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Terra Battle

Hironobu Sakaguchi's Terra Battle Requires Nimble Fingers And A Quick Mind



Hironobu Sakaguchi is one of the most renowned game developers in the world, having created Final Fantasy, Front Mission, Blue Dragon, and Lost Odyssey. After leaving Square Enix a decade ago to found Mistwalker, he is still finding ways to innovate.

His newest title, Terra Battle, is an experienced designed from the ground up for iOS and Android phones and tablets. The title is a tactical game, a genre Sakaguchi has successfully worked in before with Final Fantasy Tactics. This time though, players will need to move quickly and position their team of warriors to combat countless monsters.

Terra Battle uses a flanking system, such that characters cannot fight alone. In order to deal damage to a foe, you'll need to position yourself using only a single four-second move.

Each of your heroes can nudge the others into position one square at a time. Putting characters in line with one of the flankers adds their attack to the mix, making it possible to wipe out a screen full of enemies in a blitz of abilities. When I watched Sakaguchi do it, it looked like a choreographed dance as his finger swirled around the screen.

Most enemy attacks will move your heroes around, so you'll find yourself repositioning at each turn. You'll also need to be mindful of a rock-paper-scissors approach to weapon types and spell elements. A pre-match screen shows what you'll be up against, so you can tune up your party for the best chance.



Terra Battle is broken out into chapters, each of which have 10 stages. You'll earn some of the 165 characters along the way by progressing and participating in timed world events. These include a host of new creations, along with some recognizable from Sakaguchi's previous work (like Bahamut from Final Fantasy).

You'll also uncover items with which you'll be able to equip your heroes. Each of the 165 characters also has access to three different jobs. It became clear that Terra Battle is a collection of Sakaguchi's greatest hits, evidenced even more by Mistwalker's "download starter" crowd-source campaign.

As more people download the game when it's released worldwide in October, the community will progress toward new content for the title. The first milestone, 100,000 downloads, will activate a new musical track from composer Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger). Later goals include new characters created by past Sakaguchi collaborators, a live Uematsu concert (1 million downloads), a versus battle mode, and a co-op mode.

At 2 million downloads, Mistwalker will begin work on a console game set in the Terra Battle universe. Sakaguchi tells us that it will have the same essence as the mobile title, but it will likely be an MMORPG that taps into the existing lore and characters. The two mediums are different enough that they require a different approach.



"Mobile games evolve over time, but console games are finished when players are done with them," Sakaguchi says. "I see this as more of a fluid structure." Mistwalker doesn't plan to stop growing the game, with more modes and additional collabortions across titles coming in the future.

Terra Battle is free to play and uses an energy mechanic that decreases with every battle you take on. This is my least favorite form of monetization, because it keeps players at arm's length. With so many characters, Mistwalker could have chosen random packs, in-game purchases of specific heroes, or just about anything else that would be better.

As you progress, combat will require a larger and larger investment of energy to initiate, and your maximum never increases. You're capped at 100, with a point recharging in three minutes. Sakaguchi tells us that Mistwalker will drop codes for energy on its Twitter and Facebook accounts, which should help get players back into the game a little faster.

I loved what Sakaguchi showed me of Terra Battle and I can't wait to try it for myself in October. I'm hopeful that the energy gauge won't grind progress to a halt, but I'm realistic that there isn't a single game I've played with one that I've been able to keep playing for extended periods.

For more on Terra Battle, check out the official website. For the full details on the "download starter," visit this page.

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