Nimble Quest: A Classic Game of Following the Hero

Similar to the old arcade game Snake, Nimble Quest is a new game that lets you grow your train of characters, becoming stronger with each addition. Unlike Snake, though, where you created a huge, mutant reptile that roamed the arid arcade plains in search of food to fuel its ever increasing monstrous bulk, in Nimble Quest you’re creating a party of heroes and slaying baddies.

Is Nimble Quest a fun take on a classic or just a rip off of an old favorite? We’ll take a look and find out!

Get in Line

Whereas in Snake, you more or less just had to avoid obstacles and gobble up food to increase your length, in Nimble Quest you’re fighting monsters, too. You will be rewarded with a new hero after slaying certain enemies; bump up against the hero to add him or her onto the end of your conga line of courage. Be careful, though, because if you have a collision, you’ll lose a few of your noble fighters. If your party isn’t big enough, it’s game over.

I've got a pretty meager line, but I started out with just one hero.

I’ve got a pretty meager line, but I started out with just one hero.

Your party is always in motion, but you can control their trajectory with your arrow keys. Line up with an enemy or monster to start shooting, but be careful, because it may start shooting back. Attack damage is just as deadly as a collision, but your champions of virtue can probably take a few hits before they lay down in the dirt and wait for someone to call, “Bring out your dead,” and pile their bodies into a wagon.

The Nimble Quest heroes all have different perks. Some have boosts to armor or can attack more quickly. Others have special attacks that are more deadly, but they’ll usually make up for their overpowered attack by being easier to knock down. The goal is to get all of the heroes in a row, scuttling off into the distance behind your main character, so they’re all going to be there on the board. Only the leader gets to use a special power, though, so if you really need a quick fire attack or more of a powershot, choose wisely.

Pick the leader that's going to get you past your foes.

Pick the leader that’s going to get you past your foes.

Dungeons and Sprites

I like the look of Nimble Quest a lot. These are the same people who brought us Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes, and the people at NimbleBit have continued the tradition of retro graphics updated to look good on contemporary devices. The sprites in Nimble Quest don’t look all that different from those you’d see in a great SNES Japanese RPG, which is absolutely a good thing.

While the dungeons for Nimble Quest are a lot of fun and really change as you move through the game, the boards aren’t that big or exciting. I certainly understand moving a long line of sprites around a tight space while not bumping into any baddies or slamming into the wall like you had too much ale the night before is sort of the point of the whole game, but it doesn’t make for a very interesting place to be. I would have liked to have seen more oddly shaped spaces or interesting obstacles that coincide with each dungon’s theme.

I'm about to set out on a new adventure.

I’m about to set out on a new adventure.

Moving was sort of a funny thing to get used to, especially on a keyboard. Nimble Quest won’t let you just reverse a character, and I repeatedly walked face first into the wall before I got used to how to change direction. So you won’t have to face the tragedy of watching your heroes die brutal face splat deaths over and over again, I’ll let you in on the trick. If you’re walking to the right, before you can make an about face and start walking to the left, you’ll have to move up or down first. If you’re headed north, take a turn to the left or right before heading south. These words of wisdom will save you a lot of heartache.

Back to the Beginning

NimbleBit is known for putting out freemium games, and Nimble Quest is no different. People fall into different camps when it comes to freemium. I’m not shy about saying I like freemium, because it gives me a chance to try before I buy, and if an app is worth it, I’ll toss a few bones into the hat to show my appreciation. Others see it as a money grab or hate the slowdowns they so frequently hit that all but force them to pay up to keep the game going, and I can’t say I blame them. Sure enough, there are plenty of buffs and unlocks to buy in Nimble Quest.

If I want to keep going, I'll have to pay.

If I want to keep going, I’ll have to pay.

None of those are necessary to play the game, though, and if you’re a fan of rogue-likes, you probably won’t ever have to spend a dime on Nimble Quest. Rogue-likes don’t give you lives or do-overs; once you’re dead, you go all the way back to the beginning and lose all the progress you’ve gained. There are people who love these sorts of games, and if you don’t pay up, Nimble Quest more or less plays like that. If you want to preserve your progress when you die, though, you’re sooner or later going to have to start feeding coins into the machine.

Final Thoughts

Nimble Quest is a fun take on the old Snake arcade game with a neat JRPG twist. While you’re not actually casting spells or reaching for your Fenix Down, the adorable sprites and nostalgic dungeons really make you feel like you’re playing from an SNES cartridge.

The actual gameplay is challenging, made even more so by the permadeath imposed if you don’t pay to pick up where you left off. Depending on how you like to play, the game will be a lot less rage-inducing with a few in app purchases, but if you don’t mind starting over (and over and over), Nimble Quest will be a lot of retro fun.


Summary

A fun RPG take on Snake. You may need to make some in app purchases, though.

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  • http://x111.com Jos

    “a neat JRPG twist” Please explain what this game has to do with an rpg, much less a japanese rpg. It’s Snake, in freemium format.
    I liked Tiny Tower, but by now I’m thinking NimbleBit is a one hit wonder, Pocket Planes was boring and this doesn’t have lasting appeal either.

    As for your take on freemium, I sorta agree, but would like to differentiate between games that are fun and fully playable without in app purchases being a must in order to play the game (so Tiny Tower, Dragonvale, Clash of the Clans et al.) and games where IAP is in your face the whole time and a constant requirement for progress and basic playability. Now looking back at this game, it’s Snake, in a room. And all the bells and whistles around it aren’t there to make Snake a better gameplay experience, the bells and whistles are simply there for IAP. Which is any developer’s good right to choose and implement, just as it’s our choice to say no thanks, I’ll pass.

  • http://pauladupont.com Paula DuPont

    The sprites look so much like the ones from the mid-90s Dragon Quest series (or even Secret of Mana), it’s crazy, and the characters all have different strengths and weaknesses, similar to the classes you’d find in a classic 1990-2000s JRPG. Japan just did those chibi sprites way more than North America. Nimble Quest on iOS has even been compared elsewhere to Final Fantasy! :D (Another great game with a nod to JRPGs is Wizorb, covered in a games roundup a few months ago: http://mac.appstorm.net/roundups/games/6-awesome-retro-inspired-games-for-the-mac/)

    It doesn’t play like a JRPG, of course, and I don’t argue that it does, because there’s no turn based combat and you’re not really following any story at all. But Nimble Quest was definitely trying to evoke the feel of JRPGs while marrying them to Snake’s gameplay.

    Freemium has been addressed recently in a series of articles over at iPad.AppStorm. Here’s a link to a pro-freemium article, and you can read my expanded views in the comments. :) http://ipad.appstorm.net/general/opinion/why-im-a-fan-of-freemium/ Please feel free to chime in, and you should be able to get to the other articles in the series by clicking the freemium tag at the top of the article.

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