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ll admit that when Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi announced that his st

udio Mistwalkers next project, Terra Battle, would be another mobile title, I was
beyond skeptical: I was flat out uninterested. Ive long been a detractor of mob
ile gaming, if only because its more lucrative claws have lured away so many cla
ssic Japanese franchises and developers. But it would be petty of me not to adm
it that Terra Battle is one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences Ive had all
Terra Battle was developed in a fairly short amount of time, so its actually surp
rising just how much content there is each chapter consists of roughly ten sectio
ns, where you face off against enemies in a grid-based combat system. When two
characters of your party surround your enemies, the attack begins. This sounds
simplistic, but the game introduces tons of variables, such chaining additional
attacks by having other characters beside yours on the same row, or the ability
to push characters into new spots on the grid by moving one character across anoth
er. This creates a battle system that is easily taught in the first chapter, b
ut incredibly difficult to master, as Ive been playing for over a week and still
dont feel I have a proper handle on things.
The story itself is fairly simplistic, as each chapter and section starts off wi
th a small vignette detailing the adventures of your heroes as they attempt to s
ave the world by exploring a tower that goes into the depths of the planet to fi
nd the Maker. Its no more than a few words each time, just enough to progress the
story. It doesnt pretend to be especially deep, but it its interesting enough to
warrant the few seconds it takes to read.
But the story is the only element thats simple, as the game offers dozens of char
acters, each with their own unique skills to aid you against increasingly diffic
ult opponents, and their own job classes that require special items to upgrade.
In that respect, Terra Battle is actually quite the forward thinking RPG as it o
ffers not only its own specific grinding area, where players can gain XP at a vast
ly accelerated pace, but also specific arenas to pick up the materials to upgrad
e their characters rather than forcing you to rely on whatever drops you get fro
m the normal campaign. Each of these areas have their own rules and enemy types
that players must learn to overcome, offering plenty of variety for those that
get bored easily.
Of course, as a mobile game the free to play elements are eminently on display,
as well. To engage in any battle requires a certain amount of stamina, which rec
overs at a very slow rate (one per every few minutes) unless you use an energy to
completely refill the bar. Energy, which also buys characters, can be bought at
a shop in various amounts ranging from a single energy to 100. Its also granted
to players who login consecutive days or finish chapters of the game, so how in
vasive it is will depend entirely on how addicted you become to the game.
In my opinion, the F2P Terra Battle is geared more towards small, bite-sized ses
sions for gamers who only have time to play on a bus ride or between classes.
Early on, the free energy can easily fool players into believing that its suitab
le for playing for long periods of time, but as the difficulty spikes in later c
hapters and stamina requirements for grind areas and story chapters, eventually
you realize that its impossible to progress without investing money. And thats w
ithout discussing the awful RNG (random number generator)-based character recrui
ting system, which can grant you anything from an actual decent character, to st
at-boost to existing ones. Its the worst sort of gamblingyou feel justified in t
he money you spent if you get what you want, but when you dont (which is all too
often), it feels like a rip-off. Im hoping they eventually fix this in some for
m of update.
Speaking of updates, Terra Battle has come up with a neat way to implement their
own. A twist on the popularity of Kickstarter, Terra Battle employs something
known as a download starter, where new features are added each time a certain nu
mber of downloads is reached. Mistwalker really got creative with this one, pro
mising everything from additional characters by popular artists to co-op battle
to even a console version of the title. The best part of this is that they requi
re only new downloadsnot a single purchase is required or even mentioned.
Its almost the opposite of Kickstarter, which often requires several times its in
itial budget just to offer a fully featured game. At nearly a million downloads
and counting without even having opened up to several of its largest markets, r
eaching the end of its download starter road is all but assured. Its a genius id
eausing the popularity of mobile titles to subsidize the creation of console onesa
nd one I hope to see more of in the future, as mobile continues to overtake ever
ything else as the most dominant gaming platform.
Terra Battle is available on both Android and iOS.