With Zenonia the biggest Roleplaying Hit 2009 for the Iphone is finally available for the Android plattform. It’s also the game, that I wanted the most for my Nexus One.
Zenonia is an Action RPG with a chibi look, where you mostly collect loot, listen to the story and grind enemies. You play the boy Regret, who you can choose to be a Warrior, Assasin or a Paladin, which will give you 3 different skill trees with 8 active and 8 passive skills, as well as an ultimate skill. Since there are three save slots, you can play every class to the end, which makes sense to do at least twice, because of the good/bad story system, which strongly influences the main storyline and gives you different choices on your quests.
The story is about the Neverending War between the Holy Knights and the Dragon Clan. On a battlefield the Leader of the Holy Knights finds himself with a baby, which seems important to the Dragon Clan and adopts it. Years later said leader dies under mysterious circumstances and leaves back Regret, who is now a teenager. Without his Dad he is not really longer welcome in his home village, which is why he decides it’s time for him to leave his home and travel through the big wide world.
After a few errands in your home village, where the elements of the game are sparely taught to you, you decide which side you want to align with for the time and then you do quests for your chosen fraction.
Loot is availiable in 5 different classes: Normal, Magic, Rare, Unique and Epic. Useless items above the magic rating can be combined to new items at the blacksmith. The 10 different equipment slots want to be filled with hundres of items, which will wear out and have to be repaired from time to time. While you’re out collecting, be aware that you have a weight limit and if you haven’t pushed strength you will be overloaded and have to crawl back slowly into the city to sell some stuff. Since this is not enough micromanagement in the developers minds, there’s a hunger system implemented, which forces you every few minutes to eat something or else you lose SP Points which you need for your special attacks. Thank god there are quick slots present, where you can place food and potions, as well as special attacks. And because it’s so much fun to put the disatvantages of reality into games, there’s a day/night cycle, so you have more to manage and can stand in front of closed doors, because of the wrong time.
So much to the actual game, now let’s focus on the Android Version. Let’s begin with the controls and the biggest flaw of Zenonia at the moment. The developers decided to bring over a pure Iphone port, which you can only navigate through the on screen D-Pad. Not even the menue points in the main menue are selectable per touch. It’s not conform, because inside the game you can choose sometimes with a touch dialogue. Even the system keys are used wrong, if you want to close the app you have to press the return key in the main menue and then select yes per touch, multiple presses on the return key don’t close the app like it is in other programs. One time the game initialized wrong, so there was nothing on the screen, I could only hear the music. I had to force close the game through the system. In game the return and menu key are blocked, only the devs know why the menu key isn’t linked to the on screen menu button.
But much worse is that they completely ignored all extra input methods, that the Iphone lacks in comparison with Android devices.There is no D-Pad or trackball support in Zenonia, which will hopefully change through updates. Because of a missing multitouch implementation in the game, the current contols simply suck. If you want to move a stone for example, you have to position yourself in front of it, release the D-Pad, press the action button, release the button, push the D-Pad to move, Release the D-Pad and then push the action button once more, so you can run around freely again. It is also not possible to change directions on the virtual D-Pad with a slide, you always have to touch again to change direction, we’ve seen better. But as a small consolation enemies are automatically targeted, so you can just hammer the action button and spam some special attacks with the quick slots to win your battles. Beneficial positioning, let alone circle strafing of the enemies,with the current controls is nearly impossible. There’s also a dash when you double tap a direction, which is very handy, if you have to cross an already visited area.
As beautiful as the style is, the graphics of the game look washed out on the Nexus One, which traces back to doubled upscaling of the game. Before Zenonia came to the Iphone, it was a mobile game, which got upscaled to the Iphone. Now the Iphone Version got nearly doubled again, to fill the much higher Resolution. I doubt, that the graphics will get an overhaul now, but for Zenonia 2 it would be nice to get some higher res sprites.
The soundtrack is composed of beautiful midi melodies, that complement the atmosphere well. There are a few quirks here as well, if you enter a building, there is no sound until you talk to some NPC, then a fitting tune starts. When you quit the dialogue the sound stops abruptly and you listen to the quiet nothing until you leave the building. Since the 1.0.2 update the in game sound menu is working, where you can regualte the volume in 5 steps from off to 4. Regretfully the phone doesn’t support a flipmode, that’s why you easily cover up the speaker while playing.
All in all Zenonia is a two edged sword, on one side I am really happy to get such a lovely 2D game on my Android, on the other side I am really dissappointed of the conversion that’ll cost you with a price tag of 5,99$ (4,43€ in April 2010) twice as much as the Iphone Version. That would be tolerable, because the game was released there in May 2009 and got cheaper over time, but nearly at the same time Zenonia was released for Android, Part 2 was released cheaper on the Iphone at 4,99$. If we pay a premium price on our plattform, I demand a better adjustment to the plattform than what we got here.
E.g. the game doesn’t pause correctly when you multitask, the playtime racks up and isn’t representative anymore. In game I correctly adjust the music volume with the Volume buttons, but in the menue they pointlessly change the ringtone volume. In my opinion there wasn’t done enough QA on actual devices.
With all that in mind, Zenonia still is the best Action RPG on the market, it really is fun hunting creatures with Regret, it tells a nice story and the presentation just hits it off with me, as a fan of the art of sprites. I hope that some of my points of criticism are fixed through updates and that the game becomes a hit on the market. Until now, it is my favorite game of the year, but the year is young and when e.g. Across Age get’s ported to Android, it looks grim for Zenonia’s No. 1 spot in it’s current condition. But for the next few months, the game will have a safed spot on my mobile and that a game can entertain you for that long makes a truly great game at the end of the day.