Terra Battle Brings Squaresoft's Big Names into One Mobile Game

Terra Battle isn't perfect, but it's definitely the only free to play mobile RPG I've ever loved.

I've played my fair share of free mobile games. In general, I don't like them. 

I don't like energy systems, I don't like grinding for ages until I get my next unit (when applicable), and I don't like the shallow yet addictive gameplay most of them present to keep you hooked.

The above all said, I absolutely adore Mistwalker's Terra Battle.

And notice the article title where it states Squaresoft's big names and not Square Enix -- the game is packed with names from the console RPG golden age. Jam packed! And I didn't even find out about that until after I started. Imagine my surprise.

Like your standard fare mobile RPG, Terra Battle has a stamina system. Unlike most mobile RPGs, it has a fairly robust battle system that will make you think about your next move.

What's this? The battle screen, my friend. You're set to combat enemies by moving your units on either side of them. You pull off chain attacks by aligning your units either vertically or horizontally, which you need to do to kill your enemies quickly enough to survive.

While dealing with your foes, you must also be sure to stay out of harm's way. Enemies have AoE abilities in droves, and traps in some stages ensure you won't have a good time if you enter a stage unprepared.

I can't explain the gameplay well enough to do it justice. It has the base of an SRPG with the elemental and weapon weaknesses and strengths one comes to expect from mobile RPGs these days. It's pretty nice.

Units don't evolve!

How Terra Battle handles upgrading units was the clincher for me: You don't evolve. You job change.

Units who are capable have three jobs. While each one is more powerful than the last, skills can be migrated from one job to the next. For example, you can see my starter, Grace, below in her second job borrowing two skills from her previous one.

This allows actual customization of your units instead of mere stat bonuses. This alone really impressed me, but I was knocked out by its combination with the combat, great music, and general feel that veered away from the other mobile games I've played.

All-star cast

I don't know if you were a fan of RPGs back between the Super Nintendo and PlayStation 2 eras. I know I was, and I am very familiar with some of the names involved in Terra Battle's development, art, and music.

First up is Hironobu Sakaguchi -- the creator of the Final Fantasy series. He also had his hands in Chrono Trigger, Parasite Eve, and Final Fantasy Tactics. His last game, The Last Story, was one of the most critically acclaimed games on the console.

But past Sakaguchi, who else has contributed to Terra Battle?

  • Nobuo Uematsu - Known best as the legendary composer for the majority of the Final Fantasy series.
  • Kenji Ito - Composer for most of the SaGa series, the Mana games post-Sword of Mana, and the mobile game Puzzle & Dragons.
  • Hideo Manaba - One of the biggest artists involved in Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy IX, and Final Fantasy XII.
  • Hitoshi Yoneda - Artist for Phantasy Star and Phantasy Star II.
  • Manabu Kusunoki - One of the bigger artists involved in Panzer Dragoon, Panzer Dragoon Saga, and Blue Dragon.
  • Kimihiko Fujisaka - Character designer for the Drakengard series and The Last Story.
  • Naoto Oshima - Character designer for a number of Sonic games until the Dreamcast era, as well as the designer for NiGHTS and Burning Rangers.
  • Yoshitaka Amano - Illustrator and character designer for most of the Final Fantasy series.

That is a lot of big names in the Japanese industry to be on one mobile game, but they are! And it's great! Exclamation point!

Seeing all these names (and those to come with more downloads) got me so excited, because Terra Battle really is a good game. But with the good comes the bad.

The bad

There are two things I distinctively don't care for in Terra Battle, but can deal with. The first being the small amount of stamina you're given.

Your stamina pool is very small from start to finish. While you may get more maximum stamina as you progress, the amount you need per stage only increases. This is pretty standard for mobile RPGs, but it's especially restrictive here because you only raise your maximum stamina (and recharge it) by finishing an area. You must use your energy carefully.

The second issue is sort of tied to the first: You only get energy, the currency used to get units via the Pact of Truth (the good recruitment option) when you complete an area.

You do get some energy via daily logins, but it still feels very tight. You don't get new characters very often, so if you've been unlucky the entire time you've spent with the game, you may have a lot of trouble in later areas and there's not much you can do about it.

These two facets of the game don't taint how I feel about it, but it is something to keep in mind. This is, after all, a mobile RPG -- some things are unavoidable with the genre. Perhaps the future console version will strip out the stamina system? One can hope.

Despite these two shortcomings (that could be much worse), Terra Battle is still a thoroughly enjoyable experience for a classic Japanese RPG fan. If you haven't given it a shot yet, check it out on Google Play and the App Store. You may just love it as much as I do.

Published Feb. 16th 2015

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