Ever since the original Dungeon Hunter (TMA Review) came out more than a year ago, it immediately became the undisputed king of iPhone Hack’n’Slash RPGs. Obviously inspired by the great Diablo, it still had quite a way to go to reach its full potential. With the recent release of the anticipated sequel, Dungeon Hunter 2, I had high hopes that it would finally make all things right. And having spent about a week with it, I can say that it did… at least for some things.
For the longuest time the absence of quality console jRPG games from the iDevice was a gaping hole just waiting to be filled. Early this year Square Enix re-released FINAL FANTASY and FINAL FANTASY II for the iDevice, then followed up with CHAOS RINGS, a celebrated RPG that I thought could have been so much more. What we were left with was the excellent port of the PSP classic – Crimson Gem Saga. Now you can add another to the list thanks to Gameloft’s ambitious title Eternal Legacy.
I remember all the hype a little over a year ago when Ravensword: The Fallen King (TMA Review) was released. Praised by many for its “superb open world”, in reality the game was quite shallow and more of a 3rd person action that the “Oblivion for the iPhone” as it claimed to be. Regardless, it was successful enough that they were able to leave behind Chillingo’s mentorship and become a publisher themselves. Then several months ago, they aided Dicework Games in the release of Rimelands: Hammer of Thor (TMA Review), an excellent original western RPG. And just yesterday Crescent Moon Games published Aralon: Sword and Shadow HD – the game that Ravensword was meant to be.
With the horrendous amount of various Action/Shooter titles on the App Store, it is increasingly more difficult to find something that jumps out at you. Sure, there are loads of dual-stick and side/vertical-scrolling shooters, but to find anything truly original you’ll have to dig really deep. The most recent entry by Gaijin Entertainment however, brings a refreshing look on how an action title could be done on the iDevice in Braveheart.
Doom is without a doubt an iconic game, truly bringing to life the genre of First-Person Shooters pioneered by Wolfenstein 3D. In this light it’s even more interesting that the first reincarnation of the legendary franchise on the mobile platform turned out to be a Turn-Based Action/RPG adaptation. Of course, the iDevice is home to DOOM Resurrection – an on-rail-shooter and a port of the original DOOM Classic , but still, this unique variation on the universe has graced the App Store as well in DOOM II RPG.
The Gamebook Adventures series is quite an interesting franchise. In the wake of the re-release of the classic Fighting Fantasy series from Steve Jackson himself, Tin Man Games dared to enter the market with their own title, originally developed from the ground up for the iDevice. I have reviewed the first two titles Gamebook Adventures 1: An Assassin in Orlandes (TMA Review) & Gamebook Adventures 2: The Siege of the Necromancer (TMA Review) and found them very compelling. They’re very well written and more focus on the adventure than combat part of the process, though when it comes to finding the best endings, they can be a bit too difficult for the uninitiated. In their latest release - Gamebook Adventures 3: Slaves of Rema – they vowed to fix the latter issue, making the games accessible to both casual and die-hard gamers.
SEED 1 – RISE OF DARKNESS (TMA Review) tried to reach for the crown of the Action/RPG genre back in late 2009. Released under Chillingo, it offered several interesting features, including the ability to switch between classes at any point in the game. However it was crippled by the developer’s attempt to squeeze more money out of the players using in-app purchases (IAP), offering the gamers special items that could not be acquired using other means in order to “help ease the gameplay”. In reality some of them were essential to avoid significant frustration which couldn’t help but influence the ratings, which in turn led to the eventual re-release of the game as FREE and an additional release of SEED 1 Gold Edition without IAP. And now the sequel is live on the App Store, let’s see if SEED 2 manages to overcome some of its previous shortcomings.
When it comes to RPGs I prefer turn based to real time combat, and while 3D looks spiffy I’d much rather see nicely rendered 2D images. If it needs to be 3D, then more of an isometric or top down perspective is the way to go. A world with a well developed history is a bonus, and quests and NPC interaction are basically a must. As it turns out, Rimelands: Hammer of Thor has all of this in spades, and what at first glance appeared to be “big whoop, another RPG” is now turning into “hey, this is a pretty nice RPG”.
Back in the early 90′s, I was in love two things: a cute girl named Christina, and a fathomless role playing game called Ultima 7. But because of my awkward appearance on the one hand, and our horrid computer on the other, I had no luck with either. I got dumped by one, and until I was able to shell out for four more megabytes of RAM, I’d have to play Ultima 7 on a borrowed computer. That was the way of it for a long time ago, but in the intervening years, the ONLY games I’ve come back to are Heroes of Might and Magic (see Palm Heroes) and Ultima 7. Ultima 7 was the pinnacle of computer engineering at the time and even today remains unrivalled for a complete role playing experience. Many today consider it the best computerised RPG ever. Unfortunately, it isn’t truly playable on iOS devices for many reasons. The first is that EA hold the rights to it, and the second is that in order to run playably (in a virtual environment) on iOS devices, it needs a complete overhaul.
Guess what – people at Apple in charge of reviewing apps seem to have stepped up on their game. Rimelands: Hammer of Thor, the recently previewed contender to one of the top spots in the App Store’s RPG games has been released for everyone to enjoy. I myself have already spent a fair amount of time on it thanks to a hands-on with an earlier build and am sure it will bring hours of fun to any RPG fan. Here’s my sum-up of it in case you’re too lazy to read the full text:
But I can tell you what we have shaping up here will definitely give even the titles from the big developers a run for their money. Rimelands throws in the pot an excellent storyline and setting, great graphics, a deep and varied RPG system and superb replayability to serve the iDevice gamers one of the best RPG games on the platform.
If you’re still in doubt – look out for a full review at TMA soon, or just go ahead and pick it up right away.
Crescent Moon Games, Rimelands: Hammer of Thor - $4.99