I thought I’d sworn off mobile games. But when one comes along that promises a single player-centric experience and boasts talent that previously worked on titles such as Chrono Trigger and Luminous Arc, I pay attention.
I’d actually already had my eye on Another Eden: The Cat Beyond Time and Space for a while, since it released in Japan a while back and seemed to be very positively received. Now, it’s finally available in the West, so I thought I’d dip in and see what it was all about.
Read on for my first impressions, based on a couple of hours of play on the recently released Android version.
Continue reading Another Eden: First Look
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.
Continue reading Fate/GO: Servant to the Gacha
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.
Continue reading Granblue Fantasy: The Grind Never Ends
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.
Continue reading Granblue Fantasy: First Steps in Phantagrande
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.
Continue reading Granblue Fantasy: Acknowledging a Phenomenon
Free-to-play games, particularly in the mobile gaming sector, have something of a… reputation, to put it politely. And it’s not altogether undeserved.
Mobile development has a cloning problem. And not just in the literal sense of developers stealing assets from competitors’ games to create bootleg versions: there’s also a major problem with free-to-play mobile game developers taking the “easy” option and simply reskinning tried-and-tested mechanics and systems rather than attempting to innovate with their gameplay.
It was ever thus in the games business, of course — that’s one of the ways in which genres of games developed over time — but in mobile gaming, it always seems particularly egregious, because in many cases those base mechanics and systems simply aren’t very much fun in the first place, focusing not on how to give the player an enjoyable experience, but rather on how to extract money out of them at every opportunity.
But gradually, quietly, we’ve started to see changes. While Western free-to-play game developers are still seemingly mostly content with FarmVille-style “tap and wait” gameplay, looking East to Asian teams from Korea, Singapore, Japan and numerous other territories reveals an altogether different picture: free-to-play games that actually make a bit of an effort with the “game” part. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Continue reading Free-to-Play Games Quietly Got Good
A couple of years back, my main gig was reviewing free-to-play mobile and social games from a business perspective. This proved to be something of an eye-opening experience.
One of the things I discovered during this period of my career was the astronomical popularity of a type of mobile game collectively known as “card-battlers”. Distinct from more traditional card games like Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering, mobile card-battlers are usually of Eastern origin — they’re particularly popular in their native countries — and are one of those breeds of mobile games that have lots of people making them, but very few people genuinely innovating in them. In other words, most of them are almost identical save for the artwork on the virtual cards you collect throughout the game.
Moreover, a lot of them are extremely unpolished affairs, their ’90s website-esque user interfaces, frequent lack of sound and music, reliance on data connections and excruciatingly slow loading times a clear hangover from the feature phone era. So why, why, why on Earth are these games so popular? And is there any redeeming value in them whatsoever?
Only one way to find out.
Continue reading Collectible Card Crusade