MapleStory gets an extra life with a mobile game and 3D sequel

Logging into MapleStory in 2004 was like entering a different world, one filled with magic, community and ridiculously cute children's avatars. Today there are dozens of games that offer a similar experience, and many times better. But in the early 2000s, the free casual multiplayer MapleStory was unique and attracted fan videos, art and later to YouTubers. In 2009, MapleStory had reached an incredible 92 million players. A remarkable 36 percent of those players were under 18, and many of them probably grew out of the game over time.

While millions are still playing, their audience is a fraction of what it was before. At present, there is still a cult following of 14 million players, and Nexon, MapleStory parent company, has failed to attract new recruits and retain them. But the remaining players can spend money and help the game remain lucrative. The vast majority (70.3 percent) of the user base is now between 18 and 30 years old, which means that many of them now have jobs and can finance the elegant attire, equipment and battle skills of their characters buying prepaid cards or slipping your credit cards. which is what I did for a spell.

The problem has been that while South Korea received MapleStory 2 in 2015, it has not yet reached the US market. Now, Nexon released the sequel in a closed beta version in the Americas, Europe and Oceania, and briefly opened a mobile game MapleStory M in beta for Android. The original release may be declining, but these two games have the promise of reviving an old but beloved franchise. They might even inspire a new generation of MapleStory followers .

The president of Nexon America, Jungsoo Lee, tells him The Verge in an email interview that indicated that the long delay for MapleStory 2 in the US market was due to the time involved in "testing and locating the game through a series of closed betas for each region". It may seem strange for such an old game to receive this kind of attention from a great company like Nexon, but Lee says that his company knows "the power to play the long game". The closed beta of MapleStory 2 started on May 9, but there is still no official release date for him or MapleStory M .

As the original MapleStory aged, its daily active users were overtaken by cheaters and spammers. If you walk through the city called Henesys, where many characters sit idly by while their real-life counterparts get up to walk or drink, or to the free market where people trade, you'll find that junk mail occupies the largest part of the general chat, and it's hard to speak in edgewise. When hunting bosses that shed rare items, you can find cheats that run third-party programs to automatically take items before you can reach them. Both unpleasant occurrences, which became more common as the game matured, contributed to the steady decline of MapleStory .

For now, the beta versions of MapleStory M and MapleStory 2 have no bots and no trade between players is allowed, so there's no chance of being ripped off in a transaction. During the January beta, I tested Maplestory M on a Samsung Galaxy S8 and found a much more optimized version of the original desktop game. Instead of having to use the entire QWERTY keyboard and memorize string combinations for the characters, you only need to press a few buttons. As in the case of many other mobile games, your character moves only to search for destinations and even automatically searches for monsters so you can level up without much effort.




The city of Henesys in MapleStory M .

According to Lee, the team realized that grinding on the mobile phone was not ideal, so they created the auto-play mode "so players can enjoy" MapleStory mobile even after many hours of playback with a smaller screen. "However, the automatic mode is less efficient than an active player and you have the option to manually kill monsters and level up, if you are nostalgic for

If MapleStory M it seems that Nexon has just carried a The most manageable version of the original game on the mobile, then MapleStory 2 is the company turning the game into a completely different animal.The team director MapleStory 2 Minseok Shin says that " MapleStory 2 is not just a 3D conversion of the original MapleStory . While both games share some similarities, for MapleStory 2 we really went back to the drawing board and reinvented the game. "




My character, Shannon, flying over Tria with my saddle Balloon duckling, which is a fun and troll way to move.

Like many other recent multiplayer role-playing games that came out of Asia like Blade and Soul or Twin Saga MapleStory 2 has beautiful graphics, an overexcited plot about saving the universe from evil, and different classes to play in. The familiar characters are redrawn to be The sequel also eliminates the blocked classes by genre of the original game and the limited selection of appearances on the character creation page. (If you choose to play a demon killer in the original, you would have to spend money Real or look for a beauty coupon if you wanted to remove the character's natural gray skin and red eyes.) I chose to create a Berserker type warrior, a guy who has a pretty angry background story and competitive, but I could customize its appearance to be feminine and use pink curls and multi-colored eyes.

Game emphasizes personalization and individuality over generic preset values. He has the obsession to ask if you want screenshot any part of the game, and automatically saves screenshots in a designated folder on your computer. Perhaps the biggest indication of the game's ambitions is that you finally get your own house. I never realized this while playing the original game, but the old Maplers are essentially nomadic. MapleStory 2 solves this problem by providing you with a great old house so you can create your own corner of the game.




Executive Assistant Jun presents his new home with a touch of luxury.

Despite the switch to 3D, MapleStory 2 intelligently retains the key elements of the game and the narrative that made the original distinctive. Certain cities, such as the mushroom-filled, cheerful cottages of Henesys, and the cool, urban thieves' hideout that is the city of Kerning, are preserved and their music theme plays when you enter, bringing back a strong feeling of nostalgia. The story has evolved and added dozens of new characters, but the core of the story remains the same: it's the evil Dark Mage versus the beautiful goddess. The ever popular thief class is still available, as is the magician, the knight, the priest, the archer, the heavy gunner and the killer. Some less welcome elements of the original remain in place, such as the notoriously glitchy gaming launcher Nexon.

Still, once you're in the game, you can forgive a lot, since it's the community that really creates the fun experience At its core MapleStory is an online destination for friends come together, much like Club Penguin or Neopets . Unexpectedly I found my current boyfriend of almost three years through MapleStory when an inactive summer attracted us both to the game, and we have met several Maple friends in real life across the country. We keep in touch, even if none of us plays the old game much more. The people of MapleStory 2 seem nice enough for now. When I died and I was trapped by a tombstone, I wrote in the chat to ask for help, and someone actually approached me and revived me, before telling me that he had not helped me before because he thought I was a non-playable character because of my suspect simple username.




MapleStory 2 animated main city, Tria, on channel one, on a Thursday night during the beta.

It is difficult to predict where MapleStory 2 will go if it will capture that same dedicated audience as its predecessor, or if it will fall into the same traps that led to its demise. Some of the things that plagued the original game, such as DDOS attacks during a winter and random delay, are the result of age and outdated infrastructure. The game also has a limited amount of significant final content, which can bore the veteran players who recorded the main story.

Worst of all is that the old MapleStory had a pay streak to win through a function appropriately called Cash Shop. I was guilty of spending almost $ 4,000 in this game over the course of a year playing my character Mercedes, an elf queen who wields two bows. Every seemingly minor improvement to my wardrobe and battle statistics add up over time, resulting in a considerable sum. And I was not alone. Players who spend real money in the game have an extreme advantage compared to players without funds. Challenging bosses like Lotus, who can shoot lasers from all angles, while rocks fall from the sky, require multiple players with funds to join and win. (Fortunately, I was able to sell much of that equipment again, recovering almost half of what I spent in the game.)

Lee admits that this was a problem with the original game. "We have legitimately earned the reputation of publishing pay games to win," he says. "With our next list of titles developed specifically for the Western audience, we are trying to take it a step further by creating games that are truly free." He says that to maintain MapleStory 2 and ] MapleStory M from becoming paid to win, Nexon "no longer requires players to pay to obtain certain items necessary to win", and will reveal the Boot fees in advance, an increasingly common practice.

MapleStory M and MapleStory 2 will still have certain features that are alleviated with the premium currency, such as getting special cuts and eyes, faster transportation in cities and additional skill pages. But players are not significantly disadvantaged if they do not pay for those features. People have debated in the Nexon forums if the Korean version of MapleStory 2 is profitable and they have not reached any real consensus.

There is also the possibility of important changes that Nexon can introduce in its mobile and 3D versions of MapleStory . The developers of MapleStory M have said that while the game currently does not allow you to marry other players, if you add the marriage, there will be compatibility for LGBTQ weddings. That is a step ahead of the original Maple that did not allow same-sex marriage, in parallel to the real rejection of South Korea to legally recognize gay marriage. In a similar way, the specific works and classes are no longer linked to the genre, although the game only offers two genres. These changes are as significant as the updated charts, which helps move a 15-year game to today.

Recently, I logged on MapleStory 2 the main city, Tria, and the plaza looks so boisterous with life, it stays whenever a person jumps. But it's the good kind of delay that shows that the server is alive. Someone is playing all the great hits of the 90s, from "Barbie Girl" by Aqua to "I Want it That Way" by Backstreet Boys on the keyboard, a new feature added to MapleStory 2 . From this point of view, MapleStory seems the furthest from the dead since 2009.