Tag Archives: Com2uS

Homerun Battle 2 Review: A Pathetic Excuse for a Sequel

Com2us has been one of my favorite developers in the App Store, especially with how they’re very interactive in the community along with coming out with great games.  Chronicles of Inotia 2 was one of my favorite games, and others such as Homerun Battle 3D, the first of the series, was a lot of fun to play.

So when they released Homerun Battle 2, I was quite excited, given my previous enjoyment with Homerun Battle 3D.  But when I opened up the “sequel,” I felt almost cheated, ripped off in a way.  And do you want to know why?  It’s the EXACT SAME GAME.  There’s nothing in here, from what I remember, that’s different.  It’s still the same online play and the same offline play; the user interface is a little different, and there’s a new mode on the offline play, but other than that, the elements are the same.

What’s even worse is that now they’re starting to make you buy outfits and such through in-app purchase.  There are so many bats, gloves, hats, etc. that are accessible only through in-app purchase that it almost makes me feel like the game is won by anyone who has the most money.  From what I’ve seen, there’s no way to earn stars except through buying them, and the outfits that they do have for gold balls are outrageously priced.

All in all, this is one pathetic excuse for a sequel.

Likes

UI Improvements: I’ll have to hand it to Com2us: the user interface improvements do look nice.  While it is a bit slight, it looks a lot better.

Universal and GameCenter: This was something that was missing in the first one, and I’m a huge fan of any developer who is willing to make an app universal along with adding some GameCenter achievements.  No matter how much I hate this game (which I’ll get to soon), I have to put this in the like section.

Dislikes

Advertisements: It’s great that you’re having a fire sale and all, but you don’t have to have the news banners take up nearly a quarter of my screen.  While I was provided a promo code to review this game, if I was a user and paid five bucks for it, I’d be furious.  There are a lot of games that have that little news banner, but it only shows up when you press on it, and it doesn’t take up a large portion of the screen.  It’s just an annoyance that shouldn’t be in a $4.99 game.

SAME EXACT THING: This is the part that makes me nearly furious.  You can’t call a game a sequel when there’s literally nothing that has changed.  There’s one new game mode in the offline play, but other than that, the online play is nearly exactly the same, the outfits and such are the same, and even some of the UI elements are exactly the same.  You’re basically paying $4.99 for GameCenter achievements and new main menu buttons, which is inexcusable given the fact that other sequels, such as Zombieville 2, provide complete UI overhauls, gameplay changes, and stylistic changes.  To see that Com2us named this “Homerun Battle 2” and have it be nothing close to even being a sequel makes me quite mad, and they’re basically ripping off people by selling the same game but marketing it as a sequel so that more people buy it.

I’m sorry Com2us, but this is the type of thing that is the difference between good developers and bad developers.  When you’re cheating buyers by saying that it’s a sequel when it’s actually just the same game, I take offense to that.

In-app purchases: In-app purchases… in a $4.99 game?  Now I understand when those in-app purchases don’t really matter to the game, such as Modern Combat 3, which has in-app purchases but doesn’t force you to purchase them in anyway.  But Com2us has implemented a sort of freemium model to an already premium-priced game by putting in “stars,” which can only be earned through buying them with real-world money.  I shouldn’t have to pay in order to completely unlock all of the accesses to the game.  Along with that, online play should be fair in that all players have the same chance to win: it shouldn’t be predicated on who has the most money to spend on in-app purchases.  Basically, whoever is willing to spend a lot of money on this game is going to be the best, and whoever doesn’t have money to spend is left out and will always be milling around the lower level players.

Homerun Battle 2, as you can see, makes me quite furious.  And disappointed.  And shocked.  I’ve beta-tested a lot of Com2us’s games before, and they used to be all about the consumer and how they can make their games more appealing to the consumer.  But when they put in absurd in-app purchases, sell a game that’s nearly the same thing as the one before it, and even have banners of their own news take up a large portion of the screen, I can’t help but be disappointed.  Com2us, I have lost all respect for you, as this “sequel” is, as the title suggests, pathetic.

The game itself is fun though, so go on and pick up the first one.  It’s on sale for $0.99 and doesn’t have such an absurd in-app purchase system in it.

Homerun Battle 2 was developed by Com2us, and I played through version 1.0.1 on my iPhone 4s and iPad 2.  The price is $4.99.

Inotia 3: Children of Carnia Review

Korean developer Com2Us‘ The Chronicles of Inotia is one of the longest running and most notable Action RPG series on iOS.

Its first entry, Legend of Feanor [$0.99], released in late 2008, only months after the app store’s debut. The game was rough around the edges, but also the app store’s first notable role-playing game. The 2009 sequel, A Wanderer of Luone [$2.99], upped the ante manifold, adding multiple character classes, a party system, vastly improved mechanics, a larger world, better story and remarkably detailed graphics. The game wasn’t perfect, but earned NoDpad’s highest rating and our enduring admiration.

At the time its release, Legend of Feanor was unchallenged in the app store and stood out as a unique product. A year later, A Wanderer of Luone entered a more crowded market but stood apart from the competition on account of its substantial merits and vast improvements over its progenitor. The game really raised the bar, and even today holds its own against the very best Action RPGs on iOS.

Understandably, we were eager to get our hands on Inotia’s third, Children of Carnia [$4.99].

But with A Wanderer of Luone having set the bar so high, Children of Carnia has a lot to live up to. In some ways it succeeds, and in some ways it does not. Overall, Children of Carnia is a game worthy of the Inotia name, but it doesn’t offer much improvement over Inotia’s second and is really just more of the same. For anyone who enjoyed A Wanderer of Luone, that might be enough to spark interest.

Children of Carnia is a Korean Action RPG, which means — you guessed it! — grinding! And fetch quests! Hurray! The player steps into the shoes of Lucio on his day of ceremonial adulthood, who — in typical RPG fashion — is quickly swept into an adventure on which pivots the very fate of the world. Lucio may be assigned any one of six classes at the outset — Barbarian, Templar, Rogue, Shadow Hunter, Priest or Arc Mage — each with different strengths and skill trees, and able to use different types of equipment. The game then gets off on the wrong foot by asking you to kill deer to collect 8 scraps of leather to be sewn into your ceremonial clothes; yes, the moment you begin you are given a tedious fetch quest.

After completing this “quest” and performing a few other menial tasks about town, it’s time for your ceremony into adulthood alongside your childhood love interest Ameli, and the ball finally gets rolling. And here is where the game stands apart from A Wanderer of Luone:

In the previous game, your character was essentially a generic player in the larger tale. The player’s choice of class dictated not only the main character’s abilities, but also their appearance and gender. When additional party members joined up to fight alongside you, they were nameless mercenaries without any role in the story. The overall effect was that the characters participated in the story, but were not a part of the story. Children of Carnia brings the story more to the fore by developing a cast of characters who interact with each other, who relate to one another, and who each have a part to play in the larger tale. The game attempts to put a stronger emphasis on narrative than in the previous game, and for this I applaud Com2Us’ efforts.

When during their ceremony Lucio and Ameli discover a fallen orc in the forest, Ameli administers to his wounds while Lucio gathers the materials she requires to heal him. The orc is no sooner on his feet again than he is murdered by mysterious interlopers, but not before placing his charge — a set of gauntlets — into the youngsters’ hands, petitioning their assistance in completing his mission, and instructing them to hide from the approaching threat. And so the tale unfolds …

As in previous series entries, the bulk of the game will be spent exploring maps filled with monsters to be slain and running errands for characters met along the way. Some of these errands will advance the story and reveal significant plot points, while others will be rather trivial. Combat is frequent and consists of selecting a target and pressing the attack button; your party will then pound on the creature until it dies. At any time during combat, the player may use their character’s skills to turn the tide of combat — inflicting greater damage, striking multiple foes, buffing the party or healing its wounds — while AI controlled characters will use their assigned skills of their own volition so long as they have MP enough to power them.

Likes:

The Party System: The party system first seen in A Wanderer of Luone returns in Children of Carnia with welcome improvements. Where party members were largely left to chance in the previous game, Children of Carnia provides a large cast of characters from which to choose, and allows the player to swap party members in and out of action at will from the menu, ultimately giving the player much greater freedom in choosing the lineup of their adventuring party than before.

An Emphasis on Story: Children of Carnia exhibits a greater emphasis on story and characters than in previous games. And while the story is ultimately lacking in originality, it is still nice to have personalities with whom to empathize during the journey, rather than the cardboard figurines of previous Inotia games.

Quest Indicators: The game not only puts quest indicators on characters you need to talk to, but also on doorways leading to characters or events. It’s a nice touch and ensures players won’t bypass quests without realizing they are there, if for example a quest is in a potion shop that I otherwise wouldn’t go into because I don’t need to buy potions.

Dislikes:

Art Direction: By no means the worst looking Action RPG on the app store, Children of Carnia is far from attaining the visual splendor of its predecessor. A Wanderer of Luone was and still is one of the prettiest sprite-based RPGs on iOS, and a personal favorite for art direction in video games. Children of Carnia just looks beaten and bruised, smeared in the mud by comparison.

The characters are super-deformed, with heads disproportionately large to their bodies, and everything is far too cute. For example, the character art for the orcs shows them to be hulking and tough; their in-game sprites, however, look more like orc plushies.

The game’s use of color is also very subdued, seeming almost monochromatic compared to the both use of color as seen in A Wanderer of Luone.

Grinding and Fetch Quests: Typical of modern role-playing games, and of Korean role-playing games in particular, grinding and fetch quests have become a popular method of artificially extending the length of your game by forcing the player to dally in one location for far longer than they otherwise should have to. This is typically achieved by blocking story progression until certain conditions are met (usually too many conditions), or by populating the area ahead with opponents so overpowered that the player is forced to level-up their characters before having any chance of survival. And so you will often find yourself traipsing back and forth through the same areas fighting rabid badgers for the 200th time either because someone asked you to kill X-number of rabid badgers because they just don’t like badgers, or because someone asked you to collect 15 jelly beans and jelly beans are only carried by rabid badgers and so you will have to kill between 25 and 50 rabid badgers in order to liberate those 15 jelly beans from their dirty, greedy, jelly bean mongering paws. Having then collected said jelly beans, you might be asked to carry them across the street to Nancy, because Nancy loves jelly beans and doesn’t give one thought to the dead badgers who had to die to attain so many jelly beans …

Blatant Disregard for Animal Rights: If ever you’ve wondered how elephants made it onto the endangered species list, Children of Carnia should clear it right up for you. Much of the game is spent slaying adorable forest creatures. Kill deer to collect hides for leather. Kill Ostriches for their combs. Slay rattlesnakes for their venom. Also, bears, armadillos, wolves and more. Last I checked deer were relatively nonviolent creatures. Is everything in this world rabid? I don’t mind slaying countless droves of monsters, undead and the like. But I have to drawn the line at bunny massacre. Children of Carnia is far too much about the murder of innocent forest creatures, to the point that I would have serious hesitation handing the game off to a child for fear the impression it would make.

Interface and Menus: The beautifully crafted d-pad and buttons of the previous game are gone, replaced now with gaudy neon indicators that suit the game not at all, except to further promote the ugliness that abounds. The menu system is pleasantly informative, and it’s fairly easy to manage your party and whatnot. But it’s ugly as well and can be frustrating at times. For example, it is no longer possible to compare items in inventory to items equipped, and information windows for items and skills often obscure other things I’d like to be able to access (like the button to exit the menu). Interactive buttons for items are uncomfortably close together, and it’s a bit to easy to inadvertently make input mistakes, such as dropping items instead of using them.

Item Identification: Most of the weapons and armor you will find in your travels will need to be identified before they can be equipped or sold. Early in the game, though, equipment sells for far too little to recoup the expensive of having it identified, and most of the items you find will end up being worthless. It feels like the game is punishing you unnecessarily for finding items.

Universal Support is a Joke: Children of Carnia is listed as a universal app for both iPhone and iPad, but on the iPad essentially plays like an iPhone game in 2x mode; just without the 2x mode. In no way is the game optimized or designed to be played on the iPad.

The Chronicles of Inotia: Children of Carnia is a solid Action RPG for iOS. Not ground-breaking in any way and certainly flawed, but entertaining nonetheless. For gamers who found A Wanderer of Luone enjoyable, Children of Carnia is an easy recommendation; on the flip side, those who did not enjoy that game will likely find nothing of additional interest here. Compared to its predecessor, Children of Carnia offers some minor gameplay refinements, but it’s all rather similar. The game lacks the online multiplayer component introduced in A Wanderer of Luone, but I never much indulged in the feature and don’t really miss it; some players might.

Bottom-line, Children of Carnia is an enjoyable role-playing game, though it becomes occasionally tedious with its fetch quests and grinding. If you’ve played Korean RPGs in the past, you will pretty well know what to expect; Children of Carnia is one of the app store’s better entries to the genre. But if you haven’t yet played its predecessor, A Wanderer of Luone, you might save a few dollars and try it first.

The Chronicles of Inotia: Children of Luone [$4.99] is developed by Com2Us. Reviewed at version 1.0.3 on an iPhone 4 and iPad.

‘Inotia 3: Children of Carnia’ Releasing Sometime Today

Inotia 3: Children of Carnia will be releasing sometime today, barring any delay (announced to be released at 5PM PST, although it hasn’t been released at the time of this writing).

With that said, the emphasis on Inotia 3 seems to be the story, as the developers claim to have poured hours into the epic storyline, along with, of course, the usual KRPG graphics.  They also mention a party system like the one used in Inotia 2, which will allow players to play up to 6 different characters and classes at the same time.

Since the first game of “The Chronicles of Inotia” launched in late 2008, the Inotia series has been a big hit and a game loved among true classic RPG fans. The series combined has accumulated 1 million paid downloads on mobile just after New Year’s Eve.  Inotia 3: Children of Carnia provides numerous skills, weapon and armory customization, plenty of quests that sync in with the story, enhanced UI graphics, control… A game that contains all Com2uS knowledge on creating a true classic Roleplay game.

We’ll be on the look out for its release, and we’ll update the post once it’s out.


Queen’s Crown Review: A Zenonia Killer?

A funny thing happened to me while preparing to review Heroes Lore III. I fell in with a dethroned princess and the Grim Reaper, and found myself swept along on a most excellent adventure!

The kingdom of Scarbehold has fallen on tumultuous times. Dark forces have toppled the castle and slain the king. The kingdom’s knights are dead or scattered. The princess, Ann, has gone missing and is presumed killed in the attack on the castle. An ancient evil is on the rise.

Thus does Queen’s Crown begin, the latest Action RPG from Korean developer Com2Us. It was around this time last year the developer impressed us with The Chronicles of Inotia II: A Wanderer of Luone, and I truly hope this becomes an annual event, because Queen’s Crown is quite possibly the most brilliant Korean Action RPG of the year.

But that statement necessitates additional qualification as, given the sad state of KARPGs this year, it might not mean much. Zenonia 2 was much anticipated, but recycled far too much content from the first game to be of much interest when the game finally landed. Axion was beautiful, but played horribly. Itarus played better, but was utterly mediocre. SEED 2 was better than its predecessor, but that’s really not saying much. Maple Story was completely meh, and Chronicle of ZIC was flat-out horrible in every conceivable way. The cumulative result of so much disappointment was the condemnation of all my hopes and expectations for Korean Action RPGs, and their consignment to the darkest depths of the blackest abyss.

Imagine my surprise then in discovering Queen’s Crown, a game that not only rises above its recent peers, but which puts most other KARPGs to shame.

Players step into the role of princess Ann, having escaped the castle slaughter at the behest of her father, while he lived. Through a secret passage, in the guise of an attendant, Ann flees the carnage and takes up arms to reclaim her throne and to deliver her people from darkness. Shortly after escaping the castle, the Grim Reaper appears to offer guidance and promises to keep watch over her travels.

Likes:

Story & Characters: Of all the KARPGs I’ve played, Ann is by far my favorite protagonist. Her motivations for embarking upon her quest are sound, and she herself is quite endearing, rather than insufferable as are most KARPG heroes. The translation has some grammatical errors, but the story is well written overall, and the premise is one of the best I’ve seen in the genre. Ann is not the chosen one, and she’s not some foolish village child with grandiose aspirations to glory; she is a princess with duties to her kingdom and a great deal at stake.

Visual Presentation: The art direction for Queen’s Crown is reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, favoring a cartoonish presentation with colorful backdrops and adorable sprites. I’m a big fan, and my only gripe is the game’s lack of support for the iPhone 4 Retina display.

Responsive Controls: Queen’s Crown enjoys one of the most responsive d-pads of any Action RPG I’ve played. Ann maneuvers easily and deliberately, and despite movement being limited to four directions, I’ve never felt the controls interfering with my enjoying the game. The action buttons are equally responsive. In short, Ann controls splendidly!

Combat: Ann has four weapons at her disposal at all times — sword, mace, spear and crossbow — and collects several magical spells through the course of the game. Each of the weapons has a special attack, utilized by charging the attack button. The sword may be swung full circle to attack enemies on all sides, the mace can be used in a devastating whirlwind attack, and the crossbow can rapid fire its remaining ammunition (Ann has unlimited bolts for her crossbow, but must occasionally reload). The spear’s special attack is a dash maneuver executed by double-tapping the d-pad.

Ann’s magic gauge replenishes slowly over time, requiring that spells be used strategically, but never putting the player at risk of running altogether dry of magic mid-dungeon. Magic is handled in a very balanced manner, without punishing the player for using their spells.

Gems discovered during the course of the game may be melded with items in various combinations to bestow additional bonuses and traits to attacks, and provide plenty of customization options.

Interface: Weapons and spells are easily swapped mid-combat by tapping icons in the screen’s upper corners, and without having to access the menu. The menus are thankfully touch-sensitive, and not dependent upon the d-pad for navigation as are so many KARPGs. While inventory icons are uncomfortably small, the menus are otherwise easy to manage and take full advantage of the iPhone’s input methods.

Quest System: The quest system is essentially the same as in any other KARPG — an NPC provides you a quest with a specific requirement, you complete that quest and return for reward. Most KARPGs use this system to artificially extend the length of the game by sending you out on pointless fetch or monster-slaying quests to level grind. It’s a practice I find despicable. In Queen’s Crown, however, my experience has been that quests are generally issued to move the story forward, with side-quests that don’t necessarily halt your progress (at least, not for long). I sincerely hope this trend holds true deeper into the game, but my initial impression is that quests are being handled properly, and not as a way of inflating the game length.

Little Details: Leave Ann standing around long enough and she’s whip out a flute to play or throw a blanket down on the ground for a moment’s repose. If you need time to finish reading the tips on the loading screen before they disappear, just tap the screen to put a hold on the load; tap the screen again to resume play.

One of my greatest gripes against Korean role-playing games ported from mobile phones is that the music and sound effects share a single sound channel, the music cutting out and restarting every time another sound — a sword swing, an impact, a spell casting — interrupts the channel. Queen’s Crown actually has separate sound channels, and provides separate volume controls for both the BGM and SFX.

It’s little details like these that show Com2Us’ dedication to quality game design, and with Korean developers having published so many lazy, horrid cell phone ports to the app store, it’s refreshing to receive a KARPG wish such attention to detail.

Dislikes:

Respawn Rates: Monsters respawn very quickly after being killed; this is both a blessing and a curse. With monsters constantly respawning, the completion of slaying quests is breezy, and level grinding is quick and easy. It does become difficult to clear a room, though, as those monsters first to fall will often have returned by the time to kill the last. There’s no time to dally, so you’d best move forward. And exploring the nooks and crannies of the maps practically guarantees that you will not only have to fight your way in, but then fight your way out again.

Old Tech.: Queen’s Crown does enjoy Game Center support, but otherwise seems stuck in the era of the iPhone 3GS, lacking newer features such as Retina display support, fast app switching, etc. The game does allow you to resume progress from where you left off if you tap the Home button or take a call, but it’s not quite as nicely handled as iOS 4 multitasking. I can only hope Com2Us will address these issues via update.

We’re only three days into December, and already the month is shaping up to be an incredible month for RPGs — Heroes Lore III is released, Aralon: Sword and Shadow has been submitted for approval, and Square Enix’s Action RPG masterpiece Secret of Mana is expected to release later in the month. Puzzle Quest 2 is currently unavailable in the app store, but has appeared in AppShopper listings which implies an impending release.

With so many balls on the field, Queen’s Crown I didn’t see coming. It blindsided me from left field, and I’m still in a daze. And now I am going to make a very bold statement, one that will surely incite controversy:

It is my considered opinion that Queen’s Crown is the best Korean RPG in the App Store. Zenonia is misguidedly considered an App Store classic, not because it’s all that great, but because it was the first game of its kind to grace the iPhone, and because it released at a time when iPhone gaming was still in its infancy, when titles were simply unpolished as a rule and developers were still attempting to find some footing with the device. Zenonia was a good game, but not stellar; it was and after many updates is still rather lacking in refinement, and frustrating to play.

Queen’s Crown is responsive and polished, attractive and fun, with a good story, endearing characters, and a really excellent combat system. By distributing attribute points on level up, mastering weapons and spells through prolonged use, and enhancing attacks via the gem grid, Ann can be customized in any number of ways — to be light on her feet, to be a hard hitter, with a focus in magic, as a ranged attacker, or as a jack-of-all-trades — allowing players to approach the game however they choose. There’s nothing here you wouldn’t have seen in other KARPGs, but no other KARPG has delivered the goods in such an enjoyable way. Yes — a resounding YES!! — Queen’s Crown is better than Zenonia.

Queen’s Crown is one of the year’s best surprises, one of the year’s best role-playing games, and one of the best Action RPGs yet released for iPhone. And despite the presence of Death himself, it is most definitely not a bogus journey. It will probably be buried this holiday season beneath a deluge of higher profile titles, but all precious gems must be unearthed before they can be cherished. I dearly hope that gamers will manage to dig this one up at some point.

If you’re looking for an RPG to tide you over until Aralon or Secret of Mana hit, Queen’s Crown is highly recommended.

Queen’s Crown [ $4.99 ] is developed by Com2Us. Reviewed at version 1.0.0 on an iPhone 4.


q

‘Inotia 3: The Children of Carnia’ Coming to the App Store

Com2us has been hard at work in delivering the next installment in their Inotia series.  Inotia 2 was one of our favorite RPGs, and it received the Must Have award for basically being the greatest RPG out there.  We’re definitely excited for the next in the series, but I don’t expect a huge jump from the second one.

While information is very vague, Com2us did post about an Inotia 3 contest they were running on their website.  While the game doesn’t look like it’s going to be released anytime soon (they’re still naming characters), atleast we know that it’s being worked on.

We’ll post more information as it becomes available.