Monday, October 13, 2014

Terra Battle Is A Very Surprising Experience

I have always stated that legendary developers of the past should not go into the mobile "simple game" market because it would seem like a lot of wasted potential, considering their past masterpieces. This is why I got curious about Terra Battle when I read that it was made by the people at Mistwalker (especially Hironobu Sakaguchi) who are the creators of great JRPG games like Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey and The Last Story. Out of curiosity I tried the game and while I must say that I stand firm in my stance that they should make more AAA Japanese RPG games, I really like this one even though it is not what most of us would expect from Mistwalker.

Terra Battle

The game itself has the inner workings of your "run of the mill" mobile rpg, but it feels a lot more fresh and fun. On this game, you are the leader of a group of mercenaries, some kind of adventurer that goes around the world looking for "The Maker" so it becomes necessary to recruit warriors to help you in your travels. This is the part where the game plays like many others because you can get new warriors (at random) to join you by using coins for common and some "magical" currency for rare ones (sort of like cards or creatures featured in other similar games).

You also have to play through chapters consisting of stages where you have to win several fights in order to clear them (all of these spending "stamina" in order to play them). The story on each of these stages and chapters is simple and to the point as it gives you a little background of what is happening and why you are heading into that place, but at the same time, these little bits of storyline feel rather clever and interesting, like reading a synopsis from or a book's chapter and just filling all the details by using your imagination. 

Terra Battle StageNow, all the similarities to other games end when you actually play the stages. The fights are not simulated and not even turn based. In Terra Battle, you fight enemies by placing your warriors all around a board, sort of like a strategy game. The stage presents you with a grid where there will be monsters, traps and power-ups and you must think strategically to place your units in a way where they can attack while receiving the less damage possible. In order to attack you have to surround an enemy on 2 sides or have it against a corner.

Having other characters near the battle is also useful as they cause damage bonuses and extra effects like healing or any sort of skill that gives extra damage. The first time I saw this battle system I thought it was some sort of puzzle game, but as I got the game and actually played it I realized how wrong I was. In fact, while I moved my characters around and made my own strategies, my imagination started to wonder and I kind of visualized the battle happening in my mind, tying it well with the small bits of storyline that happen before and after.

Terra Battle Atack Phase

That is what I mostly appreciate about this game. Somehow they managed to compress part of the feeling of their AAA games into a mobile one, all while been fun and not making you feel like you are indeed playing what some people call a "time waster" game. As an extra I must also mention that most the nice music included in the game is composed by Nobuo Uematsu featuring all sorts of melodies that will surely take you back to the Final Fantasy games of the 90's, coupled with beautiful game art like places, warriors and enemies that is very similar to the ones found in Final Fantasy Tactics. All of this points out that as far as details go, Mistwalker really delivered with this one. 

Terra Battle Art

Wrapping it up
Like I said before, I still think that Mistwalker should give another try to the AAA Japanese RPG market, but this little game called Terra Battle is something that really deserves a chance. It is very light to play, fun and somewhat addicting, giving off this strange old school vibe in it that makes it a good game to play every now and then. If you like strategy, the Mistwalker style of making games or you just appreciate good video game art, try out Terra Battle and see how it goes. Who knows? Maybe supporting Mistwalker with small games like this will bring us one step closer to Lost Odyssey 2... Yeah I know that is some hardcore wishful thinking, but hey... It could happen.

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