Monday, April 20, 2009

Luna Online

Name: Luna Online
Publisher: GPotato
Genre: Fantasy RPG, Social
Price: Free, Cash shop
Visual: 28/30
Audio: 16/30
Fun: 14/20
Community: 15/20
Final score: 73/100

I got the chance to play the Luna Online closed beta. I have been eying this game for a while, and was excited when a North America license was announced.

The thing that attracts me to this game is the art. This game features some of the prettiest 2D as well as 3D art. I feel like a pedophile for liking it, but it’s really quite adorable. A lot of the art edges on questionable, but considering its origin and target audience, it’s very effective. The game is done in the cute anime style and all of the characters look like little kids (except for the NPCs). When talking to an NPC, a nice picture of the NPC is displayed next to the textbox, complete with different emotions and poses according to the dialogue. It’s all very charming. I was saddened after completing the tutorial; the NPC guiding me was just so cute that I found myself just leaving the dialogue box up just to stare at her (maybe I’m a pervert).

The game’s main selling point is the social part. Luna Online is partly advertised as a fantasy RPG, and partly as a kind of dating service. I don’t think the game hooks you up in real life, just character to character. The first quest you receive is to “become a resident” of the world, and it involves creating a profile so that you can be matched with someone. It’s a dating service disguised as an MMO! Anyone can date anyone; couples are not limited to only one boy and one girl. There are even instance maps for couples only, so you and your significant other can have a map all to yourself.

And those instance maps are probably necessary. Most of the maps will have many players on them. The game has a lot of sound effects, like one for casting a spell. You character will actually chant a spell before casting. This is nice, but when there are 50 people on the same map casting a spell, it just gets annoying, and I actually had to mute the sound effects.

The community wasn’t bad. I found a lot of people were using the world speak not to sell items but just to chat and have fun. For the first few levels I was alone, but the game encourages social interaction, so there is a quest that can only be completed by a party. When I took this quest, I found myself happily invited into a large party. We never ended up completing the quest, but it was fun nonetheless.

The music was nice to play to. It was relaxing. There were plenty of tracks, one for each map, so there was a nice variety while playing.

Since the social interaction is so important, the game provides many different emotions you can display as a bubble above your head, or animations that your character can act out, such as dancing or kissing. It’s cute and all, but there were too many and I never used them all.

The grind isn’t bad, which leaves plenty of room for social interaction. I nearly got to the level required to change classes within a few days of playing. The quests will keep you busy running around town, and if you ever get bored, you can talk to an NPC (you can’t actually talk to them, but their dialogue pictures are very cute).

The game has an option to duel someone, a simple PvP match. As far as I know, this is just for fun, or to show off to your friends.

Character customization is very broad only when you get far into the game. When you create your character, you can choose a hair, face style, race (there are two), and gender. Unfortunately, you can’t choose your hair or eye color. You also have three classes to choose from, the standard close range, far range, and magic class. The equipment you put on changes your appearance accordingly, and there are also costume pieces that you can put over your equipment purely for appearance customization.

Leveling up stats was simple, you got a few stat points when you leveled up, and you put them into whatever stat you want. The starting stats are decided by your race and class, already optimized to your character. Learning skills wasn’t as simple. When you leveled up, you got skill points, but to learn a skill, you had to use both skill points and your earned gold. You had a large list of skills to learn, but if you wanted to max one skill, you had to save for several levels as the required number of skill points to learn the skill increases as your learn the skill.

When you kill a monster, you don’t have to worry about picking up loot, you do it automatically. Just makes grinding and item hunting a little easier, but your inventory fills up pretty quickly.

There is a little timer and kill counter at the top of the screen. This keeps track of the number of minutes you’ve played and the number of monsters you kill. The game will reward you for playing a certain amount (say, 100 minutes) or killing a set number of monsters. It’s a nice little bonus for playing actively, and I found the timer to be helpful for timing my sessions.

This release was a closed beta, and things are subject to change, namely the community, but all has been considered in this review.

There are plenty of quests to finish, people to meet, and NPCs to stare at. The game is fun as a casual game, a good time killer. The music is nice and relaxing, though the sound effects can be taken down a notch. The game is extremely pretty, and if you like the super cute anime style, this may be the game for you.

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