Pocket Kingdom Review

Developer: Sega Publisher: Nokia
Release Date: November 15, 2004 Also On: None

I really, really wanted to like Pocket Kingdoms. An online game for the N-Gage that actually used the Arena in a worthwhile way appealed to me. Kingdoms has so many things going for it that it is almost hard to believe that it didn’t come together as a handheld masterpiece. But with everything that Kingdoms has going for it, something goes wrong.

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Pocket Kingdoms is an online strategy game, not a MMORPG as some, including myself, were lead to believe. Players build up their individual kingdoms by purchasing units and upgrading them by fighting or equipping them with various weapons. Having a ‘noob’ interact with an experienced player is highly unlikely because of a much welcomed level system that prevents uneven matches.

The upgrade system is relatively deep for a handheld game and may be slightly overwhelming for players who are unfamiliar to this type of game. After building an army and upgrading their equipment, players can begin to challenge each other. The actual fighting is not controlled by the player; it’s executed by commands chosen before the battle and for the most part works adequately. The non-real-time-fighting helps alleviate any lag experienced online, but is unfortunate because it would have been nice to be in the middle of the action, instead of watching from the sideline.

While there are numerous things going for it, there are some glaring shortcomings that are impossible to ignore. If one of your players is eliminated during a battle, the item he was carrying will be lost forever. This may not have been a problem if obtaining new weapons wasn’t such a hassle. To make one simple weapon, there are approximately 20 menus to navigate through. The menu system itself may be user friendly, but navigating through seemingly endless menus becomes tiresome very fast.

While it is an annoyance to constantly rebuild weapons, it is even more of an annoyance when one of your players becomes eliminated for good. Not only is the weapon lost, the time that was spent upgrading the player is wasted. Although this does not happen often, it still makes me want to throw my N-Gage against the wall. Losing one unit means having to invest a serious amount of time to rebuild another one to the level required, not to mention any time that it takes to build another weapon. That is definitely not an enjoyable playing experience.

The graphics in the game are nice and crisp, although not something you would show off to your friends, but it is definitely a job well done. The map screens have colorful backgrounds and detailed castles and the battle scenes have cartoon looking characters reminiscent of Metal Slug. While not setting a new watermark for the N-Gage, the graphics work very nicely.

I hardly listened to the sound as it became tiring quickly and embarrassing while playing the game in public. Although not bad from a technical standpoint, it wasn’t anything close to good. However, on a more positive note, it fits the mood of the game very well.

A good idea that came very close to having good execution was hampered by things that could have been fixed in another month or two of development time. Pocket Kingdoms ends up being a game that might entertain for a few hours, but the annoyances catch up to you quickly and most will grow tired of it. It’s a shame, because it could have potentially been a great game and I honestly wanted to enjoy it.

Graphics: 7.5
Sound: 4
Gameplay: 6
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 6
Final: 6.5
Written by Chris Review Guide

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