Early Impressions: Langrisser Mobile

A while back, I saw a “new” game that was coming to mobile devices and pre-registered for it. The game in question was Langrisser, and for some reason or another it looked familiar to me, despite not having any memories of playing a game by that name before. After digging around and doing a bit of research, it turns out that I had played a game in the Langrisser series, but as things were back in the 1990’s, many games that released in the West that were developed in the East were put out under different names. In Japan, Langrisser was a series that saw many iterations and wouldn’t have been something many of us would have played. In the US, one of the games in the series was renamed Warsong and released for the Sega Genesis in 1991. I once wrote a post about 25 of my favorite Genesis games and this actually should have made that list, but did not. Whatever the case, we’re now getting a mobile revision of this 90’s JRPG series that hasn’t seen a new title since then, outside of re-releases. It’s unclear if this new mobile version is a remaster of one of the titles or a whole new spinoff, but it is instantly recognizable once you dive into the game.

What appealed to me most was the fact that it is a turn-based strategy RPG, or tactical RPG depending on how you like to word things. In the same vein as games like Shining Force or Final Fantasy Tactics (and honestly, much like Nintendo’s Fire Emblem series), this is an RPG where your battles take place on a grid and you move and attack/use abilities accordingly. I haven’t played too far into the game’s main story, and there are clearly features that won’t unlock until I’m a higher level, but I wanted to give my initial impressions, because the game is hot off the press — it released this week.

Despite having its similarities to the other game series I’ve mentioned above, Langrisser sets itself apart in its combat system. You’ll still move about on a grid and when you do attack an enemy you’ll get pre-combat information about them, but instead of your units being individuals, they are a hero unit along with a battalion of soliders. The heroes themselves have special abilities and stats, but their units will also do the attacking when you do, so as you take damage the graphical representation is via your health bar and the amount of soldiers fighting along side of you. This is unique to this series, as other games typically focus on just the hero itself, regardless of if there is an animated cut scene for combat, or if it occurs right there on the battlefield. In this sense, it hearkens back to my youth and memory, but this version of the game is polished and pretty. Go ahead and search for Warsong gameplay on YouTube and you’ll see the vast improvement.

Many other RPGs have had the concept of various unit types being strong and weak against enemy types, so that’s nothing new but I thought I would highlight it anyway because it’s nice to see a little complexity in a mobile title. I played Fire Emblem Heroes a bit when it released and though it shared some design concepts, I didn’t end up sticking with it. So far, this game feels better and has some depth.

After completing a short tutorial, you’ll head to the world map and then a ton of other options start to open up for you. There are missions, events, and other ways to earn resources to do things. What all of the resources do, I don’t know just yet. I also can’t access features like training, bonds or the guilds, so I’ll have to get back to you on those. What I can say is that I appreciate the art direction, I feel the game runs great and I love tactical RPGs so it’s got a lot going for it. There are various currencies and I don’t know what all of those do just yet either, but there is a real world money component, and I’m not sure how pervasive or abusive it might be. To this point I’ve been able to play without feeling the need to spend any money, and that’s a good thing.

One feature that is very much like Fire Emblem Heroes and other Gacha games, is the summon mechanic. I’ve earned several of the tickets needed to summon various heroes of various rarities, but it’s unclear how they are used otherwise. I’m sure there are other tutorial sessions that just haven’t popped up yet for me, and I’m sure there’s either a way to expand your party with these heroes or to do some sort of PvP thing with them. Whatever the case, they are there and we’ll see how that goes.

As I said, I just wanted to give some early impressions, and so far they are good. I enjoy the combat and the mechanics to this point. I’ll report back when I know more. I’d recommend trying it out if you are a fan of this style of game, but otherwise you should probably pass. It’s nothing overly original but it is a fun little time waster.

Thoughts on Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem

I’ve been pretty happy with the mobile games I’ve been playing as of late. Clash Royale is still my #1 go-to and has been for over two years now — it gets regular updates and has improved over time for the most part. SEGA Heroes is a more recent addition to my phone, but I have been playing it diligently for almost two months. I don’t think I’ll be quitting anytime soon either, as it has a good balance of playability and time gating. It doesn’t feel overwhelming nor does it get boring. I’m actually pretty equally invested in this one as I am in CR.  With that said, I think I have finally found a solid third option for my rotation, and that game is Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem.

The general story of the game is that Marvin the Martian has come to earth and was up to something dastardly, and Bugs Bunny comes along and accidentally stops him. In the process, Marvin’s machine blows up and destroys the world to some extent. It’s up to you to “reatomize” the other Looney Tunes and put things right. What this means is that you’ll only start off with a couple of toons and have to find extra shards to reatomize the others. You’ll eventually be able to use teams of four toons to fight your battles.

I wanted to show off some of the combat animations (which are fairly interesting) but my screenshotting was a little slow on the draw and I couldn’t ever capture one at the right time. There is an assortment of basic abilities that range from clubs to canes to safes and other wacky shit you’ll remember from the cartoons. Special abilities are more lengthy animations and range from taunts to heals to buffs. This is really just what you would expect from an ATB JRPG. Turn gauges are under each toon’s health bar, and once that fills it’s that toon’s turn to act. Basic attacks don’t have a cooldown, but other special abilities do. You’ll open new skills and passives as you level up the toons.

Toons are separated by various characteristics, being attackers, defenders, or supports. They also have relationships with other toons, where sometimes their special attacks are able to affect particular enemies. For instance, Bugs Bunny has a special attack that does decent damage to any enemy, but if you target an Elmer Fudd character, you will also stun him. When I say “an Elmer Fudd character,” this is because there are multiple versions of the individual toons, which coincides with the mountain of source material (cartoons) from the years these cartoons were produced. One version of Daffy Duck might be an attacker, and another will be a support and so on.

Besides a story campaign, where you will earn star ratings (1-3 depending on performance), there are a couple of other game modes that are packed in. There is a sort-of PvP mode called “Brawl” where you try to attack other player’s chests to steal them. I guess I should mention that you will get chests delivered to you a couple of times a day and those chests are placed on “banks” where you have to set up a team of defenders. You can in turn attack other teams of defenders to steal crates for yourself, but you can only set them up with defenders if you have an open bank. You’ll start with only the one, but more will open as time goes by. There leaderboards for this Brawls mode and you’ll get rewards based on your ranking on a daily basis. There’s a league store where you can buy goodies as well. The banks coincide with the world map, where your toons go in between fights. You can set up their own unique burrows as well, and then send them on “tasks” which are time gated and will earn you more supplies, gold and shards. There are various supplies that are required to level up skills and passives for your tunes (along with gold), and then there are XP potions that are used to level them up individually. Obviously the gold is the in-game currency, but as there are a bunch of things that are time gated, this means there has to be an RMT currency (as is the norm). That currency is Gems, and of course there are plenty of ways to spend them if you’re impatient. There’s a store but I think it’s pretty fair overall (and I haven’t felt the need to speed things up because I’m used to other games trying to get me to spend money for nothing).

There are multiple pages of store offers, but there are bits and bobs that are available for free (daily login rewards and crates mostly) and some that are available for gold (XP potions). There are some reasonably priced packages that will get you some goodies but it seems like you can progress pretty well without spending any money. From time to time you’ll get golden tickets that you can spin a wheel for, and also get a daily ticket by completing the daily tasks every day which will get you more toon shards and whatnot. As you level your account, you’ll also eventually be able to join an Alliance, which does bring some benefits. Later still, Challenges and special campaigns open up and give you more options that flesh out the game. Overall I’ve been enjoying it and have been playing it the entire month and have already progressed quite well, but I’ll save that progress for a State of the Game post that will be coming soon. Until then, I bid you farewell. Happy Gaming!

Thoughts on Knight Story

Because I’ve been going back and forth between my current living situation and the place I’m going to be moving (looking for work and other various tasks), I’ve spent more time playing mobile games on my phone. For years I really couldn’t get into them, but eventually a few caught my interest enough to download, but fewer still have actually stayed on my phone for very long. Clash Royale is still the longest tenured game in this regard, and unless they do something to completely fuck it up, I see myself playing it for years to come. I’ve talked in recent months about other games like SEGA Heroes, and that one has actually made the cut for a long while, but others have been interesting for a short amount of time and then get deleted. Some of these titles I’ve talked about recently have already hit the garbage bin. I’m not sure where this one will end up, but my initial impressions have been somewhat favorable.

So, Knight Story is another Match-3 style game that mixes in other elements from other genres. The majority of the game is spent in this mode, where you will match various symbols together (in minimum pairings of 3, but there is no maximum) and your character represented at the top of the screen with then attack enemies. Each enemy has various weaknesses that correlate to the symbols that you’ll match, and this will dictate the matches you’ll be shooting for. Besides your basic attacks, you can also match shields to block incoming enemy attacks, which you’ll know coming based on the numbers next to them (dictating how many turns before their next attack). You’ll earn gear as you progress and can eventually upgrade this gear as well. You’ll also get special abilities like fireballs and whatnot to use on particularly difficult encounters.

The world map appears to be fairly large, and you’ll progress throughout the levels as you clear them. Periodically you’ll come across shops where you can buy gear but you can also talk to the barkeep to get information about the area, along with other little tidbits.

Gear seems to come at a fairly rapid clip, along with other goodies. It seems to be pretty varied but also pretty straightforward.

As you level up you can also choose between the three attributes and assign skill points. These three attributes are Defense, Attack and Health, and those should be pretty self explanatory. Overall it’s a pretty fun diversion, though if this is really all there is too it, there isn’t much depth to keep you coming back for more. Perhaps other modes open up as you go? I could see PvP being a fun diversion or perhaps some sort of dungeon run system being alright. Whatever the case, it’s worth checking out since its free, and there doesn’t seem to be a ton of ads or even any sort of monetization scheme. It’s just a fun little time waster for Match-3 fans. I doubt I’ll play it for long, but thought I would share my thoughts with you all.

Thoughts on SEGA Heroes

Within the last couple of weeks, SEGA released a new game for mobile devices called SEGA Heroes and as I had pre-registered for it on Google Play, I was notified that it was available. I enjoy match-3 games that incorporate other mechanics into them — titles such as Puzzle Quest or Ironcast have entertained me for countless hours. Having something like this on my phone is a boon because I can play in my downtime at work or when I’m out of town. I did try a game similar to this one earlier in the year called Legend of Solgard and though it was entertaining for a time, it had some severe time gating that slowed progression down to a crawl and I just couldn’t keep doing it. SEGA Heroes on the other hand, seems to have found the right balance between accessibility and making money via RMT. The game is also interesting because they are doing something in the vein of Nintendo, by slamming characters from all of their unique IPs into one game.

Like most games, it starts you off with a tutorial, where you’ll meet Ax Battler from Golden Axe, and a character from a Sonic the Hedgehog game, while learning the mechanics. It’s match 3, and each color corresponds to a character’s color. So if you match 3 blue gems, you’ll cause Ax Battler to attack in this scenario. There are a bunch of heroes though, but they all fall into one of four colors: Blue, Red, Yellow and Green. There is a fifth color, purple, which fills a bar and each time the bar is filled you get bonus attack damage and some bonus effects on your abilities. Each hero has a basic attack for matching 3, but if you match 4+ you will create a star gem on the board, and when you match that the hero will use their “star skill” which is more powerful. Additionally, each character has a bar underneath their picture, and when that fills you can tap their photo to use an ultimate attack.

You’ll unlock various heroes as you progress, and there are various sorts of progression in the game. Each time your account levels up, you can also level up each hero for some gold. Each hero is made up of “shards” and finding those shards in the world or buying them for the shop is how you can upgrade a one star hero into a two star and so forth. Some heroes are considered common and some epic. You can also upgrade their individual star skills and ultimates with reagents found in the world (and the shop).

Speaking of the shop, it’s pretty straight forward. You can buy chests and bundles and the in game currency (gold) or the RMT currency (diamonds). You can buy hero shards and reagents, and you’ll get some free chests each day. As you level there are other features that start to open up. Besides the campaign, there is a PvP arena, and events where you can earn more reagents/shards. There are a couple more features I haven’t opened yet as I’m only account level 13, but I would assume some are more difficult challenges. One mode is called survival so I imagine that to be endless battles until you die. Whatever the case, there is enough varied content here and characters from IPs I love that I’m engaged for the time being.

Overall it’s a fun little title and I have enjoyed myself with it. It might actually stay in my regular phone rotation, or maybe I’ll burn out on it, but I’d recommend check it out if you enjoy match 3 games!

Hellgate: London, Revival

Hellgate: London arrived during a time was I was fairly addicted to MMOs and set out to try most that I could get my hands on. The game originally released in Q4 of 2007, but it didn’t hit my radar until early 2008. My father turned me onto the title, but I had read mixed reviews at the time and didn’t want to buy a copy until he had insisted that it was a decent game. I wrote about it a few times here on the blog back in 2008, but my writing style at the time was pretty attrocious so there wasn’t much detail on my thoughts. I remember it being something that I enjoyed, but it certainly wasn’t the best thing I had ever played. The developers, Flagship Studios were bankrupt by 2008 and the servers were down by early 2009. By then I definitely wasn’t playing it anymore.

Belghast was talking about missing the IP and wishing someone would do something with it again and that reminded me that it even existed. From my memory, it was an Action RPG of sorts but could be played in either third or first person view. It was still the same sort of hack and slash loot box that we’ve come to expect from games like Diablo, but as it was created by ex-Blizzard devs this would make sense. Originally there was a single player campaign and the ability to go online to group up and play through the game. Sounds a lot like a modern ARPG despite being over 10 years old, doesn’t it?

As of this week, there was an announcement that the game would be coming to Steam. There is already a page up on the Steam storefront, as a matter of fact. It’s pretty short on details, and it appears that someone who doesn’t natively speak English wrote up the description. From what we can see there, it’s focusing on the single player element and mentions Hellgate: Tokyo, which I had to look up on Wikipedia to figure out exactly what that was. Apparently in the years following the shutdown of Flagship studios and the game’s servers in 2008-09, an Asian company picked up the rights and made a new version of the game that included areas of Seoul, South Korea instead of London. There was also a development in 2014, where a title called Hellgate: Global was announced to incorporate all versions of the game into one and redistribute into the west. Or something to that effect.

Whatever the case, this is “version 2.0” which sounds like it includes pieces of content I may not have seen. I never beat the game either, so it goes without saying that I missed a bit. It’s unclear if it’s going to hold up graphically as it’s an old engine, but the screen shots don’t look terrible, probably because most MMOs are running on ancient graphic engines. Perhaps there is some scaling tech there, I would imagine we’ll be able to run higher resolutions and make the game look halfway decent. If the gameplay is as enjoyable as I remember I will definitely be checking this out when it shows up in November. It’s unclear if this will be free to play or buy to play but I doubt there will be a subscription like there used to be. Though, it was always optional and I’d be okay with an optional subscription if it proves to be worth it. I’ll be keeping my eyes on this one for the next few weeks to see if any new information arises.