Mabinogi Preview

By Michael Justice

Our dear friends at Nexon decided to pick up this little MMORPG called “Mabinogi” and translated

it, mainly due to the fact that it received staggering amounts of popularity in Japan. While many

of Nexon’s faithful fans were fretting over the cute graphics and daily adventures with Lorna and

Pan, I was simply skeptical about it, like I am with most new MMORPGs now. I love trying out new

MMORPGs, for one, but I never try to put my expectations too high, in terms of a complete beta

MMORPG experience. I was, however, very pleased to what I would soon find within the world of


Upon creating my character and entering the world, I met Nao, who is the official “mascot” of

Mabinogi. Her large, round eyes really made me feel welcome to this whole new world. The tutorial

is quite extensive and it really lets you explore and learn about all the features there are. It’s

very hard to choose to do one of the many things in Mabinogi there is to do. Unlike other MMORPGs,

this one focuses less on “hey here are all these rats, go kill them so you can level up” and more

on the entire MMORPG experience, which is mainly interacting with the community as well as taking a

role in fantasy world as an adventurer. That is something that is vital to a good MMORPG and

Mabinogi really brings it out into the spotlight.

As I stated before, Mabinogi has features galore. It really does seem like there’s something for

everyone. You have an extensive, rock-paper-scissors combat system, for the fighters, a detailed

craft system, for the various artisans and several other things that I could go on and on about, it

even has an aging system, where you get older every earth week and you also acquire stats after you

If you take all of these things and combine them, you can be entangled in the world for hours on

end. I remember after I first started out, I did some dungeons for an hour, some quests for a half

hour and then I sat around a campfire for three hours. Its simple things like this that makes

Mabinogi amazing. Sadly, everything isn’t always perfect, much like life.

You’re probably thinking “wow this sounds great, there is so much to do!” well, you’re right, there

is so much to do, however, you can only take it so far before you collapse under the symptom I call

“Idonthaveenoughskillpointstodoanything fever”. You see, while Mabinogi does have an extensive

free-willing character system, it also has one of the most notorious game-spoiling system to go

along with it.

Yes, I’m talking about a skill point system. In Mabinogi, you can do some fighting, then do some

magic and then do some archery, but you might find yourself struggling with everything whereas

there is this other person who just focuses on combat.

There is no class system, so there is no designated tank, nor is there a designated healer, nor is

there a designated nuker. Some people frown upon this and some people rejoice upon it.

I personally don’t have a preference, because I usually find a way to manage, one way or the other.

Now, while you’re thinking “well hey, that’s ok, I can just level up my lightening magic and then

I’ll do some crafting”, well, you might also want to reconsider that. You’ll be weak in lightening

magic if you level up some blacksmithing, and vice versa. As you can see, the entire system is

essentially, pointless. People are pretty much forced into playing as a tank or playing as

designated healer. There is no point to a free willing skill system if you’re going to limit people

so that they are forced into playing just one role, whereas they could be playing multiple roles at

the same time. That is probably the only downside to the real Mabinogi system I have,

unfortunately, it is one of the biggest problems and will probably never be solved.

Skills aside, there are other features to Mabinogi such as the ability to interact with the

community around a campfire, sharing food, getting fat. The occasional person with a lute comes by

and plays some song from “Final Fantasy VII” and the other people also get out there lutes and do

the same. We all have a good laugh, it hardly gets old (well ok the song gets old, seriously, I can

only listen to “One Winged Angel” enough…). It’s fun, wow, shocker.

Who would have thought that a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game would actually involve

the community while having fun at the same time?! A group of friends and I would head down to the

ol’ dungeon and fight some Goblins and a big mean Golem.

After we all have to use phoenix feathers 50 times over, we finally get our reward and head out to

the campfire again… and we eat again… and I get fat again…someone plays that stupid song…AGAIN… To

be honest, there is not much that a group can do besides sitting around a campfire and killing

stuff together.

There is plenty of stuff to do by yourself, such as crafting, questing, etc. however, when it comes

to group play, there just isn’t a lot we can do before it gets old. We might head off to the arena

for some PvP or go kill a field boss nearby, but those are pretty much static, and don’t happen

very often.

The last subject I dread talking about as I type will be the cash shop… It’s a very touchy issue

that disturbs me greatly and I don’t like discussing it simply because it makes me sick. It really

makes me nauseous thinking that there is this beautiful game, full of possibilities and potential

and that while some of it is restricted naturally, there are some people who can simply throw some

money at the problem and make it go away.

This is the case for most MMORPGs with cash shop, and I am repulsed by the idea. I would sooner pay

the full monthly amount of 20$, than watch as some rich, spoiled kid spends $200 on items from a

shop to increase his game effectiveness than another kid who works hard and earns his items by

nothing but pure in-game work. Cash items that bolster a user’s game playability are simply bribes,

nothing more, nothing less. Bribes to get better at something that is meant to be equally shared

between people who get a chance and work hard.

Mabinogi offers items in their cash shop that allow users to expand their horizons with

customization when making their character. This means that when you make a character with a regular

card, you will only be offered around 6~ styles of hair, 6~ styles of eyes, etc.. With a premium

character card, you are allowed probably five times the amount of hair styles, colors, etc. To me,

that is simply a restriction of creativity and pettiness on Nexon’s behalf. I could deal with

anything else (well ok maybe not the next couple of things) but restricting how your character

looks compared to people who can spend money to get more flexible and unique looks comes close to

breaking the right of free speech, in my opinion.
It doesn’t stop there, however, oh no. You can also buy pets to help you in combat, buffs, etc. I

am not sure how pets work exactly, apparently they have a “summon time” which I’m not sure if that

means they stay alive for that long and then disappear or perhaps you have to wait for them to get

rested before summoning, I don’t know. The fact that they would put restrictions on something that

is already restricted is just a rip-off.

The last couple of things I would like to graze about the cash shop are the premium services they

offer. You can pay around $15 to get a full premium wave for a month which includes the Nao service

(which is free in the Japanese version, by the way) which lets Nao help you in various ways like

revival from death, etc. and she even gives you presents and stuff every week (which isn’t free in

japan), isn’t that nice? It’s kind of like a virtual hooker. The premium $15 thingy also includes

the Advanced Item service, which is basically items that are unattainable through regular means

which have a much better effect than a regular item would. Like the “advanced phoenix feather” lets

you resurrect anyone in the world, anywhere, you just type their name and boom, and they’re alive.

I am unsure if this is useful or not, due to the fact that you get one of each item in alternating

days, and that I do not know if this is real earth days, in which case that would be pointless, or

in-game days, in which case that would be way overpowered.

You also get a storage boosting thing which lets you switch storage between characters (because you

know people who spend money to make more characters need to have access to the storage of their

other character!); lets you put up a shop, expand your storage and inventory space. It also lets

you create a Guild (which I also, believe is free in the Japanese version). Premium character cards

(close to $10) also let you rebirth your character, so that after you hit, oh, the age of 25 (25

earth weeks) you can restart as a kid and get even more stat points than if you were an old geezer

like that free player over there who is 52.
Just face it, Nexon gets good amounts of money from all of this, they know they do from Maplestory

(dear lord millions just from “gachapon”) and they are simply going to do it with every game they

can stick a cash shop in. It is the most disgusting thing I have seen that is relative to MMORPGs,

it’s like tying rock sacks on a cat’s feet.

To sum up Mabinogi from an optimistic viewpoint, it has an amazing combat, skill and living system

with a few kinks that can’t be helped, and it also makes up for it by having a nice interaction

with the community and such. From a pessimistic viewpoint, it is, in its true form, a caged bird

that will never be able to fly due to the fact that someone chopped its wings off to sell to

foreign traders.

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