Before I began working in the gaming industry, video games occupied a very traditional space in my brain. I would go home, sit down in front of the TV with a cup of tea or hot chocolate, pick up that controller and lose myself in a fantasy world. Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Kingdom Hearts never failed to keep me engaged and made me wish I could jump into the screen and live in a different reality.
It was not until I got my hands on a Nintendo DS and Chrono Trigger and the subsequent Zelda DS titles that I realized I could have that similar engagement on a handheld device on a plane or a bus (Pokemon Red on my old Game Boy counts as well but that elementary school, before I started identifying as ”gamer”).
Then the gaming industry introduced me to a growing market I was not previously aware of: iPhone games. At first, iPhone games to me were casual gaming experiences. Pick it up, get addicted, try to beat your high score in five to ten minute increments until you can’t anymore, or until another game gets your attention.
Then along came Empire Online, developed by TriplePoint client Lakoo, a Hong Kong-based studio that was already very successful in the Asian market with the original Chinese release of Empire Online. Yes, Empire Online is an MMORPG on not a PC but an iPhone. Armed with my iPod Touch, I eventually created a character (a Kung-Fu fighting Eastlander) and entered the handheld world. Before me was a colorful, vast world reminiscent of old school RPGs that even brought me back to my college days playing the Chrono Trigger re-release on my DS. In front of me were 5 million other players, already living in empires they build on their own conquered land. I, a powerless n00b, got my first taste of battle by battling NPC bandits and experiencing turn-based combat in its most traditional form. Like 148 Apps so cleverly noted, all iPhone-wielding MMORPG fans can kiss their free time goodbye as their online gaming ambitions can now be fulfilled away from the desktop computer.
Empire Online proves how much fun can fit on a smartphone, and has already received much positive feedback from US players eager to join the ranks of existing veteran players in Asia.
Thanks to my DS and now my iPod Touch, my gaming experience follows me everywhere—from my living room to my handheld device and to the Frisky Mongoose and TriplePoint blog where I have documented those amazing memories of play. If you too want in on the action (in English), download Empire Online for free on the iTunes App Store.