Everyone knows it’s more fun being the bad guy; you get the best underground hide-outs, henchmen to boss around, and none of the pressure that comes with routinely having to save the girl/world/universe when you’re Mr Good Guy. You also get to laugh maniacally, have a pet cat (evildoer union regulation white, of course) and generally not live by the conventions of society. So it’s intriguing that more games don’t play on this by casting you as the villain of the piece.
Mobile game makers Digital Chocolate obviously feels the same way and so, when it came to releasing Fantasy Warrior 2, it decided to create two versions: one good, one bad. Both are based on the same components, so the maps over which you quest, the enemies you fight and the mission structure over which you progress are similar. Deciding upon which one you want to buy comes down to personal taste. Do you want to play as a gallant warrior, out to save the kingdom from the forces of darkness? Or do you want to play a recently resurrected vampire lady under the orders of a demon king? The choice is yours.
Each game is a sprawling adventure where you’ll receive assorted quests from the in-game characters. Succeed in your endeavours and you’ll gain money and new equipment with which to fight, including weapons, potions and other handy gimmicks. Killing the numerous in-game monsters earns you money and experience points, boosting your health and strength. If you’re worried about the sort of endless characteristics that are prominent in some other fantasy adventure games, fear not – these upgrades are automatically implemented, all you need to do is enjoy the benefits.
The control system is just as uncomplicated. You can more north, south, east and west with your phone’s joystick or the 2, 8, 4 and 6 buttons, while you attack enemies by just running into them. Combat comes down to a matter of timing to ensure you strike when your opponent is vulnerable. A basic map enables you to figure out where you are and where you need to be and a simple inventory system puts you in control of the assorted gadgets that you’re going to need to help you on your way. And help you’ll need – you can end up fighting as many as a half-dozen creatures at once and it can all get very hectic.
If you do die you’re given the choice to restart from the beginning of your current quest with just half of your health restored. This is, on the one hand, a nice touch – going back all the way to the start would be huge drag. But unless you’re stocked up on health potions and can return to your full powers, you’ll very quickly die again at the same point you did last time. This creates frustrations and you’ll soon learn to stock up on the health potions at every available opportunity. But that small gripe aside, it means that you’re never discouraged from continuing and seeing what the next quest involves. The combat does get a little repetitive during long sessions of play but the story’s engaging enough that you’re prepared to forgive it that. Meanwhile, the scale of Fantasy Warrior 2 ensures that you’ll be entertained for far longer than most other games, enabling you to enjoy a good thing that much longer. It’s not the most entertaining game you’ll ever come across and certainly isn’t on the level of Gameloft's Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, for example, but it’s got a quaint, unhurried, retro appeal to it that, if you’re open-minded enough, will suck you in for hours on end.