Gaming Steve

October 2006 Archives

October 16, 2006

MapleStory ... the MMORPG Seven Times More Popular Than WoW?

MapleStorySomething I love to do is try to find the "hidden gems" of the gaming world. Games which have little to no press but are fun, solid games. Games such as Puzzle Pirates, Weird Worlds, and Ticket to Ride are type of games which really get me excited, games which will generate little to no press, but yet have a cult following and are a ton of fun to play.

Of course, how do you find these hidden gaming gems? I have found GameRankings and GameFAQs as the best sources as they have exhaustive gaming lists. Often trying to find these games is a hit or miss exercise, often turning up something like Skydive! rather than Space Rangers 2. Which brings me to my latest find ... MapleStory.

Never heard of it before? Join the club, until I saw it listed as the number two most popular PC game on GameFAQs (right below World of Warcraft and above Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion!) I never heard about this game before. And don't bother looking for this game on Gamespot or IGN or any other major gaming web site, they all have no information on this game (it's not even listed in GameRankings). Yet this side-scrolling MMORPG game is wildly popular with an unofficial 50 million players worldwide. That would make MapleStory seven times more popular than World of Warcraft ... how can this be?

How can a game with no advertising and no press be so popular? I've seen this game listed as the #2 PC game on GameFAQs for over a year, and yet I have to find a single person who has heard or played this game! What is going on here? Why isn't this game getting more coverage? Could it be that MapleStory needs to spend some money on advertising to get some coverage? (That's a topic for another day.)

Well, I gave what appears to be the most popular MMORPG in the world a try for a few weeks and I will say that there is nothing groundbreaking here, but it is a fun, solid game that has a lot going for it. First of all, it's totally free to play (that's good) ... sort of (that's bad). You can download and play the whole game without paying a cent (that's good). However, if you want some cool gear or a cool pet you'll have to use "real money" to buy these special items (that's bad). This method of giving the game away for free while requiring players to buy the very best equipment is very popular with Asian MMORPGs and has proven to be extremely successful (that's good). I am still surprised that more western MMORPGs don't use this pricing method, but expect this to change in the upcoming years (Frogurt is also cursed ... that's bad).

The gameplay in MapleStory is strange combination of platform action, RPG character classes, pixilated graphics, and MMO grouping and ends up playing unlike anything out there. Exploring all the content in the world within a 2D environment takes some getting used to, but the colorful, bright graphics always make the journey interesting. But you will get a workout moving your character during fights while activating your special powers and trying to chat all at the same time. Whether this style of gameplay is fun or just a carpal tunnel syndrome trainer is undecided.

Like everything else in the game, the interface is solid and gets the job done, but the buttons are so large that I often felt like I was playing a game designed by Playskool. The character classes and quests are your standard RPG fare, nothing new to see here. But what the game lacks in originality in character classes it more than makes up when it comes to monster design. Where else can you kill candle monsters, zombie mushrooms, killer birthday cakes, and dozens of other bizarre monster creations? It's as if the designers took everything fun and harmless from your childhood and turned it into a man-eating spawn of the devil. Now I can see why this game is so popular throughout the world! Who can resist killing pink wind-up killer teddy bears?

Perhaps the best part of MapleStory is a huge friendly community (where did all of these people come from?). It's always easy to find a group and although many of the players appear to be of the "younger" crowd, the gameplay is light enough that you never have to worry about a Leeroy Jenkins messing up your "epic" quest.
So if you're looking for a fun, light MMORPG which doesn't cost anything to play, give this on a try. And those of you who are already playing this one, where on earth did you hear about it? And if you're one of the developers, what on earth were you smoking when you designed this game? Good job!

Posted by Gaming Steve at 2:00 PM | Posted to MMORPG | PC | Review |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 3, 2006

Gaming Steve Episode 59 - 10.03.2006

Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket SlimeRumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated! I'm back and I have a great new feature where I explain in detail the entire game development process from beginning to end. This week I examine what type of games publishers are looking to publish. Enjoy!

Gaming Steve Episode 59 Program

  • 00:04:09 Game News:
    • Lots of Wii info.
    • Where did all the PS3s go?
    • Tons of new Xbox 360 content.
    • Seaman gets a seaquel.
    • Wii's first-party games to be region-free?
    • Psychonauts, Bloodrayne available via Steam.
    • Bully grabs the coveted Teen rating from the ESRB.
    • BioWare developing for the DS.
    • Microsoft offers free repairs/refunds for defective launch 360s.
    • ESRB must play every game in its entirety says proposed legislation.
    • 1.1 million Lego Star Wars II sold.
    • Oblivion coming to the PS3.
    • South Park gets hooked on World of Warcraft.
  • 00:37:16 Game Review: Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime for the Nintendo DS.
  • 00:41:46 RetroReview: Shining Force for the Genesis and GameBoy Advance.
  • 00:47:08 Making The Game: A new special feature where I explain what it takes to make a video game from beginning to end. This week, what do publishers want?
  • 00:54:34 “Name That Game!” contest winner from last week, a new clip, and the always cool prize!
  • 00:57:55 Show Mail: I answer your questions ... sort of.
  • 01:01:26 Final Thoughts: Love that Puzzle Pirates.
Download the show (68 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 59 (MP3).

Subscribe to the Podcast directly in iTunes (MP3).
Add the Gaming Steve Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 8:00 PM | Comments (45) | Posted to Classic | Podcast | Review |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 2, 2006

Why Would You Want to Buy a PS3?

PlayStation 3As the PS3 launch fast approaches I keep asking myself a very simple question ... why would I want to buy a PS3? And if I'm asking this question, a person who has owned every single game console released since the Telstar, the so-called "hardcore" segment that Sony is banking on to buy their $600 monstrosity, I have to wonder who is going to buy the PS3 and why? I keep thinking to myself, why do I need to buy a $600 console which doesn't offer me anything I don't already have?

Blu-Ray? I already have hundreds of DVDs thank you very much.

Online access? I already have the Internet and Xbox Live.

New games? I already have more games than I can play for my Xbox 360/PC/PS2/DS. The last thing I need is more games.

Unique PS3 titles? I will say that Resistance: Fall of Man looks and plays great ... but so does Gears of War. And Gears of War doesn't require me to buy a new console to play.

So why do I need to buy a PS3 exactly? Why should I kill myself looking for a PS3 this holiday season and spend $600 for this system? Why?

I can not think of a single reason that I would want to buy the PS3 right now. Not a single one.

Perhaps in a few months if/when the PS3 gets its legs and finds its place in the console landscape. But right now all I see when I look at the PS3 is a bloated, overpriced console which offers me nothing new. I truly hope that Sony manages to get their act together and releases some awesome unique content in 2007, but right now I just don't see the need.

Now the Wii ... that's a different story.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 12:00 PM | Comments (82) | Posted to PlayStation 3 |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!