Wonderland Online Preview

Wonderland Online is an interesting title that feels like an old school console RPG that has fallen in love with a MMORPG and had a child with it. Coming from IGG, it should be safe to assume that this will be another addition to their free to play library of games. Since they have lots of experience with this genre of games now, I took a look in at it during their closed Alpha test.

Graphically, Wonderland Online seems to bill itself as a clean looking 2D isometric game. The maps are all done with great attention to detail, as there are little things that are a part of the scenery that are collectable and used in their crafting system. Characters actually change in appearance when you change their equipment, which really should be a requirement for any game now. Different weapons also have different attack animations which brings more variety to the table. It is done in what appears to be a 16-bit setup, but it just serves to add to the nostalgia factors of the title.

The sound of the title will definitely remind any players of the old 16-bit consoles (Super Nintendo [Famicom], Sega Genesis, or TurboGrafix 16). While music seemed appropriate to the areas where it played, even on the lowest settings it still was a bit loud for my tastes. Maybe I will go over that again when I have some speakers to work with instead of a headset, but as it stands it was something that I could have done without. Sound effects were done fairly well in comparison to other titles that are comparable to this. They will not be winning any awards, but they could have done much worse on their sound than what was done.
One area that Wonderland Online really shined in was the gameplay. The turn-based combat is a breath of fresh air with almost all MMOs today changing over to real-time combat. It is done with the player having 20 seconds to pick their move from a menu of choices. Once the player (or players when in a group) has chosen all their actions combat will begin. Turns are done by whoever has the higher agility it appeared. Stats are what drive this game and the character chosen will give you a jump start on the type of character you want. The crafting is where the game stands out above all others though. By creating various different tools or work areas (kilns, furnaces, looms, etc), one can produce items of just about anything you can imagine. There are the typical weapons and clothing that can be created, but beyond that the sky is the limit. Motor vehicles, hot air balloons, boats of all sorts and more are all able to be crafted with the right materials and work areas. A transmute system for alchemy exists that can combine items into other things as well, but I have not been able to find predictable results for that yet. Maybe they will put out some guides to the transmute system to clear it up soon. Either way, it is by far the most in-depth crafting system that I have seen in a game to date.

With the game being a closed Alpha, the community was very limited. From what I experienced the players were very helpful and willing to assist others in any way possible. Trade was brisk with players swapping materials they do not need for materials they do. Player shops had not proliferated at this point, but I expect that several cities will be flooded with player operated shops when they are AFK. One minor thing is that there is an item you get that allows you to set your character to run around and fight automatically which means that you will occasionally run into someone who is not replying. Do not feel that you are being slighted as they are likely just away from their system and training. This is bound to change when the game launches as inevitably the jerk and griefers find their way to new games, but I do not anticipate it becoming a major issue because of the necessity of trading.

Surprisingly the game was free from any slowdowns or performance issues. Not once did I lag in combat or on the world map. This was a welcome surprise as with the exception of Zu Online, I lagged in all of IGGs other titles. I was very happy with this and I spent a lot of time playing this game purely for that reason alone. Whatever different IGG did with this title over their others, they need to continue it.

Overall, I was quite pleased with Wonderland Online. The gameplay was different, the crafting was phenomenal, and the community was generally quite friendly. If I could get this running on a modified PSP or maybe even a Nintendo DS I would be absolutely ecstatic since I could play such a fantastic game anywhere. Definitely worth a try for anyone who is not turned away by the old school appearance.

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