Will you be my gf for this sword?
I spoke to a friend of mine around 2 months back about a game called Mabinogi. He brought it up to me because I had told him I really liked Harvest Moon, and that a Harvest Moon MMO or an MMO remotely similar to Harvest Moon would make me (as a pretty big fanboy of the Harvest Moon line of games) pretty excited. This particular friend had told me it had very rich farming aspects, deep exploration, great hunting and combat mechanics, and best of all, a great community. And as a plus, it had a sort of 3D anime graphical style, much like the console editions of the Harvest Moon games. This all got me pretty excited (in ways I feel not so appropriate to mention in a review such as this), so I immediately downloaded and installed the game. I had also convinced the friend who told me about it to play, as well as a good friend of said convinced other friend. For ease of reference, let's call them 'K' and 'D' respectively.
Now, being the sensible man I am, I immediately decided to go with the most ridiculous class and appearance available. There's 3 races to choose from, the only truly good one being Human. Not 'good' as in morally upstanding, but rather 'good' as in 'the only thing that's anywhere near damn playable'. If you choose a Giant, no clothes will fit you and you can't use bow & arrows or crossbows. Being an Elf is certainly more tolerable, aside of the fact that they're just Humans, but placed in back-ass-woods nowhere in the middle of the desert 'just because'. Giants have an advantage over both Humans and Elves, but it's a nominal one that doesn't even matter (we'll touch up more on that later). I picked Human, and you can get a free Giant and a free Elf by playing Human anyways.
After the race is picked, you go onto the age + appearance editor. One flaw I noticed here was that if you change your hair, your skin tone, your really anything, your damned clothes change colour. You could not by any means personally pick out the colour of your clothing on your own. It just all depended upon what hair style you decided to have your character sport.
I, of course, made my character a preteen with creepy raccoon eyes, a silly Princess Leia-style purple haircut, and enough lipstick to better suit a lady of the evening.
A face EVERYONE could love, more like.
Now that the races and (strange) appearances are sorted, now it's onto class selection.
There's a pretty decent variety of classes to choose from to begin with; a quite welcome change from some MMOs and RPGs that give you barebones, boring general occupations to choose from (usually boiling down to wizard, soldier/knight, archer, and thief). You have your general classes, such as the Close Combat mastery, as well as any of the other masteries that pertain to combat and combat only. Then you have your interesting ̶although quite literally useless unless you never engage in combat ̶ classes, such as the Chef and Tailor. Then you have some truly ridiculous ones, among which the Puppeteer mastery is included. I choose Puppeteer, obviously.
I now meet a splendid lady named 'Nao' who transports me to a small village called Tir Chonaill, where I meet an elder who explains to me that I use my fists and class-specific spells to kill things before they kill me. Very
That's when it hit me that I had not been told once about how to farm. There were fields all around me in Tir Chonaill, but I could not hop the fences to them and plant my hard, throbbing seed in that soft, supple dirt. In fact, it took me a total of 20 hours before I figured out even remotely how you're meant to 'farm'. You have to do something called 'entering your Homestead', which is essentially a small plot of land for you to use for your farming endeavors. It's designed very much like Farmville and other Facebook games (bear with me here), in that you get a certain number of crystals to build stuff with per day. You extract these crystals with a pick axe, which I'm fairly certain you have to bring yourself. You use these crystal things to purchase farmhouses, fields, and expansions for your farming plot. Of course, I literally stopped giving a shit the very moment I mined out my first daily batch of farming field crystal stuff, and completely gave up on one of the things that had convinced me to play the game to begin with.
But back to Tir Chonaill.
After completing the Tir Chonaill beginner fetch quests (which pretty much were teaching you how to gather eggs and sleep; not shitting you), I decided to take a look at the Events that Mabinogi was having. This was around Christmastime, mind you, so there was a special Christmas-related Daily Quest Event thing! It just so happened to be a spectacular Snowball fight. I asked K and D if they were interested in this, and K logged off the game (and Skype). D, however, thought it was a splendid idea, if only to obtain the Ability Points from this special Event quest to further upgrade his masteries.
Ahhh, the sight of microtransactions at work
Before we get to the ridiculous events surrounding the Snowball fight, I have to explain Ability Points (or “AP”), and their general usage within the game. You see, to level up your masteries, you have to perform related actions to a specific mastery, or use the mastery itself if it's a Spell or whatever the case may be. This fills a little bar up, and once this bar is full, you might think it'd instantly level it up, right?
You have to spend AP on that particular Mastery if you want it to be a higher level. Doesn't sound like too much of a pain in the ass, right?
When you hit the higher levels of a Mastery, you're gonna need a very large amount of AP to further them within that skill. So what started as 1 AP per Level, will now soon become something like 10-20+ AP per 1 Single Level of a Mastery. This would be fine... if AP weren't such a ridiculous bitch to gather. You quite literally have to rely solely upon two things for consistent AP. The very off-chance that there's a Daily Event or Quest that provides AP Potions, or another feature which I will now explain. This feature? Rebirthing.
And my my, Rebirthing is a hell of a feature. This is where we get down to seeing just how Mabinogi does the usual MMO stretching. By that, I mean the general padding of gameplay done purposely to keep the player playing for months as opposed to mere hours. Things like slow Level Ups are certainly one way to go about it, but Mabinogi is clever in its approach. You see, when you Rebirth, you start over from Level 1 again, and at whatever age you wish. You drop your Experience Level and any stats gained from aging. This sounds horrible, right? Actually, it has its usages.
You see, when you Age from Age 10, you get extra AP. So say you wait to Rebirth until you go from Age 10 to Age 17, you'll get a boatload of extra AP for doing so. Not to mention that every Level Up grants 1 AP, and the max Level is 200, which isn't NEARLY enough AP to max out all the Masteries. And since you can only Rebirth once every 6 days, you're forced to grind a bit until you can get your easy AP and Levels. So the MMO length padding of Mabinogi? Ability Points gained from Aging and Level Ups.
But back to the Snowball fights, because even though they're no longer applicable to the game anymore, they will give you a rough idea of how broken Mabinogi can be.
You see, D and I (hah) went to Dunbarton, the town in which these Snowball fights were being held. They were activating by talking to a Santa in front of an eagle statue or whatever the hell that was in the town square (this is right next to the Bank of the town). Generally, this area was completely packed full with people waiting to enter Snowball Fights. My friend and I wondered why so many people were doing this; could they have been THAT interested in Snowball Fights? Was it the novelty of the event? Was it actually really fun?
None of these things.
You see, these Snowball Fights were ridiculously cheap ways of obtaining free Gold and Experience. The Experience and Gold gained for winning was 200,000XP or so, and 10,000 Gold. The Experience and Gold for losing? Half that, which is still a ludicrous number when you take into consideration that every other damn thing in the game took forever to Level you up and get you Gold. Not to mention that there were Daily Quests for the Snowball Fights which gave you an AP Potion everytime they were completed (and before Nexon presumably patched this, you could simply switch to every different channel and complete the Daily Snowball Fight Quests there for an absolutely insane level of Experience, Gold, and Ability Points). This quest? Participating in 5 Snowball Fights a day.
That in itself is easy as could be. Participate, not win. You could idle for an hour, only clicking to start the quest, and you'd have free AP within an hour. So needless to say, people were trying very hard to rig the Snowball Fight games. And sure enough, it worked like a charm.
The “rules” of the fights as established by the players who rigged them (which was probably thousands upon thousands of people, come to think of it) only consisted of one thing. Red. Always. Wins.
There's a Blue Team and a Red Team, and well, Red always wins. There was no argument, no discussion, no mention of why this was kinda unfair. But people always played so that Red won 100% of the time. This was used to speed up the process of the fights so that everyone could get their Gold, Experience, and Ability Points even faster (what should've taken 20 minutes a game usually took 3 minutes tops because of the rigging).
This led to, surprisingly, the Snowball Fights being really unbalanced and not even remotely fun. But I still did them constantly while they were available, for I, as everyone else, wanted those prizes.
Within my first day of playing Mabinogi, I hit Level 70, I had well over 100,000 Gold, and I had a lot of AP.
And if I'm recalling this correctly, this Event lasted around 3-4 weeks. Meaning that I was able to Rebirth 2-3 times before its end, meaning I was stacked up with crazy equipment, lots of money, and high Level Masteries. D was even more well off than I, having found an ingame “boyfriend” who thought that he was a girl. This “boyfriend” was buying D a very large amount of amazing equipment with his own money because he had finally found his very own Mabinogi girlfriend, and boy was he happy. D ended up with expensive Giant clothing, polearms, axes, and all kinds of good equipment. So the only way to do well is either through Snowball Fights or having a “boyfriend” who has more Gold than you; the former no longer possible, and the latter requires you to not have any dignity (but if you're playing Mabinogi to begin with, that shouldn't be an issue).
This not even getting into the whole Pet system and the other microtransactions. Which reminds me, I never explained why Giants had a nominal advantage over Humans! Time to do that.
This is as close to a Snowball Fight picture as I can get...
You see, each class does a mission early on to obtain a Pet Whistle. This is a Whistle used to obtain a Pet permanently for use whenever you need them. Pets tend to have time limits on how much you can use them for travel and whatnot, but a horse is certainly a better way to get around than on foot. Humans and Elves both get a free horse. Giants, though? Those sons of bitches get EAGLES. Yes, you can fly them (only within their native continent of Iria, but still, it's pretty damn cool). But you'll get a free Elf follower and a free Giant follower if you're a Human, and thus you'll get two free horses and a free eagle no matter what. So yet again, Humans > all.
But where Pets are kind of a neat, non-necessary microtransaction, there's multiple examples of absolute bullshit microtransations. For example, there are items in the game which you can only use if you purchase them with NX (Nexon's microtransaction currency). That's fine and dandy, yeah, but the problem is that they are never separated from the rest of a shop stock. Like Item Bags that increase the amount of things you can carry? You'll find those right alongside song paper parchments and weaponry, and you can't use them unless you buy some sort of extra item hold pack thing from Nexon's Mabinogi store. And those sons of bitches are expensive, too! Imagine someone buying the most expensive one without knowing what it required (since it doesn't separate it from the other items), and then finding out they just wasted an extraordinarily large amount of Gold on a useless space waster.
Then there's Guild Deeds and some other things that are the same exact way; they require Premium membership for use. Such is the flaw with “Free to Play” games. The true extension of the genre's name is “Free to Play, Pay to Win”. Of course there's the exceptions, but alas, Mabinogi is not one of those exceptions.
And I don't even wanna get started on how annoying the travel itself is. There's a special place that D and I have deemed the “Two Hour Trek”, because that's exactly what it says on the tin. A two hour trek to get to a vital area. This “trek” is the way you get to a place called Vales (Giant's starting location) if you started off as a Human, and I've had to take it 5 times at least because of getting there myself, and then bringing people I introduced to the game there as well. The travel times are ridiculous with really not much reward at all (I guess Exploration Level? But that has a very low Level Cap, capping off at a meager 25).
The one reason I wanted to keep playing at all was Transformation. You see, once you take the Two Hour Trek (or are a Giant), you can easily reach a place called Cor Village. In this village is a woman who will tell you to go kill some Kiwis (I believe her name is Shamala). Once you do that enough to “collect” the Kiwis for Transformation, you'll get a free dream catcher-looking magic wand thing, with which you can go into your “Collection” window, and then to your “Transformation” window to select whatever animal you want to transform into (this took me and D about 30 minutes to figure out because Transformation abilities are not listed under your Masteries).
This is essentially just you being able to become shit like chickens. That is the redeeming quality of the game. You “collect” animals to transform into by killing them and obtaining these point things by pure luck until you've “collected” about 3-5 of them. This is annoying with hard-to-find creatures like Mimics and Kobolds. But it gives you something to do. The other Collections are just as vast as the Transformation one, but not nearly as cool (Hunting is just, you know, killing things. So on and so forth).
Don't let this fool you. Dragons are douchebags and there's only one nice one in the entire game.
There's still a lot more features I haven't even mentioned, nor have I gotten to try even, so this game is pretty vast. But is it vast in a good way? Let me set forth a situation that happened to K, D, and I underwent sometime before K completely quit playing the game altogether.
There's a dock in the Uladh continent that has two ships; one goes to some miniscule continent with no pertinence whatsoever to anything, and the other goes to the continent of Iria (the place of the “Two Hour Trek”). We decided to board the one going to the shitty continent by accident and then a whole debacle about that came up where we were wandering around for awhile trying to figure out what the hell the place was even for (we determined that the best use for this continent was, well, absolutely goddamn nothing. So we just left). After we got back to our mainland, we boarded the other ship.
Now, D “entered the Beauty Shop” while we were sailing. “What the hell are you talking about?” you might be asking yourself. Well, the Beauty Shop is a completely separate realm to our own, much like the “Homestead” mentioned earlier. I never dared venture beyond its walls in fear of being completely sucked into the horrific void of pain, torture, and death that the “Beauty Shop” may hold. D, however, decided to board the ship mid-adventure, and then he glitched the game. I ended up in the continent and by the time he figured out how to leave the pure hell of the “Beauty Shop”, he ended up being on the boat, still sailing. While none of the boats had left dock yet. So he was stuck sailing for about 20 minutes since he had glitched the sailing system for his need of Beauty, and when he got to me, I'm pretty sure a full in-game day had passed. This glitch is presumably still around.
The game has quite a few things like this, and it makes me think that they just made the game super huge without really thinking about how certain things will be affected by other things. Thus, the game is glitchy as all hell and requires you to walk 2 actual hours to get anywhere, and then requires you to pay actual money out of your own damn pocket for seemingly vital things when you get there.
In other (much shorter) words, Mabinogi is boring and stupid.
If you had any idea what this game put D, I, and K through, my friends (it really put my DIK through the ringer, so to speak). But we went through this mess of a game with each other. And now I'm passing the message onto any of the kind folks reading here; this game is *bleep*ing dumb. Please play another MMO. I hear TERA Online is pretty good. Aeon is another choice. But stay as far away from this one as your keyboard will lead you.
Mabinogi for the Atari 2600 and Virtual Boy gets a meager 4/10.
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