Category Archives: Mobage

Japanese mobile-social RPGs, Mobages, gacha hell… whatever you want to call them, these free-to-play games are here to stay, and they’re getting better all the time.

Fate/GO: Servant to the Gacha

I’ll freely admit that, up until the time of writing, I’ve had little to no familiarity with the Fate series as a whole aside from recognising various Saber incarnations and Tamamo no Mae on sight, and having some complicated feelings towards Astolfo.

But with the North American release of Fate/Grand Order — accessible outside the US by using a service such as QooApp for Android to download the app — I decided that I’d jump in. (I’m also planning to jump right back to the beginning of the series and the Fate/stay night visual novel in the next few months, so please look forward to that.)

And what do you know? I’ve been having a grand old time with a game that, while superficially similar to other mobile-social RPGs such as Granblue Fantasy, successfully distinguishes itself with a strong degree of audio-visual polish, some interesting mechanics and one hell of a lot of words. Pretty appropriate for a work whose source material is notorious for being roughly on a par with Lord of the Rings in terms of length.

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Granblue Fantasy: The Grind Never Ends

One interesting thing about Granblue Fantasy when compared to a more traditional MMO on computer or console is the fact that what we’d typically regard as the “endgame grind” is actually spread out throughout the whole game.

This is partly due to the game’s overall structure and progression: you’re not levelling up a single character and thus there isn’t a “level cap” to reach because at any time, you can switch out your party members, your weapons and your summons to create a new experience for yourself.

Aside from this, however, it allows players to get into the multiplayer content — often restricted to high-level play in other mobile-social RPGs — almost right from the outset.

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Granblue Fantasy: More Than Just a Deck of Cards

Japanese mobile-social gacha-based RPGs — or “mobages” as they’re colloquially known today, after the social network many of them are hosted on — were originally described when they first appeared as “card battle” games.

Looking at Cygames’ previous title Rage of Bahamut, it’s easy to understand why. Everything about the game had the feel of a collectible card game about it, from the simplistic battle system (which primarily consisted of ensuring your numbers were bigger than the enemy’s) to the fact that the main incentive to collect all the available units (through blind draws) was to see the beautiful artwork. About the only thing missing was the ability to actually trade “cards” with other players.

In recent years, while the basic structure of these games has remained similar — draw cards, level them up, upgrade them to higher rarity versions, challenge more and more difficult content — there’s been a noticeable shift away from the “card game” feel in favour of something a lot more interesting. And Granblue Fantasy is a particularly good example of this evolution.

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Granblue Fantasy: Sounds of the Skydom

Japanese role-playing games have long been known for having some of the most memorable soundtracks in all of gaming. And, surprisingly, mobile takes on the genre are no exception.

The news that Cygames’ incredibly popular Granblue Fantasy has a fantastic soundtrack will probably not come as a surprise, however, given the incredibly strong pedigree of the talent behind it. The work of longstanding Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu and his bandmate Tsutomo Narita from the Earthbound Papas, Granblue Fantasy’s soundtrack covers a surprisingly diverse range of musical styles, and is clearly one of the areas that has had the most love and attention lavished on it.

That sounds like a good excuse to enjoy some of its finest moments to me!

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Granblue Fantasy: My First Three Weeks

With any big online game — particularly one that has been around for several years — it can be difficult to know where and how to get started. Granblue Fantasy is no exception.

With that in mind, I thought I’d outline my experiences over the last three weeks as I learn about the game, how it works and what I can expect from it in the future.

This is by no means an attempt to say “this is how you should play the game” — doubtless the more hardcore players out there will have strong opinions about how “best” to progress! — but rather a reflection on the experience of one timid newbie and his attempts to understand the many hidden depths of this surprising phenomenon.

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Granblue Fantasy: First Steps in Phantagrande

Last time, we looked at where Cygames’ mobile hit Granblue Fantasy came from, and how it’s become such a phenomenon.

Today, we’re going to look in more detail at the game itself: how it works, how it plays, its similarities and differences from other popular mobile games, and what newcomers can expect from its early hours.

Given that it’s effectively an MMO of sorts, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the game has become a surprisingly sprawling, complex and somewhat daunting affair after three years of active development. But that doesn’t mean it’s completely inaccessible — nor does it suffer from the common MMO problem of new players being too weak to be able to participate in anything.

Let’s take a closer look.

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Granblue Fantasy: Acknowledging a Phenomenon

There comes a point where something becomes so popular that it’s impossible to ignore, even if your initial reaction to it is “I’m not sure I want to get involved with that.”

Such is the case with Granblue Fantasy, a free-to-play mobile game developed by Cygames and published on the popular Japanese Mobage platform.

Granblue Fantasy is an interesting case because not only is it still immensely popular on its home turf even three years after its original release, it’s also managed to pick up a significant English-speaking following, even without an official release on high-profile digital storefronts such as Apple’s App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android.

So why this game? What sets it apart from the myriad other free-to-play games on the market? Only one way to find out: let’s take an ongoing look at it from the perspective of a newcomer.

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