The similarities basically end there, however. Iruna Online is one of the newer stock of mobile MMOs that show mobile massively multiplayer gaming is really here. It should not be shocking or surprising anymore. Just as in the PC market, we are going to see many titles stream from the Eastern market. Many of them will be duds, but many will also be very, very cool.
"While it does seem like the trend is slowing lately, many independent and foreign developers stay silent on this much of the time."
The controls in Iruna Online are standard for smartphone use, sort of. You drive your character on the screen using a touchpad and control the camera using your right finger or thumb. It works smoothly for the most part except for the fact that the camera control touchpad appears only within a small area in the bottom right-hand corner. The mobile MMOs with the best controls have either a much larger touchpad area or a touchpad that appears anywhere you put your finger or thumb within a certain side of the screen. The camera is also a bit too sensitive with no options for tweaking. I'd like to see more mobile MMOs have more options for the cameras like a follow cam (a camera that follows the character, behind the head) or switching touchpad sides. What if someone wants to drive the character with his right hand? No-can-do in Iruna Online.
Many of these options might come out later, of course. But then again, they might not.
Quests are from the classic (and boring) book of kill-10-rats and fetch-10-items. There is even a small NPC at the beginning of the newbie starter area who explains to new players the four main types of quests they can expect to see in the game. It was honestly a bit depressing to see the developers of the game admit defeat right from the beginning and lay out the long, gray road that players could expect to slog through. I have been playing MMOs for around 13 years now, and the last thing I wanted to see, especially in the hip genre of smartphone MMOs, is an explanation of the same old boring quests. Luckily, the little guy hands out a few of the quests to show just how standard they are, but it's not much to get by on.
Playing the game with my thumbs while holding the phone up is rarely my preferred style. I usually play for shorter bursts, around 30 or 45 minutes, and play with the device sitting on something. Smartphone developers have got to be aware of the issues with playing on a small screen. It's not that it is a bad experience, but developers have got to know its limitations. Spacetime Studios smartly allows players several ways to play, but even from the beginning, before those devs added such features as browser versions of all of their titles, they allowed players to jump in and out while on coffee breaks or while waiting at the doctor's office. That's smart design, and it explains much of the studio's success.
In the end, Iruna Online just felt like another bland MMO, mobile or not. Of course it is early in its development so things can very well change for the better. I will keep it on the old 'droid for now and will continue to check back for updates. Hopefully, before too long, the game will shape up and become much more than it currently is.
Each week in MMObility, Beau Hindman dives into the murky waters of the most accessible and travel-friendly games around, including browser-based and smartphone MMOs. Join him as he investigates the best, worst, and most daring games to hit the smallest devices! Email him suggestions, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.