Aeon Avenger (Mobile)
RPGs are a genre that can do well on mobile. Aeon Avenger is a 2012 game. Its one of several mobile JRPGs from Japanese company Kemco, although they also make JRPGs for the 3DS. The game has the retro 2D sprite 16 bit look we are familiar with, no 'free to play' annoyances, a simple story line to send your party dungeon diving, a bit of time traveling, and some innovative gameplay mechanics that are okay. No puzzles to solve. A touch pad works fine. Save when you want to save. The fatal flaw are the boss battles.
The gameplay innovation here is having several families of weapons including swords, guns, flails, staves, bows, whips, brass knuckles, and chains. Various monsters may be tougher against or weak to a type of weapon. Each character has a weapon specialty, but unlike tabletop RPGs, everyone is capable of using any weapon. On top of this is a 'bit' system, basically the word for assemblies that impart extra abilities (usually at a cost of magic points). Some bits only work on some weapons. So, there is a lot of mixing and matching. On top of this, some bits can be bought, others are scarce. Some can also be 'evolved' by putting them with one or more magic stones during your travels through time. Come back to where you left them in the past, and somehow they got better. To use them however, requires even more magic points.
How to use this weapons and bit idea is learned slowly, and the villagers give out handy hints about the monsters in the next forest of doom. If you are in over your head, head back to town. Time to splurge and buy a whip or two for those two gentlemen in the back row, or whatever you really need. You still end up with a few front row heavy hitters, and support staff healing them. The random encounters are not very threatening. After each one, you can reassess who needs what tool set, and where to spend money or enhance what you have.
Its the boss battles that are the iceberg in the Atlantic. There are no mid level challenges. The end boss will appear after a convenient healing point. It is enormous, and far more powerful than any of the random encounters. There is no health meter for the boss. The boss may or may not be susceptible to the same weapons as the random encounter creatures. There is no option to re-equip your team, and even on replaying the boss battle after losing, you only have what is in your luggage. If you only have one magic staff and its the only thing that works, you are going to have several mostly useless cheerleaders. Each boss battle is long and tedious. You open up with a full broadsides, then go into hit and heal over and over. The boss strategy seems to be a random dice roll of anything from 'calls your mother bad names' to 'opens up on everyone with the spandau'. Every few rounds the boss will wallop the whole crew with what seems to be a ratio of their total hit points as damage. That means, that even as you level up to become stronger, the boss is also leveling up as a function of your level - that's crazy talk. In early dungeons, perseverance wins the day, but as the adventure goes on it stops being fun. Even victory tastes bland.
The innovation of Aeon Avenger with the weapons and bits actually worked okay, right up until the boss battles. The boss battles are totally out of balance, and so the game ceases to be fun after awhile. The game takes about 20 hours to play through. The ending also was a nice touch, but the middle patch needed more game balance.
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