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Zenonia 3 is the third part of the excellent action RPG series made for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. If you like classic overhead style games such as The Legend of Zelda, you will surely enjoy this retro style game loaded with hundreds of maps, weapons, locations, items, monsters and more. For just 99 cents, it will keep you busy for hours on end. Learn more about the game in this Zenonia 3 review.
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Features and Gameplay
You begin the game by creating a character from one of four different character classes, then you go out and perform missions that usually involve finding an item, killing something or rescuing somebody. It is presented using an overhead view and is mostly just a lot of hack and slash, so the action is quite repetitive. You will encounter some boss battles at the end of chapters and they present a decent enough challenge, but almost everything else is cannon fodder.
All of the monsters you encounter will respawn after a short while, so you can stay in one area and rack up a lot of experience points. When your character gains a level, it will give them better skills and abilities and also allow better items to be used. This gives the player incentive to keep fighting enough to build up their character. Combat has very little strategic involvement, so mainly you just press the ‘attack’ button over and over until the monster goes down. Only the boss battles require a little extra rhythm to get past them.
Some mini puzzles show up as you progress through the maps, but they mainly just involve going to one side of the map and hitting a button to open something on the other side of the map. Exploration is encouraged to find treasure chests with better items, so you can pace yourself however you please with this one. It’s to your benefit to explore a bit and build up XP before you go into the boss battles, and sometimes you can find some decent equipment in the chests scattered about the maps.
I never played the first two Zenonia games, so this review will not make any comparisons. Judging by the screenshots, it looks basically the same as the previous two entries, though I understand that inventory management and some character maintenance features have been simplified in this version to improve gameplay. This game employs a Zen point system where you can spend more money to buy points that are used to purchase enhancements in the game. The 99 cent price tag will get you started, but you may end up wanting to spend more money to get extra Zen points depending on how far you get.
Because the game features four different character classes, this lends a nice replay value so that you could go back and play it through again as a different class. You also have multiple save game slots so you can create one character type and play for a bit, then start another one and see what you like best without having to delete the original. This is also nice if more than one person shares your iPad or iPod Touch.
Other key game features include:
- 227 unique maps.
- 136 individual quests.
- 184 different weapons and over 100 different armor combinations.
- More than 200 different monsters.
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Graphics and Sound
The sprite-based graphics in this game were very well done. Sprites involve using a handful of different individual frames to display things like monsters and items in the game. They have minimal animations, but do move around. This is the type of visual you would get in the 8-bit and 16-bit games of old, before hardware could support 3D rendering and the like. As a result, this game has a very colorful old school look, and the Zelda style gameplay adds to it. You’ll encounter a wide variety of locations and monsters throughout the game, and you can tell a lot of effort was put into making each one come alive on screen. This is one of the better looking action RPG games I’ve seen in the iTunes game store.
The music in this game sounded just like something from a Nintendo game, and I’m not talking about Wii but old school NES or Super NES. It sounds like twangy synthesized stringed instruments and has a very retro sound, but it fits the visual style of the game perfectly. Sound effects include a lot of crunches and grunts, and of course they get to be repetitive after a while. By nature, everything about this game deals with repetition.
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Controls and Interface
Maybe it’s my fat fingers, but I struggled a bit with the control system in this game. Character movement is done with a directional pad found on the bottom left of the screen and it feels weird having a virtual button to push. I have never quite warmed up to this type control system on the iPod Touch or iPad because it doesn’t feel right not having something to push there. As such, your character often goes around in circles and weird directions and it seems imprecise, but thankfully during combat he will jump at the closest enemy when you attack, so long as you are facing their general direction.
The menu system on this game is very tiny, and sometimes I just couldn’t get into it with multiple tries. For example, when you level up, you have to add character stat points and skill points, and there were times where I couldn’t get into those screens without having to wait a few seconds. Inventory management seemed to go the same way with me having to repeatedly tap the screen until it registered. I was running my finger along the top of the menu bar and nothing picked up, which makes me wonder if it is a bug of some kind that delays the interface from picking up commands.
All complaints aside, the controls for this game aren’t that bad. Most of the flaws with character movement are just the limitations of the hardware. At no point did I ever get stuck.
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I was impressed with Zenonia 3. It looks and sounds great, plus the retro game style is very appealing. The controls work well enough despite the limitations of the touch-screen interface, and I found the game to be genuinely fun.
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- Author's personal experience playing Zenonia 3 on the iPod Touch.
- Screenshots courtesy of Zenonia 3 and iTunes.
- Zenonia 3, http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/zenonia-3/id414830024?mt=8