Back before I had a computer that was capable of running any video game, I used to visit a site called Miniclip to play flash games. Some games were simple, stick-figure-based, and entertaining for about twenty minutes. Others, well… others were RuneScape. And no, it’s not Run Escape. It’s Rune… scape? Just go with it.
In case you’ve never heard of it, RuneScape is a 2001 point-and-click MMORPG that was, as far as I know, one of the first games to introduce a subscription model. The game is mostly free but certain skills, zones, and gear are only available to paying members of the game.
I first discovered RuneScape around 2005 when child-me grew tired of playing Club Penguin (coincidentally, this is where my online moniker Efase first grew about) and decided to try something else on Miniclip. As a lifelong fan of fantasy, RuneScape immediately caught my eye. The game itself was very addicting – the mechanics were simple enough for me – and I spent many an hour trying to achieve max level in my favorite skill: Woodcutting. I have to admit that I was engrossed by this game even though I was a kid who didn’t quite understand it. Fun story: I once came across a player named Barbarian who started attacking me, and even though I begged him to stop, he killed me and I lost all my belongings. Turns out, that was an NPC and my words were moot. Kids are dumb. I must have played the game for hundreds, if not thousands, of hours until my friends convinced me to try World of Warcraft.
RuneScape will always hold a dear place in my heart, but I stopped playing it because there comes a point where the game becomes too grindy: sometimes all you do is click and wait for your character to finish doing something, then click again. Getting skills to level 99 is also a huge hassle as the experience required from level 92 to level 99 is the same as what you need to go from 1-92. In fact, after all my years of playing, I never got any skill to the max – and trust me, I played hours. Eventually, I left RuneScape for more engaging games such as WoW, and even though the combat has been revamped, the game never really had the same hold on me that it used to have.
Except Jagex have now released RuneScape on mobile, and boy is that the perfect platform for it. First of all, the version of RuneScape that they released is the 2007 one, which is not at all graphically or memory demanding, so even my cheap $75 dollar phone can run it. Moreover, the classic point-and-click mechanics of the game work surprisingly well on the phone (although if you have big thumbs it might be a bit of a hassle) and is almost natural for it. Finally, the nature of mobile gaming makes this version of the game perfect for quick bursts; I’ve been playing RuneScape while I bus to campus, on the toilet, or while waiting for a friend. The main issue I had with the game, that of click-and-wait, isn’t an issue on mobile because you can simply set your phone down while you do something else.
RuneScape Mobile also has the benefit of being cross-platform, so the people who are truly invested in the game can keep the fun (or the grind) going while they’re not at home.
What I find the most intriguing about RuneScape 2007 is the idea of progress. Do you keep the game as it was, flaws and all? To address this, Jagex has come up with a very inventive method. Back in 2010, Jagex held a referendum that was answered by 1.2 million people in order to decide on some changes for the game. Well, the spirit of democracy is still alive and well, as Jagex is holding polls on what additions to the game should be implemented. That way, the player base decides on how old-school they want to keep the game. I’m sure a lot of developers could learn a lesson or two from this.
The game is largely the same as it was back in 2007, so if you ever feel nostalgic I recommend you check it out. So far, the only thing I’ve noticed that isn’t from the classic game is the implementation of Bonds, which basically means you can buy a month of Membership for Gold Pieces. A pretty good Quality-of-Life addition, if you ask me, and it doesn’t mess with the old-school feeling of the game.
The only significant bummer about RuneScape Mobile, though, is that because this game is running on the RuneScape 2007 client, that means that any old characters you had or any progress you made cannot be carried over to the game. To some that may be good news; after all, a fresh start is always refreshing. But I can’t help but think of all those hours I sunk into RuneScape from 2005 all the way to 2010 and feel somewhat disappointed. Of course, I can still play that character in the modern version of the game, but not on my phone…
Even so, I am glad that RuneScape Mobile exists. I have already created a new character (named Efase of course) and while I won’t be taking the game as seriously as I used to, it’s nice to know that I have a little time-burner waiting for me in my pocket.