Zenonia (DSiWare)

Game Review

Zenonia Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Ron DelVillano

DSiWare's first must-have RPG

With RPGs being such a popular genre, it's surprising to see that, up until now, Legends of Exidia has been the only one available on the DSiWare service. Fortunately, for the poor RPG fans who have been feeling neglected, Gamevil has finally added a new title to the mix with their release of Zenonia. Despite both having been ported from cell phone games, Zenonia is an incredible improvement over the previous entry in the genre. Combining hack and slash RPG action with puzzle elements, this top-down adventure feels like a mix between classic Zelda and Sword of Mana.

Zenonia follows the story of Regret, a 17-year-old boy who is looking for answers to his father's mysterious death at the hands of a demon. Along the way, he travels the land of (you may have guessed it) Zenonia and meets countless interesting characters who help him on his quest to find and stop the source of this great evil. While the story is not really groundbreaking or unique and clearly borrows directly from countless games before, it is an enjoyable enough tale to keep players hooked. The witty dialogue and sharp humour of the NPCs add to the game's charm and make Zenonia a much more interesting place to explore. Despite the story lacking originality, the only real problem here is the slight translation issues; it's not game-changing or offensive, but there are frequent enough typos to turn a few heads.

When you start out, you have the option of being one of three classes: assassin, paladin, or warrior. Making this decision depends on what type of game you want to play: while warriors have brute strength and are able to plow through most enemies, paladins are much more magic adept, allowing for different strategy while in battle. Another great part about Zenonia is the option to follow either a good or an evil alignment. By choosing to save certain characters or reacting to certain situations, the storyline will actually change depending on how naughty or nice you feel like being. This provides excellent replay value for players looking to try different paths that can significantly alter the game.

There are many quests in this game, both main and side. The main quest follows the story line of Regret searching for answers to his father's death, but there are dozens of side quests available to explore as well. You are allowed to have up to four side quests open at any given time, and you can freely drop them and pick them back up later if you don't feel like fulfilling their requirements. The side quests are great for quickly racking up gold and experience points to help you in the main story.

The leveling system in Zenonia is simplistic, but effective. The gold that you earn from both killing enemies and completing quests can then be spent on stronger weapons and armour or on healing and status effective items in the shops. Whenever you level up, you are allotted a certain number of status points and skill points. You get to choose how to distribute your status points among your attributes, adding an element of strategy to the game, depending on what type of character you are playing. The skill points can be distributed between either your active or passive skills. Active skills are your special attacks that you can increase the strength of by adding skill points to them, and adding points to your passive skills changes the more defensive attributes of your character. Though Zenonia is not necessarily a difficult game, some of the monsters can often be several levels above you, so expect to spend a few hours in between quests level grinding.

Zenonia controls like any action RPG should. The D-Pad is used to move and the A button is your primary attack, with special attacks assigned to other buttons. The touch screen is completely useless here with the exception of displaying a map and the occasional statistic menu. The controls are, for the most part, accurate enough, but every now and again, you might have a little difficulty lining up to attack an enemy or go through a door because the entire thing works on grid-based movement.

The audio and visual combination of Zenonia sets a new standard for what DSiWare games should live up to. Sporting beautiful 16-bit graphics and a fully fleshed-out soundtrack, this game feels like it fell straight out of the SNES library. All of the maps, from forests to cities and building interiors are colourful and detailed enough to make for an engaging time spent in the game.


Zenonia is an incredibly impressive game with a lot to offer its players. It is sprinkled with slight translation and minor control issues, but these can easily be overlooked as long as you're willing to enjoy the game for what it is. Considering that it is only 800 Points, you are definitely getting your money's worth and then some. If a sprawling and epic action RPG with 40+ available hours of gameplay is what you're looking for, then the DSiWare game for you has finally arrived.

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User Comments (80)



CanisWolfred said:

I still can't be bothered to pick up a cellphone port. Oh, and let me know when we finally get something turn-based for crying out loud.



xAlias said:

Wonder if I should get this instead of Shantae?

What am I thinking?!



Corbs said:

I'll be picking this up, but I would love to see a good turn-based RPG on the service now as well.



SwerdMurd said:

Ehh....I can't see how fixed controls could fundamentally change this game enough for me to want to purchase it. I played the demo on Iphone and it didn't do much for me....great to see that it got a good review though!



AVahne said:

It's a port, but I'm LOVING this game. Feels like a classic SNES RPG, but with some new things. Heck, theres even the old school translation errors lol
Fun game, definitely recommending it to any fans of ARPGs!



pixelman said:

I couldn't get used to the iPhone controls or the lame story. The gameplay mechanics were really cool though. :3



ExploderReviews said:

I was thinking about waiting for a review, but i just got it. But now i get to rest assured the reviewers like it too. @12 i just got it but the story seems pretty cool so far. However i bet the iphone controls did suck though, lol.



Moco_Loco said:

I tried the demo on my Droid, but wasn't overly impressed. I may try it again sometime. Controls weren't an issue since I could use the Droid's D-pad, but the initial "quests" involving walking next door or to another part of town annoyed me.



RonF said:

I have it in my iPad. I brought it after reading excellent reviews but the fact is, it never captured my attention for more than a few minutes. Perhaps it wasn't meant to me.



MeloMan said:

I was waiting on a review for this. Shantae is coming up and myDiary so I'll have to pick this up a little later.



metakirbyknight said:

Is there any reason to pick this up over the version in the App Store (which happens to be on sale for a dollar)?

This is why I don't buy many of the games people get excited over on DSiWare. It's usually already on my phone and for a cheaper price.



Birdman said:

Still working on Dragon Quest IX right now, so by the time I'm done with that, Pokemon Black/White should be out, and I always have Chrono Trigger to get through. Decisions decisions



Big_A2 said:

A 40+ hour RPG for a dollar? That's kind of hard to beleive. Eh, I'd still get this one cause I can play it with buttons.

If I had a DSi.




PSICOffee said:

I have this on Ipod because I heard it was good a year or so ago, and played it once and never again. I might play it again, but like most RPGs I play that I know little about I end up getting bored from the beginning before I leave the first town (that's especially with Suikoden for me). I wish I would have waited now, because having no buttons on an Itouch is obviously wrong for a vidya game like this.



sonic_brawler95 said:

All my points are being saved for Shantae and Cave Story when it comes out. I may have been getting into RPG's a lot more lately, but I'll pass on this one...



CanisWolfred said:


And I hate melted snow cones, but I don't see what that has to do with this either.

Oh the hell with it: I hate action-RPGs - they're like action games except not as fun, and like RPGs, minus everything that makes RPGs awesome. They're just long, boring, tedious games with nothing to them that makes them any fun. That's why I'm not buying this, and that's why I want a real, Turn-based RPG on DSiWare. Even if it sucks, it will be better than this in my not-so-humble opinion, because at least it won't be an action-RPG.



Alphack3r said:

Sounds like a Zelda rip-off...
Must be good! xD
But really, it's kinda hard to go wrong ripping off the likes of Zelda, Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger, Super Mario World...wow maybe I should throw Brawl in here just for the heck of it!

Yeah, anyone that's been around in gaming for very long knows that Zelda games are just epic, even the 'bad' ones (Hey now, Zelda 2 is waaaay better than alot of other other NES fails).
So since we've established that Zelda = good game, we naturally assume Zenonia shares the awesomeness, & it becomes an insta-buy.

Isn't math fun?

/runs out to the store--err...runs to his DSi & buys it! Huzzah!



bngrybt said:

Fun game, but the badly written script is REALLY bugging me. The combination of bad grammar and lame jokes makes it seem like it was written by a 13-year old. Aside from that, it's a really nice game though. Reminds me of Secret of Mana.



Tigus said:

I need to get this game it looks like at higher form of Zelda,mabe just mabe.



Kid_A said:

Sweeeeet. I'll add this to the list (that I'll never get around to working on since the only DSiWare games I'm able to buy are the ones I review )



MasterGraveheart said:

I'm sitting on 2900 points. I'm without a doubt getting Shantae on Monday. I want to save some for Cave Story... but I may be holding onto them for a while too... well, anyone know what to do with 900 points? ^^;;




I would NOT call it a Zelda ripoff. Zelda is not really an RPG more than it is a good action-adventure games. I couldn't get into it. Maybe Il redownload it on my iPod and give it another try....I do agree, the 13 year old-like writing of the script is irritating.



Slave said:

Been playing the game for about 15hours so far, pretty decent... very repititive but still pretty good... In Every town you have a side quest of gathering ingredient for chefs, well pretty much every missions is to go out there and kill 10 of a certain type of creature.... thats it...

There is a lot of Grinding to be done otherwise you wont go far... I STRNGLY suggest you do ALL the side-quest before undertaking the main quest... the side quest are there so you grind and level up enough to beat the main mission...

The story is good (currently playing the evil side... love that evil pixie haha) and the story is pretty funny, game is not serious about itself which I like... a lot of stuff makes references to the game programmers... for instance one mission is to give a girl a cookie, which has a wedding ring in it, and you give the cookie to the girl, and she eats it all, and you report back to the guy that give you the cookie, and he's freakig out that she ate the expensive ring... and your characters goes like "Screw that I'm not getting involved anymore, this story sounds like it really happened to the programmer." or like you are in a puzzle area, and you push a button and suddenly 5-6 creatures appears around you and your character goes and say "OMG figures the programmers of this game wouldnt let me have it that easy" or again a villagers ask you if you've heard of the story of this village and you say "GOD no I just started playing this video game of course I dunno the story" lots of funny quirks in the game.

Graphics are nice, music is forgetable, I like the system, eating and item repairs... the game is quite buggy though... once I pushed a block, and visually the block never moved, but the collision did moved, and I kinda felt Trapped because of the collision... and the other MAJOR bug which I feel like it's totally cheating and I overused it is when you die, you are prompt to either pay 3000$ for a revive potion and ressurect fully healed on the same spot you fallen, or restart the zone with 15% less Exp, and item durability, etc... but if you dont have de 3000$ the option is Grey out... But you can Still select it... and so, even if you dont have any money to revive yourself.... you can still do it... you wake back up, fully healed, no penality... I kinda stopped using potions from the moment it happened to me. Kinda suck.

Still a good pick up and play game... save anywhere, anytime is a blessing. Worth the money. and it's making me wait for the shantae game haha



FunderThucker said:

Hmm, I've been meaning to get a dsiware game, and I love rpgs. Seems like fun, I'll pick it up sometime.



LuWiiGi said:

When this comes Europe to (hopefully sometime in the next six months) I am definitely getting this. I will get 3000 points, then buy this, Shantae, Cave Story and Aura-Aura Climber. So for £27, less than your average DS game, I can get four of the best DSiWare games and about 150 hours of content. Who said DSiWare has nothing to offer?



Collision_Cat said:

This looks cool! But the European release date does not...
I've also been waiting for Cave Story on WiiWare for ages, but now a DSi version has been announced, I don't want the Wii one! =P



Nintenzo said:

I have this on my iPod touch.
On there it's 5 dollars, though. Hmm...

But I have to say, it's a really good game, one of my favorites on my iPod.

It's EXCRUCIATINGLY hard, though.



LuWiiGi said:

Welcome to NL, Collision_Cat! I agree with you. Also, your avatar and name are awesome.



ReddLionz said:

Well, right now, Zenonia is on sale on the App Store for $.99 for a limited time. Get it while its cheap!



ReZon said:

Mobile ports are something I'll never purchase on the DSi. This game is even on sale on iTunes right now for $0.99, and the sequel is $1.99. I feel bad for the people who are paying $8 for it.



mecoy said:

so is this equal to secret of mana
so...we already have................

pokemon castlevania and secret of mana ......where is my final fantasy



Iggy said:

Wow i wasnt expecting this game to be a 9 considering its a action rpg cell phone port congratz. But im still not going to buy it reguardless if its a 9 out of 10.




.... $8 for a $1 iPhone game? WTF? The game is good, but even Zenonia 2 is only $3.99 last I checked (much better game, too).



marsgreekgod said:

" you have the option of being one of three classes: assassin, paladin, or warrior. "
So warriors hit things, and paladins magic things... but um.. what do assassins do? other then kill people that is.



cheapogamer4life said:

I enjoy a good (non-puzzle) challenging game so I may pick this on up after Shantae and Cave Story of course. I never got around to finishing up LoZ:PHG so I'm not sure if I will really enjoy this one though.



Sakura_Moonlight2421 said:

Thank goodness I didn't get the ipod version. I was skeptical about the controls so I didn't buy it. lol. Looks like playing the waiting game paid off~!



Token_Girl said:

I'm going to download the demo on iphone to see if I like it. The full game is only .99 cents there, so I can't justify paying an extra $7 for the full game. If I can deal with the iphone controls (don't really like virtual d-pads, but for an RPG where you don't need as much precision as, say, a platformer, it might work), I'll get it on the iphone. I'd pay an extra couple bucks for the DSi's real d-pad, but I won't pay 8 times the games price for it. Oh, DSiWare, why can't you have sales?



Stuffgamer1 said:

@Token Girl: Or outright good prices in general? It's looking like (though it hasn't technically been confirmed just yet) the game will hit PSP Minis soon, and I can almost guarantee it won't go for $8...probably more like $5 or $6.

That said, I outright REFUSE to play ANY game using nothing but virtual buttons on a touch screen, so I'd definitely pay the premium for buttons...in fact, I already did! Oh, and I don't have or want an iPhone for the same reason. No buttons = total BS, IMO.

Anyway, I've put two or three hours into the game thus far. It started off terrible as I only gave it a few minutes last night...maybe just 'cause I was tired, I dunno. Been playing it today, and it's actually pretty good. Not so much as this review claims, IMO, but decent. Probably a 7.



cangelo said:

Just wait...it gets worse...after playing partway through it, I couldn't stand it



supercommando440 said:

ONLY $8????
This game is $1 for iPhone
Zenonia 2 is only $2 for iPhone.

ONLY 8??? Giimme a break. I've given up on most of the overpriced DS games.



Digiki said:

Meh, for $8 I'd give it a 6. I'd give the iPhone version that I spent $3 on a 7.0.

It mostly consists of running around, bashing the action button, while looking at occasional interesting scenery.

Edit: Also it's reasonable to assume that most people would be it within 15 hours.



WolfRamHeart said:

Darn, I was going to get this game on my PS3 but it turns out that the Mini version is only a dollar less than it's DSiWare counterpart. I was really hoping that it was going to be $5, not $7. Oh well, I might just download this on my DSi after all.



Azikira said:

I bought this game (And Shantae) for my birthday and I must say, I much prefer this one. Its a very expansive, long, fun game with the worst cutscenes in videogame history. The gameplay is very fun, and can be very challenging (sometimes borderline abusive) and has a lot of laugh out loud moments. The only thing really bad about this game is the cutscene moments.
Cutscenes run laggy, have almost no sound effect, considering some of the action going on in them. Often times you'll be working on a quest, only to have a cutscene pop up and teleport you to an area with monsters 4 levels higher then the ones you were fighting, or in the most random spots. But I must say its a fantastic game if you can forgive the cutscenes (Its not a huge deal, just an annoying one) and highly recommend it to anyone just itching for a good portable RPG!



ShadowDX1 said:

What happens after you beat the game? Do you restart form scratchlike from Exidia?



ShadowDX1 said:

Have you actually tryed this game? Because if you have, then you wouldnt be saying the same thing. This game is actually pretty addicting. One of my favorites.



OmegaMetroid123 said:

this game is really good, except for the times that you have to fight the same guys over and over and over again just to get enough level ups to actually beat the game, I've played the game like, 3 times, and didn't want to take the time to just play over and over again. I'd give 8/10



OmegaMetroid123 said:

okay, so now that i have an iPod, THIS GAME STINKS!!! it is SO much better at dealing damage, you get like spin moves and other cool sword stuff and since my L button broke on my dsi i can't play this game, so it is better on the ipod and it's only $3!!! and i got it for $0.99 because of a price drop, and there's even a Zenonia 2 on the ipod! (not that i really like it but still) yeah, so this game should not be bought for those of you who have an ipod. i did make the mistake of buying this game, if only i knew that in almost a year i'd have an iPod. gamevil could have done better



TromaDogg said:

@OmegaMetroid So it's a better game on the iPod because the L button on YOUR DSi is broken? Wow, superb reviewing skills there. facepalm

Anyways...I like it, but I can see why many people wouldn't. It's a obvious cellphone port, the controls feel very stodgy (strictly up/down/left/right movement, no diagonals...just like Pokemon) and it doesn't run particularly well...seems a bit jerky at times and what appear to be loading screens inbetween sections. But there's still a lot of fun to be had and the levelling up mechanic is more in depth than it first appears as you earn skill points that can be assigned to different abilities. It won't win over any new fans but it's a decent enough buy for fans of the genre.

And it's hardly like Zelda at all.



MadScientistMan said:

£7.20 for a version with button controls and a touch screen mini map

£0.69 for a version fith bad touch screen controls and a small screen

I know what i'll choose ( buttons for the win )



Bucho said:

had this game in my DSi since it released on the eShop (or whatever it was called on DSi) and when i transfered my library to the 3DS when it released i completely forgot about this! it's now time to play it finally...



Gregor said:

Believe me people this game SUCKS. Everything about it is genaric and boring as hell. Only play it if you are THAT brain dead you can't tell you are playing a terrible game.

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