Developer: SRRN Games
Review Platform: iOS
Review Copy Provided By: Konami
Release Date: January 19, 2012
I wanted to like Ash II: Shadows very badly. I appreciate it whenever someone rolls back the JRPG to a time before it was a bloated, excess filled cut scene factory. Cheap, episodic games are perfect for the iPad. Fast paced, whimsical romps are exactly what I’m looking for in a mobile game. Ash II:Shadows developed by SRRN Games and published by Konami seems like exactly the type of game I’ve been looking for. Too bad I absolutely hated it.
The game is an unfortunate example of a game that would be better off available as a free flash game while the makers refined their talents for a future effort. Even at $5 for the Gold Edition, gamers will feel overcharged by this boring rehash of every RPG they’ve ever played. The game starts off where the first one left off, but players new to the series shouldn’t expect any type of recap. Go back and play the first one if you want to know what any of the characters are referring to.
So, your generic squad of RPG heroes ventures forth into a rather barren overworld and quickly encounters a band of hostile villagers native to the unexplored continent your party is traversing. In a telling sign of what’s to come, the depiction of the locals can only be described as “problematic” – and that’s if you’re being generous. The dark-skinned villagers all wear grass skirts, voodoo masks, and live in huts. Clearly, the designers haven’t learned much from the unfortunate blow back from Resident Evil 5’s depiction of rural Africans.
The dialogue in the game is, frankly, painful. I appreciate the light touch the writers have applied, but the attempts at “funny” conversations grow old, fast. An oft-repeated “joke” is our nominal hero saying something wacky and another character blandly responding “I hate you.” Hah…? It reminded me of a webcomic – and not one of the good ones.
The combat is generic but fun. Battles often rely on synchronizing characters abilities to take advantage of their unique skills. There’s nothing revolutionary here, but if you’re into old school JRPGs you’ll probably find the dungeons an amusing enough diversion for a bus trip.
Graphically, the game resembles a higher definition SNES RPG. The cutesy on-screen characters are replaced with anime-style portraits during conversations. The art is pleasant to the eye but doesn’t distinguish itself in any way worth mentioning.
To be fair, I didn’t finish Ash II. Maybe it becomes brilliant once you get to the last 15% of the game, but I’ll never know. You see, there’s one last complaint about the title. It crashes. Constantly. After being dumped back to the iPad’s menu screen twice in five minutes, I couldn’t stomach replaying from my last save for the third time. Me and Ash II? We were through.
If you’re absolutely hard up for an iOS game and you’re jonesing for something like Dragon Quest, you might be tempted to pick up Ash II. Just don’t expect too much, because you sure won’t get it. The best you can hope for is pleasant memories of better games from days gone by.