If Zenonia reminded us of the brilliance of classic console role-playing, sequel Zenonia 2 taught us that fond memories alone don't make a great role-playing game.

Third time's a charm - Zenonia 3: The Midgard Story is an effort to combine classic role-playing with contemporary considerations about controls, options, and other features. In other words, it's an attempt to hold onto nostalgia while delivering something properly tailored to iPhone and iPod touch.

While that doesn't look to entirely be the case, Zenonia 3 does at least retain the franchise's charm.

A matter of character

Years after Regret, the hero of the first two games, saved the world, he's facing a different challenge: parenthood. You play as Chael, Regret's son, who finds himself wrapped up in a battle between three worlds.

The eternal war between the forces of the Divine and Devil has spilled into the realm of Midgard. Naturally, it's up a spiky-haired hero to save the day.

Four character classes - Shadow Hunter, Sword Knight, Mechanical Launcher, and Nature Shaman - allow you to tackle this monumental task as you choose. The two former classes focus on melee attacks, whereas the latter two concentrate on ranged and magical abilities.

For your technical consideration

When it comes to combat, Zenonia 3 adheres faithfully to earlier instalments. Tweaks have been made to the virtual controls, but it's still a matter of sliding your left thumb to move while tapping an 'attack' button and 'ability/item' hot-keys that line the screen.

A welcome effort to reconfigure the in-game menus, in particular the inventory screen, has been made. Rather than feeling like touch controls were forced upon menus designed for navigation with buttons, they've been reworked to feel more natural to the touch.

The graphics, too, have been approached from a different angle. Instead of scaling the original mobile game up to the higher resolution iPhone and iPod touch screen, Gamevil has opted for a tighter look. This means that characters, enemies, and other objects are smaller, but that the gameplay area is larger.

It's without question preferable to the blurry presentation of the previous two instalments. I'd love for you to judge it yourself, but Gamevil hasn't yet released any screenshots.

Time for change

When it comes to gameplay, there aren't many changes being made. Hack 'n' slash adventuring is the main focus, although Gamevil has incorporated more puzzles to keep combat from being a grind.

These are simple puzzles, to be sure: flipping switches to open locked doors, collecting items (you haven't done that before, have you?), and other assorted little tasks to infuse the game with a bit of variety.

I'm concerned Zenonia 3 doesn't do enough to break free from earlier instalments - rote fetch quests cast a long shadow on this sequel - and even with refinements to the controls and menus, it still largely feels like a mobile game port.

With more sophisticated role-playing games on the way, the quality of the action and nature of the story will be what carry the experience.

Zenonia 3: The Midgard Story will be available for iPhone and iPod touch in April. No price has yet been announced.

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