Another awesome retro game making its way to the iPhone is Sword of Fargoal, originally for the Commodore 64. This is a Roguelike, and if you are anything like I am, know absolutely nothing about them and have never even heard the term before. Basically, you play as a rogue and try to make your way down the 20 floors of the dungeon until you reach the Sword of Fargoal, killing monsters and collecting gold to level up while acquiring potions and spells and avoiding traps, then you must make your way back up to the top in a limited amount of time without getting it stolen back from you.
Honestly, the first time I played a game of Sword of Fargoal, I had no idea what I was doing and died–then I learned that once you’re dead, that’s it, you have to start over. At first that was somewhat irritating, then I realized that it added a hugely fun and exciting element to the game. I also threw what I knew about previously played RPGs out the window and did a bit of research–basically, the goal of Sword of Fargoal is to explore the dungeon’s floors without getting killed, making your way down to the Sword itself. Once you find it, you only have a certain amount of time before you have to get it back to the surface. And again, if you die that’s it–you have to start over from square one.
One of the cool things about the game is its infinite re-playability–every dungeon floor is randomly generated so it’s literally like a new game every time you play. If there’s one thing I love in a game it’s infinite replayability. And fun. Sword of Fargoal has both of those in spades.
Graphics and sounds/music are retro and very well done. This obviously isn’t the latest 3D FPS’ graphics and it doesn’t need to be. Characters are basically 2d flat objects that kind of jump around with no smooth animation and that’s perfectly fine, it adds to the charm of the game. There is a cool wispy smoke effect when you discover the map as it uncovers the previously hidden parts of the dungeon, in addition to some flashing light effects and well, you get the picture–retro gaming goodness!
Controls are perfect–simply swipe your finger in the direction you want to go. You can also swipe-and-hold and sort of slide your finger around to change direction and speed, somewhat like a virtual analog stick. It all works perfectly and smoothly and I have no complaints with the control scheme–can it be somewhat inaccurate at times? Sure, but 100% precision 100% of the time isn’t really necessary for Sword of Fargoal.
Being that this is the first time I’ve played a roguelike game, I really have to say that at first I was a bit underwhelmed, thinking it would be more like a traditional RPG. But after an initial couple of deaths and starting over, I decided to just enjoy the exploration and discovery and start killing monsters to level up and then really started to enjoy the game a lot. Then I made it down a few floors after spending time leveling and thinking I was strong enough and…got summarily killed and had to start over again. And you know what? I actually didn’t mind. I started over with a completely new and randomized dungeon and went back to enjoying the game even more. This game will grow on you if you give it the chance to (although if you are familiar with the genre it will probably be love at first play).
Discovering hidden passageways, hoping for a magic sack instead of a trap in a chest, fighting monsters with the fact that if they’re too powerful you could die and have to start over again all add up to make an extremely fun and addicting game. Sword of Fargoal is simple, addicting, and amazingly fun and engrossing. If you aren’t careful you could easily spend hours at a time getting lost in it, or you could simply play it for a few minutes and come back to it later where you left off. It’s immensely accessible and amazingly fun and is incredibly easy to recommend to anyone except the most vehiment rpg/dungeon crawler haters out there. Add in planned “episodes” and continual active support and development from the game’s developers and you have a must-own iPhone game.
Panappticon Verdict: 100/100 — Infinitely re-playable retro dungeon crawling goodness with future updates coming to add even more to an already amazingly fun and addicting game makes this a must-own gem for the iPhone.
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