WonderKing Online is a free-to-play 2D side-scrolling platformer MMO developed by the South Korean company Ryu & Soft and published in the United States by Ignited Games (EU by Bigpoint). At first glance, it’s very similar to Maple Story. I found myself in magical, glittering forests full of cute (but oddly hostile) critters and adorable characters to play alongside.
The control scheme leaves a bit to be desired and the game play is somewhat repetitive, but WonderKing works to relieve this by providing events, player interaction, and pretty things. Under the hood, the game runs on a fairly standard MMORPG progression system with levels, skills, quests, and monsters. In the driver’s seat feels like I’m playing through a very strange variation of an old arcade game.
When I log in, there’s no way to tell where my characters are stored. Fortunately I keep them in the first available server/channel so I can find them. Accidentally choose the wrong one and nothing is there… So just go exploring. The game utilizes an anti-hack shield by the name of Ahnlab Hacksheild. If you don’t like games that install what are essentially rootkits, keep that in mind.
There’s very little character customization to be had, but armor and weapons do change their look and feel.
The game is cute and it knows it. Although, there’s something a little bit demented in being asked to collect “Easter eggs” and discovering that there’s a rabbit-like creature called an “easter” which drops eggs when it dies… Not entirely what I expected.
Gameplay: 2D side-scrolling action here we come!
The game uses one of the most difficult control schemes I have ever encountered. Movement is controlled by the arrow keys in combination with Left ALT for jumping (double-tapping ALT will double-jump and double-tapping an arrow key will short-charge). The weapon is tied to Left CTRL. Spells and abilities work on A, S, D, F, Z, X, C, V. This makes the game a little bit odd to get used to after playing most common FPS, and MMORPG games which use ASDF/Space for movement. The worst part is that interacting with NPCs is done with mouse clicks! The game already requires both hands on the keyboard to play under most circumstances; but you must remember to move your hand over to the mouse in order to talk to an NPC.
(Note: The keyboard controls can be changed in the options screen.)
I found that I could get past most danger through judicious use of double-jump and most of the wildlife is not hostile (i.e. it won’t chase you down if you don’t shoot at it first.) The platformer elements are simplistic but the pieces of the terrain you can stand on aren’t always obvious; however, after first a region I eventually got used to identifying what could jump into pretty quickly.
There are four primary classes: Swordsman, your basic warrior; Mage, your basic ranged magic-user/healer; Thief, who are pretty much ninjas; and Scout, another ranged DPS class (but they get guns!) Each of the primary classes evolve into master classes starting at level 30. For example, Mages can become Priests (who turn into Saints at 80) or Wizards (who become Warlocks at 80.) There’s apparent plans for a third progression, but the details on those are sketchy; from the Mage example Saints would become Exorcists and Warlocks would become Necromancers. Each advancement comes with new and interesting skills as well as a slight shift in play style.
WonderKing introduces an interesting and new idea when it comes to party systems. In the game, I joined a party and was introduced to the idea of “party points,” which are basically a sort of social currency paid out to a partied up group who stay together for long enough. The leader of the party can choose to have the party points become experience or gold depending on their preference. People who stick with the party for long enough will get the points doled out to them on a regular basis as they remain in the group. Grouping up also provides a higher percentage of experience from monster kills.
Graphics/Sound: Cute, upon cute, and the monsters cry when I kill them.
At first glance the graphics are very simple. It’s sprite-based with background and foreground elements, NPCs and mobs have a few animations and sometimes wander around. Everything is very, very cute. In fact, the monsters themselves are cute and either weep or cry out in pain when they’re struck. In an odd sort of way, the landscape is full of monsters that look as if they’re being put-upon by the entire world as I beat them down for their goodies.
The little roly-poly pumas cry tears when I pummeled them and the bees in the hive that I invaded for its honey looked bored and somewhat until I ruined their day.
The NPCs all have both a very cute chibi form and a portrait—you get to view the portrait when you speak with them in dialog. The artwork for them commits to an adorable animé style in the “mature” portraits that fits well alongside the general art direction.
The sounds are also fairly arcade style. Background music becomes a bit repetitive after a while, but it’s catchy and subdued (and it’s not like I can’t turn it off if I want.) The spell and attack sounds are distinctive enough that I could tell who was slinging what when we were in the field—I joined up with a scout with an automatic bow and a thief—my spells mostly made wind-chime noises or bangs depending on what I was throwing at the critters in my way.
Mobs have a set of pain sounds they emit when they’re being scorched, sliced, pummeled, or beaten into submission. It goes well with the little tears glittering in their eyes. Most even have a cry of dismay as they die, such as the Carrot Man’s “Waaah!” or the puma’s “Eep!”
It seems to be random, but once and a while a intradimensional door opens up called a Wonder Door. Inside are vast loots and prizes! …and also carnivorous treasure chests out for blood. Getting a Wonder Door can be a fun experience; although I don’t look forward to it when I’m low on health. The room stays open for a limited amount of time and the treasure chests need to be beaten open with spells and weapons, but they do cough up items and gold like piñatas.
Conclusion: WonderKing is a perfectly decent casual, 2D side-scroller MMO with interesting gameplay
While I didn’t get the chance to jump into any events or PvP battles, but otherwise there’s a lot of depth to move through in the world. The NPCs all slowly deliver quests, there’s things to do, and after spending enough time in the field I would find groups looking for party members. With the party-system in place, WonderKing very much encourages people to randomly party up. It doesn’t really make it easy to chat though.
The game is pretty casual when it comes down to it. The mobs don’t possess that much danger as long as I was careful. Given the number of people playing, it was easily possible to find stuff to do, and groups to beat up cute animals with.
The game is constantly announcing events and developments. So it’s likely WonderKing will keep rolling out the goods and the players will keep sucking them in. For the purpose of this review I probably only explored about a 1/10th of the game. Your experience may vary, but there’s a lot more than what is in this review available for you to encounter.