App Review: My Favourite Mobile Game, Ruined By Free-To-Play

My Favourite Mobile Game, Ruined By Free-To-Play

Brilliant in concept and nearly flawless in execution, Sword & Poker and Sword & Poker 2 were two of the best reasons to own an iPhone. With the release of the free-to-play Sword & Poker Adventures, the whole thing has gone to shit.

The first Sword & Poker game, available still for $3.79 on iPhone, combined good-old five-card Poker with role-playing elements. Players battle fantasy creatures by completing poker hands, earning coins to purchase enhanced weapons and equipment, raising the damage done by different card combinations. It really is a brilliant game, and still worth a purchase.

The $4.99 sequel added new dungeons, creatures and weapons, while not straying far from the winning formula.

I had no idea Konami was releasing a third game in the series — when I saw Sword & Poker Adventures in the app store last week I was surprised and delighted. Having played the game for several days now, I'm just sad. It's a much prettier game than its predecessors, but the free-to-play bullshit just kills it.

First off, we've got my old nemesis, the energy meter.

My Favourite Mobile Game, Ruined By Free-To-Play

Ten energy units, refilling at a rate of one per 10 minutes. By the fifth area of the game, each battle costs two energy, so that's five battles before waiting. Energy can be refilled via in-game currency (purchased with real money), by bugging Facebook friends (ugh), or by spending $5 on "Infinite Energy!"

Considering how much enjoyment I got from the previous games in the series, $5 is not a lot to pay to upgrade to premium — but it's not a premium upgrade, as many of the game's early iTunes reviewers point out.

My Favourite Mobile Game, Ruined By Free-To-Play
My Favourite Mobile Game, Ruined By Free-To-Play

With the energy meter out of the way, players are free to charge headfirst into the realisation that the best equipment in the game can only be purchased with gems bought with real-world money. Powerful spells, earned in previous releases, now function as one-time power-ups, purchased with the same gems. Coins earned in battle only get players so far, and with 10,000 needed in order to pass the Candy Crush-like level gates (a $2.49 in-app purchase gets you through as well), players will need to scrimp and save just to keep on playing.

On the plus side, Sword & Poker Adventures is much prettier than previous games. Unfortunately it's also a lot slower, so even the good looks come at a steep price.

Over the past year there's been a lot of anger over beloved traditional game franchises being transformed into bad free-to-play mobile games. Sword & Poker Adventures is proof that mobile series aren't immune to free-to-play ruination.

Sword & Power Adventures

  • Genre: RPG Hybrid
  • Developer: Konami
  • Price: Free-ish
  • Platforms: iOS

Don't Download Sword & Poker Adventures from iTunes Here


    Just use gameplayer to hack the game.

      the thing is a non free to play game builds levels that are challenging, whereas p2w games make levels extremly difficult unless you pay, as soon as you hack the game and get inifinite whatever, the game becomes so easy, its no longer worth playing.

      i've tried gameplayer, so far the only cheat that works is infinite energy, which in itself is fair.
      getting infinite diamonds and gold so far hasn't worked, which ain't too bad, just do it the normal way.

    F2P is just annoying. Would HAPPILY pay $10 - $15 for Trials Frontier. Enjoying it a lot, but then the grind begins. Where items become scarce and the only way to get past the annoyance is to buy their crappy online products. Now I don't play it anymore. Ubisoft, next in line to the throne that EA currently sits on.

    Last edited 22/07/14 5:08 pm

      I haven't spent a cent on trials frontier yet. While the F2P elements are indeed annoying, whenever I run out of fuel I just leave it and go to do something else. In actual fact the fuel usage pretty much lasts me my train trip while commuting, then I have full fuel by the time I go home.

      I mean, I have no doubt I will probably hit a pay wall sooner or later, but I am currently level 24, have acquired the Mantis, upgraded the saloon, beaten Butch, beaten many of the ghosts, unlocked the platinum medals, upgraded my bikes multiple times, and started collecting blueprints for more bikes, all without paying anything.

      I would have preferred it of course if I could just have paid a one-off fee for the whole game rather than tolerate the F2P BS, but so far I've managed to avoid paying anything and I'm still playing it. The ads that pop up while you are online are annoying, so I fix that by not playing online. It is stupid though how you can't perform some actions like upgrading bikes without being online though.

      Last edited 23/07/14 10:43 am

        Dude, pro tip. IF you can be bothered. Keep changing your date and time when you run out. :) FREE FUEL! Then just change it back afterwards. That little tip helped me enjoy it a little more. :)

    Near the start I thought they where getting smart, you can have the game for free but you only get a trickle of energy. Pay $5 and you get all the energy you could ever want. Kind of like shareware, here's the first level now pay for the game to get the others.

    But what seems to be the case is jumping the first paywall for the 3rd game seems like a no brainer for fans of the previous two. But the next walls are bigger.

    Feel sad for you :( I agree those things can be a bummer. But I think in that sense the games which start as free to play are much better.

    Not all indie developers who make free to play games are that smart though, a recent example would be Fit the Fat which was done poorly initially and then we got new people coming in who changed the business model and released FitTheFlab. Fit the flab lets you play and enjoy it to the fullest without spending a single penny with alot more on offer.

    Same for piano tiles and other such pick up and play games, but for big studios they definitely need to put more effort into working on their business models :( and keep the customers in mind.

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