Another collectable card game and RPG hybrid hitting the mobile market isn’t normally something to get excited about. At this point the Android and iStores are flooded with titles attempting to successfully do just that and few of them manage to bring anything new or original to the table. Spellstone, the product of a group known as Synapse from Kongregate, manages to exceed all expectations.
The sole product of development studio 4Hands Games, Swords of Anima entered the crowded arena of mobile Tactical RPGs with a unique look and gameplay inspired by a mixture of different titles including ‘Fire Emblem’. Darker and more mature in tone than ‘Shining Force’ but less adult in nature than ‘Final Fantasy Tactics’, it is very much its own beast.
There’s something about faux 8-bit graphics that (if done well) is enchanting to look at. Of late this style has been undergoing something of a revival and Cardinal Pixel is the latest game to combine simple character schemes with real-time lighting and effects to create something that stands out.
I’m deeply thankful to Elements for finally testing out an adventure mode because it allows me to legitimately write about one of my favourite games without having to bend the ‘RPGs only’ rule here at My Boxed Universe. Not that I intend to allow my personal experiences with this title sway me, this will be a fair and balanced review.
Card games fused with roleplaying mechanics work extremely well. There are a multitude of titles already out there such as ‘SoulSpark: Battlecards’ and ‘Spellstone’ to attest to that fact. Few of them however attempt to craft a monster catching and dungeon building mechanic into their structure and this is where Dungeon Marauders finds its niche.
The creation of Three Brothers Games, Tower in the Sky would at first appear to be a relatively simply take on the lane-defence genre wrapped up in a few RPG trappings. Scratch the surface however and you quickly discover that it’s really an immeasurably deep game built around a softer, more approachable style than most WRPGs offer.
It’s hard to believe that Tactical RPGs were in a bit of a slump in the west prior to the release of Disgaea. The likes of ‘Final Fantasy Tactics’ had ‘Tactics Ogre’ had set a standard for the genre that was overly-serious and could at times produce lengthy, dry campaigns that required a significant investment in time to beat, even if those games produced great gameplay and narratives. Tactical RPGs were becoming dull and grey in tone. Then Nippon Ichi released Disgaea onto the world and everything changed.
If ‘Dungeon Marauders’ and ‘Barcode Knight’ had a baby, it would probably be Code of Arms, a game that attempts to fuse RogueLike dungeon crawling with card based battling and a barcode scanning mechanic to find new equipment.
It’s hard to take the rules of a card game as successful as Magic: The Gathering and turn it into a thrilling experience outside of its original medium. Direct versions for mobile exist that follow the games design to the letter of the law and manage to be dry, lifeless and overly-complex experiences. Compared to games such as ‘Elements’, which does much the same but allows for the benefits of its medium, there’s not been a really great Magic game.
Nippon Ichi’s ‘Disgaea’ series hasn’t seen release on iOS as of 2015, with no announced intention to do so in the near future. This is a great shame because the current phones on the market are more than capable of running the DS or PSP ports of the original game and its sequel. Perhaps the people at Nippon Ichi are afraid they’d break the app-store, with nobody ever having to buy another tactics game with 9999 character levels to achieve and generated levels outside the campaign to give infinite variety? It’s into this vacant spot that Fantasy War Tactics slides, a freemium game that boasts some extremely high production values.