Switching Up the Game
I remember quite well the first time that I played Maple Story. It was right around 2011 and I had been playing World of Warcraft for about five years already. WoW had become my only video game; it was the one title that I had played for that whole time. I was tired of orcs and elves and demonic invasions and all of the mindless grinding. I needed a new game to play, one that was free. That is when I discovered the original Maple Story.
I immediately fell in love with the game. The MMO reminded me of the old side-scrolling adventure games that I had grown up with. It had a cute anime aesthetic that and also featured online MMORPG elements that allowed me to play with others. It was the switch that I needed, and it remained my go-to game for nearly two years.
Of course, just like everyone else, I eventually went back to playing WoW, but Maple Story remained a fun escape from time to time. I knew that Nexon was creating a sequel, but I had no idea when it would launch in America. Since 2015, players on the other side of the “pond” have been able to enjoy Maple Story 2 without a hitch, while us Americans have feverishly watched them enjoy the renovated sequel. Well, the time has finally come, and Maple Story 2 has officially launched to North American players.
How does this game measure up to its predecessor and competition? Let’s find out!
Breaking the Dimensional Barrier
Maple Story 2 is a loosely connected sequel to Nexon’s 2003 cult hit, Maple Story. The story of this game takes place in a magical realm called Maple World. There is a very generic plot based around a good goddess whose champions have banished the darkness from Maple World. That would be a reference to the first game. Now, in classic Asian literary fashion, the darkness that was once banished has now returned, for some reason. It is now up to some new heroes in Maple World to push the darkness back and bring about the peace and happiness that the world was made for. And guess what…you are that hero! Surprise!
For players who are familiar with the original game, they will immediately notice that the graphical design of the title is far different. The first Maple Story was a 2D side-scroller with limitations on where the characters could go. This made the game feel more like a “Metroidvania” than an actual open-world experience. Maple Story 2 has added a whole new dimension to the gameplay, making Maple World a 3D landscape and allowing for the character to traverse the various zones that connect this world.
A Familiar Friend
Throughout playing the free-to-play title, I have come to find that this game truly feels like the natural sequel to the first Maple Story. Everything from the classes to the platforming is brought directly from the initial game, and it has even been expanded upon. This game has added a few new classes to the mix, as well as live voice acting that is not terrible. The story, though somewhat generic, is entertaining and engaging, and each class gets to have their own path to follow. The content that is available is pretty sizable considering that this game costs nothing to play. Sure, some microtransactions will give the player extra cosmetics and the such, but one can quickly get the best gear without paying a dime.
The graphics and game controls are pretty standard for Maple Story 2. Many OG players will want to use the keyboard like the “good old days,” but I have found that using a Steam or Xbox controller allows for the best movement when the action gets intense. And trust me, this game might not look like it, but the battles can be incredibly harsh. Players are pitted against hordes of monsters, and since there are no factions in this game, each player can pitch in and help. I have found myself scrambling for safety as I try and reload my “steampunk” cannon to take a couple of pot shots at a couple of baddies. If you want a challenge, you will find plenty in Maple World.
An Easy Open World With Limits
Maple Story 2 may be called an MMORPG, but the fact remains that this game can be traversed with minimal help. As intense as the fights can get, the design of the game allows the player to take on the most difficult enemies with relative ease. Most quests will reward the player with either new armor or health potions, and it is not unusual to go into a massive fight with over 200 health potions at one time. This game offers plenty of carrots with very little stick for losing.
Exploration is a big part of the Maple Story experience. In this game, however, exploration is directly tied to the story. If a character wants to progress further on the map, then they must progress further in the story. This places plenty of limitations on the player when it comes to making choices. In most open world MMOs, the player can choose to gravitate from the main quest if they so choose. That is unfortunately not the case for this game.
A big part of the MMO experience is character customization. As fun as it is to create one’s avatar, I have found that Maple Story 2 limits that experience significantly. You see, I am a bald man with a beard, and I like my avatars to reflect that. I can not do that in this game. To be honest, I couldn’t even give my avatar facial hair. This shows me that Nexon wishes to have an army of baby-faced brawlers taking on the forces of evil.
The Final Verdict
As of now, I have logged in a little over 20 hours into this game and I plan on putting in much more. It is a fun game plays quite a bit like the original while still presenting players with a fresh experience as a standalone title. The maps and gameplay can be a little restrictive, but all of that is balanced out by the fast-paced gameplay and fun platforming mechanics.
This game is free-to-play and can be downloaded on Steam. With all of this said, Maple Story 2 gets 8 chibi’s out of 10 because those Maple characters are just too darn cute! They really could use some good facial hair though.