Zenonia 2

Zenonia 2

What we liked:

+ Great gameplay
+ Playful characters and story
+ Menus and display
+ PvP

What we didn't like:

- Fuzzy graphics

DEVELOPER: Gamevil   |   PUBLISHER: Gamevil   |   RELEASE: 03/29/2010

I will cut their Achilles tendon!

Heard of a little game called Zenonia, widely touted as the RPG to own for your iPhone? Enter Zenonia 2, a slightly tweaked and markedly similar battle against evil. If you liked Zenonia, yes, you will like Zenonia 2, and if you never picked up the first one well there’s no harm in starting here.

Zenonia 2: Lost Memories has new characters and environments, yet this really is part two of the same experience – and not much has changed. You play as one of four warriors united as prisoners (incarcerated for reasons vague). These young, talented folk figure they may as well go off on a dangerous quest for gems as rot away in prison, or face the king’s threat to “cut their Achilles tendon”. As with the first game, names and dialog are as silly as the characters, and the story itself is very playful.

You choose from among the four warriors and their respective classes: Lu, a swordsman; Ecne, mistress of firearms; Daza, a horned martial arts expert; or the magician Morphice, which is what I went with for my first playthrough. Each has their own personality, abilities and a mission or two but the primary quest follows the same arc. The choice is mostly a question of gameplay style, and I opted for range instead of melee early on, and ended up preferring melee due to the compact nature of the dungeon environments.

Zenonia 2 is a traditionalist. If you like your RPGs full of fetch-and-grind, you won’t mind one bit, though the sheer quantity of fetch-quests early on may try your patience. As you progress, most fetches are relegated to the side-quest category, making them easier to digest. Me, I enjoy questing in almost all its forms, what I’m less fond of is the old school convention of replaying locations.

Oh, and there’s evil. Big, nasty, power-hungry evil that the heroes must dispel by collecting powerful gems that will restore the lost memories of the kingdom. Zenonia handles a rather predictable RPG style story with cleverness and humor, making for a lot of fun – and yes, a lot of text. The massive amount of loot and leveling is the drug here. Within the first thirty minutes of the game I was picking up items that I couldn’t use for another seven levels, and Zenonia 2’s hooks were in. You won’t be able to unlock all your skills in the first playthrough, either, so those gamers that like to explore all the options will enjoy trying on the different classes.

Amusingly, load times are so quick that I never got to actually catch more than a mere flash of the informative load screens. At least, I think they were informative. I can’t be sure since I never got more than a handy half tip like: “If you’re stuck in-”

We may never know what to do if I’m stuck in. If it sounds like I’m complaining about the brevity of load times, well then I better segue into remarking on the sheer amount of text in this game – the localization is very impressive.

One of the great improvements from the first game are the menus, which are now touch controlled making level, skill and inventory management breezy. By far my favorite nifty feature is the customizable display, which allows you to tweak the size and placement of the D-Pad as well as other onscreen space-eaters like the item and skill buttons. Since I’m not the owner of giant meat hands, the ability to make the D-Pad smaller (and even adjust its opacity) was downright awesome.

For players lusting after loot or additional quests, the game offers Hell Mode. Then there’s PvP, which has you issuing a challenge to another Zenonia 2 player and then battling to see which is stronger. Your stats are recorded and you can keep track of folks in your “Death Note”, a post-it for arch-nemeses.

The visuals feature some neat upgrades like weather effects and, most notably, readable fonts. For those cultivating some virtual vanity, this time around changing your character’s equipment is reflected in their appearance. However, Zenonia 2 has that ported fuzziness. Frankly, graphics in a fun RPG are not among my primary concerns, but here they manifest not as graphical quirks but as a blurry haziness that wears on the eyes.

It’s easy to see how Zenonia 2 has been trapped by the success of its predecessor. Much like a Zelda game, it’s guaranteed to be the same experience, dated faults and all. Zenonia 2 stays true to that old school philosophy, delivering almost exactly the same game, with a handful of tweaks. In the case of Zenonia 2, the game that changed so little, the core experience is a blast, the limited changes are welcome and the final experience is a great one.

Review copy provided by publisher.

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