Battlejack Offers a new Twist on a Card Game Classic

It has been a very busy time in the gaming market recently with a host of exciting new titles being released in September – and not just in terms of the console or PC market either. Whether it is the launch of a new event in Fuji & Gumi Games’s popular Phantom of the Kill (3.5 million downloads in Japan alone) or the first episode of Telltale’s Batman game being made available for free on iOS, there has been plenty to shout about in the mobile gaming world too. One of the original titles which has undoubtedly caught our eye however has been the fascinating Battlejack. PC and mobile games giant Nexon announced it had acquired the global publishing rights to the title, which was originally developed by the Finnish independent studio Grand Cru Oy, at the start of August and it has now hit the Western market. Plans to release it in Asia are expected to be unveiled shortly. Discussing the deal, Lawrence Koh, the general manager of the Nexon M subsidiary, described the game as a “journey with an incredible twist on a timeless classic”. But just what is Battlejack and which ‘classic’ has been its source of inspiration?

A fantastical world

To start at the beginning, the game has the look and feel of a standard role-playing game with players being introduced to the fantastical world of Midgard. Their goal is to collect and develop a card deck featuring a team of heroes with a range of skills who can take on a series of mystical creatures across a number of levels. However, the twist on the classic comes in the form of the battle system, which makes use of the classic game of Blackjack for its inspiration. When locked in fights, players have to draw cards in an effort to get as close to 21 as possible to deal the most damage to their foes.

It is an interesting twist and a new take on the classic, but it is worth noting the title does not dive deeper into the card game for its gameplay. For example, in the analogy of playing the card game blackjack, players in the normal game tend to be able to take steps such as splitting dealt cards into two hands or doubling down and increasing a bet after seeing their initial two cards. You will find none of this in Battlejack, although it does include a range of other features such as using potions to gain an advantage in battle or selecting the characters with the right skills for the fight. Using an old-school game for a little bit of inspiration is always a novel idea, with such a move meaning that developers are paying tribute to the classics but also potentially introducing a new generation and audience to a concept that they may not have had a huge amount of experience of. However, this idea is hardly new, with many console and video games looking backwards in order to create a fresh new challenge for gaming fans.

RPG stylings with simple mechanics

Originally released for consoles before then being launched for mobile in 2008, D3 Publisher’s Puzzle Quest uses a similar premise of combining a RPG-type experience with more simple gaming mechanics. In this case, the title saw players take on quests as part of both a main story and side missions, with them gaining experience and valuable items along the way. So far, so RPG. However, the combat was once again where D3 pulled things back to a straightforward concept, with battles essentially being in the form of a turn-based puzzle game in the similar vein of the mobile classic Bejewelled. Players and their opponents take turns to swap tiles on a board in an effort to create columns or rows of three or more similar ones. While it might sound a little basic, the idea has certainly had legs with new versions of Puzzle Quest being released including a 2013 official Marvel spin-off featuring an array of the best-loved characters from the comic book giant’s empire of graphic novels and cinematic blockbusters, which has been generating an average of $22,976 in daily revenue..

Hope for the future

The success of Puzzle Quest may well be something that Fuji & Gumi Games and Grand Cru Oy take heart from in the coming months. Not only does it show that a combination of RPG and simple old-school game mechanics can be consistently popular with fans, but it also highlights how such concepts can be adapted into spin-offs like the aforementioned Marvel title. This could well be what the future has in store for Battlejack, but for now the hope will be that gamers will be drawn into the fantasy stories and action of Midgard and become hooked on the simple Blackjack premise which is at its heart. Classic games which have been played for decades have remained classics for a reason and we are sure that Battlejack will not be the last mobile title which sees developers look into the past for a little bit of gameplay inspiration.

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