A thoughtful and personal exploration of games

9Dragons – Impression

This is a little later than I would’ve liked, but I had an amazing time playing Civilization IV yesterday, so no worries. Here’s my impression of 9Dragons by Acclaim.

First of all, a few points of interest. I was required to move the camera via the right mouse button pretty much all the time. Whereas I frowned upon this in 2Moons, here it was more fluid and less of a burden. It could possibly be that I was having issues with 2Moons because I played that in the default windowed mode, or that 9Dragons runs at a lower resolution (that you can’t change… I don’t really mind that, but it would be NICE to have the option to change it). Either way, I had an easier time controlling the camera in 9Dragons.

Here’s a glimpse at the world of 9Dragons (great world map):

Big place, huh? Well, the locality I was in was mostly the training grounds for getting into the Wu Tang (the Tai Chi sword users). I started in Baiyun Village.

There’s more than one faction in the game: Wu Tang, Sacred Flower, League of Beggars, Shaolin, and a couple more that I can’t remember. Essentially it’s three “good” and three “bad” groups. You’ve got a wide variety of weapons from swords to axes to polearms to wheels (yes, wheels). I really appreciated the healing mechanic in this game. Everyone gets a self-heal where you meditate and you can regain your health and your chi (essentially mana).

Also, I really like how the names of the things you kill have different colors depending on your level. This next screen, I’m fighting a guy called “Timid Male Thief” (yes, there are “Timid Female Thief” and Aggressive and so forth) with his name in yellow which corresponds to him being slightly tougher than me, but it’s possible to kill him (and I did).

The skill training segment is particularly cool. In order to be able to use the skill you’ve just acquired at the skill trainer, you have to successfully train it up on a combat dummy. Here’s how it works: you talk to the trainer and buy a skill of your choosing. So, say you want “Basic Sword” and that’s what you shell out the coin for. Well, next you walk over to the combat dummies and (with your sword equipped) you double click the dummy and agree to start training. You get something like this:

Then you play a short mini-game where you have to left-click when the blue ball is in the red zone several times (there are three levels and each level requires 12 successes for a total of 36 successful clicks). I’ll show a “work in progress” on the next screenshot, but first I need to talk about something mildly annoying about the item system. It feels… I don’t know, kind of lacking. Here, let me show you:

Okay, the box on the right is your “bag” or inventory. I know you can get more bags, so space isn’t my issue. On the left is the character page and “paper doll” where you equip stuff. You can also access the bag via the character page and the bag will show up next to the paper doll on the right. If you left-click once on an item, you get a breakdown of what it does or is or whatever. If you right-click on it once, you equip/unequip the item (if that’s possible). It’s hard to explain, but I just feel that this equipment/item system is a little lacking. Like there’s nothing really special about it. The game’s primary focus is on learning and mastering the skills in the game and equipment/items feel a little tacked on to this. Looting is easy with frequent tapping on the spacebar (once per item nearby).

Those are really my only issues: the right click camera and the equipment/item system.

The things I love about this game are (to recap): meditation for healing and recharging (watch out though because you can get jumped when you do this), actually doing something to learn your skills (yay, mini-games!), obvious scaling of the enemies as you level (shown in their names over their heads), the disciple/master system (which I’d like to look into some more in the future), and the fact that the quests just pop out at you and are easy to find (and if there isn’t a quest for you to do, go level and one will show up, pretty much guaranteed).

I actually think I’ll leave 9Dragons installed for now so I can go back to it later and play around some more. I almost wish I could spend more time on it, but I’m still trying to nail down a play schedule for this project of mine and I’d like to give each game only a few days tops. I highly recommend giving 9Dragons a spin, if only to try out the nifty martial arts moves. I seem to recall that the magic or chi moves or whatever they’re called are particularly neat (I do remember having to do a lot of kiting as the caster though). In the meantime, moving on to the next game which will be ACE Online (another game I recall very clearly due to its relative uniqueness).

Until next time, Don’t Forget To Be Awesome!

– Elorfin


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