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Ragnarok DS Review Package Art
GungHo Online Entertainment
Xseed Games

Ragnarok DS Review

On paper, bringing a popular MMORPG to the handheld front seems to be an excellent idea; even more so perhaps to bring it to a system like the Nintendo DS, such that its touch screen can replicate using a mouse as one would for a PC title. Numerous fans' hearts would likely go pitter-patter at the mere thought of a title such as World of Warcraft or Age of Conan being brought to the small screen, so that they could enjoy their specific style of gaming on the go. And, likely, this is what developer GungHo Online Entertainment and publisher Xseed Games thought when bringing the popular Ragnarok to DS with Ragnarok DS. Sadly, when all is said and done, scaling down such a title removes a few too many features to reveal a sub-par title.

The story of Ragnarok DS is ultimately a cookie-cutter, "become a hero" tale, by filling the role of Ales, a young boy who wishes to start his own guild, and makes plenty of other friends throughout the course of the adventure. When all is said and done, gamers will rarely find themselves caring what happens to Ales and his friends, as they are all one-dimensional generalizations of RPG character archetypes. The dialogue present in the game is obnoxious, and attempts for it to give characters depth are ultimately unfounded. All-in-all, the writing comes across as a poorly written fan-fiction of the MMORPG. But luckily, as is the case with several RPG titles, the story and dialogue isn't what is important, but the gameplay.

Sadly, Ragnarok DS is not redeemed by this either. Normally, tons of menus are a role-playing gamer's dream, but here they just overly and unnecessarily complicate basic functions such as equipping a character. Not only that, but everything in the game is handled primarily by the touch screen, with some of its functions also mapped to buttons; while this would be a nice feature, south-paws will likely be annoyed, as there is no left-handed option.

Movement is handled by dragging the stylus in the direction desired, or by using the D-pad. Ultimately, the movement feels inaccurate, and could have been tightened up a lot more. Attacking is handled by tapping the on-screen enemies once: the game does the rest for you. This results in intense battles being boring. In an attempt to perhaps diversify the gameplay, there are "special" attacks that are set to icons in the upper-right of the screen; sadly, these are even more cumbersome than the movement and standard attacks, and their placement results in their being ultimately ignored.

The level design also has much to be desired. It's as if the developers wanted to make the most out of a large area, and to do so they make labyrinthine paths that make levels a lot longer than they would be otherwise. In the end, they come across as bland and boring. Towns are set up solely as menus, too; this means there is no strolling about town, running into NPCs, but rather just clicking on a menu which shop is desired-- like the level design in the 'wild,' it just seems lazy.

Visually speaking, the game has little to offer. The developers made an attempt to emulate the PC counterpart with heavily pixelated characters, and the result is a sense of laziness, with characters and creatures having low framerates and choppy animation. However, there is the admittedly nice touch of having visual updates to characters' looks when items are equipped, such as an axe versus a sword, or a helmet versus bunny ears. The audio is a standard MIDI affair that would be expected in maybe a Game Boy Advance title; but by this point, gamers expect a bit better musical offering. The attack and monster sounds, as they were, are also very unimpressive, ultimately sounding like slight thuds.

In the end, Ragnarok DS is a forgettable title, for which only die hard fans of the franchise or RPGs need apply. All others would be better off ignoring the title, and picking up one of DS's other-- and much better-- RPG offerings instead.

final score 5.0/10

Staff Avatar Robert Thompson
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"Henshin-a-go-go, baby!"

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