On Video Games: TibiaME

TibiaME, an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) for mobile devices based on the PC game Tibia, answers the question, “What might an MMORPG have looked like on a Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis?” And that answer is pretty charming, from the adorable little sprites used for the players’ avatars to the upbeat MIDI-like soundtrack in the background. The game is a fun, functional adventure for anyone with some time to kill and a WIFI connection.

The PC (player character) begins by setting off for Aurea, a tiny coastal town on an island in the Tibian Ocean being threatened by dark forces, having just completed training as a wizard or a warrior (the two class options for TibiaME). The adventurer sets sail for Aurea to battle frogs, mean wolves, snakes, and scorpions as he or she takes on the quests of the Aurean citizens and soldiers in an effort to save the world.

TibiaMEGameplay is relatively simple. For touch screen devices, battles are composed of tapping the enemy to be slain. The game does the rest. The battle sound effects of swords slashing, warriors crying out from injury, and monsters hissing are a nice touch without overpowering the soundtrack. After an enemy is defeated, the PC earns the experience that leads to becoming more powerful with each level gained. Sometimes enemies drop items that can be collected by the PC to be equipped or used throughout the course of the game.

Item capacity is a bit of a problem. With a backpack able to hold nine items and an inventory depot capable of holding an additional two items, sometimes the distance between the nearest shop is too great for the reward so items are abandoned on dungeon floors. The controls for changing equipment are fairly easy, making quick changes possible, even in the heat of battle: just two taps with a finger on the screen and the new item in the backpack is replaced by the previously equipped item. This is assuming, of course, that there is room in the backpack for the new item in the first place.

The story progresses in a familiar, albeit repetitive pattern. Once a quest is complete, the player returns to the NPC (non-player character) who had given the quest. That NPC will then suggest seeking another character for the next quest. Upon receipt of the new quest, the PC goes into a dungeon of some kind to complete the quest, which was usually the slaying of a certain amount of enemies or finding a specific item. All of the beginning quests ensue in this manner. It was very reminiscent of early Final Fantasy franchise in a positive way. Not many modern RPGs capture the original fun of the older games so it is refreshing to experience a formula that had made those games so accessible.

The online aspect of TibiaME is non-intrusive. There are no advertisements interrupting gameplay as is the case with many free-to-play mobile games, though when a player dies, there is the option of buying “life insurance” in order to prevent the loss of experience and gold when re-spawned. Even this is easy to cancel, so there’s never the feeling of needing to pay in order to continue enjoying the game.

Other PCs wander the world with the player, their names appearing in green over their heads to differentiate them from the NPCs. Interaction with other PCs is a little cumbersome, forcing the player to navigate between several menus and then typing on a mobile keyboard, but the need to communicate doesn’t interfere too much with gameplay. Minimal communication facilitates teaming up to navigate particularly difficult dungeons. There are guilds that can be joined or created, with invitations being sent via letter.

All in all, TibiaME is a mobile MMORPG that has all of the fun of a full-sized MMORPG. The game has very few limitations, making it easy to forget that it is being played on a cell phone. The story is easy to follow, the quests are straight-forward (if a little redundant), and gameplay is intuitive. Wandering the world of TibiaME was a nostalgic treat and ten levels certainly was the beginning for this reviewer, not the end.

Check out TibiaME online.

Developer/Publisher: CipSoft GmbH
Platform: Most mobile phones
Release date: May 20, 2003

Kristi McDowell cut her sci-fi teeth on the works of Heinlein and Bradbury, Lucas and Roddenberry. She is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Lowell with a BA in English: writing. Her passions lie in comic books, video games, and pop culture. Her work can be found at her own site, Pop Culture Sushi, and at Women Write About Comics. She’s played in a rock band, worked in a comic book shop, and knows enough karate to fight crime.

Isotropic Discussion

Got something to say? Here's the place to do it. Don't let a touch of visiobibliophobia or prosopobibliophobia stop you from being heard.