MapleStory is a free to play, 2D side scrolling MMO originally released in Korea in 2005. MapleStory has since been purchased by many gaming portals and is available in over 10 countries. MapleStory is delivered in a much loved comic crossed with anime style, making for a unique appearance in RPG Games.
MapleStory is very user friendly for many different reasons. The user interface is simple and easy, allowing players to access various aspects of the game with a simple click. All of the NPCs provide great information during the tutorial and quests. The controls are also very easy to learn, using the arrow keys to move your character around and simple buttons for attacking and other abilities. Players can totally remap the functions if they wish, changing any ability or action to other keys, or even using a game pad.
The customization options in MapleStory are vast, with players being able to find and purchase a large number of appearance altering items such as clothing, hair, earrings and shoes. The majority of items that players equip are displayed visually, allowing for a large variety of appearance options.
There's also a good selection of mini games available with one of the most popular being, Match Cards. Players must first search the world of MapleStory for monsters that drop specific cards. These monsters vary in difficulty, making it a real challenge to collect them all. Once players have been able to collect all of the required cards, they can then hand the cards in to an NPC and create their Match Card deck for use in the mini game. Another mini game, Omok, works in a similar fashion where players are tasked with collecting various Omok pieces to create their own Omok set.
If you're playing MapleStory for the graphics, you need to get out more. As a side-scrolling, 2D, online RPG that resembles something you might find on the Nintendo 64, MapleStory relies on cuteness for its graphical appeal. You will find considerable detail in the character, armor and weapon models, but the environment itself is rather garish and loud.
The bright side of the MapleStory graphics issue is that you will not need a high end -- or even a low end -- gaming graphics card. The onboard graphics chip for your computer should serve you just fine. If you're not bothered by last-gen cartoon-style graphics, or if you want a game you can play on an old system, MapleStory just might be the game for you.
Each stage or level in MapleStory has its own unique theme song, ranging from sinister dirges to upbeat melodies. Unfortunately, none of the tunes are very original or moving, and many players complain that the zone background music rarely fits the situation your character is in at any given moment. You can, however, choose to mute the background music and add in your own personal playlist. In fact, many fans of MapleStory insist that this is the only way to really enjoy the title.
Each ability and skill in MapleStory does have its own sound effect, and for the most part these are done rather well. While the overall sound quality suffers, the sound effects tied to each skill are satisfyingly accurate.
The quests that your character undertakes in MapleStory help define your own personal back story, which really should be set against the larger story line of the game. Unfortunately, however, MapleStory's larger story line is concealed by the extensive time periods between speaking to quest givers and other NPCs.
Victoria Island, where much of the opening game takes place, was once ruled by the Sharenian. They created Stone Golems to guard the temple and developed an underground sanctuary. Before long, playable characters are introduced to the story of Tristan, a legendary hero of yore. Following an epic battle against a Balrog, Tristan succumbed to his wounds -- but not before bestowing his sword upon the adventurer Manji.
Each location following Victoria, including Orbis, Ludibrium, Leafre, Omega Sector and others, has its own central story arc for the quests to follow.
Depending on how new your computer is, you may have some problems getting MapleStory to run. If you do get an error, right-click on the game launcher icon and choose "Properties" from the drop down list. Set the game run as a Windows XP application in the Compatibility tab, and you should be good.
As a serious MapleStory player, you can count on spending hours grinding mobs to earn the experience needed to level up in the game. The leveling process quickly slows down as your character progresses, especially since each character death costs you a fair bit of experience points.
You'll start the game by creating a character and customizing him or her to your liking with attribute statistics, weapons, gender, hair style and color, facial expression and outfit. Then you will move into a training ground to learn how the movement and combat systems work. Everyone starts out as a beginner but can eventually choose the Bowman, Thief, Warrior, Pirate or Mage character class.
The controls for the game are intuitive and well-thought-out, and the user interface is easy to navigate. You can change your key bindings, if you don't care for the default set up. Movement is done by the arrow keys: right and left move you across the screen horizontally, while the up and down arrows allow you to climb ropes in either direction. The up arrow key also allows you to use a portal. You jump with the Alt key.
Interact with NPCs in the game world either by double-clicking them or by getting close to them and using the Spacebar. The Ctrl key is your base attack, and using the Z key allows you to pick up your loot.
The game play in MapleStory involves a great deal of platforming, making it something of an anomaly in the MMO world. In other online RPGs you can avoid mobs by running from them when you need to, but not in MapleStory. Touching a mob damages your character, making it much more difficult for players to flee when they've bitten off more than they can chew.
The game play in MapleStory isn't really spectacular, but players consistently describe the game as "addicting." With a level cap of 200, and the increasingly higher requirements of experience each level, it would have to be.
Unique Fun Factor
MapleStory bills itself as one of the largest free to play MMO in the world. Nexon does boast over 90 million accounts, but that also includes users with multiple accounts and those accounts that have gone inactive. It still has many more players than even World of Warcraft, the pay-for-play MMO giant.
This means that you can count on a large, vibrant, and mostly knowledgeable player community when you log into MapleStory. Whether you are chatting in game or just using the official player forums on the game's website, you should be able to find answers to your new-player questions at any time of the day or night.
Also, MapleStory's player base can be rather rabid when it comes to defending the game from detractors. If you have complaints about the game, you'd do well to watch how you phrase your question and to avoid bashing either MapleStory or its developers at all.
Cute and kid-friendly look and feel.
Runs on just about any system.
No client software purchase or monthly subscription requires.
Huge, knowledgeable player community.
Very easy to pick up and play.
Side-scrolling, 2D game play with heavy platforming elements.
Outdated, subpar graphics and environment rendering.
Wretched game music plays in the various zones.
Main story line arc can be hard to follow.
Requires much experience grinding to achieve higher levels.
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