With the surplus of games being released for the iPhone and iPod Touch, it has been increasingly difficult to shine in the spotlight, especially when dealing with role playing games (RPGs). RPGs and those similar haven’t fared too well in the market due to poor controls or lacking overall quality. Sooner or later, this trend had to be broken and one of the games to do so was Zenonia designed by Gamevil. It received much praise by critics and gamers alike even though the game had its issues. Serving to fix those issues and continue the action-packed story is the sequel, Zenonia 2: The Lost Memories. Does Gamevil’s sequel exceed the expectations of typical RPGs on the iPhone or will it slide this series down a slippery slope?
Having never played the original, I ventured into the world of Zenonia with much curiosity. Expecting a story that dragged because of its serious and dark tones while focusing on the plights of a confused, young man (which is very traditional with RPGs) I was completely caught off guard as Zenonia 2: The Lost Memories contained none of that. The game instead features a humorous and intriguing story along with the option to choose one of four main characters to experience this journey. The story takes place years after the first, presenting a short scene about Regret (the previous game’s hero) defeating the demon, Ladon, and bringing peace to the world. However, as time passed, the peaceful era in Zenonia came to an end as evil spurred forth into the land due to a gap between the human and devil world created by people’s greed. If that wasn’t enough, leaves from the Tree of Life have fallen causing the citizens’ memories to vanish. Nevertheless, there is still hope as a prophecy speaking of four warriors that will band together in order to save the world begins to unfold. And this is where our four heroes come into play. The goal of the protagonists is to collect four gems that were once a whole to weaken the monsters and restore vitality to the Tree of Life. The story isn’t going to win any awards for its narrative nor will it completely revamp the way gamers view video games. Still, the story completes its purpose by declaring the urgency of the situation and keeping players motivated to finish the task at hand. Included in the plot are the main characters’ back stories which aids in the players becoming attached to who they choose to follow. Each character has their own purpose as to why they are attempting this feat and the only way to fully understand why is to play each of them.
Now, from the description stated earlier, the storyline may seem entirely grim, but in actuality, it is a vibrant plot littered with many humorous one-liners in the dialogue. The characters’ interactions with each other are enjoyable to witness as they bicker and try to decide what to do next. Any game with a line such as, “There’s no way that noob will be able to slay those beasts,” deserves some attention. Even though the dialogue is fun, it is not without its faults. For the most part, the dialogue matches each character and the text flows smoothly. However, there are some instances when a character states a line that seems completely random. There are also some grammatical errors that occur every once in awhile such as, “This is be not the end!” These occurrences are too few to hinder the game in any way, but when you come across them, they are not difficult to miss.
If there’s one thing that Zenonia 2: The Lost Memories nails down beautifully, it’s the gameplay. There is so much being offered here that most players will unlikely experience it all. With over a hundred-fifty different areas to explore and near a hundred quests, not to mention the four distinct classes to choose from, each with their own customization with both with appearance and skills, and three unique modes available in the versus arena, there is much to be accomplished. Players can choose one of the four protagonists which include: Lu, a paladin, Ecne, a shooter, Morpice, a magician, and Daza, a warrior. This is great because it allows the player to choose the style of gameplay best suited to them. However, it would have been better to allow players to choose which class they wanted instead of designating characters to specific classes. I only state this because if gamers wish to be a warrior but prefer Morpice’s character over Daza, they don’t have the option to do so and must settle for one or the other. Once you finally make your choice it’s off to search the world of Zenonia and attempt to complete the staggering amount of quests ahead of you.
These areas and quests can be completed by traveling throughout the world of Zenonia which is made simple by the smooth transitions from locale to locale. Loading times are almost nonexistent in this game causing traveling to be more enjoyable than feeling like a chore. When traversing the world of Zenonia, players will use the D-pad located in the bottom left corner of the screen to move their character. Unlike many iPhone games out there, the D-pad is very responsive and players can even alter the size of it in order to suit their needs. A joystick would have been preferable but with these options to aid in precise movement, it isn’t a big deal. When players make their way to a town or the capital, Deva, they can interact with any of the citizens present. Each non-playable character (NPC) has something different to say. Some may have information, others may have a joke and some may have side quests. These can be discovered by tapping the button located in the bottom right corner of the screen. Anything the player desires to interact with can be done by tapping the button while facing toward the object or person.
This interact button also factors heavily into combat. While traveling in between towns or in dungeons, monsters will run rampant and in order to get by many pathways, the player will have to eliminate them. Zenonia 2: The Lost Memories follows the style of the Legend of the Zelda rather than traditional RPGs. Players will not vanish to some alternate reality to fight their enemies. Instead, monsters roam freely in the area and will pursue the protagonist if they cross paths. To quickly vanquish the threat, tap the interact button repeatedly to pull off the characters normal attacks. When this isn’t enough, players also have the ability to use particular skills unique to each character. Each of these skills can be learned and their effectiveness increased as players boost the protagonist’s level. Adding to this arsenal further into the game, a fairy will join the gang and also spare some powerful attack moves to aid in the journey. Just make sure you keep an eye on your characters health and stamina. As the hero takes damage their red bar of health will decrease and if it empties (yep, you guessed it) the hero is defeated. Stamina is also important to watch for because it allows players to use the skills the character has learned (stronger moves use more stamina). Without it, even basic movement will become a hassle so make sure you keep that bar full.
All of these—the fairy attacks, skills and normal attacks—can be upgraded as the character’s level increases. You can also upgrade your health, defense and stamina. However, this is where the game’s faults also come in. For gamers who hate grinding, beware. There will be much of this taking place throughout the game especially because the difficulty curve varies from area to area. Sometimes you will be able to clear enemies in the area with ease while at other times, you will constantly be running to the nearest haven in order to gargle down health potions and elixirs. Dampening this even more is the fact that sometimes, even though it’s a rarity, hit detection will be completely off. There were times when I attacked an enemy directly in front of me and somehow, he ended up above my character receiving no damage. Don’t think you’ll receive much help on your journey as well. Yes, the prophecy speaks of four warriors. What it doesn’t mention is that fact only one of them will do all the work while the others try to look pretty. Your character will be told what to do throughout the adventure while the others are out “aiding in the search.” It was disappointing to see four powerful warriors and only the one you choose does any of the work. The other three warriors always, “are injured,” or, “have left without you.” Even when it seems that the four may venture out together, one of the characters will declare it’s better to split up or an event will occur causing the other three to leave you. The quests you are forced to complete solo also leave you wanting more as most are of the, “go collect ten of this item,” or, “go find out what’s happening here,” variety.
Another tedious offering this game has is the fact that the weapons, armor and accessories all have durability and can be broken. Once this happens, they must be taken to a blacksmith to be repaired. While trying to watch out for health, stamina, the waiting time for the fairy to attack again (which takes quite a long time, mind you) the last thing I feel I should have to worry about is my weapon or helmet breaking. This is especially tiresome when caught in the middle of a dungeon and suddenly a message telling you something has broke begins to flash on screen. This means you have to go all the way back to the town (unless you luckily have a teleport scroll, repair scroll or a two-way portal) in order to repair it. Still, the combat and traveling is enjoyable and as long as you watch out for these obstacles, you shouldn’t have much trouble. Players will also have fun with the game’s PvP arena as they will have their characters face others across the network. There isn’t anything groundbreaking about this mode and it’s too bad they couldn’t implement co-op as another option but this is a welcome addition to the game allowing more replay value.
Graphics and Sound
Zenonia 2: The Lost Memories looks and sounds fantastic. From the moment I started the game, the retro feel of the Super Nintendo swarmed over me. The animations while playing are fluid and vibrant with something many games seem to forget about these days: COLOR!!! The landscapes are beautifully designed ranging from lush forests to ice cold mountain tops. It may seem trivial to some but leaving the black and grey scale is nice change of pace. Another plus is that the detail put into the character models is evidently present. From Daza’s horn to Lu’s scarf, each specific element is very well done. This is made even better by the ability to change your character’s appearance by trying out different sorts of armor. The only problem I had with the game’s graphics were the cutscenes. The animations taking place during the cutscenes seems to drastically change from gameplay. Character movements are stiff, rigid and sudden especially when it tries to show two characters in combat. It is only a minor inconvenience but for those who hold graphics on a high pedestal will pick this apart.
The sound is exceptional. The tunes throughout the game set the mood for each area players visit whether they are in a dark forest or traveling through a friendly town. The songs won’t play in your head for years to come but they do their job and also help in providing that classic style the game represents. The sound effects of the punches and the shooting and the casting of spells also boost this game’s credibility. Hearing a well made, “POW!!” just makes the attacks and skills seem even more powerful.
Zenonia 2: The Lost Memories delivers that classic style of gaming held fond in many hearts. The humorous yet intriguing story backed up with a very well done combat system shows the amount of effort placed into this game. Sure, it has some negatives such has grammatical errors and tedious inconveniences but these are not enough to hinder the experience delivered. Supplying many features including a large world to explore, tons of quests, many unique skills and beautiful landscapes, this game is offering a lot of bang for your buck. Few console games today offer the amount of depth Zenonia 2: The Lost Memories provides. If you are a fan of Zelda, RPGs or just retro games in general and have in your possession an iPhone or iPod Touch, you owe it to yourself to purchase this game. As a great addition to the application library, Gamevil has, once again, created an iPhone classic.
Article from Gamersyndrome.com