Damn it Kemco, can't you see I'm trying to keep up here?
I've been preparing a huge write up talking about you guys, and I've been showering my website with reviews for your vast catalogue of RPGs. I actually just finished writing an update about my new job and how I need to cut back on my content, and literally the moment I'm done I see this in my inbox:
Ffffffff. Now I have to talk about this.
Fortunately, being that I am a super nice guy and willing to put my life on the line for mobile games (I wonder what my streak is now for referencing All The Bravest?), I am prepared to educate the masses about your games. As the second leading Kemcologist on the internet, it is of course both my duty and responsibility as a writer. Just… you know, give me a little heads up next time, alright?
Who is Kemco and what's in this bundle?
If you're a mobile gamer who also happens to be an RPG fan, you've surely come across a Kemco RPG at some point. With titles like Asdivine Hearts and Illusion of L'Phalcia, their prolific number of games tend to stick out. Kemco RPGs can generally be considered budget games that are designed for on-the-go play, which attracts equal amounts of fans and detractors. Some love how they offer new experiences at a lower price than Square Enix's ports, and others consider their games to be cookie cutter fluff that heavily recycle assets. Neither outlook is necessarily wrong, but their RPGs are polarizing either way.
It's important to note that Kemco is a publisher, not a developer. In fact, the library of "Kemco RPGs" represents the work of four different teams: EXE Create, Hit-Point, WorldWideSoftware, and Magitec. Interestingly enough, this bundle could have been called the WorldWideSoftware bundle, as literally every game listed is developed by them.
Generally speaking, WorldWideSoftware is the most traditional of the group. The "Kemcoest," if you will. They play it the safest with their gameplay, and their stories usually stick close to jRPG tropes with SNES-era translations. WorldWideSoftware gets a lot of flak from critics for these reasons, but I usually find their games to be pleasant. At the very least, I haven't seen a tragic misstep from them like I've seen with the over developers. The encounter rates and dungeon designs of their games are typically player friendly, and most of their games don't drag on longer than they need to. Those who only enjoy top-of-the-line jRPGs like Bravely Default and Shin Megami Tensei probably won't be impressed, but what I've played has at least been better than the likes of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
"That's all well and good," you may say, "but what about the games in this bundle?" Again, being that there are so many Kemco RPGs and I am only one man, I've only had the chance to play a few of the games advertised. That said, here is my expert analysis of the games listed at each tier:
$1 Tier: Symphony of the Origin, Eclipse of Illusion, Eve of the Genesis
I have to say, this is one of the most interesting selection of games to be put in a pay-what-you-want bundle tier. While most humble bundles will seal off the most popular game at a minimum of $10 or more, Kemco decided to headline the whole thing with one of their most popular titles: Symphony of the Origin.
I unfortunately have not played too far into Symphony of the Origin yet, but of what I know it should be a good barometer for whether someone will enjoy any of the other games in here. Origin is the prequel to Symphony of Eternity, a title which I thought was alright in spite of its vintage. I really liked Eternity's lack of random encounters and nonlinear skill learning system, and both of those carry over to its prequel. Origin also boasts some higher production values than the usual Kemco RPG, though it still feels rough at parts and has a stiff localization. Either way, this one is likely worth the buck by itself.
Eve of the Genesis is a game I actually have reviewed, and… I'm not entirely sure how to frame my experience with it. The story is hilariously bad, the gameplay is as barebones as an RPG can get, and I found myself really enjoying it. Genesis is essentially an NES era RPG with lower encounter rates and faster pacing, so those who dig retro RPGs would probably get a kick out of this one. The main quest is extremely brief, but conversely there's a number of optional dungeons and hidden secrets that are really fun to uncover. It's a love-it-or-hate-it kind of game, but the exceedingly silly plotline is probably worth a laugh either way.
Eclipse of Illusion is a newer release that I have not had a chance to play, but all I know is that it features a job system and giant robots. It's entirely possible that the game blows chunks, but those are two things that should be in any AAA title as far as I'm concerned.
Verdict: For anyone curious enough to have read this far, I'd probably throw the dollar for these games. You get WorldWideSoftware's opus game, a vanilla yet decent retro RPG, and a game with robots. Not bad!
Beat the Average Tier: Silver Nornir, Fortuna Magus, Legend of Ixtona
Now I'm really out of my element; I haven't played any of these games! Instead, I'll have to defer to Shaun Musgrave's reviews of these games on Toucharcade, which… makes these sound pretty mediocre. It's important to note that Shaun doesn't fancy himself a fan of WorldWideSoftware's style in general, so take that as you will.
Of the three titles, Legend of Ixtona is the most interesting. While Silver Nornir and Fortuna Magus look to be built on the same engine, Ixtona is actually a Strategy RPG. Those looking for a budget Final Fantasy Tactics / Fire Emblem knockoff may want to look into this one, but otherwise the lineup sounds fairly middle of the road.
I know, this is the kind of in-depth analysis you can only get from JoyfulSanity.
Verdict: I mean, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that you shouldn't give at least six dollars to charity. That said, if you're not altruistic and only care about videogames, I'd only recommend picking these three up if you liked the $1 tier games and wanted more. Otherwise, perhaps consider giving to a different bundle.
Bonus Tier: Knight of the Earthends, ???, ???
Given that the other games in this tier won't be revealed unless more money comes in, all we have to work with here is Knight of the Earthends. That said, I happen to really like Knight of the Earthends.
Earthends is very much a generic jRPG like Kemco's other titles, but it sports some fairly interesting ideas. The three playable characters have their own unique combat gimmicks, and battles themselves are on the speedy side. Dungeons are easy to navigate, and the encounter rate is remarkably infrequent. Add this to a steady difficulty and a cliché yet entertaining story, and this manages to be one of the better pieces of jRPG comfort food on mobile.
It's not without problems, of course. The translation is dry and literal, and the UI can get clumsy at times. The game clocks in at a brief eight hours, but it doesn't feel bloated with filler like other jRPGs either. It is 100% linear from start to finish, but fortunately there are some entertaining postgame bosses to seek out. One of these fights may involve a series of battles where you pilot giant robots and wow I just realized I had a giant robot fetish. Add that one to the list.
Beyond that, as long as this Bundle continues the WorldWideSoftware theme, I'm venturing a guess that Symphony of Eternity will be one of the hidden bonus games. As mentioned before, Eternity is a title that I liked well enough, and it would definitely make the Beat the Average bundle more enticing. Other than that, the remaining possible WorldWideSoftware titles would be on roughly the same page as the currently available offerings.
Verdict: I think Knight of the Earthends would turn the Beat the Average tier into a solid recommendation, but I may be alone in my enjoyment of the title. That said, even the best possible bonuses won't win over those who dislike the $1 tier. Either way, at a potential ten games to be added to the bundle, there sure are a lot of RPGs in here for quarters a piece.
If we get down to brass tacks, all the RPGs offered here are easily worth the asking price. The real question is whether these games are worth your time, which varies wildly from person to person.
If you're looking for some easy to digest RPGs that won't demand more than 10 or 15 hours to clear, then these are some solid games. If you're the type of person who dislikes when an RPG "does nothing new," then you're probably not the target audience. If you're somewhere in the middle, gauge whether you feel interested by this point and make your best judgment. At the very least, it's nice to play a mobile game every once in a while that isn't desperately trying to take all your money
Kemco tends to be the butt of jokes in the mobile scene, but they're pretty alright in my book. They happily serve a small niche hungry for SNES/PS1 era jRPGs, even if I wish their development teams had more time and money to polish their titles. I imagine most gamers will be more interested in the Capcom bundle right around the corner, but hey, this one ain't bad for the weeaboos among us.
There Kemco, I've written more words about your stuff this week than I have for my actual job. I'm not saying I should earn a medal for the quality PR I've provided for you, but… you know, I think I'm worth it.