stones that help you in some areas, but there is no full magic system. Two of the primary factors of great RPGs are deep character customization that involves frequent player choice on a diverse skill tree and a near-constant stream of new gear, upon which the player must sift through to find the best build. Unfortunately, there is no skill tree and the item game doesn’t provide nearly enough diversity and depth to keep the player interested.

The lack of these key features is really a shame, because the developers (just two guys, BTW) did get plenty of things right. The game has a wonderful soundtrack that evokes the medieval period brilliantly and the sound effects, like chirping birds and grunting beasties, are very convincing. The environments in this free-roaming 3D world are believable and interesting. The quest system works quite well to move the player through the story.  The lock-on combat system generally keeps the player in control, although it does suffer from the common problem that low melee attackers are hard to see. Your effectiveness in combat is limited only by your ability to press the pause button and guzzle a health potion. Wait, these were supposed to be positive comments! The best element of the game, for me, was the exploration and the accompanying feeling of discovery. That’s what kept me playing through the game; I wanted to see and hear what was next.

I attempted to enumerate not only the game’s flaws, but also its successes, because I do think it is a good game in some ways; just not the one I had hoped for. As a player, I’m definitely more suited to the Japanese-style RPG, such as Zenonia or even a more Western approach such as Dungeon Hunter (my favorite Diablo-style dungeon crawl on the iDevice, as of this writing). And for those that thought this game would be The Quest with better graphics, I hate to say it, but you will most likely be disappointed.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Tomena Sanner (US)

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Tomena Sanner (US)

Okay, this game is pure genius. The gameplay consists entirely of timing moves for your little man in a business suit to execute, WHILE BREAKDANCING, in order to keep his pace and reach the goal before the timer runs out. It is loaded with wacky Japanese goodness, including a rhythm section at the end of every level. The crazy factor most closely resembles that of a old playstation game I have called Incredible Crisis (which is a must-play); while the gameplay is completely different, the humor and style is similar. Over the course of the 9 game levels, you will accomplish all of the following important tasks:

  1. Moonwalk with Santa…on the moon
  2. Ski down a dinosaur’s back
  3. Disco-dance with a panda
  4. Play Baseball with a man in a Godzilla suit
  5. Get a kiss from a Swedish maid
  6. Line-dance with Japanese schoolgirls
  7. Slam dunk on a 20’ rim
  8. Do the robot…with a robot

    By the way, if you play through the whole game, you will be able to visit both heaven and hell. Buy this game and make Konami filthy rich.

    Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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    Yipe 5

    Friday, December 11th, 2009

    This really is a bare bones RPG, but one that has held my attention since it dropped. The developer has a quirky sense of humor, as evidenced by the skateboard riding zombie kid shown above, and an excellent sense of pacing. The item game isn’t stellar, but again, it’s very funny. The benefit of this game, is that you “get it” right away and can enjoy it in short sessions.

    Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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    NetHack

    Friday, November 20th, 2009

    Delete your iNetHack app immediately. Not only does this version include the original ASCI art mode (!!!), but it was retooled specifically for the iPhone. Everything is handled with swipes. You learn most of the oft-used commands very quickly and can look up the others (of which there are many) as you need them. I know this won’t be for everyone, but personally, I find myself addicted to it. Pro-tip: be sure to save prior to quitting a session, instead of losing two hours of progress, like I did.

    Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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    Dungeon Hunter

    Saturday, October 10th, 2009

    This is the Diablo clone to have. There are three hero archetypes, Warrior, Mage, and Rogue, each with their own progression path and skill tree. The item game is both broad and deep, with plenty of decision-making for the hardcore guys and an auto-equip for those that aren’t. Loot is auto-pickup, as well. The controls are good, since they offer both tap-to-move and analog joystick controls, but not great. The stick could be tighter and the UI can potentially interfere with the tap controls, but your favorite of the two will probably serve you better than most games of the genre so far. Holding attack will auto-attack, which can be alternated with any of three special attacks and one of several magic fairy powers. As you can see, there is an overworld map, outdoor regions, dungeons, and a jam-packed pause screen with inventory, skill tree, magic, character info, and quests. It’s done by the Hero of Sparta guys, so the graphics are great and the gameplay is much, much deeper than that title. If you like dungeon crawls, you need this game.

    Rating: ★★★★★ icon
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