Do you see the post just below this one? The one I wrote just this morning, saying “Hey, Donpacchin’s not great, but it’s only meant to be a free to play phone game, it’s not something you’re meant to spend any real time with”? Well, guess what happens when developers aim a little higher than the generic free iOS game template?
Wonder Flick happens, that’s what.
Strictly speaking this is “Wonder Flick Great Adventure Prologue” – a glorified demo that doesn’t even save – but flipping heck it’s fun, and beautiful too! Created by Level 5 and with music by some bloke called Nobuo Uematsu this is (finally) a phone-based RPG that’s worth spending a bit of time with and also well suited to the platform it’s been created for.
You start off by creating a character. This is reasonably in depth with a variety of body shapes, eyebrows, hair colours and all the rest to choose from to choose from, then you pick from one of four possible classes – thief, archer, magic user and warrior.
The setting’s standard fantasy fare – you’re sent on a quest by a king, fight a big dragon (you lose) and wander through dungeons hitting monsters and picking up treasure; it’s so lovely to look at though (both from a technical and a design point of view) that it’s one of those rare fantasy games that does manage to convey the sense of awe and wonder that giant castles and lush green overworlds filled with magic should do.
You’ll be spending a good chunk of your time in battle, so it’s a good thing they’re fun! Your team contains three party members (you and two mercenaries hired in town) and battle occur in real time – enemies won’t wait for you to decide on a strategy!
Attacks are chosen from a series of icons that appear across the bottom – these must be flicked up over the enemy you wish to attack. These icons replenish when used, but they do so randomly. As you’d expect there’s standard attacks, spells and the ability to use recovery items but there’s also far more interesting things like guard breaks (that require the player to quickly match up three icons) and combos that can slow the enemy down or perform other handy debuffs.
Dungeons aren’t free roaming, but after each room the player can choose which path to take next so it doesn’t feel too linear.
It’s unfortunate this came out the same day Donpacchin did, because I was prepared to grin and bear that game’s ho-hum effort and forgive Cave for sticking to the standard free to play formula – it’ll probably end up more profitable than some of their arcade games after all. This has completely blown it out the water though, and it’s an excellent reminder that “free to play” isn’t actually code for “minimal effort cash-sucker”. If you want to try this out for yourself the official website (with Apple app store download link) is here - http://www.wonderflick.jp/index.html (Japan only).