When I was a young warthog, back in high school, all my friends were into MMO gaming, specifically Ragnarok Online. I never really understood the obsession myself, but they all loved it. I would occasionally play it for a few weeks at a time before getting bored and giving my account to one of my friends to use up. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the game, it had a lot of good qualities; easy to learn game play, cute anime-inspired graphics, adorable little slimes to stab; it was just that the boring stuff got in the way for me. Leveling up took forever, especially if you were playing by yourself. I’m not much of a social butterfly in life, both on and off line. So I tended to play the game alone when none of my real life friends were online.
Like many MMORPGs I would spend hours grinding only to gain one level, and that was if I was actually strong enough to fight the monsters in the area I was in. I wouldn’t even bother going to towns to buy new equipment, as it anything actually good for my character was so expensive that I couldn’t even comprehend buying it. Fighting was a chore; stab, wait, stab, wait, stab, run away, cure if I’m lucky, run away, stab; you know, typical MMO stuff. The genre just isn’t for me.
When I saw that Ragnarok DS was coming out for DS I was excited. Nostalgia, as it always does, had me thinking about the good times of playing the MMO with my friends, and so without really thinking about it, when the game was released I found a copy sitting in my DS and myself playing it.
Too be truly honest, I didn’t hate the experience. It seemed to be everything I liked about Ragnarok Online without all the grinding that I hated. Monsters didn’t take an hour to kill, items didn’t cost an arm and a leg to buy, quests were easy and quick to complete and leveling wasn’t nearly the chore it used to be. Then I started to really pay attention to the game. The graphics while able to stand up on the DS’s smaller screen just didn’t seem as crisp and nice as it did on the computer, which I admit was to be expected. The music and sound is forgettable at its best. The story scenes are long and unskipable and the characters are… cookie cutter mostly; young warrior out to make a name for himself, amnesiatic female love interest, insightful best friend, annoying barely dressed mage girl, the basics are all there.
Looking beyond the obvious flaws, the game is fun, if you enjoy a single player campaign version of the MMO. While the grinding is still present, it doesn’t take nearly as long to fight the battles. In fact battles don’t even present much of a challenge until midway through the game; don’t take that as a sign of the game being too easy, because it isn’t, since you almost always have a three person team, including one healer with what seems to be a near infinite supply of SP, you never really have to worry about dying.
Character customization is a large part of why the game was easy for me. Having played the MMO, I understood to make a great archer class, which is what I played, I needed to ignore every stat except HIT, making my character a powerhouse even at low levels. I really liked that character creation managed to stay the same more or less. This being a one player game, I would have enjoyed being able to manage my team member’s stats but that ability isn’t available.
One aspect of the game that truly bothered me was that everything was controlled through the touch screen. I really would have appreciated the additional control scheme of acting through the face buttons. The d-pad does allow you to still move around but the face buttons only access different parts of the menu, they were mostly unused for me unless I hit one on accident.
To be frank, even if I hadn’t played this game as a kid, I would have bought it; my man crush on XSeed is enough for me, but I can’t recommend this game for anyone who hasn’t played the MMO beforehand. It’s just too niche. I personally would love to see a sequel with a few minor changes; skipable cut scenes, more customizable characters for your team members, maybe a slightly more interesting story, a few more DS game specific character classes. That’s all I’m asking really.