Yslandia is an MMORPG for the iPhone, and a difficult game to review. It plays well, and is stuffed to the brim with fun times and cute graphics. Unfortunately, an MMORPG has to stay online in order to be, well, an MMORPG. Yslandia’s online capabilities should be its defining characteristic, otherwise graphics and gameplay don’t mean a thing. But it’s hard to stay online with the game for five minutes before getting booted off.
The story behind Yslandia is pretty standard MMORPG fare: The Simeh’a Alliance is at war with the Zaa’me Coalition. In the end, it’s all just an excuse to go out there and grind ’til you vomit. You choose your race and your class at the start of the journey, and there are a pleasing number of options to go with. The problem is, starting up can prove to be a lifelong quest on its own.
Really, though, it’s just a D-pad.
To enter the world of Yslandia, you have to choose a name, provide an email, and enter a security code to confirm that you’re not a bot. The code, however, is maddeningly difficult to read, and if you botch it up, you have to re-enter your name and email address.
When you do nail the code, all you have to worry about is connecting to the server long enough to make your character and start playing. Too bad connecting to the server and staying on it long enough to accomplish anything is a herculean feat. Forget connecting over a 3G network, and if you manage to wrangle something out of Wi-Fi, you’ll be purged quickly because of a dropped connection or server maintenance.
The sparse number of players on the available servers probably indicates this isn’t an isolated problem. Even Yslandia’s central hub is a ghost town. There’s rarely anybody to talk to or engage in PVP. Of course, obscurity and bad servers aren’t enough to keep away the scummier players: Already, Moving Player has had to endure attacks from hackers.
Bleed in the streets!
Yslandia’s struggles with connectivity are really heartbreaking, because there’s a lot the game does right– as long as you’re not expecting World of Warcraft from an iPhone MMORPG.
The world is dotted with monsters bursting with vendor trash for the taking, and slicing them up is a comforting distraction. The graphics are simple and rely on a hyper-chibi style, but it suits the small iPhone screen. Moving your little warrior can be done with a faux joystick, or simply by tapping your destination on the screen. You’ll have a good time until lag bogs down your character during a bloody fight, or until the server simply drops you altogether.
With any luck, Moving Player will perform some heavy-duty upgrades that will help Yslandia stay online long enough for people to actually enjoy it. But until that happens, it’s a difficult title to recommend.