Mabinogi First Impressions Review

by Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor

The word “cute” is a subjective term, often used to describe something with big eyes, soft-looking fur, or bright colors. The realm of “cute” is a domain typically occupied by dolls, baby animals, and the occasional Ten Ton Hamster named Phil. Being deemed a creation of cuteness is often measured by a gender specific response; men may groan and roll their eyes while women may shriek with glee and rub their hands together with joy when they see the subject of a “cute” remark (although sometimes the opposite reaction may issue forth from men or women). Even with the subjective nature of cuteness, there are some objects that are just too damn adorable to call anything but cute.

In Mabinogi, you can choose to be a 10 year old child.

That is how I felt when I first laid my eyes upon Nexon’s recent arrival to the MMORPG scene, a game officially titled Mabinogi – Fantasy Life. With its cell-shaded, bright colored graphics and relatively light atmosphere, Mabinogi is a game that almost radiates cuteness.

Typically only referred to by the first part of its name, Mabinogi – Fantasy Life is the fourth game to be released in North American from the Korean-based Nexon Corporation, and all of the games have been rife with a persistent adorable factor. The cuteness has not frightened off potential customers, however, and Nexon has had an almost overwhelming amount of success marketing their games. In particular, Nexon’s MapleStory pulled in nearly 3 million registered users in North America alone, which is a huge number for any game.

At first, I was a bit hesitant to dive into the game, simply due to the level of genuine cuteness that I had seen from my preview at GDC and from the screenshots visible on the Mabinogi community site. But due to the previous success of MapleStory, my curiosity won the better of me and I jumped into Mabinogi with enthusiasm full-fledged enthusiasm. Even though the game was drizzled with a frosted coat of delightful art, it would have been improper to ignore a game simply on its artistic style.

From the outset of the game, my experiences within Mabinogi were incredibly smooth and easy. Like most free to play massively multiplayer games, installing and playing Mabinogi simply requires going to the game’s official website, downloading the game client, and installing the files located within. For those of you with a slower internet connection, you should be thanking your lucky stars. Mabinogi is only 859 MB, which is a paltry number compared to the multi-gigabyte downloads that often occur with the top tier North American titles. All in all, I was playing Mabinogi within 30 minutes of starting the download.

Along with hunting, players can also choose to do other jobs like milking a cow.

Starting your Mabinogi experience is much like what you’d expect from any standard MMORPG; you register for a free account, log-in, and proceed to create your in-game avatar. Upon entering the character creation screen, I experience one of my strangest moments in all of gaming. Unlike Mabinogi’s imported MMORPG brethren, there are vast assortments of options to pick from while creating your character. However, the strangest option – and one I’ve never seen in any MMOG to date – is the “Age” selector.

When you start off in Mabinogi, you get to determine your starting age, which ranges from 10 to 17 years old. There’s no restriction on who can play as a 10 year old, it’s simply one of the gameplay options included within Mabinogi (and really can allow for a character to excel). Although the age range is purely optional, Mabinogi is a “cute” game and should be very appealing to the younger generations. To me (and others on the Ten Ton Hammer staff), the age range seems like an odd detail to slip into a game that is easily played by adults. Perhaps I’m being paranoid, but don’t concerned parents already have enough to worry about without allowing their sons and daughters to play as in-game versions of children and attracting vile elements to them?
Thankfully, the age range choice isn’t a permanent selection. Through your experiences in the Mabinogi world, you’ll grow older and your character’s physical appearance will alter in significant ways. Not only will eating lots of food make you fat, but every Saturday, your character will also age a year, and once you’ve grown to the ripe old age of 25, you can choose to be "reborn" as a younger version of yourself. You won’t lose any of your abilities that you’ve learned, so you can continue to be the strong, stout warrior even when you do eventually experience a rebirth.

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