I am a big fan of RPG type games. I am also a big fan of Arvale (and Arvale II) on the Windows Mobile platform which, despite a few small flaws, is a really enjoyable game with lots of depth and an interesting storyline.
I stumbled across it a few weeks back, now availalable for the iPhone. Since I remember it being a heavy-duty stylus-dependent game, I was curious how it would port to the iPhone. So I purchased it and have been checking it out. So how did it do? Read on and find out.
Arvale starts out in the Kingdom of Entoque. Short form – you’re the gardener and also the latest “hero” being sent out on a quest involving magic, dragons, and all the trapping of a traditional RPG. You encounter monsters and puzzles along the way and you build up experience which translates into strength, dexterity, and knowledge, enabling you to meet greater challenges.
The game is played with the iPhone in the landscape format (only). You move about the screens by either tapping your finger where you want the character to go, or by using the virtual 4-way pad on the right side of the screen. This generally worked, but there was a little room for improvement (see “what could be improved” below).
The graphics are very similar to those on the Windows Mobile version, but reworked a tiny bit to fit the different size/orientation of the iPhone (which displays the game in a landscape orientation). Menus and subscreens are reworked more than the normal view, and things are done in a very nice, usable way.
This version of Arvale is very faithful to the Windows Mobile version. Maybe too failthful. I think I would have like to seen the developers at pdamill take advantage of some of the hardware specific features of the iPhone. These folk have developed some excellent games over the years and are also responsible for the wonderful graphics engine that drives the iGo8 (OCN8) navigation software, so they have some talent there. I think it would be interesting to see them take full advantage of the iPhone hardware/OS and produce a proper iPhone RPG, not just do a direct port of an old title with no real changes/improvements.
What I Like: The graphics are generally a nice mix of maintaining the original look and feel while still fitting the iPhone screen. Menus especially, are done well. Gameplay is smooth, menus are nicely reworked for the iPhone.
What Could Be Improved: The 4-way pad, really should mimic a full D-pad, allowing 8 directions of movement. Location selection via finger has the same problem as the stylus selection on earlier versions had – it’s too easy to get your character stuck behind an on-screen object. Without all 8 directions available, movement is a little clumsy, but not impossible.
Again – I’d have liked to have seen some iPhone-specific features implemented. Pinch zooming, for example, would have been a nice way to move from overview down to your current location. Maybe a couple of iPhone version modified puzzles (like something requiring the use of the accelerometer) would also have been interesting.
Overall: Even thought there was no real iphone-centric updating, Arvale is a really good port of a really good game. If you like RPGs, you really should take the time to check out this title, especially if you didn’t catch it on Windows Mobile. It’s available at the ITMS App Store for the bargain price of $2.99 (compared to the Windows Mobile version which costs $14.95)!