Written by: Kaminin
Brave Frontier is a fantasy RPG, and one of the best mobile games I’ve ever played. BF originally piloted in Japan where it quickly became the number one classic style RPG. Game developers, Gumi, subsequently released another version of the game for the rest of the world. While the international version was released on December 13th, 2013, it already has over three million downloads. As a player myself, let me explain to you why this game is so successful.
At the forefront and heart of Brave Frontier is its highly entertaining battle system. With a style similar to Pokemon and Final Fantasy, Gumi creates a world where you, the Summoner, control and collect units. During battle, each of your five unit can attack or defend. As battle progresses, your units collect Battle Crystals that charge a unique and powerful Brave Burst move, similar to Final Fantasy. Add in the passive leader ability, various elemental affinities, and diverse item set, and you have a brilliant combat system. This system is simple enough to easily grasp, but deep enough to require calculated strategy. As you contemplate the approximate damage to yourself and your enemies, you will be taken away to pure gaming bliss.
This battle system is supported by the various modes of the game: Quest, PvP and Weekly Events. Because mobile games must work with limited memory and processing power, Gumi decided to invest a large proportion of their resources towards the battle system. Consequently, they use a simple story system to frame the gameplay. To create the storyline, Gumi likely looked to Visual Novels (complete with anime art). As you move from one quest area to another, Tilith, your companion, converses with you, advances the plot, guides you through new worlds, and explains the many parallel quests. The balance between story and gameplay is perfect, and only adds to the experience on the Brave Frontier.
One drawback of BF is the PvP system, also known as the Arena. Though somewhat addictive, it oftentimes causes frustration over anything else. Essentially the PvP system works by first randomly pairing you up to another Summoner. Then based upon a few basic stats, you decide if you want to battle them or not. If you agree, you will be placed in a match where the AI controls everyone’s units. As you progress though, fighting other gamers, you earn Arena Points and gain rank. Each new rank gives you new items or gems that can’t be obtained any other way (the only reason I even bother with the Arena). The problems is the s****y AI. It frustrates me to no end. I know for a fact my units are better than the other player’s. Yet, since the AI attacks the wrong element, doesn’t use a Brave Burst, or heals at the right time, I just sit there and watch my units unnecessarily die. The only reason I ever choose to duel in the Arena is to earn rewards and partake in the primal joy of destroying another player, validating the strength of my own units. While I understand it is only fair that both teams have the same AI controlling them, I believe players should be judged based on their decision making, not just the strength of their units.
There are many good mobile games that people simply binge and throw away. That is just not possible with Brave Frontier. Gumi have employed an Energy-Experience system in Quests; levels cost more energy as you progress, but give you more experience. With energy recharging over time this may seem annoying, but it only helps you control the insatiable craving to play BF. Because of the emphasis on unit leveling and evolution, you can see progress in many different ways—not just overall experience. Because of the numerous characters and quests, Brave Frontier creates a very multidimensional gameplay that harbors continuous progression and growth without level grinding. No matter your level, there is always linear progression that doesn’t ever plateau, allowing you to always find something new.
The real genius of this game is in the units themselves. Gumi has created a game with many units that require carful team management in order to build a squad that exemplifies unit strength and overcomes unit weakness. To level up your units, you fuse them with other units summoned during battle or obtained via the Summoner’s Gate. Though nontrivial, effective leveling of your squad creates such a sense of accomplishment and pride. Because summoning new units is random, there is a chance of a bad summon. This is a necessary risk to take because many of the best units can only be obtained this way. Luckily upon leveling up and evolving most any unit from the Summoner’s Gate, you end up with a decent addition to your squad.
Given the highly competitive market and business of gaming, I really appreciate the great Customer Service of Brave Frontier’s creators. When the servers were down unexpectedly, I wrote a simple complaint explaining a personal issue I had with the game (as I’m sure thousands of other did). That same day, I got a personalized response, answer my questions, and fair compensation for my problem. I was blown away! The creators aren’t greedy either. To play and have fun in BF, you do not need to buy extravagant upgrades or items, though they do help out a lot. There is simply a great balance between all aspects of the game.
The ultimate test of all online games is sustainability. Even if an online game is fun, it can still flop if the hype dies down and the developer loses its fan base. Because the Japanese edition of this game uses a more advance version, I believe Gumi has many awesome features still to come to Brave Frontier. With this game’s entertaining gameplay, great storyline, exciting battles, unique units, and wonderful services, I believe this game has what it takes to overwhelm the mobile market and become the new must have game.