Ragnarok DS Hands-On

Ragnarok is still going strong as it makes its way to Nintendo's handheld in order to spread the addiction to an even larger market.

The popular Korean massive multiplayer online role-playing game is heading to the Nintendo DS so you can take your addiction wherever you go. Ragnarok was released in Japan in 2008, and Xseed has teamed up with GungHo Works to bring the game to North America. Based on the free-to-play PC game, Ragnarok DS follows the story of Ales, a recent orphan who has decided to set off into the world and become a famous adventurer. A larger, darker story unfolds, but in our first few hours of play, we didn't learn much except that there were a group of evil individuals who were trying to hunt down Sierra, a lovely young woman with a peculiar headdress and mysterious magical powers.

The story begins with Sierra attempting to flee from her pursuers with the help of a couple of brave men. It's obvious that she plays an important role in some kind of master plot, and she barely manages to get away. By the time she is found by Ales, she has lost all her memories about her past, which also includes everything about the world around her. Over time, she learns more about her surroundings, but for now, all she knows is that she should stay close to someone who is willing to protect her. Ales is a young man with father issues, and he has just recently lost his mother. He is driven by the desire to seek out fame and fortune, allowing Sierra to come along. Throughout his travels, he'll meet new friends that are willing to help him achieve his goal.

Like its MMO counterpart, Ragnarok DS involves a lot of venturing between places, fetching items, bringing them back to their owner, and collecting drops from certain creatures. The story was pretty linear, and we were always told where to go next, or we could take up side quests at the local tavern. The game moved at a relatively quick pace, and because we were constantly regenerating, we never had the need to rely heavily on items or run back to the inn to recover. Zenies, the in-game currency, weren't that hard to come by because the monsters were constantly dropping things we could collect and sell. For a portable game, it was easy to stop, do a quick save, and come back to the game later. Even when you die midway in a dungeon, your progress will still be saved, but you'll be sent back to the last town at which you saved your progress.

What keeps you coming back for more is the amount of customizable options that you can apply to your character and gear. As you level, you'll earn status and skill points so that you can increase your stats as you see fit. You can follow the various job paths that are available, which include swordsman, magician, thief, archer, taekwon, acolyte, or merchant. Jobs are leveled individually, so you always have a base level that will increase as you gain experience, as well as a job level so you can test out a different style of play to see which one is right for you. Some jobs require that you meet a minimum level before you can switch. For a price, a blacksmith in town can help upgrade your weapons, but you risk losing your cash and your weapon if he fails and breaks your item. Some weapons and armor come with card slots where you can insert monster cards that will boost the stats of your gear. Monsters in the wild will drop cards, along with helpful items and other goodies.

You can play the game entirely with the stylus, but you can also use the D pad to maneuver around the screen and use the stylus to select items, as well as other menu options. Gameplay is incredibly straightforward and easy to learn. You tap the enemy to attack, and your character will automatically attack until either you or the enemy dies. At the top of the screen, you can set shortcuts for spells, items, and special skills. There will be times when you'll need to draw on the screen to attack your enemy, but it will simple stuff like slashing through the monster or drawing a small circle around your target. Your AI teammates are automatically set to follow you and perform their duties, depending on their skills and personalities. Each member has a drop-down list of what he or she can do that is specific to the character, so you can always set your swordsman friend to go after the toughest creature or have Sierra linger in the back to focus on healing. The option to have them flee if things go awry is also there.

Seek fame and fortune with your companions.

We also had the opportunity to test out the multiplayer features of the game--which are limited to the Mirage Tower in the desert--where you and up to two other friends (local or online) can take on the challenges on each floor. There are more than 50 floors that are randomly generated, and they also have random complete conditions. We would either be running around hitting switches in order or clearing out enemies to force the next warp point to appear in order to advance. It's a simple setup where, as long as one person knows what he or she is doing, you can follow along to complete the challenges. Otherwise, communicating via the DS is tricky because you're limited to fixed messages and four face buttons for shortcuts. A boss fight was always waiting at the end, and after about an hour, we were able to snag quite a few items, as well as gain almost 10 levels in the process. This was nice considering we kept these levels in our main game so we were much stronger than the members in our party. In this multiplayer mode, you can also customize the appearance of your character to your liking, and as you play through challenges, you'll pick up more random stuff to decorate your avatar.

Ragnarok DS retains the same cutesy look as the online version, even though you're working with a much smaller screen. There are three camera zoom levels to work with, but they all feel a bit too close. When you're wandering into a new area without a map, it may take awhile before you stumble across the small treasure chest that contains the layout of the area. Once you get into the groove, though, it's quite addictive, especially if you're always looking for ways to upgrade your equipment. For those itching to play an MMORPG-type game on the go, look for Ragnarok DS when it is released February 16.

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Discussion

40 comments
regix416_basic
regix416_basic

It would be nice if the .Hack games had followed this pattern instead of being so strange. Maybe then they might've made more sense at the end of each of them... I realize they were supposed to lead into each other but after the end of each of them, it felt like they were clearly missing something... even after the anime to support them, they still felt empty.

regix416_basic
regix416_basic

I've asked this on RPGamer, but got a kind of cryptic response... will the online play be free with the DS game? Also, how much is the normal game on the PC to play it now? Has it been reduced at all?

NecromancerAdr
NecromancerAdr

I've been playing it for a couple of hours and I think this game is really worthy. It feels like RO, but it would be more interesting considering that you are following a clearer story line.

kikitube
kikitube

How about the online multiplayer?

kikitube
kikitube

I played the PC. And I love it.

Denu1
Denu1

first day buy for me i love RO but havent played in a while, wish they had ninja class though.

Jonkenden
Jonkenden

@Xmaverick0x There is second jobs, but not the alternative ones. So no monk or crusader 1st job Sword Man Magician Archer Thief Acolyte Merchant Extended job Taekwon Kid Secondary jobs Knight Wizard Hunter Assassin Priest Black Smith Tae kwon master Special Jobs with spoiler warning Dark Knight Shaman End of spoiler There is also rebirthing but no transcendant jobs (But I think you do get extra skill points?) and two unlockable skills for every secondary job

nyczzz2
nyczzz2

RO as in Ragnarok Online and Ragnarok DS are obviously different just by common sense. No way will the DS game be similar to its Online counterpart nor is it correct to compare the two. Its rather hard to compare the DS game to RO at all since experiences playing online are clearly different. If anything, Ragnarok DS places the player in the RO world we are familar with and adds a actual story line to it.

MeMosh
MeMosh

I played this game a while ago, imported, it sucks belive me, the skills are all changed into pathetic versions of themselves, story is weak, etc, not a real RO experience at all

xMaverick0x
xMaverick0x

ALso it would be sweet a nice PVP arena

xMaverick0x
xMaverick0x

the real question... can you have 2d jobs? and if it so is there trancedent jobs as well?? what kind of maps do the DS ver offers? i imagine since there is a blacksmith they are in geffen i wonder if Prontera exist around there

Kcube
Kcube

I still play this online and its really fun and addictive.I hope the DS version captures the fun of its PC counterpart.

ryok34
ryok34

Hope it will be better than its PC counterpart.

taddia
taddia

its like porting a mmorpg and muting it into a single player role playing game, with a touch of online limited to a single, and boring looking mode.. i was looking forward to this but looks like we will have to wait for the very first ds mmorpg 8(

Quezakolt
Quezakolt

The WiFi multiplayer options seems to be lacking... like, a lot.

greenarcher02
greenarcher02

as far as characters go, i think it has nothing to do with the manga.. just the lore and the world....

starduke
starduke

I have to wonder if it has anything to do with the magna. I want to play as Loki!

BLuFAlc0n
BLuFAlc0n

Best MMO EVER! I know it's different on DS, but it's still awesome! It's more on story than MMO..

Sophia
Sophia

@knighthero52 - only in the multiplayer mode, which was mentioned in the article.

freedom01
freedom01 moderator

I liked the pc version, but I wonder how the ds will be like. Well I gues we wont know till it comes out. Hope that it will be as good its pc counterpart though.

VXLbeast
VXLbeast

Hmm, wouldn't really call 3 person co-op an "MMORPG on the go".

knighthero52
knighthero52

can you customize the apperence other than job class choices eg hair clothes , gender?

JjaRaJaJja
JjaRaJaJja

this game rocked the pc. i wonder how it will do on the ds...

solidine
solidine

I played it on PC. I liked the SNES RPG look it had, but other than that it got old fast. MMO's always do. Of course, I guess this isn't really an MMO, but if it plays like one I have no interest in it. The lack of multiplayer for anything but one dungeon is also pretty harsh.

Ironfungus
Ironfungus

Ovirew, shut your mouth. Keep it that way, peasant. Don't open it again. Close.

Ovirew
Ovirew

I heard great things about this game for several years, and eventually got to try it one time. It absolutely sucked. It was the most boring piece of crap I'd ever played.

fattass21
fattass21

i have wasted so much time on this couple years back, lol glad to see it still going strong XD

Re_ensurer
Re_ensurer

Please get rid of those health bars under the characters and move it to the HUD display. lol I'm sorry. I just really don't like the look of it there, but everything else is looking great.

Dualmask
Dualmask

I've always wanted to play this game, heard great things about it, but I'm not much of a PC gamer. This gives me a chance to find out what the big deal is.

Jonkenden
Jonkenden

I already tried this game out, though the version I played was in a language I didn't understand I still found the gameplay pretty addicting. Some differences between the DS and the pc game can be a bit irking but in a whole it functions alot like the online game. I'd probably reccomend it to thoose that enjoy the online game for pc, it's a decent game. I'm definetly getting it, though I have to import the american version since this is not very likely to come to europe.

Megamanx266
Megamanx266

Outdated MMO on a DS with outdated mechanics... ya I'll pass. Now they need to hurry up and finnish RO2

SocialAnXieTy
SocialAnXieTy

It's hard to tell if this will be worth it or not since it seems to be mostly single player.. I don't know how well the gameplay would work with that in mind. It's a great MMO in my opinion, but as a single player I think it'd be weak.

Shadow_th
Shadow_th

@ Gelugon_baat Haha indeed, and same goes for the combat mechanics. I would be surprised if this game got past 7 on Metacritic.

soulless4now
soulless4now

This game sounds fun, but I still don't know if I want it or not so I'll wait until reviews are out for it next month.