A while back, I was writing an article about iOS games and I realized that there was a version of MapleStory for iOS and, in fact, it had recently become free to download so I snagged it for the iPod Touch. I was excited to try it because MapleStory’s format could really work well on the smaller screen and they never released the DS game in the United States.
I was immediately disappointed by the fact that MapleStory Thief Edition only allows you to create male characters. I enjoy creating female characters; I identify with my gender. Still, I gave it a go and was soon making a throwing-star wielding assassin, similar to one of my characters in the MMO.
The iOS game uses the same graphics that I’ve come to love. There’s an adorable Asian flair and it’s simple enough to work on the iPod Touch in a smaller version. The graphics could perhaps be a bit smoother but my second generation iTouch probably renders them a little more poorly than newer iOS devices. However, the screen of my iPod Touch is small enough that I found the touch controls to be awkward and too small for my fingers. There’s an on-screen D-pay on the lower left but I find myself wishing I had the deal D-pay of my DS. On the bottom right are permanent jump and regular attack buttons and there are 4 quick-slots along the right edge.
The D-pad is small enough to be awkward but it’s the jumping that kills me, literally. You can set up the game so the side arrows keep you moving until you press another button or so that you have to hold a side arrow to keep moving. Either way, it’s incredibly difficult to line up the side arrow and jump button action required to jump up onto the impossibly tiny platforms, especially with your hands covering half the screen. I think that’s an obvious failure that could have been avoided had the developer given more time to how this game would work on a portable device, rather than a computer screen.
I also wish that I could change the jump and attack buttons, or perhaps just the attack button. As a thief, I stop using the single attack as soon as I get Lucky 7, a skill that allows me to throw multiple stars at once so this is a waste of space. Right now, I have that skill, another attack and health potions in my quick-slots and there’s just not enough room in every sense. I often wind up hitting the wrong button because they are so close together and, because the game offers more skills by default, you either have to be damned good to avoid dying so that you can use those spaces for skills and not potions or essentially only rely on two skills — assuming you leave two slots for potions. It’s frustrating.
The plot is a scaled down version of MapleStory so there’s a lot of running around and doing quests, to collect 15 of this or kill 20 of that. It’s grinding at its best but grinding isn’t bad for an iOS game, which I’m likely playing to cure boredom or waste a few moments anyway. Because of its limitations, I wouldn’t want to play more than that anyway.
There is a shift in terms of power, attack and monster levels so it’s not quite the same as MapleStory. For example, the world consists of just three continents: Orbis/El Nath, Magatia and Victoria Island, which have been moved so as to fit against one another in the world map. The mini map is a ridiculous disaster which simple consists of colored pixels to shows platforms, NPCs, portals and your own character. Of course, you can’t hover or touch any of the blocks for more information so it’s pretty much useless.
In fact, this game lacks intuitiveness overall. Aside from the quick slots and the on-screen health and magic scales, you have to press a little suitcase icon to view any other settings or information. This includes character info, items, equipment, skills, quests and options. The options are pretty lame: you can choose to use sound effects, background music, both or none, automatic movement — that I mentioned before and speed of your character.
The quest list is frustrating because there’s no room for a quest helper on the main screen; however, the game does divide it into main quests and sub quests so you know where to focus. You have to tap to open every single quest, though. The list doesn’t even give an overview, which would be nice.
There is no option to sell items or equipment but a trash can to simply discard them from your inventory. To learn more about what you’re carrying, you must tap the individual item, which quickly becomes old. The same is said for the skills. However, there’s an additional frustrating measure because you have to tap the quick-slots then choose a skill to add and the game doesn’t tell you this anywhere.
Perhaps the biggest software flaw is the lack of auto-save. You have to manually save your game after every achievement and that’s just unacceptable.
While this won’t be the case for everyone, this game drains my battery like none other. It also causes my iPod Touch to become noticeably warmer but not hot. There’s some lag as well. All in all, I’m sure it will perform better on a newer and more powerful device.
MapleStory Thief Edition isn’t the worst game I’ve ever downloaded and I have more fun playing it than the version on Facebook but it’s also more frustrating.