Trying to encompass an entire combat system with just one thumb available for all the various gestures and swipes involved is a daunting challenge.
It's not something that Bandai Namco has shied away from though, as can be evidenced by its latest hack-and-slash RPG, Sword Art Online: Memory Defrag.
It pulls off the mechanics relatively well, but beyond that it’s a fairly standard mobile JRPG with a ton of menus, levelling up, summoning characters, and all the usual trappings.Logging on
Sword Art Online: Memory Defrag sees you working your way through a series of levels taken from the original anime, sprinkled with story chapters to keep you up to date on what the heck's going on.
You move around the levels by holding the screen and dragging in the direction you want to run, and combat is handled by tapping away on the screen to trigger basic combos.
You can also hold the screen to guard, and a well-timed swipe up when guarding can parry an enemy, allowing you a chance to switch characters and deliver a devastating attack.
There's also special moves that can be triggered at any time at the cost of some MP, but so long as you've got your equipment up to snuff, you can handle most battles by hammering away with basic attacks.
To keep yourself beefed up you'll need to summon new heroes and equipment, which just means heading to the shop and give up some Memory Stones to have a chance at unlocking something good.Randomly accessed memories
Memory Stones are a premium currency, but the game is relatively generous when it comes to freebies, so you're unlikely to run low on them or struggle to summon something newer and better.
There's also levelling up to be done through combat, daily missions to complete, guilds to form, and all the other typical gubbins you associate with a JRPG.
And that might be Sword Art Online: Memory Defrag's biggest problem – you have, undoubtedly, played this game before in another form.
It has the Sword Art Online name and story to prop it up, but unless you're already a fan of the series, the fragments of story you're given will make only a tiny bit of sense.
It's all presented in disconnected, fragmented pieces without the necessary character development to make you actually care about what was going on, unless you were already invested in the mythology.Server crash
Overall, Sword Art Online: Memory Defrag isn't a bad game by any stretch – it's a competent hack-and-slasher with enough interesting systems to keep it fun to play as the grind sets in.
But it's really nothing new in the grand scheme of things, down to the gacha-mechanic summoning and levelling up and the overall feel of the game.
If you're a Sword Art Online fan, and a fan of the genre as a whole, then it's definitely worth a try. For everyone else, it's not going to be the game to sway you.