It’s not every day that you come across a game with a squishy pink raid boss, pets that poop on command , a Meiji-era castle full of evil ninja, and a haunted mansion that fills up with quests every Halloween, but MapleStory, Nexon America’s free-to-play side-scrolling MMORPG, offers all of that and more.

The adventure begins when you select your class. You pick from a hodgepodge of seemingly random characters, like a time-traveling samurai and a magical girl who can transform into a super hero (complete with theme song and catchphrase). Each character has a unique combat system and back story, but they’re all tied together by a common goal: to stop the Black Mage, the source of all evil in Maple World.

You’ll spend a good chunk of time perfecting your character’s looks and we don’t just mean equipment (though there are several robust systems that allow you to fine-tune your gear). We’re talking demon wings, duck pajamas, bell bottoms, pancake hats, briefcases, headphones, and hundreds of other items that let you create an in-game persona. Admiring peoples style while chilling in town is almost a mini-game of its own!

Sooner or later, you’ll want to group up with other players so you can experience the games Party Quests, like one that lets you mount dragons to fight enemies in the air. MapleStory has several ways of letting you do this. You can join Guilds, Alliances (big groups of Guilds), and Families. If you’re monotonously-inclined, you can even get married and gain access to a love-themed dungeon.

The game offers more pets, mounts, a monster farm, medals, theme dungeons, crafting, familiars but in the end, it’s not the systems that make MapleStory so unique… It’s the games perfect blend of panache and heart.

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