So I’m starting a new segment here on the TNG blog called iReview, in which I’ll, you guessed it, review a game for the iOS device lineup, aka the iPhone, the iPod Touch, and the iPad. Now, there’s a fast set of nearly 100,000 games for these devices, so there’s no way I’m going to be able to review them all, but I intend to review the ones that a) I have had the time to play, and b) That are actually noteworthy. Noteworthy because they are good, or noteworthy because they are bad, it doesn’t matter.
Anyway, moving along to the actually review, I will now be reviewing one of the best looking games on the iOS series, produced by Square Enix, Chaos Rings.
Chaos Rings is a RPG in the likes of Final Fantasy, following the story of four couples, who have been abducted into the realm of the Ark Arena, in which these couples fight for their lives, and the ability to return to their original times. Yet throughout this trek, they find the motives behind the ideals of the Ark Arena, ultimately fighting against the monstrosity behind the Ark Arena.
The gameplay is relatively simple. The overworld of the game is played from a third person perspective, with a track ball to move your character. One great thing that the developers did is made it so that, no matter where you initially place your finger on the device, the virtual track ball is based wherever you placed your finger. While this seems good in context, sometimes, when placing your finger initially near the edge of the screen, your character cannot move as fast as possible. A slight mishap, but it doesn’t matter if you just don’t place your finger in a certain place. (iPhone 4 antenna issues anyone?)
The other part of the game, the battles, are standard Final Fantasy-esque scenes, most reminiscent of Final Fantasy XIII. Heck, even the camera positions while you are making choices as to what to do, or attacking, are FFXIIIish.
In battles, before each turn, you are given the choice to either do two solo moves, or do one devastating pair move. However, if you chose to do the pair move, then any attack will hit the both of you, so there is greater risk for the greater reward. This adds a new element of strategy to the battles; yet I never found myself using the ability, as most often the benefits of having two separate attacks outweigh the benefits of a single, strong attack.
This is not the only strategical element in battle, as there are two more features. One is the break gauge, seen in the top left corner. This represents the “momentum” or the “flow” of the battle; if it points in your direction, then your attacks will do more damage, and your opponent’s attacks will do less. Likewise, if the break meter favors your opponent, then your attacks will do substantially less, and your opponent’s will be stronger. While it seems as if it’s a cool mechanic, this drastically changes the ideals of battle; speed becomes essential, as the first attack done majorly puts the battle in your favor. And once the break meter is in your favor, then essentially you’ve won the battle, with no skill involved. After a while, the concept break meter simply makes battles uninteresting.
The third and final strategic element is the concept of elements, no pun intended. This, in realistic terms, is simply a game of rock-paper-scizzors. The three elements, Aqua, Blaze, and Gale, follow characteristics as you would expect: Aqua beats Blaze, Blaze beats Gale, and Gale beats Aqua. It’s quite reminiscent of Pokemon, in actually.
In fact, the game has many throw-offs to Pokemon. The monster design, for instance, is based off of animals, similar to that of Pokemon. This is not to say that the monster design is bad, heavens no. If anything, the design of the enemies is fresh, and the boss designs are quite intimidating.
The fact that animals are the basis for all character design is expanded upon, as whenever you first defeat a monster, you obtain their genes. These genes have special abilities, which you can obtain by defeating monsters in battle. You can equip these genes to your characters to be able to utilize these abilities. The abilities include magic attacks of certain elements, the ability to increase stats, and the ability to inflict a certain element on an enemy. These are basically your Mana or PSI skills if you will, and are to be used sparingly, as your HP is refilled between battles, but not your MP.
Even though some of the gimicks of the game seem to draw back from the game, the soundtrack nearly makes up for these faults in whole. The boss themes, for instance, are astounding, and seem as if they could belong in an actual high-budget movie. Just take a listen to this song, entitled Ark Arena;
Shweet goodness at it’s finest. And, just if you’re curious, the soundtrack is available on iTunes for $7.99, if you wish.
Overall, Chaos Rings by Square Enix is by no means a light RPG, but rather, it is a complex game with amazing graphics, an amazing soundtrack, and much more. That being said, the hefty prince tag of $12.99 may throw some people off of the Square Enix/Final Fantasy/RPG bandwagon; but I state that if you can afford it, by all means, go ahead. You are definitely getting what is worth your money, a 20 hour game with PSP-like graphics.
Of course, if you can’t afford the price, then you might as well dust off your old gameboy, pop in your cartridge of Pokemon Yellow that you were never able to beat, and have a go at that, anyway.
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