One monster of an RPG
Nintendo is never going to put a full-fledged Pokémon game on iOS, and mobile developers need to stop aping the franchise with their deluge of imitation monster collecting/battling titles. Instead, these studios should look at Hunter Island and likewise build a unique experience out of the core elements that make Pokémon a juggernaut in the first place. The mobile market will be a better place for it.
Hunter Island is a role-playing game that takes place in a land populated by strange monsters. These "Arkadions" come in different shapes and sizes, and can be captured and tamed by specialized trainers called Hunters. As is the case in Pokémon, tamed Arkadions are used to battle wild Arkadions. Hunters also use their Arkadions to work out personal problems through fights.
The story for Hunter Island also delves into war and familial strife, but it's all background noise against the hundreds of fights you engage in as you work your way through the game's world. Hunter Island may borrow its concept from Pokémon, but its battle mechanics are its own.
You command a long line-up of Arkadions, though only a few can battle at once. Your opponents are held to the same rule. Once an Arkadion is knocked out, another takes its place until you run out of monsters. Arkadions attack one another with various single- and multi-attacks that are learned through growth and evolution. The more powerful the attack, the longer the Arkadion has to wait for its next turn.
Elemental strengths and weaknesses are at play here, too: fire Arkadions are weak against water, water Arkadions are weak against air, air is weak against earth, and so on. It's a typical paper-rock-scissors triad, but it's still enough to add depth to the game's multitude of battles.
When you're not fighting and capturing more Arkadions, there are several towns to kick back in. You can take on quests for loot, fight in arenas for rewards, and take on other players in online battles (though the match-ups aren't particularly well-balanced, so you may get creamed).
Hunter Island is structured a good deal like Dragon Island Blue, another excellent iOS RPG/monster hunting title from ZigZaGame. Hunter Island's monsters are a bit more colorful than its predecessors', however, and the world feels more built-up in general. There's a lot here for a dollar.
The low asking price makes it no surprise that Hunter Island offers in-app purchases, but they're not necessary. Catching wild Arkadions requires silver, a currency that's easily earned through quests and battles. The lower the wild Arkadion's health, the more likely it'll be caught for a paltry sum. You can, however, use gold (the game's hard, purchasable currency) to make a quick catch 100% of the time regardless of the wild Arkadion's health. You can also buy high-quality Arkadion eggs with gold, as well as recipes that let you create new, powerful Arkadions by combining two others. Eggs and recipes can both be acquired in-game through quests.
Hunter Island isn't a Pokémon substitute, but it doesn't try to be. It's just a very decent RPG that provides hours of battling fun. It is, quite simply, its own monster.
- Addictive, deep monster-collecting and monster-battling gameplay. Lots to do. Good monster designs.
- Online battles are often mismatched, so you'll easily get destroyed if you're a beginner. More animation from the monsters would be nice.