(ragnarokds.com/) Rated E for Everyone by ESRB. Ragnarok DS by Xseed Games is a modified version of Ragnarok Online, which is a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) originated from Korea. Ragnarok Online was released in South Korea back in 2002, it quickly expanded throughout Asia then the rest of the world in the following years. It was one of the most popular MMORPGs in that period of time. With the release of Ragnarok DS, it perhaps functions as a stepping-stone for the release of Ragnarok 2, announced to be launched some time this year.


(ragnarokds.com/) Rated E for Everyone by ESRB. Ragnarok DS by Xseed Games is a modified version of Ragnarok Online, which is a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) originated from Korea. Ragnarok Online was released in South Korea back in 2002, it quickly expanded throughout Asia then the rest of the world in the following years. It was one of the most popular MMORPGs in that period of time. With the release of Ragnarok DS, it perhaps functions as a stepping-stone for the release of Ragnarok 2, announced to be launched some time this year.

Presentation:
Taking place in the Ragnarok Online universe, the gameworld is filled with dungeons, monsters, and magic. The game starts with an opening scene of an unknown adventurer, a scientist, and a mysterious girl escaping. As the pursuers closed in, the adventurer decided to stay behind to hold them back.  As the scientist and the girl escape, they ended up falling off a cliff. Meanwhile, the main character, Ales, has determined to become an adventurer after his mother fell ill from overworking herself. As our adventurer travel on his adventure, he recued the girl who fell off the cliff.  After their brief encounter, the girl revealed herself as Sierra. Together, they started a new page of the adventure. Ragnarok DS has a decent story line in addition to many different available quests. The player’s role is to help Ales to first establish a guild then build its reputation. As the story progresses, Ales discovers the history of Sierra and his father’s mysterious death. The plot is somewhat predictable, but interestin. The dialogue along with posture emoticons – that pop up in the quirky internet fashion – really keeps the plot engaging.

       

Graphics:
Similar to Ragnarok Online, Ragnarok DS is constructed in an isometric environment and characters are represented with classic 2D sprites. Giving up the advantage of 3D graphics, Ragnarok shines even better on the DS. All in-game elements are represented anime-style. Rather than encountering some horrifying beast, cute-looking monsters are jumping around instead. The simplified graphics helps to keep the game running smoothly and load time to a minimal. Even though the graphic is simplified, details are not omitted. Changing helmets and weapons, for instance, will lead to an immediate change of the character’s appearance. For facial expression, the MMORPG-flavored posture emoticons in speech-bubble will make the genre’s devotees feel right at home.

As the player, the isometric camera viewpoint is fixed, but there are three ranges of camera zoom – close, mid, and far. This works extremely well as there is no problem with locating enemies or finding your way out (if you have the map). The only downside of this is that you cannot see really far with the restriction of the DS frame.

Sounds:
Adopting the original sound tracks from Ragnarok Online, they provide a decent mood for different in-game environments. Tracks change when the player enters a new environment, such as leaving the forest and entering a dungeon. Not a great amount of tracks yet you will never get tired of hearing any of them. Beyond background music, sound effects are naturally placed at minimum level. There are different sound effects for smashing, slashing, or magic casting but that is about it. Nothing fancy beyond the necessary.

       

Gameplay:
The control of gaming is pretty straight-forward. The stylus is used for all interactions and arrow keys are for movements. Certain skills require specific motion in order to activate. For example, you need to use stylus and actually slash the enemy to do a counter kick or draw a circle in order to perform a round kick. Still they are easy enough to pick up right away. Additionally, the instruction of motion is displaced on the upper screen when you select the skill, which is really handy.

As for character development, the job system tends to be more complex. There are seven jobs to select from when the character hits level 10. With minimum amount job descriptions, it sometimes becomes a process of trial-and-error before investing in a specific job class and status. With some careful planning, your character will be truly unique as the game develops. Besides, jobs can be switched easily and status will be reset with a penalty of halving the level.

For the core of the game, it is none other than a dungeon-crawler. Most of the quests involve either finding someone/something or killing something with a small amount of puzzle solving. As job switching is not a problem, equipments are never useless because you may switch into a different class later. With a growing storage system that ties in with your guild, you should rarely run out of inventory space.

On top of the main story line and numerous side quests, Mirage Tower is another good place for level training and treasure hunting. And this is where wireless play comes in. Within Mirage Tower, players are allowed to play in solo mode or multiple player mode, which lets you team up with up to 2 players over Wi-Fi Connection. The Mirage Tower features randomized maps and objectives.  This will keep the tower quests fresh on each visit. Moreover, the finer and rare items are offered as reward once you have reached the upper levels of the tower.

       

Innovation:
Ragnarok DS stays true to some classical elements from “old-school” RPGs.  It is apparent from its long list job classes to its intriguing story line. As the reproduction of Ragnarok Online, the developers tried to be creative in terms of character-control by taking advantage of the DS’ touch pad.

Longevity:
The game can be never-ending if the player decides to go treasure hunting or to experience different job classes. Character can be reset back to level one, referred to as “limit break”, after reaching certain level. Status bonuses are given to the character for achieving “limit break”. In addition, there are numerous side quests after the completion of the main story line and hidden classes that can then be unlocked such as Dark Knight and Shaman.

Conclusion:
Ragnarok DS is a classic action-RPG game of dungeons and magic. As a successor to an MMORPG, it shares the replayability element with games of the genre – namely the joy of killing the same monsters over and over again. As an online game, it could perhaps benefit from more multi-player content beyond the Mirage Tower. Regardless, it is definitely a must-buy game for Ragnarok lovers as it will drag your memory out of the good-old days.

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