Wednesday 1 November 2017

Phobos Children's Fun JRPG-Infused Tap Battles

When a friend recommended me indie studio Mirai Labo’s smartphone game Phobos Children, I was pleasantly surprised to see their take on a JRPG-inspired battle system as it was said to be an action-puzzle RPG. Interestingly, Phobos Children makes its own combat style that combines ideas from JRPGs and puzzles with the handy touchscreen to make an involved experience that relies on tapping bubbles to attack in a fun and unique way. As a fan of JRPGs and rhythm games, Phobos Children’s combat reminds me of both in an addictive way that makes me want to keep playing it.

The combat of Phobos Children uses a fairly simple concept that ends up being smart in its execution. In order to attack the enemy and defend your army, you must tap the bubbles coming across the screen, specifically three of a matching colour. By doing this, the enemy gets hit and you can avoid damage. If you’re fast, you can execute a lot of these in quick succession to keep your party protected and win. If you're really fast, you can earn yourself a damage multiplier that makes you attacks more potent and gets you to the next round faster. At the start of Phobos Children this was quite easy, but since being on the third part of its story mode, more bubbles are falling and it’s becoming more of a fun race to tap the right bubble in time before I get overcome with a bunch of enemy hits.
The thing that makes Phobos Children’s battles feel interesting is that it feels similar to JRPGs, rhythm and puzzle games, and yet it feels like its own unique battle style. Deciding which coloured bubble will allow more combos is a unique strategic element, getting the timing right requires a little bit of rhythm and time, and the use of attack power, character levels and upgrades brings in the JRPG side of things. Since I'm not that far in Phobos Children, there’s potential for more mechanics that take inspiration from these genres to show up as well. Regardless, so far it’s a great blend of genres  that takes advantage of the hardware in it’s own interesting and innovative way that makes it fun to play.
Phobos Children’s systems are a smart and simple blend of a lot of different and interesting genres and the way it reminds me of two of my favourites make it really addictive for me. Not only that, but since its smartphone game battles don’t take very long, I’m finding myself looking for excuses to crank out a little bubble-popping whenever I can. The rest of the game is also improving, with localisation getting better as it becomes updated, so with its battle system I feel like it shows a promise as a unique smartphone title if it keeps improving itself. Although this kind of system isn’t the traditional JRPG battle style fans of the genre are used to, I like what Mirai-Labos have come up with for smartphones and encourage anyone who thinks this sounds interesting to give it a try for some quick and different JRPG fun.

What’s your favourite smartphone JRPG? What are you favourite games that put a twist on JRPG mechanics?
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