iPhone gamers were pleasantly surprised when developer SNNR released the first Ash game. Its unique blend of retro graphics and storytelling hooked gamers from the start. With the release of Ash II: Shadows Gold Edition, iPhone gamers can continue the epic story established by the first game.
In traditional retro gaming style, Ash II: Shadows Gold utilizes an engine that resembles role-playing games from the 16-bit era. As the game’s protagonist Damien, you must explore an isolated island for an evil emperor and find your missing mentor, Nicholas, who vanished after succumbing to an evil power known as ‘Corruption’ during the first game.
Gamers who played the original game will feel right at home with this sequel. If you’re new to the series, you may feel somewhat lost as the game’s plot is a continuation of the previous game.
Ash II: Shadows Gold Edition is a turn-based role-playing that pays homage to classics like Final Fantasy and Secret of Mana. The game world is vast with many locations to explore. Traveling takes place on the world map; this map displays dungeons, towns, and other locations. Your party can travel freely in this mode without being attacked.
When you enter a location, creatures are visible and can be avoided. This is different from the original game where enemy encounters were random. In fact, some gamers complained that encounters happened too frequently. It looks like developer SNNR took the criticism seriously
Initiating combat is as simple as walking into an enemy. The combat screen is well organized; it uses a simple GUI that works well on the iPhone’s small screen. Combat commands are located in a menu on the right side of the screen. From this menu you can attack, cast a spell, wait a turn, or flee.
Combat is fairly simple; you either click on creatures to attack or on party members to heal them. Damien and his party will die often before reaching a level strong enough to kill most creatures. Most frustrating of all is how some enemies will consistently dodge your party’s attacks. A typical combat sequence entails attacking the enemy and missing; the enemy counter-attacking and damaging your party; and then healing your party members before starting the process over. While this doesn’t happen during every encounter, it happens often enough.
The game uses a basic menu system that allows you to equip items for your party, view quest objectives through a journal, and save/load the game. There is also an options menu where you can increase dialogue speed, change the control scheme (from tap-to-move to d-pad), configure battle controls, and much more.
The game uses the tap-to-move configuration by default. While not perfect, this system allows the player to drag their finger anywhere on the screen to move. Since the iPhone screen is small, using your finger isn’t the most convenient way to play (especially if your objective sits in the middle of the screen). While the tap-to-move feature is innovative, it doesn’t offer the same convenience as the d-pad.
As mentioned earlier, the graphics pay homage to games from the 16-bit era. While cute and colorful, the characters and creatures have little-to-no animation. During combat, creatures and even your party members slide across the playfield as they attack each other. Certain spells are animated, but even those are limited to a few frames.
Ash II: Shadows Gold is available in two versions — Gold and Silver. When you purchase the Gold Edition, you receive all five episodes for one price. However, only two episodes are currently available. Silver edition is a single episode; gamers must purchase new episodes as they become available.
Even though it has its faults, Ash II: Shadows Gold is still entertaining. The in-depth story and the sheer size of the game world is worth the price of admission, especially if you enjoyed the first game. But if you’re new to the series, you should play the original game before purchasing Ash II: Shadows; the story will make more sense if you do.
Publisher: Konami Digital Entertainment
Rated 9+ for the following:
Infrequent/Mild profanity or Crude Humor
Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence
Compatible w/ iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later
|Cute and bright, the graphics do a great job of paying homage to 16-bit gaming.|
|Sound effects are limited, but the music is quite good.|
|Challenging gameplay and an in-depth story will keep gamers busy for hours.|
|With gripes aide, Ash II: Shadows Gold Edition is an entertaining role-playing game that offers hours of gameplay.|