I was given access to the beta run of the game and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to play it before its launch. Getting to play beta meant that I could enjoy this massive throwback into my MMORPG-filled childhood without the massive surge of players that would probably come alongside the game’s public launch. Though I had to initially wait (for some time) to actually get into the game due to patch downloads and the office’s slow wifi, the loading screens gave me some nice insight as to what one could look forward to when playing.
If you don’t know what MapleStory is, here’s a quick rundown: it’s a free-to-play, 2D scrolling platform MMORPG released in South Korea in 2003, and a roll-out to other regions within the early 2000s. Like most MMOs of that time, there wasn’t a clear storyline (but there was a backstory) and the goal of the game was to defeat monsters to level up one’s skills and abilities. There was an in-game store called “Cash Shop” where players could buy enhancements or character costumes using in-game or real money. I remember being able to buy these scratch-cards from a physical store to get in-game currency, “meso”. It was also a(n indirect) competitor to Ragnarok Online (which was a 3D MMO) and there was definitely the “Team MS” and “Team RO” divide. Good times...
So on to the game. You start off with the usual character selection, though here between 5 MapleStory classic classes: dark knight (tank), bowmaster (range), night lord (dps), bishop (mage) and corsair (range). I picked the bowmaster as I love being ranged characters. The beta version had a limited character customisation selection, perhaps there will be a bit more after launch. It might be just me, but I love character customisation, so I’d love for there to be a few more options. It also looks like you can have 6 characters per account for whenever you feel like a change of pace or your friends need an extra dps character for a raid.
Controls are similar to other mobile RPGs, joystick for movement on the left and action buttons on the right along with something I personally haven’t seen in mobile RPGs: hotkeys. Finally, I could quickly access items to heal up my character rather than go through a whole process just to be able to replenish my character’s health or mana. There’s also a “Cash Shop” in-game with getchas (loot crates), whether you use in-game mesos for rare items or pay real money for diamonds even rarer items is up to you. At some point during the start of the game I seemed to have obtained two doggos who follow me everywhere. Not only are they adorable doggos, they also help pick up loot drops which I am always lazy to take. Other players who were online while I was playing had other cute animals follow them around, I guess they do the same thing?
However, just like most mobile MMORPGs, there is a quest auto-navi and auto-progress system that I am absolutely not a big fan of. Maybe some people are, but definitely not me. It reminds me of those dreaded botters who flooded servers back in the day, mindlessly levelling up and going through the motions with no interaction with real players. But sad thing is, if I didn’t tap on the auto-navi for a quest, I had absolutely no idea where I had to go to progress. There were points where tapping out of the auto system bugged the game out, I couldn’t attack, I couldn’t move. The saddest part about this is that you don’t really have much room to freely explore the world of Maple while you progress on quests and that’s the aspect I love the most about RPGs in general. So I became mighty disappointed when I found out the exploration aspect was being taken away from me here.
Dungeons become unlocked once a character reaches level 10 but I had stopped playing once I got stuck during a quest because that one last monster just wouldn’t seem to die. Literally. So I’m honesty not sure what the dungeons play like in the game. So overall, in my opinion, as far as mobile MMORPGs go, I think MapleStory’s 2D mechanics are perfect for this platform in comparison to other 3D MMORPGs. Though it is sad that the auto systems have deterred me from wanting to play further, I’m sure there will be plenty of people who will come to love the world of MapleStory once more.
While writing the review of this game, I was using the Huawei Mate 10. Its 5.9 inch screen was a relief to use, bigger is indeed better when it comes to mobile gaming. Its 4GB RAM insured smooth gaming and during my hours long play of MapleStory M it didn't heat up like a lot of other phones would when playing games like this. Too bad it can't fit nicely in my pants pocket though! (Blame ladies pants!)