Action RPGs have flooded the AppStore over the last couple of years. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In my case, it’s driven me back towards Turn-Based RPGs, which I use to love as a young teen, but kind of feel out of until earlier this year. Anyway, with the insane amount of Action RPGs available to iOS gamers, it’s hard to think that any of them can really bring anything new to the table, or generally impress gamers to the point where they’re given hope for the genre again. Enter ANBSoft. Their title, CrimsonHeart, might just wind up being the game that changes your perspective.
CrimsonHeart puts you in a world where Humans and Demons have fought for control of the world, with Demons trying to control the Humans with force, and the Humans trying to fight them off with intelligence. Dragons act as judges, having both intelligence and strength beyond that of both races, they limit themselves from getting involved. Dragons are immortal, but fall into deep sleep every 200 years, which is when the fighting between Humans and Demons is in total chaos. You’ll play as Pochi, a young warrior who has all of this going on around him, and Ann, a young mage, who has no memory of who she is, or what is going on in the world around them.
The game starts you off in a Prologue , which is the game’s beginning tutorial. Here, you’ll control Sire Ka’arin, a level 90 character who will not die during the gameplay in the Prologue. You’ll be able to control your character with a joystick in the bottom left corner, and attack with a button in the bottom right, along with having 4 spells and spell attacks around the basic attack button, all of which use SP, which is displayed in the top left along with the character icon and HP gauge. In the bottom center of the screen is where you can find the healing and SP potions. One thing you’ll notice right off the bat is that your character has 360 degree movement. It feels very natural at first, but if you play CrimsonHeart for a while, and then go back to almost any other Action RPG, the movement will probably end up feeling clunky and un-natural. It’s a very big plus for CrimsonHeart’s gameplay.
Now, CrimsonHeart does have your typical main quest, then talk to people throughout the villages, and complete quests for them to get little items, or some extra experience, and that’s fine. But what also really helps out with leveling up and becoming stronger, are the additions of the Arena, Forging Equipment, and the Card system. With the Arena, you’re able to pay to battle it out against a certain amount of enemies. Once you beat all of the enemies, you’re sent back to the village where you entered the arena from. As you level up, and progress through the game, more arenas are opened up and made available for you. What’s nice about this, is that if you’re having problems with a certain part in the game, instead of going out and grinding in the fields, you can just pop into an arena a couple of times. The experience gained is carried over back out of the arena, as well as all of the equipment you might get from the battles. As for Forging Equipment, you can visit a blacksmith, and give him items to forge, which has the potential to make them stronger. There is also a potential that they will become weaker, but it’s a great thing to try out if you’ve got a bunch of extra items that you’ve picked up from going on quests. You never really know what you might end up with. The blacksmith is also able to craft items. If you have enough materials, he will be able to make some very strong items for you to use. The Card System is one of the more interesting mechanics of the game. If you’re familiar with Infinity Blade II’s Gem System, the Card System shouldn’t be too hard to grasp. Every town has a Card Master. This Card Master can combine cards, which can result in rare cards, and yes, getting a RARE anything in an RPG is always great, and the Card Master can also attach the cards to items that are not equipped, making them stronger.
The graphics and animations are also a huge selling point for the game. The graphics are some of the best I’ve seen within the genre, with loads of detail, and an insane amount of color. As you attack enemies, how much damage you’ve done shows up above their heads, a-la Borderlands, which I always thought was a very cool graphic addition for games. If the enemies hit you, the same thing happens, but the numbers are in red instead of a pale yellow. The environments are very well done, with great path layouts, and wonderful objects scattered around the worlds. The trees, water, grass, bushes, rocks, flowers, everything that’s in the game adds to the overall atmosphere somehow, which does help immensely when becoming immersed within the game. The world that ANBSoft has created is beautiful, and the creatures within it are all designed perfectly. On top of this, the animations for moving, walking, running, dashing, attacking, everything is so fantastically well done that after playing CrimsonHeart, pretty much all other Action RPGs are dull and boring by comparison.
With all of these great selling points, it’s easy to see why the regular price for CrimsonHeart is $4.99. But right now, it’s on sale for $0.99! Did I also mention that the game is UNIVERSAL? So if you’re a fan of the genre, or use to be a fan of the genre, and have been disappointed over the last year by the onslaught of Action RPGs released in the AppStore, CrimsonHeart is definitely a game that you NEED to check out. ANBSoft has become a development team that I will be keeping a very close eye on in the future. If their next games are even half as entertaining as CrimsonHeart, they’ll be worth buying. Also, a huge THANK YOU to the developers, for re-igniting my love of Action RPGs. I really can’t thank you guys enough. I hope those of you who end up checking this out will feel the same.
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.
Evertales is the newest game from Crescent Moon Games, an influential gaming studio that emphasizes collaboration, innovation and unique ideas. They have had several previous forays into the RPG market such as Aralon: Sword and Shadow, Pocket RPG, Ravensword and many others. But in this new mix of the typical formula they have toned down the rpg aspect and turned Evertales into more of a sidescrolling platformer.
As mentioned before you are constantly moving right trying to get to the end of each chapter. Enemies are of course trying to kill you and have various ways of trying to do so. You can pick and choose from three different characters to handle each scenario while in the level. This can be very useful because it allows you to approach each situation differently. Say you have a drunken dwarf throwing bottles of alchol at you. You could choose to rush him with the Knight character and potentially risk losing some life or you could use the Archer or the Wizard, both long range specialists to pick em off from a distance. These different characters allow many different puzzle elements to be worked into the game. For example the knight can barely jump because of his armor, the elf can double jump to reach high areas and the wizard can glide to hard to reach places with his cloak. Combined with the enemies different strengths and attack patterns you will have to be alert to pass through the level safely. Plus there is a gigantic boss fight at the end of each chapter which is always worth looking forward to.
Once you finish a chapter, you can change your characters armor, buy new weapons or choose to upgrade them instead with “Evercoins” These “Evercoins” are usually spread across the level in hard to reach places and can be a challenge to collect all of them. You can also choose to buy them through IAP. Though it doesnt feel necessary to buy the IAP the minimal amount of coins you get per level are hardly enough to upgrade a weapon or two. This can be solved by replaying the levels a few times to rack up enough Evercoins. The graphics are as usual, superbly done and the sounds are just as good. Controls can feel a bit spotty sometimes but they get the job done.
With only 9 chapters I managed to blow through the game in about two hours. Even though the actual experience felt great I feel they should have spent more time working on the gameplay and adding new and intruiging puzzle aspects. Its definitely not a bad game and I recommend you pick it up but to me it feels like something is missing that would make this a truly outstanding game. I give it a 4/5. (Currently on a intro sale for 0.99)
Kemco, developers of the amazing turn-based RPG, Symphony Of Eternity, have returned with an equally amazing addition to the genre, releasing Alphadia. The developers over at Kemco have proven that they know exactly how to make a turn-based RPG comparable to the likes of Final Fantasy, so when they came out of the gate so soon after SoE with their second iOS release, Alphadia, RPG fans knew they had to have it.
First off, the graphics. Alphadia doesn’t fully share the retro look of it’s sister title, SoE, but it does share the retro feeling. Even though the graphics have been redrawn to take advantage of the retina display on newer iPods, the game still feels like a retro title. This amazing mesh of modern and old-school graphics has created quite an awesome looking world for gamers to completely immerse themselves in, with amazing character models, wonderfully detailed environments, and cute character animations, it all comes together extremely well, sucking players into the world.
The story of Alphadia takes place in a world free from war for 100 years. Either bored, or seeing something worth pursuing, the Schwarzschild empire has begun it’s conquest for world domination. You’ll control Ash, his brother, sister, and two mysterious characters, as well as others who join your party along the way, as you try and find a way to stop the quickly expanding Schwarzschild empire.
The story is, as to be expected from Kemco, extremely well translated, and very immersive. Feelings for the characters comes quickly, and the story is the main drive of the game. Where in SoE, the deep upgrade, equipping system was equal to the story, in Alphadia, the story takes the drivers seat, with everything else in the back.
Not to say that the equipping and leveling up system isn’t great, because it is. Each character, as well as enemy, has a certain element that they are familiar with, and have control over from birth. For instance, Ash’s element is fire. This means that almost all of his spells throughout the game will be connected to fire in some way. He is also most resistive to fire based enemies, and can have his butt handed to him by water enemies if you’re not careful. There are gems in the world that you can equip, and which give you either more control over your element, or give you the ability to use other elements, though not as powerfully as you can use your familiar element. All leveling up, and points are handled automatically by the game, so all the player needs to worry about is equipping a weapon, armor, and one accessory. This simplified leveling up and equip system makes the game a lot more accessible to casual RPG gamers, but there’s also formation handling, which can drastically change the outcome of big battles, so the whole formation, equip system is not so dumbed down that hardcore fans of the genre will find it boring and simple either.
Now, if you’re a player who doesn’t really focus on the story, and is more into the turn-based battle systems, you’ll be glad to hear that you can tap repeatedly on the screen to skip through the story, then find out where you need to go using the map along with the quest icon in the pause menu. There are some areas where you’ll just need to explore a bit, randomly running into enemies that do not appear on the field, more like an older Final Fantasy game, until you enter the room with the character you’re needing to find in order to progress. There is a bit of exploration in the game, as you would expect if you’re familiar with Kemco, for instance, the map will only highlight your final destination, but in order to get there, you might need to find a tunnel that’s “somewhere north-east of this facility”, so you will come across plenty of battles to feed your battle system addiction. However, there’s also an Auto button if you’re more interested in the story and larger battles.
The only bad thing I can say about Alphadia is that the battle results screen sometimes feels like it’s getting in the way of the game. It doesn’t matter how quickly or how much you tap on the screen, the battle result screen has a set time that it’s shown.(PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ OUR CORRECTION OF THIS, THE BATTLE RESULTS SCREEN CAN BE TAPPED THROUGH!) This could be fixed in a future update, but right now, it can feel like it’s breaking up the game just a little bit too much. Aside from that, Kemco has given RPG fans another amazingly well done title to completely immerse themselves in. With the launch price of $2.99, it’s a steal, and must-buy for anyone remotely interested in playing a top notch turn-based RPG on their iDevice.
Tweet We at the App Shack have always been huge fans of the developers over at Rocketcat Games company because of their previous hook-slingin’ games like Hook Champ, Super Quick Hook, and Hook Worlds. Deciding to branch out from that genre of games they created Mage Gauntlet, an ARPG (Action Role Playing Game) that is built in the image of Secret of Mana. Read our interview with them here to see what new direction this studio will turn next.
The backstory of Mage Gauntlet is very deep and intriguing and had me rewatching the cut scenes to make sure I understood it. Basically a great evil known as Hurgoth descends over the land causing pain and suffering. A wizard named Whitebeard conquers and sends the monster to the bleak Dark Realm. He and some appointed wizard guardians have been keeping watch on the seal to make sure that it does not get broken open. It appears that the seal is leaking out energy causing monsters to rise again in the land. I’ll let you find out the rest of the story on your own as it is best experienced without already knowing what’s going to happen! Each section of the game world is split into levels which are seamlessly integrated together much like different areas in Zelda. After you exit the level you immediately start walking through the next level without having to select it. You can earn up to 3 stars in a level. If you defeat all the enemies and dont lose any lives you get the perfect three stars for that level. You can earn a pet by doing so which is an awesome motivating factor. Also able to be obtained by beating levels are hats. Hats have always been a recurring theme in Rocketcat Games and in Mage Gauntlet there are 110 hats to collect. These hats don’t actually boost your stats in any way but are certainly fun to wear and let you customize your character. Pets, Swords, and Robes though, do influence your stats and the possibility of spell drops. You control Lexi by using one of three control methods which are all very adaptable and easy to use for both iPod and iPad users. To attack enemies you can quickly tap the attack button for a weak attack and by holding it you can initiate her power attack which stuns all enemies it touches. Also available are spells which you can get by cracking open magic vases. The battle system feels much like Secret of Mana’s and is quite fast paced as the enemies can get very cunning. Also there are no fetch quests at all so this really does hearken back to the 90’s era RPG’s. For added replayability they included a separate mode called Master Mode that puts new secrets and overwhelming monster numbers in the same levels you played before.
Overall this is refreshing take on the RPG genre and really adds something new to the App Store. With 84 levels, 110 hats, 19 pets, and 86 achievements you’ll be playing this gem for a long time. A update has already been announced which includes a new mode and a new pet. You really cant go wrong with this purchase and is in my opinion my absolute favorite RPG up to this point. Legit, get it now on launch day before it goes up in price permanently to 2.99. 10/10
I’m not generally a fan of games with pirates, for some reason, they’ve just never rubbed me the right way. But after getting my hands on XMG Studio’s (developers of Cow’s Vs. Aliens, Little Metal Ball, and more), latest title, Powder Monkeys, I might just end up re-thinking my whole “stay away from pirate games” attitude. This casual exploratory strategy action-adventure RPG mesh of genre’s sunk it’s teeth into me, and wouldn’t let go.
You’ll play as Captain LaQuisha Boniqua III (this name can be changed when you start a game, but with a name like LaQuisha Boniqua, it‘s hard to want to), a monkey who’s after the pirates that are reeking havoc all around his little world. After your short training missions, you’ll be given a huge book of quests that you can take on, both Story Quests, and Side Quests. You will need to complete quite a few side quests throughout the game in order to level up, because Story Quests are unlocked depending on what level your little monkey is.
As you take on various side and story quests, you’ll explore the vast seas, searching for bug pirates, yes, bug pirates, and arriving to the rescue of monkeys around the world. Some of these quests will send you to cloud covered levels that you’ll need to blindly explore while looking for someone or something. Within these areas, there are various pirates and treasure chests to find, all with the possibility of wealth, or items that you can use to upgrade your ship.
Progressing through the game, you will need to build up your ship as you collect pieces from around the globe, so that you can keep up with the growing difficulty of the pirates as you level up. Fighting pirates is a sort of turn-based fight, in that you’ll need to wait to shoot items until they have cooled down. Stronger projectiles require longer cooling down, but generally, it will be a back and forth battle, each of you firing watermelons, fireworks, and other objects at each other until one of you looses all HP. With the inclusion of items that help catch or destroy projectiles as they’re coming at you, a certain degree of strategy is added on top of the already semi-strategic battles. In other words, you will not just be shooting objects at the pirates randomly until one of you dies, you will need to come up with a strategy that works for certain levels of pirates, adjusting your strategy as needed. Once you defeat a pirate, their ship will send out bags and bags of gold, but these need to be tapped on in order to be collected, and the screen fades out to the results screen pretty quickly, so if you’re not fast, the gold can be lost forever. This seems kind of like a useless mechanic within the game, and it being set up like this will most likely frustrate quite a few gamers. The gold at the end of each battle should probably just be automatically collected, and hopefully this is changed in an update.
Now, onto the graphics. XMG Studio has had quite a few games that fall under the “cutsey” cartoony graphic styling. Powder Monkeys is no exception. When you see most of the monkeys, chances are, you’ll want to snuggle them til their eyes pop out. But on top of the cartoonish graphics, there is a nice atmosphere, though it doesn’t change much throughout the game. It’s a game that takes place in the water, and there’s only so much you can do with water. However, the animations are nice, and the water environment doesn’t get too boring. It would have been nice to see some different sorts of rocks, seaweed, different light structures (no nightfall yet), different types of birds (I can hear them, but where are they?!), something to help differentiate between different places. The music goes along with the game, but if you find it annoying, you are able to turn it off, and leave the sound on, in the options menu.
So, has Powder Monkeys changed my perspective of pirate games? In a way, yes. I will definitely not just overlook games with pirates in them just because there’s pirates in them any more. From now on, I will probably give more pirate games a chance, but I doubt many will live up to the standards that Powder Monkeys has set in my mind. Along with a great game, there are 7 different GameCenter leader boards for things like Battles Won, Damage Delt, Coins Collected, and more, as well as 18 achievements, all of which doesn’t really help with replay value, but will make you want to play the game as best you can to try and work your way up each and every one of those leader boards. But who knows? Maybe a low ranking will make you want to replay the game with the hopes of doing even better the second or third time around. With the game being Universal and priced at only $0.99, it’s a must buy for any fan of the action, RPG, exploration, adventure, or strategy genres. It’s clear that this isn’t just a game that was thrown together with a bunch of different aspects, and that a butt load of time has gone into merging everything in the game together just right to make it one entertaining gaming experience. The game also saves from where you close it at, so it’s perfect for 5 minute sessions as well as long gameplay spurts. It’s also easy enough for kids to play, as well as entertaining enough to keep adults interested, and once you get into the higher leveled quests, the strategy aspect plays a larger roll in the game, making it challenging to complete, and not because of it’s length or for any lack of amusement.
It really seems like iOS RPG games have all pretty much been re-skins of previous releases, all following in the same suit, and getting spoon fed to gamers through the AppStore. There’s hardly any originality anymore, and even if there is, it’s generally only one little aspect. Thankfully, The Game Bakers have come to the rescue with their new release, Squids. It’s a stretch back and flick controlled exploratory strategy action game with a well crafted story, turn based combat, items to equip, and characters to level up. In other words, a new breed within the RPG genre.
In Squids, you’ll control 4 characters as you try and save the depths of the ocean from being overrun by an evil force called The Ooze that takes control of it’s host, and turns it evil. There are 21 beautifully hand drawn and painted levels to try and make it through by choosing which 4 out of 7 characters you would like to use. There are 4 different classes that each of the seven characters will fall under; Shooter: these characters can shoot projectiles at enemies that are within range. Trooper: these characters pack quite a punch. Scout: scouts have a boost ability, which means they can make it into some sections that other characters can not, and will almost always be able to get to the end of the level before everyone else. They can also use their boost ability (which is done by tapping on the screen after you’ve flicked them) to increase damage done to enemies, or hit them a couple of consecutive times. Lastly, Healer: healer characters are generally pretty weak, but if you bump into another character with a healer character, they will heal that character.
Each character has a certain amount of moves they can make, but depending on how hard you flick them, those moves will vary. Each character will start off surrounded by orbs when it is their turn to move. Pulling your character back will show you how many orbs you will use in that one move before you let go and actually perform the move. You also have a certain amount of times that you can use your character’s ability each move, for instance, shooters can shoot projectiles once per move, while scouts have 3 dashes per move. There are jars with power-ups scattered throughout each of the levels, some containing items to help you defensively, some offensively, some health, and some give you back some or all of your movement orbs. These are collected when you pass through them, and do not stop your current move. There are also treasure chests and clams that you can bump into and gain pearls. Pearls are the in-game currency, and are also given out when you defeat an enemy, or accomplish a special move or maneuver, like hitting 2 characters in one shot or bouncing off and around 3 different corners without taking damage. These pearls are collected by tapping on them, so you will not need to waste a move to go back and collect them if you pass them up. There is also a star hidden in each of the levels, which will give you 500 pearls at the end of the level, along with re-filling your movement orbs and ability. At the end of each level, you will get a star ranking. These are given depending on how you preformed throughout the level. If you make it to the end of the level without loosing a character, that’s a star. If you find the hidden star in the level, that’s another star, and if you make it through the stage in a certain number of turns, that’s your final star. Each star will give you pearls, and you will also get pearls for completing the level.
There are IAPs in Squids, letting you buy pearls with REAL money, but with the amount of pearls you get in-game, you are not pushed towards buying those pearls at all. By level 8 my main scout was maxed out, and all of my other characters were 75% leveled up, and I had bought every equip item in the shop that had become available by then, so unless you want to max out your characters by level 2, the IAPs are completely un-necessary.
Now, to get to one of my favorite mechanics of the whole game. The hats that you are able to equip from the shop. Hats are hidden throughout levels in clams and treasure chests, and you can also unlock some hats after beating certain levels. The hats that you find in-game will be free once you get to the shop, and the hats that you unlock by completing levels will cost pearls. But, once you get a hat, you’ll notice they have stats, like heightened strength, defense, HP, but here’s the cool part, you can transfer those stats permanently over to the class of characters that the hat is made for. So if you get a hat that your scouts can equip, and it adds 2 hit points, 3 defense points, and 1 attack point, those points can be transferred over to all of your scouts, then your scouts will keep those points even if the hat is not equipped. It’s a very nice addition to the game mechanics, and really surprised me when I first noticed you could transfer stats over. Right away, it was one of the things I was telling people about, because I’ve never seen this done in a game before.
The game includes GameCenter support with a leader board and 22 achievements, so along with the star rankings, hidden stars, and training level, there’s more replay value than you’d first think with this being an RPG game. Squid’s story is well written and engaging, and the gameplay is packed full of action mixed with loads of strategy. It’s hard to believe the game is only $0.99, with the game lasting about 5 or 6 hours for your first play through, not including the amount of time it‘ll take to go back and get all the stars you missed the first time around or the amount of time you‘ll sink into training or getting the achievements/working up the leader boards. The Game Bakers have announced that they’re going to be releasing an iPad version in about a month, but if you really can’t wait, you can think of the iPod version as a 99 cent pre-release preview. It will be a little blurry on the big screen, but manageable. If you’re a fan of adventure, action, RPG or strategy games, this one is definitely a must buy. The developers are hard at work making the iPad version, as well as making the original even better by taking suggestions.
Squids gets a perfect score of 10 out of 10, along with a strong recommendation.
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.
Pocket Warriors is a new 2D side-scrolling action-RPG from Rainbow Game. You’re able to switch between two characters while you play, making the gameplay a little more interesting. It’s your job to keep the village safe from incoming monsters and enemies, while becoming stronger warriors. The game kind of plays like a 2D version of Monster Hunter, which isn’t really a bad thing at all. Rainbow Game has pulled it off quite well.
The controls for the game are simple, but work perfectly. You’re given movement buttons, left and right, which you don’t need to constantly pick your thumb up from to change directions, and 3 buttons, an attack, guard, and switch character button. To enter the stores, upgrade shops, or quest sections, the attack button changes to an enter button. Graphics-wise, Pocket Warriors is done in a professional manor, and looks very polished. The environments are varied, and there’s 15 different enemies along with huge bosses that are designed extremely well, along with pretty nice animations.
You start off in the village, and can talk to four different characters. An item storage lady, upgrade blacksmith, weapon shop panda, and the elder who hands out your quests. The quests need to be done in order, and each gives you a certain amount of gold when completed. To do the quest, you exit the village, and are taken directly to where you need to be in order to complete it. The quests are generally one of two options, kill X amount of enemies, or kill a boss. However, the lack of variety when it comes to the quests isn’t really a big deal, as you’ll need different strategies and items to defeat each different enemy, as well as each of the bosses. Combat is simple, with the attack and block buttons, you can also equip magical items up under your character avatars in the top left corner. These magical items can be bought in the shop, and do not drop during battle. More slots can be bought with the money you earn doing quests. Bosses do give off elemental items each time they’re knocked down, and you can use these to upgrade your weapons. There’s no exploration, no mixing items, or searching for other items, everything can be bought in the shop or won through a boss battle. There’s also loads of different weapons to buy and upgrade, each with different attributes and qualities.
The second character AI is pretty upsetting though. Sometimes the second character will hardly move at all, but when they do, they attack at about half the speed as when you’re doing the attacking, and almost always let enemies harm them. Being able to set up what you want a character to do, like in Final Fantasy, to attack, block, or just use the magical items, would have made the second character combat a lot better.
With 36 quests, each taking a couple minutes, some taking 4 or 5, the game doesn’t have very much gameplay, but it’s set-up in a way that new levels and quests can be added with updates pretty easily, so I’m really hoping for these types of updates in the future, and some tweaking of the second character AI is needed to really be helpful too. A scoring system would also be a very nice feature to see in the future, as well as online services, including leaderboards and achievements. It would also be extremely nice to see some defensive qualities added to the shops, for instance, some upgradeable armor, and shields Aside from this, Pocket Warriors is a great monster killing quest game, and what it has is done extremely well. For $2.99, it’s well worth having if you’re into the genre. For Rainbow Game, Pocket Warriors has definitely helped them make their mark on the action RPG scene, and I’ll be eagerly awaiting future updates, and future games from the company.
Pocket Warriors is getting a score of 8 out of 10.
Dragon Of The Three Kingdoms is a new side-scrolling beat-em-up/hack-n-slash/action RPG from WaGame Technology. In it, you play as Zhao Yun as you battle against the Nanman Barbarians. The game really reminds me of Dynasty Warriors, but in a side-scrolling, old-school format. The graphics are awesome, and very reminiscent of the SNES/SEGA era, and the animations are great. Walking looks kinda funny, but it’s not distracting, and the fighting animations are very smooth and presented very well.
The controls in DOTTK are tight, responsive, and very easy to use. You move Zhao Yun with a joystick in the bottom left corner, and have an attack button on the bottom right side of the screen, with a skill attack button next to it. When you fill up your attack bar under your health bar, another button appears next to the skill button, and stays there until you tap on it. In that same area is where you tap to ride horses, and elephants. Turning around quickly to fight off enemies that swarm around you is very easy to do, and you’re never stuck mashing on the screen trying to turn around in a hurry so you don’t loose a bunch of health.
Right now, there is one pretty major bug/issue. Whenever you die, and try to retry from the last checkpoint, everything on the screen becomes unresponsive. The developers have said that they’re working on a fix for this, but it seems like this is something that should have been dealt with during some beta testing. It is a shame that if you die, you need to exit the game, remove it from your multitasking bar, and re-start from the beginning of the level, instead of at the last checkpoint. Hopefully the developers get this issue fixed soon, because it’s a pretty major bug.
Aside from that, the gameplay is pretty good. You go through the levels, hacking and slashing away at enemies. If you press the skill button, the action pauses, so you can take your time choosing which skill you’d like to use given the current situation on the screen. There’s vases, crates, and treasure chests scattered throughout the levels, each dropping gold, health, and flags. You can use the gold to buy accessories in the shop between levels, and the flags to use your skills. The enemies also have an item drop rate that’s reasonably decent, and sometimes you’ll come across a full meal that restores your health fully. However, in order to use a skill or your special attack, you’ll need to press forward on the joypad while pressing the buttons, and this can get pretty frustrating during hectic battle sequences.
There are also some power-ups, but these drop rates are pretty low. Some will give you stronger attacks, some will increase your defense, and things like that. You level up while progressing through the game, but another thing I would have liked to see is the health refilled when you level up. Right now, leveling up doesn’t really do anything but give you another attack and defense point, which in the battle sections, doesn’t really help too much. There are bosses at the end of each level, and defeating them can sometimes prove to be quite the challenge. But it’s not overly difficult, and reminds me of old-school beat-em-up games.
Dragon Of The Three Kingdoms does have a lot of content, especially for being $0.99. It’s a solid action RPG, with the addition of side-scrolling levels, and is definitely worth checking out. There’s plenty of variation with the bosses and enemies, and really hit’s the spot if you’re looking for a game that matches the gameplay and difficulty of old-school beat-em-ups from the NES and SNES eras. There is, however, very little replay value here. Maybe if you could unlock more characters at the end of the game or play on a harder difficulty, the drive to replay the game would be there, but as it is now, you’ll play it once, and probably end up deleting it.
Dragon Of The Three Kingdoms is getting a score of 7 out of 10.