Did you ever play Final Fantasy 6 back in the day? Did you think that the Coliseum was the absolute best part of the entire game? Would you like to play an MMO on your iPod that is essentially FF6’s Coliseum as the sole focus of the game? If you haven’t played Final Fantasy 6, have you at least played Pockie Ninja and wished it had less mangled English? If you’ve said yes to any of these questions so far, then this game is probably the answer to all of your wildest dreams. If – however – you have no clue what I’ve been talking about, then you better brace yourself as this is going to be a review of a game you’re probably going to find utterly befuddling.
The first thing you need to understand is that BattleLand: Warrior vs. Monster (Out Now, $0.99) is an online only game, and therefore you will have to have your iPod in the presence of a network connection in order to play the game. Unless you’re specifically using an iPhone, this right off the bat is going to mean that you won’t be playing this game just anywhere on the go. Furthermore, this software isn’t recognized by Game Center and that means you’ll have to search for it by name in order to start it each and every time.
In this MMO you start by choosing one of 8 classes – with only 6 available at the start – each with a different distribution of strengths and weaknesses, with otherwise equal male and female versions of each being available. Then, after finishing the tutorial, you will proceed to equip your character with an array of abilities and gear before sending him/her off to either grind against monsters or fight other players currently logged in. Whichever option you choose, the game’s random number generator will choose what possible actions both characters involved in a fight choose to do at any given moment.
That’s right, if my opening paragraph didn’t make things clear for you, this is a game where you sit back and watch fights happen while twiddling your thumbs. Winning matches will award experience, gold, and (if against others players) rank. Your rank will determine what tier of other players you are able to fight against, your gold will enable you to purchase gear and scrolls for reforging and enhancing equipment, and your exp will increase your level which will enable you to equip higher level gear and have more special skills to select from.
In particular it is these aforementioned skills that are at the very heart of this game, and you will gain one new special skill randomly – regardless of which class you are playing – each time you level up. Your chief goal is to cobble together an arrangement of skills such that, assuming the random number generator works with you in a match, will work effectively together to see you to victory over your opponent. If you don’t like the array of skills you currently have available then you can roll for a random different selection, either by finding or purchasing a skill reset item with real world money.
At this point I should probably mention that there are going to be a lot of in-app purchases in this game, with most of them taking the form of buying various amounts of diamonds. A single diamond is apparently equivalent to 100 gold coins, and can be used to purchase expensive things such as gear stat boosting scrolls – which have a chance of failing when you try to use them – without spending massive amounts of time grinding for the gold needed to make the purchase otherwise. Diamonds can also be used to do a variety of other things that will basically let people skip steps in the game, or play parts of the game longer in a single day, but I’ll be covering those as I get to them.
The primary method you will have of getting yourself leveled and geared up for the arena is to go play what basically looks and operates like a game board, here you’ll roll a die many times and see where your game piece lands each time. This could result in you finding random rewards such as coins and gear, or getting into fights with random monsters that are generally easier than other players, over and over until you reach the other end of the particular game board and then passively watch your character fight the level’s boss. The only actual control you have in this section is to use expensive cheat items, that would preferably need to be bought with diamonds due to their high cost, such as cheat dice that let you choose the exact value of your next roll a single time.
After you finish so many of these boards you will become able to take quests that will give you even more rewards if you complete certain tasks, such as landing on a number of treasure chests before the current game board is done. Alternatively, you could just spend diamonds to complete the quest without actually doing it. You will be limited to 15 of these quests per day, although – based on everything else I’ve seen – I’m pretty sure you can spend diamonds to remove that limit too.
Once you feel you’re properly geared up you can go to the Arena and fight someone else currently logged in, seeing which one of you has the better payload and – more importantly – luck with the random number generator. If you defeat enough people in a given day you will be given special randomly chosen rewards, but this can be hard to do as you’re only allowed to challenge 20 different people to battle on any given day. You can, however, fight even more people in the Arena in a given day if you wish to make use of diamonds.
So at this point you’re probably thinking with all this passive combat that you have no control over, and with all the real money purchased diamonds they want you to spend on this, that this game must have the most amazing battles ever for you to sit back and watch. Actually, no, it’s quite the opposite I’m afraid. During a battle you are treated to static images of you and your opponent as the battle plays out, which occasionally shake and jerk about as the various attacks play out (although the special skills themselves do have unique simple animations associated with each of them). If you don’t want to watch the random numbers slowly do their thing, there is an option to just skip forward immediately to the end results.
Finally, the game – having originated from China – doesn’t always necessarily have the most stellar of English. You are going to occasionally be bombarded on loading screens with pieces of advice that have peculiar wording, such as: “ATK of the Class Mage is the most outstanding!” or “Please make sure your network connection is stable during the game in case of the data lost.” However, if you’re familiar with the similar online game – Pockie Ninja – then this game is practically a blessed paragon of grammatical virtue by comparison.
iFanzine Verdict: While the game isn’t completely devoid of merits, and there is some fun to be found in watching your payload win out over someone else’s in the arena, there just isn’t enough game play here to recommend this in light of the vast amounts of in-App purchases that are necessary to keep up with the other players as you move up the Arena tiers. But for those of you who found games like Pockie Ninja to be enjoyable, I would argue that this game is easily the superior offering in terms of being intelligible.