Platform Nintendo Switch
How would one react if they were suddenly in a completely different world than the one they have known all their life? Would they start freaking out, or would they stay calm and calculated? Maybe a few would be curious and begin to learn about the world; maybe some would pick up a sword and start fighting to protect the world they just entered from the evil force that has befallen that world. The latter is what happens in KEMCO’s latest port to the Nintendo Switch, Fernz Gate. When we last left KEMCO, they had just released the port for 2014’s Asdivine Hearts on the Nintendo Switch by the same developer Exe-Create. From what we can piece together, Fernz Gate was initially released back in 2016 on mobile platforms. This is two years after Asdivine Hearts and while KEMCO games are similar, there has to be changes and advancement… right?
Well, that is a loaded question, as Fernz Gate appears to be on the same engine and still has some of the same quirks- for instance, the character still appears to walk in place during cut screens. It is unclear if this is an engine or coding issue, but the fact it still shows up is disappointing as it makes no sense: why it is there? One would think whatever caused it would have been dealt with at this point. Players should also expect to continue to have no touch controls on the Nintendo Switch version in a port of a game that was released on mobile. The inaccurate controls also make a reappearance in this game. However, in this game the player is not forced to walk in the overworld which greatly reduces his frustration. The buying and selling menus also seem to be more streamlined, which causes the entire process to feel much smoother than it felt in earlier KEMCO games.
There are new gripes and issues in this game, though, with the biggest one being the fact that the X button brings up the menu and the + button brings up the save menu while the – button goes unused. This type of atypical control scheme (and one that is atypical for no logical reason at all) is one of the worst things a developer can do as it messes with the player’s muscle memory. Then the map… Oh, the map. If the player wants the map shown they have the option to have a small map (which is way too small) or a large map (which is way too large). There is no median in a control operation that sorely needed a medium option. Lastly, the relics of the mobile freemium version of the game still play a huge role on the game. These include the Secret House, where the player can plant and grow seeds for stat boosts while still showing the microtransactions accelerators counter, and the Jar Breakers minigame that uses up the freemium currency with each play.
As far as gameplay is concerned, it is a KEMCO game, so the player knows to expect a turn-based combat JRPG game. With that said, Fernz Gate throws a couple curveballs in the face of expectations. The first being the use of the elemental triangle where one element (water, earth, fire) is strong against the other: water over fire, fire over earth, and earth over water. While it does add a bit of strategy to the game, there is no easy way to quickly tell which element an enemy falls under, creating additional frustration to a game that already has an uphill battle with an average plot line. Then there is the wrinkle of added cool-down times to skills that the player’s party casts. This was likely added so the player would not just spam the most powerful attacks over and over, but at the same time it limits the player’s freedom with no decent reason why.
KEMCO games are KEMCO games doing the KEMCO thing in KEMCOland, which gives players a good basis of what to expect from their games. Sadly, Fernz Gate has the misfortune of keeping some of the more annoying issues of their engine while adding its own additions to the annoyance list. It is also hurt by its painfully dull and average story that we did not touch on partially due to the request for no spoilers, but primarily due to the fact there was just nothing to really write about it. It had a Big Bad™ doing evil things and your party joins in on the fight against the Big Bad™ to rid their presence in the world, so everything can return back to normal with no memorable major plot points or twists to speak of. Which is the tale for this game as a whole. It is just painfully dull with nothing memorable about it. (Ryan Williford; Gaming Editor)
Review copy provided by KEMCO; reviewed on the Nintendo Switch in handheld mode.