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Hunter Island

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad


Product: Hunter Island | Developer: ZigZaGame Inc | Publisher: NTT Resonant | Format: iPhone | Genre: Adventure, Multiplayer, RPG | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.02
Hunter Island iPhone, thumbnail 1
Hunter Island looks impeccable on paper - it's basically Pokemon crossed with a bit of Final Fantasy, taking the core elements of each series and chucking in a few ideas from other sources for good luck

But, while it's perfectly functional, it doesn't come close to matching the polish of its august inspirations.

The premise is simple: you're off on an adventure to capture, raise, evolve, and battle creatures called Arkadions. Battles are based on Final Fantasy's Active Time Battle system, so if your opponent's statistics are sufficiently impressive, or they buff their stats with speed-increasing moves, they may be able to get in two or three hits before you've landed a single blow.

This seems a lot fairer than Pokemon's turn-based fighting, and indeed Hunter Island tries to improve and streamline other aspects of the monster-battling combat.

To launch a move from one of your line-up of three Arkadions, you need only follow the gesture command displayed next to it, though if you choose to you can opt for the slower process of choosing options on a menu.

The encounters - both with other Hunters and with Arkadions in the wild, which can also be caught - have a good amount of tactical depth to them.

IAPs explained
There's a premium currency on offer for impatient hunters, but I never found a decent reason to purchase loads of it in the game.

200 Gold costs £1.49 / $1.99. And if you can find a good enough reason to buy Gold - perhaps to purchase more Tickets to participate in the online multiplayer - you're probably so deep into Hunter Island that the purchase makes sense.
But - as with most RPGs - might makes right in the end. If you level-up your party enough, or simply have more Arkadions waiting as backup, you can steam roll anything and anyone with little resistance.

When not battling, you're traversing the overworld. I say "traversing" because "exploring" is too free a word: your character can only move to specific points, running from pre-defined point to pre-defined point.

This design choice immediately makes the absolutely massive world feel that much smaller. It's as if you're following the path of the story rather than striking out on your own adventure.

Encounters don't seem to be random, which is a double-edged sword. You don't have the nuisance of unanticipated attacks, but it's tougher to level-up without the constant stream of baddies popping up, and quite often you'll run around trying to find scraps to get into by meticulously visiting every location in the overworld in the hope of stumbling across the next challenge.

The story is promising: an enemy nation is at the gates, and it's your job to help defeat them. But, inevitably, things aren't quite what they seem, with fascinating consequences that we won't spoil by describing.

But the premise is squandered on tedious, laboured writing that struggles to find its voice. You'll go from emotional confessions to catch-'em-all rhetoric within fractions of seconds, and I found myself skipping dialogue constantly.

"Ditty" is a fun but under-used word

Presentation is stilted, as frames of animation are apparently scarcer than Mewtwos in the world of Hunter Island, and the graphical style is humdrum anime fantasy. Sound effects are amateurish at times, with particularly underwhelming noises accompanying battles.

However, the soundtrack is excellent. Soaring and spectacular Final Fantasy-esque classical movements blend into upbeat Pokemon-inspired ditties - I found myself humming away to these scores throughout my time with the game.

Should you wish to take on the world, then the online features will keep you competing. It's the typical multiplayer battling, and falls into the same traps as all of these types of games: i.e. if you've played for longer than your opponent, chances are you'll win.

None of the game is as slick as its sources of inspiration, and though small improvements - such as randomly generated dungeons and streamlined healing processes - are welcome, these aren't enough to fend off the feeling that the developer has bitten off more than it can chew with Hunter Island.

If you can't get enough monster-battling, and want that experience on something other than a Nintendo console, then this is a decent if flawed attempt, but it won't scratch that Pikachu-shaped itch for long.
Hunter Island
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 22 November 2013
Add this to the increasingly large pile of iOS games marked 'sort of like Pokemon, but not nearly as good'. Aside from the stupendously good soundtrack, there's little to get excited about here
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