-Call the exterminators! We’ve got a situation.-
Maplestory has always been a staple in Nexon’s lineup of games. Boasting to be one of the top ten highest grossing PC games of 2015, it definitely makes a name for itself in the history of MMOs. Maplestory’s light-hearted aesthetic and nostalgic feel makes it a game that I can never truly quit. I have been playing the game since 2005 and I can proudly say that I love the game. Having expressed those feelings, I am sad to say that Maplestory is not a good game.
Before we go into why I think the game is bad, let’s talk about the things I love about this game. Everything about this game brings me back to the days when life was simple. I would wake up Saturday morning and the first thing I would do is hop on my computer to say hi to all of my friends in game. That is one thing that has never changed throughout all these year, the community. Maplestory does an exemplary job of fostering a positive community that welcomes you with open arms. I can’t count the number of times that a guild member has offered to help me kill a boss or provide me with advice to where I should progress my character next. Its these moments that encourage me to keep up with the grind to make my character stronger.
This process of progressing your character can be a hit or miss for different types of people. Like any other Korean MMO in the market, Maplestory is all about the grind. At the higher levels, it may even take hours to get one level to slightly progress your characters with the measly five stat points that get at awarded for a level. While this sounds like a grueling process, Maplestory does a great job of providing flashy skills to almost every class’s arsenal that makes the grind a little less of a… well… grind. Whether it’s the Kaiser class’s Final Transformation skill that turns you into an armored half-dragon beast or the Demon Slayer class’s dark yet beautiful Demon Cry skill, the game never ceases to make my jaw drop at how pretty its 2D graphics can be.
One of the biggest downfalls of this game has to be the casual nature of it. It is not a bad game because of how casual it is, but rather because it is supposed to be a casual game but misses that mark as you approach the end of the game. In the past decade, leveling has gradually become easier and easier. The grind to level thirty was something that used to take most players weeks to do but has now been cut down to less than 30 minutes. And as you level up, the stat distribution system that you had to look up guides for in the past has been reduced to simply leveling up your main stat (strength for warriors, intelligence for mage, etc.). At some point one may ask why you even still have a choice to level up other stats other than your main stat. The complexities and “hardcore” aspects of the game have slowly been stripped down by Nexon to make the game appeal to a wider audience, but yet the end game is still beyond the reach of most players. As you approach the beginnings of end game around level 200, leveling starts to get slower. Monsters start having more health and bosses start to seem impossible to kill. At this point, the only thing you can do is either pay Nexon money to progress your character or if you are in the Reboot server, spend countless hours grinding for currency on an alternative character to hopefully get a decent stat line on your equipment after praying to the RNG gods.
Understandably, this is the bread and butter of almost every free-to-play Korean MMO, but just because every other game follows this model, does not excuse Maplestory’s decision to follow it from being a bad one. If the game is aimed for a casual audience, Nexon should keep it that way all throughout the game. The crux of any game should not be left up to the choice between paying or spending an ungodly number of hours grinding away for currency for the hope of possibly increasing your character’s damage.
On top of the game’s endgame incongruences, it is also plagued with bugs and server instability that prevent you from wanting to spend long hours grinding for currency. Looting too many items at once will cause your entire computer to start lagging and freezing. This leads to an eventual auto disconnect system that kicks bots who use hacks to loot all of the items on the screen at once. There is even a bug for a boss that contains end-game equipment that will cause your client to disconnect whenever you move using the arrow keys. These are just a few of the many bugs that exist in the game and it seems that Nexon has no intention of fixing them. These bugs have existed for months with no word of when a fix will be deployed. At this point, most players have just come to accept this as a part of the game and single-handedly ruins the experience.
Ultimately, the bugs and issues with the endgame don’t stop me from playing the game, but it does not excuse the game from being classified as bad in my book. If Nexon were to someday fix these issues (don’t get your hopes up), Maplestory would be an amazing game for all fans of classic 2D side-scrolling RPGs. Until that day, I will still continue to play the game and complain bitterly about its huge flaws.