A recent trend in video games (especially with the invention of apps, being very poor quality games you can get on your smartphone) is to give the game away for free and then include multiple ways in the game for the player to pay money. This seems like a fairer shake than video games of old, because you can try the game before you pay any money into it. The only problem with this idea is we’re still learning about the best way to impliment this practice and many of the companies who try are falling far short. The biggest offender that I know of is Mobage, a company who will not produce a game that is on the level. The game I’ve chosen to focus my awesome attention on is Blood Brothers, a game much like a trading card game (say Magic The Gathering. Yes, I played that one too) but with much simpler rules about how a battle is supposed to go. You can collect different “cards” or “pieces” or whatever you want to call them, and level them up and combine them together to make them more powerful. Thus, odds are excellent if you get a random card you will have to spend more time or money to get up to seven more of the same card (eight is the maximum amount you can merge into one). Thus no one will ever be bored right away because they lucked out and got a bunch of really good pieces. There’s always more work to be done.You play the role of a vampire who has broken out of an Empirial prison and are on the path to destroy the head of the Empire, some guy whose name I can’t remember because the in game content does not yet get you anywhere close to battling him. You’re introduced early on to Gina, an annoying woman who fights with you early on (something like the first four levels out of a hundred and seventy levels) and then sticks around to sass talk any tough opponents your group runs into. She’ll tell them what an ass-whooping they’re about to recieve, then step aside and let everyone else do the fighting. The only plus side is she drinks some poison on the way and almost dies. Almost being the key and tragic word here. The rest of the “story” mostly is about each zone (The dwarfs build machines in their underground caverns! Deep!) and is really completely useless to playing the game. Sometimes they give you interesting tidbits about zones they will likely never release. In fact, I daresay this blog is longer than the entire story if you put it all together. Having Gina around is akin to having a date who constantly tries to pick fights with people you don’t want to fight. If you’re new to this concept the best way I can describe it is: Annoying. The clever trick about Blood Brothers, though, is you can get some free cards for playing the game. These free cards are most often terrible, only really there to get people hooked on the idea of gambling on getting something good. There are also paid for pacts you can buy to get multiple “rare and up” cards, seemingly being a better shot at getting good, but near as I can tell from reading anything anyone has to write about them, virtually the same garbage but this time for real money. Speaking of which, my favourite part is that you dig up your new familiars from a graveyard with the help of Lada, a crone who exchanges coins for coffins but somehow also cares not for money. That’s right, folks, you can exchange coins that you can get in the game for free or you can use coins that you purchase for money in exchange, but somehow the person you’re exhanging them with doesn’t even care for money. My only guess is that Lada cares a great deal for cocaine, which is what she spends the coins on as soon as she gets them. I’m uncertain if this is indicitive of how things go at DeNA headquarters. If you don’t care about money then why is it the only possible condition for exchange?
That terrible twelve second music loop is there to stay, as well. Don’t go thinking just because you’re using a device that can hold thousands of songs you’re going to be able to listen to your own music and play a game at the same time. Trying to talk on the phone with your friends? I hope you like lame music. If you turn the volume down your conversation volume drops too, so it doesn’t matter. People have been suggesting a sliding bar that allows you to mute the music for the better part of a year now but since the music is in no way related to ravaging your wallet, Mobage has no plans in the near or distant future to figure out how to simply not play a song. We’re talking about the addition of one boolean variable and a single line of code here. It’s never going to happen. I could write the code for them for free in about ten minutes. They’re not interested.
I know that games of this nature have to be on a public server that is running all the time and that servers such as those cost money to run. I understand that the people who are paying the money for the game are the ones who are making it possible for everyone else to play. Hell, I’ve even spent ten dollars on the game. I think that’s more than I’ve spent on any other app, too, so I guess I’ve at least paid some of my dues. Why wouldn’t I pay any more, though? Well, because I’m not an idiot. You see, the better your deck gets in Blood Brothers, the harder the competition you’re put up against. That’s right. If you suck you get put up against other people who suck just as much as you do and you get roughly the same points. The better your familiars get the better the people you’re battling get, meaning spending money on the game is completely pointless. You’re better off playing it free and terribly and never learning anything about the game. Paying money only makes the game arbitrarily more difficult and likely ends up costing you more money. The game seems as though you’re playing against other people but you’re really just playing against numbers that are systematically designed to ultimately make you lose and spend more money. I wrote a blog a little while back about The Tic-Tac-Toe Chicken, I’d like for you to understand that Blood Brothers is the fancy, jazzed up, electronic version of that Chicken.Most of the games Mobage has to offer are of a similar ilk once you strip the pictures away. I’m pretty sure the Marvel game is an almost exact duplicate. If you want to play make sure you always have your worst cards in your front line so you get paired with other garbage players. It’s way easier to reach the lofty point goals they have set for you when you’re not going up against Captain Wallet and the Credit Card avengers. It only becomes a contest of who is willing to spend the most money at that point. Having the best deck in the game will not get you very far. The only way to win events is to either save up items over the course of half a year and use them all at once or, you guessed it, spend a lot of money. Just don’t joke yourself about getting anything for it.
[Edit] A lot of people come to this blog looking for games “like” blood brothers. While This Game is not like Blood Brothers, it is an MMO in which you can pay or play for free, so if that’s what you had it mind maybe you should check it out. It’s actually balanced and fun.