I do know cute, fast and action sounds like a weird mixture in an online game, but at least that was what I felt 🙂 Originally published by NCsoft back in Korea under the title “Punch Monster”, the game was unceremoniously canceled by the company in just a few months. Personally, I blame NCsoft for not placing more efforts into marketing the game and getting the right team to manage this action + casual side-scroller. NCsoft failed with Dragonica Korea as well (now under Gravity Korea as Dragon Saga), hence I shall give the label of “King of Failed Casual Games” to NCsoft.
Although the developer, Nextplay is subsidiary under NCsoft, the game continued to thrive in other countries, such as China where I had my fair share of fun. Weekday evenings and weekends are a chore though, with the server practically full 24/7 and proving near impossible to log into the channels with less than a 30 minutes wait… This happens even when certain level ranges will only get bonus EXP for entering selected channels.
Now called Blue Tears in other Asian countries, I must say that I was surprised at myself for lasting so long in the game given that I am a “retired” MMO player. Sort of anyway. While Dungeon Fighter Online is no doubt the king of action side-scroller, Blue Tears is not far behind in the speed category in terms of combat. That is what I really liked about the game (to hell with MapleStory) and the really cute design, which some comparing it with Paper Mario.
Class selection is pretty standard, with 3 basic ones branching out into 2 advanced ones. I chose to be a warrior, and then continued to being a Dragon Knight, which is essentially the tanker. To some extent, I never really felt like a tanker until I upgraded my equipments to +8, and even then I felt paper thin against some bosses in the special dungeons (mentioned below) while normal dungeons are a breeze for me. Giving up my shield recently, I reset my skill points (and taunts) and decided to go a 2-handed spear style… No one kicked me out of a party for that, yet. I am dealing decent damage with many defensive buffs, hence I am quite happy with it.
For skills, players get 1 point upon leveling. However, you don’t really just add a point to the skill. Instead, you add the points to enhance the skills. For example, a skill call Dragon Wave will come with 2 enhancement options, 1 which will increase damage, while the other increase the number of foes it hits. Each of this enhancement skills can be leveled up to a maximum of 9 from what I observed. If you added 3 points to the enhancements, the main skill will automatically be level 4 (level 1 to use) and have increased attributes. Though there are a couple of games using this system, it is no doubt still a rarity.
While there are open world maps for quests and bosses, there are the signature instance dungeons as well. Each dungeon will have up to 3 difficulties, requiring players to unlock them after completing an easier one. Unfortunately, there are limited times a players can enter dungeons each day given the 1000 dungeon points. But I am not complaining, since the points are really more than enough for me on a weekday. There will be special bonus objectives when entering the dungeons, such as “Get hit less than 50 times” or “Use less than 50 potions”, most of which are really easy to achieve.
Next, there are the special dungeons which players can only enter 2 times each day. These dungeons are much tougher, monsters have insane amount of health points and the bosses are really a pain in the @$$. I got mined kicked really hard when entering the mid-levels one for the first time. Other than quests, these special dungeons’ monsters drops items which allows you to trade for NPC set-item gears at the entrance. While it sounds easy, collecting them (up to hundreds of them) is really time consuming. Not that I am complaining, I think no one should since these are basically free gears requiring just patience.
I am really impressed with the abundance of quests found in Blue Tears, since they really never stop appearing after completing older ones. Yes, most of them are the classic “Kill X monsters” or “Collect X materials”, but somehow I never really got tired of repeating the same formula, at least for the past 2 weeks. The game is bright and the models, environment are all clear and vivid, and while emulating some sort of childishness in the design style, is not too over the bar.
Given that the game is developed in Korea and being published in cash-rich China, there is no doubt a couple of advantages using the cash shop. For example, I can boost my strength by 20% after equipping my pet with a skill bought from the cash shop. Granted, there is not really any guild battles except simple 1 on 1 PvP, I think it is really ok… Well, I spent a hundred on the game so far, I am enjoying it :p
There is actually a little bit “fairness” in terms of upgrading equipments, where items which boosts success rate by 10% and items which prevent destruction cannot be used at the same time. At certain intervals, for example from +4 to +5 and +7 to +8, there are no penalties other than failing and losing the gold. In fact, equipments will not break until from +10 and onwards. However, even equipments will fall down 1 level if the upgrade fails. From +2 to +1 is really… Argh…
There are various other features such as automated fishing (chance to get an ultra rare fish as ingredient), the various costumes and mounts, bounty system for bosses and also a card game which I never really tried. You might be thinking “Wait, ain’t this just another Korean grinder?”… Well, it really is. Sometimes, a generic game just has that strange alluring charm which attracts the naysayers to give it a try, which in this case, is me. I think I need to see a shrink soon. A MMO shrink.