MapleStory Cave Crawlers: More digital diversion than dungeon diver

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MapleStory Cave CrawlersBut that's what mobile gaming is all about, right? Well, it doesn't have to be, and especially not at $1.99. MapleStory creator Nexon and mobile game developer Iqubi recently released the latest iPhone rendition of the MapleStory franchise. Titled MapleStory Cave Crawlers and dubbed as a one-touch dungeon crawler game, the idea behind this portable MapleStory adventure is crystal clear. Unfortunately, there are numerous alternatives that are both cheaper and more entertaining.

Cave Crawlers puts players in control of either a warrior or a thief as they venture deep into forests, icy mountains and other treacherous areas in search for--what else?--a good fight and some shiny treasure. Players can control the entire game using just a single thumb, which is perfect for times when you're preoccupied with, say, waiting in line. However, don't expect to be blown away should you decide to sit down and devote serious time to crawling through miscellaneous caves.

As either the brawny warrior or sneaky thief, whose only differences appear to be their looks, the skills they learn and equipment they can throw on, players tap on dungeon tiles in search of spots that hide treasure chests. These chests normally hold simple-but-useful items like potions and portal scrolls to get back to town easily. However, almost every tile hides a monster underneath, which throws players into the (lean) meat of Cave Crawlers: the combat.

MapleStory Cave Crawlers in action

MapleStory Cave Crawlers King SlimeBringing the hurt to the baddies is controlled using a single finger, too. In order to attack, you must follow a sword icon as it travels across a line. Tapping the screen at just the right time will result in your warrior or thief walloping the enemy with a critical hit, but poor timing could result in a miss. For what it's worth, Iqubi has quite a bit of fun with the combat system, throwing players curve balls every chance it gets. Some enemies, like a forgettably-named plant creature, both have segmented combat lines and can paralyze your character, causing the cursor to skip rather than move slowly.

Of course, it wouldn't be a MapleStory game without some adorable humor. For instance, whenever a snail creature appears, the combat cursor will move unbearably slow, with the critical hit segment at the end of the line. This, coupled with Nexon's signature animations, leaves Cave Crawlers filled with charm and character. However, this game needs more than charming looks to justify its premium price. Just under two bucks is premium when stacked up against competitors like Fruit Ninja, Words With Friends or Angry Birds, all of which are after that same gamer on the go for less. (Cave Crawlers is on sale now for $.99, but only through the holidays.)

While MapleStory Cave Crawlers makes an effort to add replay value with randomized dungeons and boss battles with unique spins on the combat like dividing enemies, you're still doing the same thing over and over: walking over tiles and tapping in time. Similar complaints can easily be lobbed at its competitors, but those games present more gripping play hooks like physics-based puzzles, cerebral competition and--in Fruit Ninja's case--simply satisfying action. Cave Crawlers, like most MapleStory properties, is wonderful fan service. Sadly, its one-touch play just doesn't have teeth compared to cheaper, more compelling alternatives. Of course, nothing will stop the hardcore MapleStory fan, so:

Click here to buy MapleStory Cave Crawlers for iPhone >

Have you tried Cave Crawlers for iPhone yet? What do you think of MapleStory's mobile game offerings so far? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.

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