Yup, this game.
Image: King’s Knight official website, before it closed

Gacha games die. Eventually they stop being (or in this case, never are) profitable and their servers get shut off. In this case, I think it’s a damned shame because the game itself was quite fun but it suffered from many problems. Problems that outright led it to an early demise.

For those of you who don’t know the story of this game - Long long ago, when Square-Enix was Squaresoft and Enix, before there was Final Fantasy, Square decided to release a game called King’s Knight. It is often considered one of the worst games released on the NES due to difficulty and its obtuse requirements that are unknown without outside help. Not only that, Few can claim to have actually finished the game without any help whatsoever just for the sheer amount of things you need to keep track of. Here is what is necessary to finish the game:

  1. All 4 characters (Ray Jack, Kaliva, Barusa and Toby) must survive their individual stages.
  2. All elements in all stages (needed to cast spells that will eliminate obstacles in Stage 5)
  3. All sword pieces in Stage 5.

Keep in mind that this is not for the best ending, but for just the ability to finish the game. There is only one ending. Suffice it to say, it was a flop. Still, Square decided, for some reason, to make it so that a gacha version of the game would be THE popular game in the FFXV world and not only that, they also decided to defictionalize it and release it worldwide!

This was welcomed with reactions of “Who asked for this?” up to “What the fuck Square?”

To their credit, they stuck with it until they could stick with it no more - They tried many collaborations. First with Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, second with Final Fantasy XV itself (we’ll get to that as, imo, that was a stroke of genius that occurred too late). They tried all they could, but the game could not find an audience. Even I, who’ll stan for this game today, dropped it for FGO at one point.

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What did they do wrong?

Gameplay was great until you actually played it

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This seems contradictory, but allow me to explain. The gameplay was obviously vastly improved from the NES original. The ability to jump, the addition of special powers and the ability to swap party members on the fly were great improvements over the regular experience.

Then you realize you’re playing a SHMUP on mobile and that goes flying out of the window. While it’s understandable that a gacha game would have a hard time finding an audience on platforms with non-touch control methods, this game would have benefited from that and absolutely performed better on these platforms. It was difficult to play outside and while they added an auto-shot, it lowered your DPS by such a margin that I can barely think of anyone who used it.

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No end game content coupled with no Stamina system

Image: Square-Enix (Famitsu’s Hong Kong site)

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Many will decry the stamina systems in Gacha games. Those people never played King’s Knight. It had no stamina system. The only stamina limitations were the stamina limitations of its actual player being able to play the game. You could literally download the game and play through the main story in one single sitting assuming you got a 4-star character and a 4-star weapon for that class on the Gacha.

And that is a problem. A player with no reason to return will eventually drop the game. The game was routinely supported with events, and those were great to get people to play the game. However, the closest thing you had to an endgame was Hard Multiplayer and that could be cleared relatively easily. There wasn’t much to do with the world and its characters which is a shame because every 3-star or 4-star characters had a side story that granted some free premium currency to do additional pulls and gave you some interesting lore and context to their presence in the game. It helped the newcomers and helped the 4 from the first game (because yes, they were still around!) get some extra background story which they also got during the game as the story of the game plays much like the original. The 4 heroes need to settle their own problems, then find out that Tolfidan has beenr ressurected and they need to defeat him without the holy sword this time.

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Thing is, once you stopped Tolfidan... that was it. Unless you wanted more lore, there was never an expansion, they’d burned all of their content and never had anything that required anything rough once you had a max level evolved unit and weapon. All you did was just play the game because it was enjoyable, but that looped into the first point where it almost physically hurt to do so.

Great Crossovers - FFXV was too late, FFBE did not help

They weren’t kidding. Gladio sucks ass btw.
Image: Square-Enix

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The crossovers that FlameHearts planned were a lot better than I’ve seen elsewhere. Usually you’ll get units or costumes based on the game its crossing over. For Brave Exvius, it was units and weapons, but there was also an individual side-story per unit and a 9 chapter long story expounding on the arrival of the FFBE units in Izander and what caused the fluctuation between worlds to have them there. There were some gameply problems with the FFBE units (Lid as a Monk and Nichol as a Gigant, namely). Meanwhile, in FFBE, a lackluster raid coupled with lackluster units (the Ray Jack Japan got was much better than the Global one, admittedly, and Kaliva gave us Doublehand for Magic). At least it had this track. (And now I will SAOYAYEEEEEYAAAAA continually.)

The FFXV crossover was different - Very different. First of all, you didn’t get Noctis or any of his buds in the game... Well, not exactly. The crossover was simple - As you played in multiplayer, you’d sometimes have one of the bros play alongside you as a CPU controlled 4-star character with their weapon. Gladio’s chosen character was, of course, a Wizard. A wizard who gained his mastery of magic through physical training and bodybuilding. I’m not joking.

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When you played with the bros, you’d get fellowship points that could be traded in for items you could get inside FFXV itself. Seeing as this game was kind of a companion app to FFXV, this crossover should have been the first thing to ensure people would want to play it. Sadly, it was not to be.

Fixing these issues would have ensured a quality game - Hell, if they really wanted to salvage the damn thing, they could probably put together a dececnt handheld + Switch title out of this. With actual controllers, it won’t be a pain to play, and I’d definitely like to re-explore Izander to see what I missed after I stopped playing. Of course, that won’t happen because why would they commit money to what has failed to make them any.

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That doesn’t make my selfish heart desire it less.