Reviews

Zenonia Review

Zenonia is a fantastic RPG that brings a lot to the table. But can you handle all of it?

Any old school gamer who sees or plays Zenonia will think of one game: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the SNES. This is a good thing. Zenonia plays a lot like mid-gen Zelda games with pot-breaking, huge dungeons, boss battles, and most importantly, colorful and clean sprite graphics. That’s about as far as I can go with a comparison though. Zenonia is not a “light” RPG like Zelda games, and many others.

Zenonia is a true RPG in every sense of the word. Deep leveling/stat system? Check. Hundreds of weapons, armor items, magic items, etc? Check. Stat-based real-time combat? Check.

The combat is quite satisfying.

The combat is quite satisfying.

Zenonia takes the charm of the simpler Zelda game, and slides in advanced RPG elements that will delight some, and frustrate others. Personally, I am not a big RPG fan, but I loved Zenonia! There are both active and passive abilities to upgrade, as well as the normal skill stats. You can assign active abilities to one of four slots that you can activate by simply tapping.

The game has a descent (but predictable) story line that takes you on a journey of self discovery and adventure through several different areas of Zenonia. I have to hand it to the writers, as the conversations with NPCs are often quite hilarious. The main character, Regret, is quite aware he’s in a video game, and has some pretty classic lines. Despite the game being translated to English from Korean, I only noticed one or two mistakes, and the jokes come over very well.

From snow mountain peaks to rippling hot deserts, you travel from town to town while slaying monsters. Although the action is hack and slash, like other similar RPGS, your hits are stat based. If you boost your attack and accuracy stats, you will hit harder and more often. If you focus on magic, your physical attacks may miss more, while your magic attacks will be deadly. As you progress, you can level up special attacks that really come in handy during battle. Although the action generally revolves around mashing one button, the battle system looks cool, and works well when used with spells.

There are three character to classes to choose from, each with it’s own weapons, armor, and skill trees: Warrior, Assassin, and Paladin. I played through the entire game as a warrior, and watched my brother play through with an assassin. There are fairly different play styles with each. The assassin moved much faster, and had a lot of weaker and faster attacks. The warrior

There are some really cool magic effects!

There are some really cool magic effects!

obviously focused on slower, stronger attacks. The class you choose doesn’t really affect the story, but the decisions you make do.

There is a fairly subtle good vs bad decision process in Zenonia. Based on choices you make, the game missions and play will change. The game doesn’t give you black and white decisions (“choose this for bad, and this for good”), but the forks in the road seem fairly obvious. This gives for a reason to go back and replay the game once you beat it the first time. It took me about 25 hours to play through the game once. That’s a ton of play time for any game, much less one on the iPhone!

Gamevil added in some little quirks that really make gameplay much more enjoyable. For instance, when attacking, your character will automatically face the enemy, even if you were facing the wrong way originally. Also, when you run into walls or objects, if you keep going forward Regret will automatically move around them. Little things like this make the game easier to play on an iPhone, and show that the developer was really thinking a lot about controls.

One of the complaints that I’m sure newcomers to RPGs will have relates to the degrading of weapons/armor over time, the grinding required for the dungeons, and the “eating” required for SP boosting. To be fair, about half the dungeons are fine on the first try, but a couple of them totally kicked my ass. From my point of view, this is fine, as it forces you to practice and

The stat and leveling system is surprisingly deep.

The stat and leveling system is surprisingly deep.

explore more, but some people may find it too tedius. There are hidden chests and things like that to discover in the various areas so it’s not completely just to level up. There is a nice item that boosts your xp gaining for 48 hours, and I highly recommend you purchase and use this whenever you hit up a dungeon.

I’ve heard complaints about equipment degradation being annoying. Frankly, that’s part of a lot of great RPGs, and is only a problem if you’re someone who doesn’t pay attention to game dialogue, as Zenonia explains pretty clearly how to take care of this. There is a blacksmith in every town to repair items, as well as portable hammers to repair stuff on the fly. There is also an item you can buy that keeps your equipment from degrading for 72 hours. As for constantly having to eat to keep your SP up? This felt kind of unnecessary. Maybe it’s a normal thing for Korean RPGs?

The only place Zenonia really falls short is in describing all the items and little quirks of the equipment system. It also assumes that you’re going to talk to everyone, and enter all the buildings (which you should do). There’s a lot of exposition, but some things aren’t quite explained well. One of these is combining magic items with weapons. I went the entire game without finding an “enchantment”, and to this day am still a bit confused about how this works. There are also items that work better with each other (equipping “joy sword” with “joy orb”), but the stat bonus for doing this (if there is one) doesn’t seem to be very evident.

Zenonia looks awesome and plays well. The graphics are bright and crisp, and the animation

You can teleports between towns to save time.

You can teleports between towns to save time.

and special effects are quite cool. The landscapes are very well designed, with some cool weather effects as an added touch. My only complaint is the excessive re-use of a few sprites to make different monsters and characters. For instance, at the beginning of the game you are sent on a mission to kill crabs at a lake. Later in the game, you are sent on a mission to kill scorpions, which are the exact same crab sprite, just colored black. This was quite annoying, and cheapened the epicness of the game. Granted, there is still a decent variety of enemies.

The sound of Zenonia was also good. The classic anime slashing sounds, and the Link-like “HAH!” when you land a hit are pretty great. The music is also good, but as with 98% of iPhone games, the same 4 or 5 songs were overused. There’s basically a town song, a between-town song, and a dungeon song, with a couple short extras for cutscenes. It’s not horrible, but the song loops are fairly short.

One final word on this fantastic game. It has a very very good save system. So good, that it doesn’t let you “cheat” by dying and then reloading your last save. I really liked this, as the OCD in me wants to play every game perfectly. Knowing that whatever happens, just happens, allowed me to really enjoy the experience. Just be sure to have plenty of “Origin of Lives” in your inventory, or you will either spend a lot of money, or take a hit to your stats when reviving.

Oh, and a final final word. Zenonia loads freakin fast throughout the game. Very impressive stuff.

Presentation & Graphics
4-stars_sm
Wonderfully colorful and clean sprite graphics, with no less quality than the master of sprite RPG games, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Very slick magic/attack effects as well. Menus are surprisingly untuitive for the amount of data that needs to be shown, and the UI is fantastic. Re-using sprites and renaming them to different monsters is flat out lame, and cheapens the experience a bit.

Sound
3pt5-stars_sm
Good sound effects. Music is good but way too repetetive. Nothing all that memorable.

Gameplay
4pt5-stars_sm
Assisted D-pad controls work extremely well, and feel very natural. I would have liked to see more touch integration with the menus, but navigating with the D-pad works well enough. The game itself is incredibly deep and rewarding. Combat is satisfying, especially with all the cool effects for special moves. The number of items and equipment, along with some gameplay quirks like degrading armor and eating food, could be a bit mouch for novice players.

Gamelife
5-stars_sm
The first game on the iPhone to prove you don’t need online capabilities to get a 5 star gamelife rating! 25+ hours for one run through is a ton of gameplay. You can then go back and play one of the remaining 2 classes, each with completely new abilities. On top of that, you can play as good or evil for a different game experience!

Game Rating – EDITOR’S CHOICE

4pt5-stars
Zenonia is one of the few true adventure RPGs on the iPhone. If you are an RPG fan, what are you waiting for!? Get this game. It’s work far more than it’s $5.99 price tag. If you’re on the fence about RPG games… it’s just 6 bucks people! In all seriousness, Zenonia is tons of fun, and will provide 20-30 hours of gameplay for just one run-through – which is pretty insane for an iPhone game. It’s a modern day 16-bit classic, and makes me excited for future games from Gamevil.

Zenonia – $5.99

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  • http://www.slidetoplay.com/ STP_Tim

    Best. iPhone. Game.

  • Nathan Mustafa

    I wish they hadn’t stretched the sprites to fit the iphone’s screen, it makes the game look a bit blurry. Also I found that the degrading weapons were annoying even once you figured out the system. I think having them degrade less frequently would be nicer because as it stands your weapons feel a tad useless when they degrade to nothing in a heartbeat in the field (if you don’t want to use a hammer and knock down the durability you are screwed). Diablo got this right, and it is something that can easily be adjusted.
    Zenonia is still an excellent game, easily 4.5 stars. The price likely won’t drop, but it is still a steal at 5.99, with a little more polish this is the kind of game I would pay 30 for on a Nintendo or Sony handheld …don’t get any ideas guys :)

  • legend.inc

    Good review nacho. maybe this game is worth it afterall.

  • Juppy

    Good sound effects? I beg to differ. The sound of your sword clashing against the enemy and battle cry is so damn irritating.

  • IPGN-dave

    Good call juppy, but while the sound is not mind blowing compared to many other games on the iPhone it’s still very good.

  • Jay

    I completely agree with everything on the review, and if i wrote it i’d say the exact same things

  • Deluxe

    Enchantments:
    - Be sure to have two items of the same magic level (Magic, Rare or Epic) and a Combine scroll.
    - Go to the blacksmith, choose Combine
    - Choose your items (same magic level mandatory)
    - Choose the combine scroll
    - Hit “Mix” (directly on screen)
    - Et voila! you’ve got a enchantment with magic level equal to items used… (stored in the fourth panel of your equipment)
    - Choose your enchantment, choose “Use” and select your weapon/armor to boost

    About equipment degradation:
    It seems to me that hammer of Ladon (+20% to overall durability) is the way to repair items without suffering from durability loss…
    It’s said that you cannot use it more than five times on a item but you can… without durability boost anymore but with total repair (I need to confirm that).

  • Rock $ Rolla

    Now this is what iphone gaming was made for

  • Deluxe

    Correction:
    You cannot use Hammer of Ladon more than five times on a item.

    So wait for it to used before repairing it with Hammer of Ladon. You’ll have five repairs garanteed without durability decrease…

  • http://www.pyrosmile.org iPGN-Matt, USA

    Hey Deluxe thanks for explaining enchantments! Wish the game did that. :S As for the Hammer, I was speaking of the power up that actually keeps your items from degrading for 72 hours. I pretty much just used that wherever I went, and never had to worry about repairing. :)

  • Square

    Noticed only one or two translation mistakes my eye. This was a killer for me.

    Also no real mention of the game’s poor balancing. At no real point was it a struggle to just spam attack through enemies and I felt digging for super equipment was superfluous because it wasn’t needed to kill just about everything assuming you don’t jump too far ahead of yourself.

    The game’s solid otherwise, but just nothing too surprising in terms of a stock ‘real console’ RPG.

  • leiste

    Good review. I also played very lon and I´m still leveling in the Shrine of Betrayal. I think the levels of the monsters there are a bit too different: you start with lvl. 43 Lachas and on the sixth floor there are lvl.54 Holy Knights.

    And I have a big problem: I can´t choose between Good or Evil: Everytime I´m asked Yes or no i once touch the screen and yes is automatically choosen.

  • http://twitter.com/missbrynn brynn

    OKAY.This game is fun so far,.But. When I started a new game (because I wanted to be good also) I noticed that I can’t even press the “no” option. This is the only site that I have found with anyone mentioning that they couldn’t choose the “no” option. Please tell me if there is anyway to choose the “no” option with Iphone. thank you. This is kind of annoying.

  • Matt

    I had no issue pressing “no”. Not sure what you’re talking about. Just use the D-pad or the touch screen.

  • Kid A

    Lol at some people. The D pad controls almost everything in this game, so use it to select yes or no. And why say “RPG game” Nacho, notice the G in RPG :) minor gripes FTW lol

  • Kid A

    Edit– Matt, not Nacho

  • Just want to be Good!

    “I noticed that I can’t even press the “no” option. This is the only site that I have found with anyone mentioning that they couldn’t choose the “no” option. Please tell me if there is anyway to choose the “no” option with Iphone. thank you. This is kind of annoyin”

    I’m playing on my iPhone, This is annoying me too, I’ve tried about 5 times to select the “No” option and let the holy knight kill the redhead.

    “Lol at some people. The D pad controls almost everything in this game”

    Lol at YOU, yes almost everything… not this, as the dpad is not visible when you have to “choose” a response

    you have to touch the screen, and in doing so it selects to defend the redhead and in doing so becomes evil.

    I can’t find any help on this topic, can anyone tell us how to select no (not to help the redhead) ?

    thanks

  • http://www.pyrosmile.org Matt Dunn, USA

    As per my comment, this is one of the few places where you just tap on what you want to do. Just tap “No” and it should work. Worked for me at least…

  • Kid A

    “just wanna be good!” lol.
    Right. Like I said, the d pad controls almost everything. And I had such a difficult time toggling between yes and no that I forgot which control method was required. I chose not to cut the tree down early on, then chose to allow the little pixies to tag along in the cave of deceit. It was a non-issue for me, whether because my phone works correctly or Because I’ve been dropped on my head fewer times, but either way, lol at you, douche. You just got flamed. XD

    And Matt, sorry I nitpicked your terminology dude. That was lame. :)

  • Inglourious Glory

    Kid A is a nut sucker.

  • kid A A++++ DB

    well on itouch iphone making a decision lightly touch inbeetween yes and no and slide to no then it should work like that.

  • Fruitbat

    As this issue still hasn’t been addressed 2 yrs later, thought I’d chime in: only way I could choose “no” was to use the arrow keys on my hard keyboard. No idea what to do without one. I tried clicking on the screen all over the “no” button and it always chose “yes”, and the only way to avoid auto-saving and try again was to click the home button to exit the app immediately (before the cut-scene finished) and kill the process. Sucks.

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