Zenonia Review – Very Poort

31674Gamevil’s Zenonia, an action RPG which almost instantly draws comparison with Zelda, was a phenomenal success in the iPhone app world. It already spawned a sequel, and the third title is set to be released next year. Often, successful iPhone apps get ported to the Minis program, and thus we have the Minis version of Zenonia.

One of the serious concerns when an iPhone app crosses platforms (specifically to the PSP) is the control scheme. The controls are one of the two main problems you will find in this port. Yes, the controls are somewhat disappointing, but the shaky framerate multiplies the tiniest frustrations you’ll be experiencing in the game. Zenonia promises 40 hours’ worth of content, but it actually has more because of its depth, replay value, secrets, sidequests and worst of all: the lags and the freezes.

The obvious fault is the bad framerate that fundamentally impedes gameplay. The cutscenes are quite laggy, so much so that the sprites seem to be moving underwater. The framerates get better during the game proper but not enough to yield a pleasurable gaming experience. The controls weren’t considered for the PSP; the analog nub is basically disabled. You’ll be using the D-pad for movement, which is physically painful. Granted that your character cannot move diagonally, the analog nub option is still needed because it is the PSP.

Zenonia has great graphics, an average soundtrack and top-notch gameplay.  The story is basic, but it is enough. It has the familiar “waking up in your room” opening and the “magical seals of the world” plot that had their run with past JRPG titles a lot of times already. “Regret” is the name of your character, a spiked-haired, sword-wielding young boy who finds himself in a large scale battle between the Good and the Evil. Well, I wasn’t expecting a narrative on a Xenogears level from a Mini after all, so I wasn’t disappointed.

The tone of the game is light, not the hardcore serious type, due to humorous dialogue and situations you will stumble upon. But the real deal here is the class system and its skill tree. You have three classes to choose from (Assassin, Paladin and Warrior), all of whom provide totally dissimilar experiences. Also, the classes’ respective skill trees branch into different styles of game, allowing you to choose how you want to play. I first chose a Paladin, whom I built to deal low damage but who had high SP (skill points). I spammed a lot of skills, buffs and restorative magic (you choose what skill, both passive and active, to learn and upgrade) to counter my low damage and low HP (every level up, you will be given points to allot to your statistical categories). This turned out not to be a good experience at all. Playing this style of a Paladin requires a lot of animation, and there is a significant delay when using skills. Then add up the framerate issues = HORROR.zenonia_3

Playing as an Assassin can help you get over at least a fraction of the framerate issues, because this class walks fast (and can also inflict high damage; I finished off a boss in seconds, against whom the Paladin took longer, but I wasn’t struggling anyway) . Warrior is also very good in the laggy land of Zenonia, because you can take more punishment. But I want to play as a Paladin. Is that too much to ask?

There is also a combination/enchantment process to further customize your character, but it wasn’t explained thoroughly in-game. You have to learn the craft, and it seems like it’s random. Combat is very well implemented, with quick-keys for using the skills (L + face button), and you can access your items by pressing R (replacing your skill slots) so that you can use your potions if ever you get caught in tight situations. You can save your game anywhere, but the problem is you can’t save your game without a considerable amount of waiting. There is an auto-save function, but I didn’t turn it on. That was my greatest mistake; the game froze, and I had to go back and solve the freaking dungeon puzzles again. Turning the auto-save on also has its negative side: once you’ve upgraded the wrong skill and then had auto-save kick in, it’s permanent.

zenonia_221

There is such an amazing array of possibilities playing the game that you can actually ignore the lag times. However, the game’s current state will enrage players who are not willing to invest time and effort in a very laggy game. If you just want to relax, stay away from this game. The lag is unforgiving and unforgivable. If you are a hardcore RPG enthusiast, this is a must-buy, but wait for the patch to fix the framerates up.

6/10

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Comments

39 Responses to “Zenonia Review – Very Poort”
  1. Ofaliss says:

    Oh no it didnt get the score I wanted it to, can you re-review it when they patch it?! Sorry, just being a jerk! :) I agree with this review, the lag will frustrate the hell out of some people. Oh yeah Jasper, you can buy an item that both resets your skill levels and returns your skill points. You can buy it from the item girl.

  2. Balrog says:

    I always use the d-pad when I can anyways. You didnt mention the X and O switch. After a while you dont even notice the lag. Combinig things = instant freeze, for me at any rate. What was the highest level you got to? *Note: These (if they are) sentences may flow horribly*

  3. onmode-ky says:

    I disagree with the absence of an analog nub option being a major issue. Most of my PSP usage involves the D-pad (including playing both scrolling shooters and 2D RPGs), which I’ve never found physically uncomfortable. I quite like the PlayStation D-pad, actually; the Nintendo cross design feels a little too small to me.

    Also, that is some wonderbra. . . .

  4. Shazbots says:

    @onmode-ky

    Dont even try to justify this horrible port. The lag is just BADDDDDD. There is no excuse to rush a game into a console with out properly testing it. Most iPhone ports are just plain horrible.

  5. onmode-ky says:

    Uh, what makes you think I’m trying to “justify this horrible port”? I haven’t even played it; this is not a game I’m interested in. All I’m saying is that I don’t think any 2D top-down view game absolutely has to allow use of the analog nub for movement. You think that means I’m defending a poor porting job?

  6. Jasper Nikki says:

    @onmode-ky

    it’s okay to play the D-pad at first, but when the time comes that quick reactions are needed it really hurts because the Paladin Skills require timing.

    @Balrog

    Paladin Level 33
    Assassin 22
    Warrior 12

    and I only tried the enchantments once because it’s expensive and I don’t really what are needed for a successful item.

    @Ofaliss
    I rarely visit the merchants of the game because I use a Paladin. He can survive without potions. And the armors and other equipment are dropped by the monsters or can be found in some treasure chests. I know you know that, I just want everybody to realize that. I bought once a very expensive cape the moment I stepped out of the town, a monster dropped a similar one.

    Also aside from the freeze and the lags, there seems to be audio problems, text problems and weird animations.

  7. Jasper Nikki says:

    *and I only tried the enchantments once because it’s expensive and I don’t know what are needed for a successful item.

  8. Shazbots says:

    @Jasper Nikki

    Also aside from the freeze and the lags, there seems to be audio problems, text problems and weird animations.

    Those issues are related to the frame rate problems, they affect the whole game.

    @onmode-ky

    Sorry man, it just pisses me off when a good game is handle like crap when its ported over to the PSP, just because it wont sell the same amount of copies as the iPhone version.

  9. Hellboy546 says:

    I don’t totally agree with this review. I think it deserves a 7.5. Not a 6. But I do agree with you on the issue. Although I have ignored the lag alltogether.

  10. Gemtr09 says:

    I was about to get this game last week but I wait for the review first. Good thing I didn’t get this game.

  11. Zero Sheep says:

    Any word yet on when the patch will come out? Or do we still not know?

  12. Jasper Nikki says:

    @Zero Sheep

    There is no exact date yet or estimation.

  13. GAMEVIL says:

    We’re working on the lag issues, and will try to submit as soon as possible. Thank you very much for your patience and your continuous feedbacks.

  14. rpg guy says:

    is there anyway around the instant freeze when I try to combine items?

  15. Hellboy546 says:

    @GAMEVIL

    That would be awesome if you guys could fix the “combine items issue”!

  16. Solo the Hutt says:

    its too bad Minis aren’t able to release a trial / beta version first.
    else all this fixing & patching thing could be avoided.

    or maybe they can *ahem* … send us a trial copy and we can test them before the release.
    :)

  17. Hellboy546 says:

    That would be awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And then once we test it we can tell what the issues are and what they need to fix!

  18. xist says:

    It’s been patched/updated to speed things up….you may want to take another look

  19. confuletlyf says:

    This game looks sweet. Any chance on a re-review now that the patch is released??

  20. johnny says:

    Since Gamevil has patched it fixing the framerate issues, text, and other issues; how does it play now on the PS3 (since it supposedly plays fine now on PSP)? Does the PS3 still freeze when playing it?

  21. GoldenOne says:

    Just deleted and re-downloaded. This game went from being unplayable to a whole lot of fun!

  22. GoldenOne says:

    Actually it shut off my psp twice now while loading during game play. AAARRRGH!

  23. ZOOMERMINI says:

    Wait so is this game now good??? Re-review please!!

    If it gets an 8 then I’ll buy.

  24. devic says:

    I just bought/downloaded this game yesterday for the psp, I find it’s rather fun and highly addictive, love the sprite animations and the characters, especially their reactions : )

    Don’t agree with review with needing the analog nub, tbh, often use the direction buttons whenever its used to control characters,

    There’s still issue of lag but it’s not too noticeable, for me, the lag and freezes only really started when I got to Hades. Generally, I don’t trust reviews since they’re all overly biased, and this one obviously had a bad playthrough, dunno if that’s coz Gamevil hadn’t patched it, but the current version on the psp isn’t as awful as what this review is saying

    @ZOOMERMINI
    This is a good game if you like classic top down rpgs like 2D Zelda, Final fantasy etc, with a enjoyable story, and easy controls and having the choice to be good or bad. It’s up to you if you buy it or not

  25. Lionheart says:

    I love this game there is very much replayability in this game.
    I almost finished the game with paladin only freezed one time.
    good game you even can become good and evil like fable.
    pretty neat……

  26. Nexus Prime says:

    I bought it last night and put a couple hours into it. It feels like a mix of ideas from Dragon Warrior 1, with Zelda and World of Warcraft. It’s one of the more expensive minis, but it certainly seems worth it. Thanks to all the people who’ve been vocal about this game because I probably would not have picked it up otherwise! Yes there are some sloppy problems to the game (still), but the overall package completely overshadows it.

  27. White says:

    i don’t know what everybody’s talking about the game doesn’t lag on my psp, i use 5.50 prome 4 so yeah it’s weird that everyone’s says that it lags on their’s….

  28. JayB says:

    In all fairness I think this game deserves an updated review. I wouldn’t trust this site if it did not do that. Im playing the game perfectly without any lag or freeze as u mentioned. Analog stick? Are u people serious? D-pad is perfect for this game. Its a mini game that should have received at least an 8. Update the review please.

  29. Tommy says:

    Love the game, but after every update my d-pad has moved a little more to the left and down. It started off only covering one of the quick slots, now it covers 3 quick slots and is so far down that the down arrow on the d-pad is off of the screen and now I’m stuck. PLEASE HELP! I would rather enjoy finishing this game. I am currently lvl. 37….

  30. Linavengton says:

    One Of The Awesomess Minis Loved It !!!!

  31. randomized says:

    The game’s awesome, but I can’t even get past the first boss because of freezing problems. I’m a LVL. 19 WARRIOR and it freezes on me everytime after I beat the first boss. Does anyone know if certain classes are having more problems than others?

  32. Balrog says:

    If I remember correctly I beat the first boss with no freezing problems using a Paladin before the game was patched.

  33. Ofaliss says:

    Unfortunately, they frame rate issue may have been helped by the update some time ago, but the random freezing didn’t see much improvement. From what I can tell, it’s not which character you use, But certain moments in game that triggers it.

    Anything that triggers an event can cause the game to freeze, and from what some of the guys in the forums have said, combining items will cause it to happen too. I can’t confirm that, because I’ve never combined anything.

    I will say that I have never had a time where the game always froze at a specific moment. Usually after i reloaded and tried again, the freezing wouldn’t occur. So if you haven’t already, you may want to try re-installing the game.

  34. randomized says:

    Yeah, I re-downloaded/re-installed the game and it seems to be working just fine now. Good thing it doesn’t take long to re-download/re-install minis.

  35. VicZ says:

    I’m playing Paladin lvl 62.. it isn’t that bad actually.. for stat depend on you..
    I just pick the compact slash max, holy bless max, blade spirit max, blast boom max.
    and passive strenght of bull max, tear orion max, life of wolf max.
    planning to max leather of bear..
    for me I just try to get sp usage option as many as i can XD
    compact slash lvl 10 only using 1 Sp ;p and some sp for other stronger skills..
    low on sp = spam compact slash XD

    This game isnt bad.. kind of fun for me..
    about freeze just try again and again + dont press X button too fast(on message).. press it slowly maybe around 3-5 secs 1 time on the freeze part and it can overcome the freeze / lag.

  36. Wackojecko says:

    Freeze after freeze. Just beated Pale with lvl 20 warrior and the game froze after the cave collapsed. This must be my 50th freeze now. How can a game that looks this shitty, freeze on a ps3.. Is it that hard to make a 2d game without constant annoyment? I bet i can do better:) Nabz @ gamevil

  37. Slva Drgn says:

    bought this game for ps3 last week. put 14.7 hrs on a paladin and got him to lvl 66. just beat the last shrine and started through the cutscene. 30 seconds into it the game froze and crashed my ps3. restarted…downed the shrine boss again…started the cutscene…game froze immediately and crashed my ps3 AGAIN…rebooted..clicked “continue” and this popped up……”Invalid save file. Please create another character.” ……please blow me….calling sony tomorrow and demanding my money back for content that doesnt work.

  38. Soulstar says:

    I’ve finally finished this game after playing it on and off for over the last 4 and a bit years since I first made a purchase over on PSN via my PS3.

    It took me a while to actually get into this and realise how deep the system really goes and how intricate some things can be, such as the skill trees, combining items and enchanting them, noticing how mapped items feature a colour around the box in the item screen, the weapons and armour changing on the characters as you upgrade to new, being able to switch between good and bad path ways, multiple character types to go through with etc. This is what does make it stand out, however there are so many flaws that drag it back and framerate combined with insanely bad slowdowns in saving or accessing the map are terrible at best. When you access the map, the game can literally pause you in place for 5-10 seconds while enemies are free to attack you. I wasn’t impressed by the translation and shallow depth of dialogue that repeats throughout all characters in every town. The music was just as bad with about 3 or 4 soundtracks for the entire game, mostly looping the same short piece over and over. I also experienced several crashes which caused me to lose hours of play, once about 4 hours, although I could have accessed autosave but never actually did.

    Zenonia has progressed a long way since this first game and it’s a shame they never released any others on the PS3 because i’ll be uable to check out the others. For my completion time, it took around 35 hours and I’d made it to around level 75 before finishing off the last shrine. The ending is quite poor and over with a bit too quickly, although the story really isn’t that deep at all anyway. It’s a big world but actually quite linear in approach because you never really need to return back to dungeons or areas to open up new things most of the time.

    Minis are none existent now so I can imagine not many people will even see this review. Feels good to have finally taken it to the end though after 4 years. I got it as part of a bundle and must have paid less than a pound so when you look at it that way, it’s a pretty good game for the price and doesn’t have any irritating in game purchase model at all going on, for which I’m thankful of there. I can imagine it looking a lot better on the PSP than my huge 43″ TV which didn’t exactly help.

  39. JeremyR says:

    Thanks for that comment. Nice to see someone still playing Minis (and caring enough to post about it)

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