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Browser RPG Roundup - Review

MMO PC by Jon Hamblin

15/04/2008 @ 15:54

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We love MMOs, but we have to admit they're not for everyone. They're not for people who can't afford subscription fees, people who don't like other people, and people who don't necessarily want to spend 36 straight hours clicking on a complex series of buff spells only for the entire party to get wiped, moments before the Troll King gives up his sweet fungal booty. Thank God, then, for the massively single-player online RPG, a genre that exists solely for the benefit of the cheap, the creepy, and the time-poor.

MSORPGs are essentially browser-based, single-player games with a large community element that's external to the game's storyline. Because they're played in a web browser, you don't even need a PC to play them, so Wii, PS3, PSP and Mac users can all join in. Heavily text-based with minimal graphics, MSORPGs live or die on the quality of the writing, and most of them have a humorous slant. They're free to play (though donations are usually solicited in exchange for perks), but your game time per day is restricted, making them perfect for a quick lunchtime burst (wait, that sounds wrong).

Kingdom of Loathing

Of the MSORPGs, Kingdom of Loathing is the oldest, and probably the best. It's been going since 2003, and has a keen following. You play an adventurer who has been tasked by the Council of Loathing with finding the missing King Ralph, but as they cheerily inform you later, there's no real rush. Armed with little more than an accordion and a certain amount of moxie (at least if you're an Accordion Thief - other classes include Pastamancer, Disco Bandit and Turtle Tamer) you set off on your quest.

Each region of the black and white hand-drawn map (and hand-drawn by a child, at that - don't expect any fancy manga graphics here) is divided into several sections. Some sections are guarded by characters who give you quests (although you'll need a hermit-permit to visit the hermit), while other areas are questing areas, where you'll earn "meat" (the game's currency) by killing mummies, vampires and lemons in boxes. Entering a questing area costs you an adventuring point. You get 40 points a day, although they can be boosted by eating and drinking - as long as you don't get too drunk.

'Browser RPG Roundup' Screenshot 1

Familiar: Smallish Creepy Fez-Wearing Thing, the 28-pound Cymbal-Playing Monkey

The script is stuffed with gags and pop culture references: some obvious (Tron and the Goonies in just the opening few paragraphs), and some more obscure (Vampire Hunter: D, anyone?). Seemingly basic, the game is in fact incredibly well designed, and there's a huge amount of content, as you'd expect for a game that's been developed for 5 years.

There's also a well maintained community, with an obsession for correct use of grammar; indeed, to use the chat function, you must first pass a test in which you have to deploy "their", "they're" and "there" in their correct usages, which should at least fox 90 per cent of WOW players. Once you're in, you'll be able to trade puns, knowledge and haiku with the other players, most of whom seem friendly and intelligent. Don't be misled by the title: Kingdom of Loathing is the gentlest, deepest and funniest MSORPG out there.

9/10

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Kazzahdrane
16/04/08 @ 10:38
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Nice article, you've posted the same Secret Society Wars screenshot for Twilight Heroes though! Fancy giving Kingdom of Loathing a go, sounds fun.
Razz
16/04/08 @ 10:40
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I thought this about a bowser RPG. :/

Maaaaan.... I thought that would be an excelletn idea too.
Euronymous
16/04/08 @ 10:41
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Forumwarz actually sounds interesting....
Thamuhacha
16/04/08 @ 10:58
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Has anyone tried any of these on an iphone? I appreciate asking is lazy, but I can't get my phone on wifi until tonight
Wendelius
16/04/08 @ 11:08
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I completed the ForumWarz episode 1 and it was good fun. It encourages you to play in reasonable doses by limiting your daily fake forum visits and has got enough variety to be entertaining.

You also get to buy gear to make your character better (like better computers for bigger ego and so on) and it even has Achievements.

All in all, it was a very slick experience.

But don't try it if you're easily offended. The reviewer is not kidding.

Wendelius
tonyferrino
16/04/08 @ 11:54
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I just decided to have a "quick go" on Kingdom of Loathing - spent all my daily points becoming a Level 3 Disco Bandit, armed with a Knob Goblin Scimitar and a Continuum Transfunctioner (of which I have no clue about what it does)! It's awesome, and really, truly amusing which makes a nice change.
systems
16/04/08 @ 11:58
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I just had a go at ForumWarz. Bloody hell it's like the real thing. Friendlier, in fact. Certainly not for the easily offended.
mingster
16/04/08 @ 12:04
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i tried kingdom of loathing too...
very fun..did my daily allowance..
i only managed to become lev 2 seal clubber.. but got some good items
and ive unlocked access to the haiku channel .. by completing the haiku dungeon.

gives me another way to kill half an hour a day.. thankyou.
M83J01P97
16/04/08 @ 12:12
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Forumwarz seemed fun... for all of 5 minutes then it quickly ground to a halt when all I got were error messages everytime I tried to do anything.
Camorrista
16/04/08 @ 12:33
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DO NOT play KoL. Seriously.

It will eat up your life. Permanently. You will have no spare time anymore.
It is evil.

And if you do, write a Kmail to "Ninifi" and say hello :)
marilena
16/04/08 @ 12:36
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There are quite a lot more games of this type though, aren't there? Off the top of my head I'd quote Urban Dead, Travian and Hattrick. Wildly different themes and approaches, but each one interesting in its way.
Edited 1 times, most recently on 16/04/08 @ 12:37
Stoatboy
16/04/08 @ 12:51
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KoL is ace. Been playing for a fair old while now - top stuff.

@tonyferrino: With the continuum transfunctioner equipped you can access the 8-bit realm in the Nearby Plains.
tonyferrino
16/04/08 @ 12:55
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Oh right...the 8-bit realm doesn't seem to be there, even though I've got it equipped. The only places on the Nearby Plains are Cobb's Knob and the Cake-Shaped Arena. Is there anything else I need to do first?
WrongShui
16/04/08 @ 12:56
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KoL is awesome, everyone go play it.

Now.
Stoatboy
16/04/08 @ 13:03
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@tonyferrino: Doh! In the distant woods, not the nearby plains. My memory sucks.
tonyferrino
16/04/08 @ 13:16
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Aha, found it - through the Inexplicable Door. I've got to wait until tomorrow now anyway, but cheers.
systems
16/04/08 @ 13:29
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@M83J01P97 - ForumWarz went down at about 12pm today under the load of Eurogamers clobbering it at lunch.

It's all back and running now, so give it another go. Well worth it.
Vermillion3000
16/04/08 @ 13:46
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Ahhh, KoL!

My finest moment was when I cornered the world's supply of Grapefruit as part of a potion making business.
I made literally millions of meat that day... happy times!
mingster
16/04/08 @ 13:53
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In Kol i have a familiar.. a mosquito called Merv.
What things will he be able to do ...?
Vermillion3000
16/04/08 @ 14:05
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Mosquito's can nibble at enemies I think...

oh no, they drink enemies blood and squirt it back into you so you can regain some health during a punch up.

Useful little buggers!
MBar
16/04/08 @ 15:31
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Gawd, KoL is already eating my soul. It's going to get me sacked. :)
mingster
16/04/08 @ 15:39
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The thing is KOL gives you limited turns a day so you can't spend hours on it everyday...
i think this is quite good as it makes it a perfect lunchtime game.
Tiger_Walts
16/04/08 @ 15:39
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Pfft, your familiars are not as good as my pet rock!

OK, maybe they are. If I can be bothered I'd make a NPRZ as I still have a pineal gland from way back.
MBar
16/04/08 @ 15:58
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PS: That KoL screenshot is taken from Wikipedia, you lazy fuckers! :P
Camorrista
16/04/08 @ 16:22
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Yep, I can't imagine EG shelling out for a Cymbal Monkey for this review :)

Come on guys, make an EG player and tell us its name. We won't toilet paper it or anything.
Miths
16/04/08 @ 17:20
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Not really the kind of browser RPGs I had expected the article to cover after just reading the headline :).
Wouldn't something like Adventure Quest and the Dragon Fable offspring have been more fitting choices?
suttree
16/04/08 @ 17:32
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Prox
16/04/08 @ 18:02
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Excellent article, it's great to see this sort of wider coverage. Browser MMOs next?
Stoatboy
16/04/08 @ 18:08
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@Camorrista: I think an EG KoL player would be a top idea. He could write a regular diary for the site so everyone can read about what he's up to, and how he's getting on. He'd probably get sent loads of pressies and buffs too.
Gurrah
16/04/08 @ 18:51
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Forumwarz has no love for Opera, therefore I won't be able to give it a go, even though it sounds quite interesting.
vegard
16/04/08 @ 20:05
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tubgirl, how i miss you
hiddenranbir
16/04/08 @ 20:32
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There are forum based roleplaying games too. Inspired from D&D sessions but played on a forum so there are fewer time constraints.
mingster
17/04/08 @ 14:20
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mmmm just did another hour on KOL today... quality stuff.

Bought some good items cheap off other players in the flea market.
Have about the best hat, weapons and pants you can get now for my moxie/muscle level.

For free this is fkin quality. Bearing in mind i'm old and brought up on text adventures and text muds this is perfect for me.
bloke
17/04/08 @ 15:20
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KoL?

/plays

That was fun :-)
YourMessageHere
17/04/08 @ 23:23
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"If you've ever been flamed hard in the face buy a 13-year-old on a web forum"

just a comma away from BAN THIS SICK FILTH
Wrestlevania
18/04/08 @ 22:42
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+1 for PMOG!

But does nobody play the utterly superb Nexus War? Shame on you all.

Comments: 1-36 of 36

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