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iPhone  header logo

MapleStory Thief Edition

For: iPhone

The loneliness of the long-distance gamer

Product: MapleStory Thief Edition | Developer: Nexon | Format: iPhone | Genre: RPG | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.0
MapleStory Thief Edition iPhone, thumbnail 1
Although western gamers may consider World of Warcraft to be the most popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game, you have to go a long way to top the enthusiasm displayed by our Asian friends for MapleStory.

It's just one of many massively multiplayer games currently causing Asian gamers to shun life's nuisances necessities such as eating, bathing, and sleeping in a desperate effort to level up virtual avatars and quest for gold.

With over 100 million players, it’s easy to understand why the release of single-player spin-off MapleStory: Thief Edition has caused such a stir amongst the community.

Sadly, any dreams of a wonderfully realised portable edition of the life-sapping classic will have to wait. This is an offline affair, one which has scant appeal for both long-time players of the online game and solo side-scrolling adventures alike.

Systems offline

Aesthetically, MapleStory Thief Edition is a faithful rendition. The visuals have naturally been adapted for the small screen, but they remain highly detailed and bursting with colour. 2D artwork is often referred to as a dying art but this title proves that, on iPhone at least, it’s thriving.

The basic gameplay is also close to the online multiplayer original. You move around a large fantasy world completing quests, interacting with non-player characters, and attacking monsters. Combat takes place in real time and successful encounters earn you money, items, and experience points.

As far as role-playing games go, this is a by-the-numbers affair. While it won't amaze you with innovation, its appeal comes from the comfort of familiarity.

Skills to pay the bills

Your character’s skill level is determined largely by his experience level, which rises when you accrue a certain number of experience points. Level grinding is a major part of the online original and that’s equally true here: some quests are impossible to tackle until you’ve reached a certain degree of proficiency.

Virtual controls attempt to replicate the interface of the PC version with only a moderate degree of success. The virtual D-pad is much too large and covers a considerable portion of the bottom-left corner of the display. This often results in your character being obscured by your thumb at the most inopportune moments.

The other controls – 'jump', 'attack', and items hot keys – are smaller and therefore less intrusive, although this results in them being harder to successfully hit when you’re in the middle of a heated battle.

All by myself

But the interface isn’t the biggest problem with MapleStory Thief Edition. Shorn of its online component the game feels hollow.

Granted, the dialogue between your character and other residents is snappy and well-written, but the tiresome fetch quests become boring quickly. It's a mistake that too many iPhone role-playing games have made, the neglect of variety is mission design resulting in a repetitive experience.

In this case, it should come as little surprise when you consider that MapleStory was originally constructed with human interaction explicitly in mind. Without multiplayer, the game loses its defining appeal.

It doesn’t help that the plot is painfully lightweight and lacking in drama. With nothing to push the story forward other than the desire to see the next location, MapleStory Thief Edition becomes stale fast.

The lack of online play, bland missions, and incessant grinding are such that even the most stout-hearted of adventurers will be hard-pressed to see this tepid escapade to its conclusion.
MapleStory Thief Edition
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 1 September 2010
Although the endearing visuals do an excellent job of replicating the look of one of the world’s most popular MMOs, the lack of human interaction, awkward controls and uninspiring quests render MapleStory Thief Edition underwhelming
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