It’s pretty rare to see a development team release high quality RPGs one after the other. Square Enix is definitely in that list, but with iOS titles, Kemco is right on their heals. Releasing Symphony of Eternity, Alphadia, Eve of the Genesis and Fantasy Chronicle all within the last year, Kemco has made their mark on the Turn Based RPG scene, and now we can add Grinsia to that list of top notch titles that they’re building up.
This time around, you’ll start off playing as a 3 member family; Grieg, father, Milka, daughter, and the son, which you’re able to name at the beginning of the game. For those of you who have played Kemco’s other releases, Grinsia might not be as depthy as you might like. The characters HP and MP goes up with each leveling up, which is done with experience gained through battles. You are able to equip your characters with one weapon, one piece of armor, and two accessories. The accessories are all varied from pieces that bring up your defense or attack, to items that can raise the critical hit rate by 10%, or raise a characters speed, luck, or protect against certain magical spells.
Compared to Kemco’s previous releases, Grinsia does not require much, if any at all, grinding, which is a big plus. The game is driven by the story, and, without any side quests, everything that you wind up doing directly effects the progression of the plot. However, in order to progress throughout the game, you will need to do a lot of exploration, and go through a lot of conversation with townsfolk. It’s almost never directly apparent who you’re going to need to talk to, so you will spend quite a bit of time getting to know people in every place that you visit.
There’s also a day and night system for the game. Some sections will be impossible to pass unless it’s nighttime in the game, while others require the sun to be out. You are also given choices with your character, depending on how you’d like to play, being the ‘good’ guy, or the ‘bad’ guy, each having it’s own strengths and weaknesses, effecting what items you get, and how you make it through certain parts of the game. This sometimes can change the outcome of things, like if a certain character joins your party, but no ‘wrong’ answer will ever get you stuck. This definitely adds a great layer of immersion with the gameplay.
As for combat, like other T-B-RPGs, there is an ‘auto’ button, which makes your characters automatically attack the enemies, without using spells, or items. But this time around, if you decide to use the auto button more than a couple times in a row, you’ll end up killing off your characters pretty quickly. The combat isn’t really challenging compared to some other RPGs, but you will need to pay attention, and mix things up in order to make your way from point A to point B.
To make things a little easier while traveling, each town and ‘dungeon’ area has their own portal. Once activated, you can teleport yourself from one place to another in a flash. This makes moving from place to place, and even across continents a breeze. Another big plus for this mechanic is that you really don’t need to grind through battles, so you can’t really use the teleportation too much, as there’s always enough battles to keep your levels high enough to make it through the game.
Like all of Kemco’s other releases, Grinsia’s story, translation, and music are all top notch. The story is very well written, while the translation to English is almost perfect, having only minor mistakes here and there. The music is in the same league as old-school Final Fantasy games, adding to the feeling and immersion that the story and characters build up by themselves.
Graphically, Grinsia isn’t really different from Kemco’s previous efforts, with the retro inspired graphics being very polished, and the character models during dialogue looking great. Grinsia has loads of different environments, including port town, inland towns, castles, dungeons, caves, forests, underground hideaways, temples, and more, giving the game quite a bit of variety with it’s environments.
After the release of Fantasy Chronicle, I didn’t think Kemco would ever be able to out-do themselves. However, Grinsia, while not as depthy with the equip or combat systems, is probably the most polished, and well rounded RPG that they’ve ported over to the English AppStore. Right now, it’s on sale for $4.99, and will soon go up to it’s regular price of a well deserved $8.99. Though there’s really nothing negative that can be said about the game as a whole, it is worth pointing out that I, as well as some other players have experienced lag, and frame rate issues, as well as crashes. Kemco has said that they are working on this as fast as they can, so hopefully we’ll get a fix for whatever is causing this as soon as possible. However, out of everyone I’ve talked to, and out of all of the reviews in the US AppStore, combined, only about 10% of players have experienced problems like these, so there’s a very good chance that most of you have nothing to worry about. Now, like all of Kemco’s past RPG releases, Grinsia is ending up as a highly recommended game, and is being put on my personal ‘Best Games of 2012’ list. If you’re a fan of the genre, it’s definitely a game that you should have on your device.
::After posting this review, a user in the US AppStore posted a fix for the lag and framerate issues. If you enable OpenFeint while playing, you shouldn’t experience any lag at all. Apparently, if you’re not signed into OF, the game keeps trying to access your OF data, which is what is causing the lag and slowdown. I’ve checked this on both a 4th Generation iPod Touch, and an iPad 2, both having no slowdown issues at all with OpenFeint enabled.::
**THANKS TO ENDEMION IN THE US APPSTORE FOR POSTING THIS!!**
With Action RPG’s pretty much dominating the Role Playing charts in iTunes for the last couple years, it’s pretty sad seeing most of them going down the drain. There’s just not much more you can do to make an original Action RPG these days. Thankfully, Turn-Based RPGs are making a huge comeback, with help from two big companies, Square Enix, and Kemco, and the latest addition to the old-school influenced turn-based RPG genre, is Kemco’s Eve of the Genesis.
Now, if you’re familiar with Kemco’s previous iOS releases, Eve of the Genesis is sort of a mixture of Alphadia and Symphony of Eternity. Fantastic story-telling, as well as top-notch translation, completely draws you into the plot, and makes you actually feel, and care for, the characters. The story takes place in the Empire of Gadalia. It’s kind of a matrix type story, with humans battling machines that ruled the empire, but were defeated 2,000 years ago. Now they’re back, and somehow able to travel through space, seemingly appearing anywhere they want to attack. Your characters are on a quest to try and find out how the machines are able to just appear anywhere they want, and eventually find a way to stop them from taking over the empire yet again.
The equip system is pretty basic, giving you 3 slots, one for a weapon, one for armor, and another for one accessory. However, there is a fairly deep skill and orb system that fully makes up for the bland equipping, and then some. Each character is allowed to have 10 different skills from offensive, defensive and healing. These do not increase in skill with your character leveling up, but instead, you will use gems which are collected on your journey, to make your skills stronger. Once you level up an offensive skill with Reinforcing Gems, it will take more and more with each time you level them up. Your defensive skills are leveled up with Diffusing Gems, also requiring more with each level up. There are also elemental skills, which are leveled up with Reinforcing Gems, but can also be changed with Element-changing Gems. This allows for each character to change their element skills based on the types of enemies are in specific areas. You are also able to clone skills, allowing for your character to keep a skill, while still changing it.
There are also orbs which you can use to increase your stats, like evasion, defense, attack, health, sp (magic), agility, and more. These orbs are found scattered throughout the empire, and can also be won in battles, and bought in shops. Once you own one, you can find it in your items section, and immediately use it. As you level up, each of your stats goes up as well, attack, defense, health, ect. On top of this, there are also Ooparts, which once found, offer up various abilities. However, leveling up does not restore health or SP, so if you’re close to death, no matter what, you’ll need to either find an Inn, a blue restoring orb, or use potions to regain your health.
As you explore the empire of Gadalia, you’ll encounter loads of different enemies, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Encounters are mostly random, meaning unlike Symphony of Eternity, you can not tell where enemies are on the map, you will just run into them randomly while walking around. There are a few enemies that you will be able to see before hand, but you will not run into these enemies too often. Completing the game does not require too much grinding, in fact, if you plan on exploring every area of the map, dungeons, forests, deserts, mountains, castles, and buildings, no extra grinding should be required. But if you plan on avoiding a lot areas, you can pretty much expect to need to grind, around towns is the best place, as you can head back to town, and stay in an Inn for 20-50 gold, which completely restores all of your characters.
Right now, Eve of the Genesis is having a launching sale of 67% off, reducing the price from $8.99 to $2.99, but with how amazingly well done Kemco’s turn-based RPGs are, $8.99 is a great deal for this game. Yet again, it brings back memories of playing old-school Final Fantasy titles on the Nintendo, and SNES. The very well written story, as well as the fantastic graphics, great animations, and deep gem/orb system, makes for an adventure game that will totally immerse you, making it hard for you to focus on anything else until you complete it. Kemco has done it again, with another flawless release, and after visiting their website, you’ll hope that their other titles, like End of Aspiration, Machine Knight, Kamen Rider Fourze, and more will all be ported to the iOS.
I’m not personally a big fan of turn-based RPGs. Though there are a couple that have really had an impact on me, but only a handful. Turn-based RPGs just aren’t really my thing, though the ones that I have enjoyed, I enjoyed immensely. What does this have to do with anything? Well, when I first saw that a new RPG had been released for the iOS, I didn’t even think for a second about checking it out until I heard a friend at work talking about a new amazingly immersive game he just bought. Symphony Of Eternity, released by Kotobuki Solution, just so happened to be that game. I ended up checking out some information that night when I got home, and when I read that it was a lot like the older Final Fantasy games, I immediately became intrigued as the old FF games are some of the very few turn-based RPGs that I have enjoyed to no end.
So, first off, the graphics. Symphony Of Eternity looks the part of an old-school game. However, there’s a modern feeling to it as well. The text parts are accompanied by pictures of characters faces that look pretty detailed, and some of the enemies that you’ll encounter have some pretty nice animations and elaborate graphic styles, as do the environments you‘ll fight them in. The world map, within towns, exploring certain areas, and the menus are all old-school styled though. It’s a nice mesh of old-school and modern styles, and all fits together very well. Nothing feels out of place, and the animations are well done. The music is very fitting of a turn-based RPG game, and actually reminds me a lot of some of the Final Fantasy soundtracks, and just like it did with FF, it adds quite a bit to the atmosphere and feeling of the game.
There are three control schemes; you can tap where you want to move to, or use one of two d-pads. One stationary, and one that centers where you set your thumb down onto the screen. The joystick/d-pads can seem a little unresponsive at times, but really, they just don‘t leave room for error. You will need to constantly make sure that your finger is still within the circle of the joystick, as going out of it even just a little bit will make your character stop walking, and because of this, it can kind of feel out of place until you get use to it. You can change the control set-up at any time from the game’s option menu. There are also options to change the fighting speed, conversation speed, and set the BGM and sound effects volumes. Along with these options, there is a very nice and in-depth help section in the pause menu, telling you how to do everything and what everything does. Accompanied with 5 save slots, and an Auto-Save, it’s very well rounded out in the options aspect.
Now, in the game, you’ll control a party of 3 members, a young man named Kreist, a special golem named Dauturu and a princess who they decide to let join them in their quest, named Laishutia. You’re on a journey to find the weapon, Regratlute, which grants it’s holder any wish they desire. I don’t want to give away much more of the story, because as you might have guessed, it’s a huge part of the game. In fact, it’s very well written, and very immersive. The way the characters interact with one another and reveal their strengths and weaknesses draws you in, and makes you feel for them. The closest game I can compare it to is Final Fantasy 7. The way it’s written, and how the story is presented reminds me of the way I felt when I first played FF7 many years ago, and because of this, it’s looking like Symphony Of Eternity will make it’s mark on me.
The battle system is like your typical turn based game. You’ll be able to choose between using your basic weapon attack, an item (healing or mana potions), a special attack, or choose the characters stance. Once you decide what action you want a character to take, you’ll then either tap on the enemy you want to attack, or on the character you want to use the potion on. Since the characters are pretty close together on the iPod Touch screens, it’s nice that the developers made it so that you can also tap on the character’s stat section on the bottom of the screen. In the characters stat section you can see how much health and mana you have, as well as a bar with a percentage above it. This is your break bar. Like Final Fantasy, this bar is filled when you attack, and when you are attacked, and once it is full, a “Break” icon will appear in the top right corner, which you can tap, and have the character with a full break bar (or choose the character you want to use their break ability, if you have more than one character with a full break bar) attack no matter who’s turn to attack it is. As you can imagine, this comes in handy, and can change the tide of a battle in seconds with the break attack being very strong. Also, if you happen to attack with your characters one right after the other, you’ll get a combo increase on your attack power, which goes up with each successive attack. All of the enemies also have week points which you can see if you decide to use the Princess’s power to do so. Doing this, you can find out what their week points are, and what magic does the most amount of damage to them. This does come in handy when fighting some of the stronger enemies. Once you finish the battle you will be awarded with experience, gold, tablet points and any items that the enemies might have had.
As you gain experience, and level up, you are able to distribute Merit Points among each of the characters. These will increase the characters offense, defense, magic abilities, magic defense, speed, and more. There are also tablets that you can have your characters equip. Each of the tablets gains points after battle, and gives each character certain abilities and has special skills and effects, like increased defense, a special attack, and adding to the character’s HP, all of which grows as you gain tablet points. So, there is obviously a ton of customization to play around with in the game, and all of it, of course, has an effect on how you end up playing the game.
Kemco has done an amazing job with Symphony Of Eternity, and I feel like I owe Kotobuki Solution for bringing it to the platform. I have seriously not had this kind of gaming experience in a long, long time. Everything about the game is top notch, and so incredibly well done, it’s really not so hard to believe that the only other games like it in the AppStore are the re-releases of Secret Of Mana, and the Final Fantasy games, and Symphony Of Eternity fits extremely well within that small class of astounding turn-based RPGs, that are all well worth their premium price-tags, if not more. It is $8.99, and very much worth the purchase. If you’re a fan of RPGs, or really just exceedingly well written, very immersive adventure games with loads of customization, you’ve got to pick up Symphony Of Eternity. It will grab your imagination and suck you into one incredibly amazing world.
Symphony Of Eternity gets a perfect score of 10 out of 10.
Destroy Gunners SP is a new mech game by Shade Inc. First off, yes, it is kind of pricy for an AppStore game, but hopefully this review will help you decide if it’s up your ally or not. Shade Inc. is no stranger to the video game scene, having made The Granstream Saga, Orphen: Scion of Sorcery, Onslaught, and more, they know what it takes to make a great action game. But having worked primarily on console games, the question still remains, do they have what it takes to make a great mobile game? After playing the lite version of Destroy Gunners, I was convinced that they could make a game that controls well, but it seemed a little mindless and there wasn’t much customization available. With the full version though, you get enhanced graphics, missions, more environments, and tons more customization, along with a couple more mechs to unlock and obtain in the store. But I will be comparing between the lite and full version quite a bit throughout this review, because let’s face it, for $9, most of you are going to be checking out the lite version before you buy the full.
The goal of the game is to go through the levels collecting upgrades and weapons, blowing up enemies, and killing bosses. You control your character by using a joystick in the left corner, and using left and right buttons in the right corner to turn your point of view, and flip your mech around. To fire, you place your finger directly on the middle of the screen, dragging around with the crosshairs slightly above your thumb. You’re also given a jetpack button which lets you reach higher areas of the levels, and touching on the gun select button brings up your equipped weapons. You can change between pausing the game when you press on the weapon select button, or keep the action going in the options menu. Between the lite and full versions, control isn’t really different, so you can get a pretty good idea of how it works by checking out the lite. It actually works extremely well on a touch screen, which surprised me quite a bit.
The missions in the full version range from collecting upgrades, to killing bosses and killing a certain amount of enemies in a given amount of time, and more, but it does stay fresh through each of the levels, and upgrading your mech with new abilities, defenses, and weapons will definitely keep you going through each mission. Enemies drop ammo, health upgrades, and components, which are turned in at the end of the stage, or at death, and can be equipped in the customize section. The components consist of new weapons, defense upgrades, attack upgrades, and special abilities like power recovery and increase component drop rate upgrades. You’re able to equip 6 of these components at a time, and goes up with each unlocked mech, so switching out and checking out what you’ve recently picked up between stages is a pretty big part of making it through the game. In the lite version, your upgrades are picked up on the battlefield, and automatically equipped, but you only get certain weapon and HP upgrades, so the customization between the lite and full versions is extremely different, and a lot more customizable in the full version. Also, in the lite version, you are not given missions, you just end up going through the levels, blowing up enemies, and taking out the same boss at the end of the two environments they give you.
The graphics in the full version are better than in the lite version, unless you’re running the game on an older device, in which case, you’ll probably have to select lower graphics in the options menu in order to get the game to play smoothly. But the graphics on full graphics mode are great. The environments really stick out, textures look great, and the explosion animations are better, along with better smoke trails on your missiles, and the like. They are impressive graphics to have on a mobile device, and the atmospheres really give you something to sink your teeth, or eyes, into. All of the animations and movement are very smooth as well, giving you awesome eye candy.
There’s loads of challenge, especially since you can select the difficulty in the options menu, so the game will keep you busy and your heart pounding most of the time. OpenFeint leaderboards and achivements are also included and do help add to the replayability quite a bit. Music and effects are top notch as well, adding to the feel and general aesthetic of the entire game. To make a long story short, you will be getting your moneys worth if you decide to buy Destroy Gunners SP, and Shade Inc. has definitely thrown down the gauntlet in terms of mech gameplay on mobile devices, though some might find it repetitive and mundane after a while, since the only real drive is grinding to collect more gear to equip on your mech, and rising up the leader boards. There‘s no story, or any sort of plot to follow, and that would have really been a very welcome addition to the game. But if you are a fan of mech attack action games, this is the best you’ll get on a mobile device, and $8.99 will be money well spent considering how much gameplay and content is included, and how good it looks and plays. I’m giving Destroy Gunners SP 4.5 out of 5 stars, with an exception; if you don’t care about story, or plot, this is a 5 out of 5 star game, controlling extremely well, looking beautiful, and packing loads of challenge. If a story or plot is essential for you to enjoy a game, you might not care for Destroy Gunners SP. But I’m certainly glad I picked it up, and it will never be deleted from my device.