Tag Archives: Inotia: Wanderers of Luone

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.


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Our 2009 Games of the Year Revealed: Gaming Overload!

Wow.  What a year it’s been for the app store.  This was the first full calendar year that the store has been open for business, and we’ve been treated to a countless amount of games.  Now, all of us have attempted to give a summary of some of our favourite games from the year.  We’re about to list a lot of great games, so sit back and see if you’ve missed any gems from last year or disagree with any of our choices.

Matt: Overall, 2009 was a great year for iPhone gaming. My personal favorite release of the year was the re-imagined classic Space Invaders Infinity Gene, easily the iPhone’s best shoot’em-up. The stages, visual presentation, sound and gameplay combined to make this a game I found impossible to put down. The inclusion of music stages, generated from songs in your music library, make this a game with an infinite amount of new challenges, and the recent update made things even better. Space Invaders Infinity Gene is the best example I can think of of a major game publisher simultaneously revitalizing a classic franchise while doing right on the iPhone platform. Kudos to Taito for a job well done.

For me, the year held a number of other highlights. Meteor Blitz is the best dual-stick shooter I’ve ever played, with sumptuous visuals and perfect controls. Flatspace delivered the most open-ended space role-playing experience on the platform; how you outfit your ship plays a huge role in how you play the game, and you’re welcome to play in any way you like, as law-enforcement or pirate, trader or bounty-hunter, good guy or bad guy. Chronicles of Inotia: Wanderer of Luone and Dungeon Hunter offered up the platform’s best fantasy RPGs, while Rogue Planet delivered an SRPG to rival those on major consoles. Robocalypse, ported to the iPhone from the Nintendo DS, was the year’s best RTS, and IUGO’s Star Hogs was an artillery game not to be missed. GeoDefense and GeoDefense Swarm were the year’s best tower defense games. Chillingo‘s Defender Chronicles effectively tipped the tower defense genre on its side, imbuing it with RPG qualities along the way and cementing it as one of the deepest and most rewarding alternative takes on tower defense yet seen. In addition, the developer has set a new paradigm for the support of existing properties with constant and hearty updates in content. Knights Onrush is the App Store’s best castle-defense game, even beating out Gameloft‘s take on the genre. But it’s Gameloft’s NOVA that takes the crown for the year’s best FPS, highly polished with a robust single player campaign and an excellent multiplayer mode. My favorite retro fixes were the addictive Hook Champ and the lite roguelike The Isle of 8-bit Treasures. For casual games, KarmaStar was a favorite for cramming incredible depth into bite-sized portions, and Canabalt for incredible atmosphere and short, but addictive gameplay sessions. My list is long, but the last games I absolutely must mention are Rolando 2 and I Dig It 2, incredible sequels to their equally incredible predecessors. Damn, what a year!

Daniel: My game of the year would have to go to NOVA from Gameloft. Call me a first-person shooter junkie, but Gameloft did an amazing job with both the campaign and online multiplayer. There have been tons of other games that have come quite close to taking home the award though, from ngmoco’s Rolando 2 to Illusion Labs’ Sway. Com2uS also came out of the box after releasing Homerun Battle 3D along with Inotia  2: Wanderer of Luone, both of which were definite must have titles for me. Chillingo‘s Ravensword was yet another title that I was overly impressed with, along with their fun Speed Forge Extreme.

The list goes on and on, including Firemint‘s Real Racing and Flight Control, Illusion Labs’ Labyrinth 2 and Touchgrind, Gameloft’s Modern Combat: Sandstorm and Gangstar, Godzilab’s iBlast Moki, and much, much more. 2009 was a year quite improved from the initial release of firmware 2.0, and I’ll be surprised if developers keep up the same pace. I’m sure there are games that were forgotten, but either way, let’s say hello to 2010.

Nick: Going back a full year and trying to figure out the best games launched on the app store is definitely a tough task.  Choosing a single game of the year though is easy.  The game I have in mind had an impressive graphical upgrade from its predecessor, and the gameplay’s tweaked difficulty and rolling variations kept me fully interested throughout.  Yes, the game I’m thinking of is Ngmoco and Hand Circus’ Rolando 2.  After replaying levels just to grab all the items I missed on the first time through, I realized the game was something special because replaying is something I rarely do.  I initially opened this site to try and cover games that push forward the idea that the iPhone is a legimitate gaming platform, and Rolando 2 fits the bill perfectly. In trying to list other favourites from the year, I’m sure I’m going to forget many great games.  Here’s a quick attempt at other standout titles I really enjoyed: Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, Sway, Let’s Golf, Peggle, geoDefense, 2XL ATV Offroad, and Hook Champ.

Chris: 2009 was certainly a banner year for the iPhone and its gamers. In 2008 we witnessed the birth of the app store. In 2009 we witnessed it grow into something akin to a child: both awkward and wonderful; sometimes gawky, sometimes menacing, but always full of promise. This year we’ve seen everything from the great Halo clone N.O.V.A. to truly unique puzzlers like Labyrinth 2 and Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor. But for every geoDefense we also had an onslaught of forgettable tower defense games that simply were a recycled waste of time. The still incomplete Minigore gave us a good laugh while Samurai: Way of the Warrior showed us that 3-D wasn’t always needed. At the beginning of the year, who would’ve thought a simple running game like Backbreaker Football could bring so much more life to football than the iconic Madden? That’s what makes the iPhone as a gaming device so special: it surprises us. This little machine somehow manages to bring a decoupage of gaming experiences that no other device seems to match. Gamers everywhere have to agree there’s nothing quite like Zen Bound for the console. As for the best of 2009, that’s tough. The Wing Commander-esque Galaxy on Fire comes close, but ultimately I’m a sucker for the well-rendered RPG; Ravensword: The Fallen King is certainly not without its flaws, but it is the first iPhone game I found truly amazing… utterly escapist. What can we anticipate in 2010 now that the iPhone’s proverbial childhood is over? The fast track into adulthood. With Apple’s newfound success in the gaming world comes a new set responsibilities… and new competition. Also, we all have bigger expectations for this little device than we did a year ago. Things could get really interesting. So, here’s to a new and even better year of gaming in 2010. Good luck, Apple, and keep on gaming!

Jeff: What if iTunes didn’t exist? What if there wasn’t an App Store? What if the technological marvel known as the iDevice was never conceived? Each and every one of us would have missed out on something amazing and revolutionary.  It’s a worldwide store where you can buy all of the newest music of any nationality from anywhere in the world, and purchase multiple games that fit in your pocket starting as low as 99 cents and (almost) not going anywhere above 10 dollars. This universal store has brought many people happiness, and the offerings that you can choose from are astounding. Music will always be changing, and so will the future of gaming. However, I’ve never thought that gaming could change so suddenly or quickly. Five months ago, I would never have thought of the iPhone or iPod Touch as something I would play games on, much less play games on for hours on end. This year, and more specifically, these past few months, have changed the iPhone and iPod Touch into my main gaming platform. And why? Because iDevice games are the only ones that get updated, changed, and churned out so quickly, yet still maintaining the polish and quality we expect from all games.

Now that the iPhone and iPod Touch have been established as possible gaming devices, what are the best games for this “platform?” Or, what is the number one game that all iDevice owners should have? It’s a hard choice, but I have to go with N.O.V.A.. This game has the best graphics, best controls, and debatably due to multiplayer, the best replay value of any game on the App Store. It has all of Gameloft’s quality and polish, and it isn’t a game you just finish and forget; it’s an experience that you remember and keep coming back to, time and time again. On the other hand, there are many great offerings for the iDevice, including Jet Car Stunts, Asphalt 5, Need for Speed, FIFA, Inotia 2: A Wanderer of Luone and many more titles that deserve mentioning. Of course, if I mentioned all of them, the list would be too long since there are just so many different options. All in all, 2009 has been an awesome year both for myself personally and the App Store, and I can’t wait to see what new events and things are in store for me this year. Onwards, and let’s all have a great 2010!

Ryan: The app store has come a very long way in such a short time. I remember when I was impressed by the simplest of games on a mobile device like an iPod. The app store has become a whole new market now with ‘real’ games becoming more polished and fun. One signing example of this is Nova. Nova is a first-person shooter developed by Gameloft that somewhat resembles Halo (ring any bells?) Nova is the most complete, comprehensive game on the app store to date. Not only does it have an engaging single player mode, but it comes with surprisingly fun online multiplayer mode as well. It is no surprise to me that Gameloft is the company behind Nova. After all, they have proven to be strong players in the app store market and have developed a number of hits. Each game they release seems to push the envelope (and my expectations) just a little further. I now expect an iPod/iPhone game to deliver much more than I did even a few months ago. I am excited to see what the app store holds for 2010. I think Nova will be hard to top, but based on what I have seen so far, it is complely plausible.

And that wraps up the gaming year of 2009.  I’m sure 2010 will be bringing us even more impressive games from all the developers on the app store who will continue to push the limits of the platform.  We’ll see you the same time next year for another wrap up!

Inotia: A Wanderer of Luone Promo Code Contest

Com2uS was nice enough to send me (1) promo code used to redeem their game Inotia: A Wanderer of Luone for free in the US App Store. It’s quite simple to win these codes, and all you have to do is:

1. Follow Com2uS on Twitter.

2. Post in the contest thread what you think is the most crucial and fun part of an RPG game. The person with the best response will receive (1) promo code.

Please note that this contest is only for fun with no “intense” competition or stress allowed. The Inotia: A Wanderer of Luone promo code contest is hosted on our forums, and you must sign up to reply to the thread. Once there are at least 15 entrants or until December 15, 2009, the contest will end and the winner will be chosen.

If you are given the promo code, please take the time to write a review on iTunes. Good luck!

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Inotia: A Wanderer of Luone Released On App Store

Last night was somewhat of a big release night with both Modern Combat Sandstorm multiplayer and Chronicles of Inotia 2 being released.  CoI2 is a game we’ve had some hands-on time with, and found it to be one of the best RPGs ever to set foot onto the iPhone.

Com2us is arguably one of my favorite developers, bringing to us Baseball Sluggers, Chronicles of Inotia, and Sniper Vs. Sniper.  While all of them are quite sophisticated, our writer Jeff deems the second version of Chronicles of Inotia as something “we’ve never seen before”.

With an online match up mode and over 200 quests to complete, CoI 2 shouldn’t be short on content.  Along with that, you have the choice of 5 different classes: the priest, knight, magician, templar, and thief.

We should have a review up for this sooner or later, but for now, check out the screenshots and our hands-on preview.  $7.99 may be steep for a lot of people, and we’ll post up some quick impressions once we’ve had some thorough hands-on time.

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