Control the streets… literally

Hidden away on the second floor of an office building in Madison, Wisconsin is one of the most creative and active tech companies one could imagine — and you’d never know it just driving by. PerBlue, the creators of the first-of-its-kind location-based RPG Parallel Kingdom, sit perched in for what most people would be a spacious layout. Then again, most people don’t have 35 employees crammed into the equivalent of a two bedroom apartment. But limited square-footage hasn’t cramped PerBlue’s growth, as evident with their upcoming release, Parallel Mafia.

In attempts to breathe air into the mafia game genre, PerBlue is applying their expertise in GPS location while improving on the often too generic formula. First and foremost, the game ditches the common text-heavy and menu-centric style that often comes with mafia titles in favor for some unique art designs that will be scattered across the Google Maps based landscape.

Parallel Mafia Parallel Mafia

Everything in the game is based off location, so a hospital in real life might indicate a hospital in the game. That said, you’ll be able to stake your own claim on land, building up store fronts that vary from something as innocent as a diner to as dirty as a strip club. Each location will have NPCs to complete jobs for, and every task completed at a business front will put more value into your claim on that area. By completing tasks, raiding businesses and building up your credibility at a certain location, you can further your domination of your own turf or take over land that was founded by other players.

While you’ll be looking to snag as much land as one mob boss can handle, you won’t be the only one. Players from around the world (Parallel Kingdom currently has 1,135,000 registered users with 13,000 playing any given day) will be looking to do the same. You can interact with them via a global chat and even trade items between one another on the Black Market or buy swag, avatar enhancements and other items off the Global Trade Market.

The economy in Parallel Mafia is sure to be booming with in-game items, but you can also drop a couple of bucks to land extra gear with the game’s freemium setup. While purchases are available, they’re in no way required; About 30% of Parallel Kingdom players have yet to spend a dime on the game. That said, the dedicated user base that logs into PK regularly drop an average of $95 on the game–an impressive number that speaks to the real addiction that PerBlue’s location-based MMORPGs can carry.

For a portable game, there is no lack of depth in gameplay. Picking up the ball that is so often dropped in attempting to create a mafia game title, PerBlue carries it to new lengths, adding a crafting system that benefits as much from random drops as it does from premium purchases. There is also a fairly lengthy skill tree that is made up of augments that players will aim to improve as they continue on their journey to control their turf.

PerBlue has been on the forefront of GPS gaming for some time, and they’re looking to make new waves when Parallel Mafia splashes onto iOS and Android devices. The game is available on April 4, 2012, but make sure you claim your username beforehand to land a couple special perks for early adopters. PerBlue is expecting over 2,000 players to be ready to go before launch, and plenty more will join up once the game is available. If the game is as good as it has the potential to be, you’ll want to be one of them. Plus, you should give these guys some money because when I visited, they were out of ketchup. So if nothing else, get these poor guys some condiments!