Unusually, things are a little quiet at Gameplanet HQ today. You know it's a slow day when you race to the courier only to be confronted with a package containing the latest firmware update for the PS3. Nevertheless, this has allowed us to take a closer look at one of the most curious MMORPG's under development today: ELF Online, by Happy MMO.
You might think this is a bit of a joke, and you'd probably be right. But for literally dozens of people out there, ELF Online has caused quite a storm in recent times. Not that the gameplay, artistry, or indeed the concept is anything revolutionary. Or interesting, for that matter. No, ELF Online has taken viral marketing to a whole new level by requiring people to post game screenshots and information on five different forums before they were allowed to participate in the closed beta test. Let's hope Blizzard doesn't try this for the next World of Warcraft expansion, as it would probably break the entire internet.
So, other than a fairly shocking public relations gaffe, what does ELF Online offer the weary MMO enthusiast? We headed over to the website to learn more, and came across this informative piece:
"A group of imps make waves in the game, playig [sic] tricks on each other by special effect items, holding chicken legs or fishing rod fighting fiercely doing prankish [sic] quests in game and teased by NPC. Do not be surprised, You are in ELF world."
Well, that's cleared that up then. But there's more;
"ELF Online is a kind of 2D Online game which exploited by Happy MMO only. It adopts the popular internet culture of 'spoof' as its main style and possesses a subversive innovation system featuring trick and love, etc. All these funny elements make ELF Online a brand new game. It perfectly interpretes a characteristic online game beyond others for players."
Just an aside, because it needs to be addressed, if you're a budding game developer and you've got a great new idea for a game - we salute you. You're our kind of person. If however, you do not speak English as a first language, and you have Babelfish bookmarked in your browser, please do not publish a website without hiring someone to translate for you. They don't even really have to have mastered English particularly well, just as long as they don't take our beloved language, get it drunk, take humiliating photos of it, and post them on the internet. Because that's what Happy MMO is doing right now.
Taking a closer look at ELF Online, it's clear that Happy MMO has taken the two most successful game franchises in the history of the world, Mario and Pokemon, and mixed them together to form some kind of hybrid cartoon experience designed to appeal to the Bebo generation. The game world is vibrant and gaudy, without being over the top, and it's nice that the developers have shunned the current trend of graphical progression by making the system requirements so low that even an electric fence could run it.