Czech development studio Cinemax has recently released a rather unique sort of role-playing game for the iPad. Designed to feel like an oldschool video game machine, Journey of Fortune: Dragon's Fire [App Store] seeks to turn your iPad into a digital board game. And here, it succeeds.

The game, which can be played solo or against up to three other people on the same device, puts you in the role of a mage (or magic user) on a perilous journey to kill the dragon and save the princess. Your journey is marked by an illuminated indicator somewhere among the 67 "lights" that make up the meandering path to victory. The lights are set in an illustrated, vertically scrolling "board" that artfully indicates what perils and actions / bonuses lie where, along the way.

Journey of Fortune is a dice-driven game, but the roll-of-the-die mechanic is handled via an illustrated wheel that spins with a finger-swipe. You progress forward along the board the number of paces indicated by the die face on the indicated wheel segment. You may end up landing on an uneventful spot along the path, but more likely you'll encounter a beastie to contend with, a bonus of some sort, or a teleporter that sends you many paces back whence you came (which, though frustrating, mixes up and extends the gameplay nicely).

When an enemy is encountered along the way, it's time for combat, and that's also handled via the spin-wheel dynamic. In combat mode, artifacts of both offense and defense become illuminated along the wheel, and a spin determines what your next combat move will be. These consist of:

  • Melee Attack: Magical Dagger and Sword
  • Attack Spells: Fireball, Lightning, Wall of Fire and Poison Strike
  • Defense Spells: Heal, Heal II, Shield, Shield II, Mana, Mana II and Fear

In standard RPG fashion, your character has a certain level of Hit Points and Mana at any moment. Sustaining a monster attack drains Hit Points, and casting spells saps your Mana. Both can be recovered by Defense Spells on the wheel and by landing on certain bonus spots on the board. The combat wheel also allows you to indicate how much Mana the next attack should use, the more the mightier your attack, of course.

While I enjoy spending a bit of time with a nice RPG, they're really not my forte. I just don't have the time to put into them. And I've never really spent any time with RPG-style board games. But Journey of Fortune is strangely appealing to me. The single-player game (how I've spent my time here) hits the ground running and moves things along at a pace that seems well suited to play on a mobile device, where you're not really looking for a game consisting of hours upon hours. And, for a title that strives to deliver a digital board game experience, what device is more ideal than the iPad? It's a game that feels quite "right" for the platform, but this first release is not without a few issues.

The game takes a little while to get the hang of, on first approach. The title screen provides a brief list of play rules, but it doesn't send you into the game feeling very well educated. Gameplay is a fairly straightforward affair, however, and a sufficient comfort level shouldn't elude most gamers for very long. The developers, who are active in our forums, indicate that they'd like to improve the help / hint system in a future update, but prefer not to employ any sort of window overlay, which would shatter the board game feel of the title. Another criticism I might raise is the lack of a save feature; when you jump to another app, the game is gone for good. However, the developer indicates this will be remedied in the game's next update. Global leaderboards and a choice of difficulty level for the single-player mode are also on the way.

That said, Journey of Fortune: Dragon's Fire has quite impressed me. I've found it to be surprisingly engrossing to play and a title I would reach for to demonstrate the iPad to a friend unfamiliar. It's an experience I can recommend to any iPad gamer, even if RPG's aren't their thing.

If all this sounds appealing, today would be the day to jump, as Journey of Fortune: Dragon's Fire is on sale (today only) for $.99 -- 75% off the standard $3.99 asking price. A brief video of the gameplay can be seen here.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Noah

    Ahhh, iPad only. That's why I haven't seen this game around πŸ™‚

  • Gunghir

    Awesome really a no brainer for a person that needs that one slot machine app

  • Cat Astrophy

    BOOOO! iPhone app! You're just throwing free money out the window!

  • Funkyflychicken

    I have to admit, I feel the same way. It's nice to see the iPad getting support, but a game like this isn't going to SELL iPad's... so not really sure why they wouldn't give a universal release of an app like this. Seems would be easy to zoom/scroll if necessary as opposed to a full-screen view on the iPad (if that's how it works).

    I would have most definately bought this for my iPod Touch 3GS today at this price, and being such a unique game for the App Store. Hopefully the devs see these posts and start working on an iPhone/iPod version asap!

  • cinemaxgames

    I'm not sure, if it can work on iPhone/iPod, but we will try find way how to adjust it for small display, because I'm not sure about zoom. But we must test it first.

    • The greateast

      Do you want an advice? Don't hear these kids, if you do an Iphone game, they ask for an Ipad version... If you do an Ipad version they ask for an Iphone version... When you finish the iphone version, they going to ask a retina version... Don't waste your time, your game looks great!

      • Cat Astrophy

        Absolutely wrong. There are FAR FAR FAR FAR FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR more iPhone/iTouch users than iPad. Of course retina will be requested, which really shouldn't be that difficult since the entire game is played with one screen.

      • Greg Feingold

        You didn't really get the point of his post.

      • Deadchinesegiraffe

        yeah, and if you give them a description why you can't, they will be angry and give you 1 star in the store. Apptards unite !

  • Funkyflychicken

    If you could make it use a simple pinch/pull gesture like a lot of games, that might work out. I imagine the game board may have a lot of tiny details to it that would make it difficult to view the entire board on the iPhones/iPods (especially non-retina). But if the zoom would make it unwieldy, then maybe putting it on the iPhone in landscape mode, and allowing the "Board" to scroll up and down with a swipe (and to keep centered on your active circle").

    You have my purchase on the iPhone version if you can get one out. Too bad I won't spring on an iPad yet... I love the concept, but honestly I hate the fact that Apple won't do flash support or offer a way of having SD card abilities built into the iPad at least, for easier transfer/uploading of songs, photos, etc. Until they do that, and make it more worth the price in terms of storage space as well (honestly? 500 bucks for a mere 16gb of space? My iPod Touch 64GB 3GS is almost full, and there isn't anything on there I would want to remove!). At the price, I could get a much more powerful and useful mini laptop with at least 120gb of storage space and even possibly decent 3d graphics.

    • Anonymous

      I honestly don't understand why everyone wants flash so bad. It's awful and slow!

      iPad is not a laptop. if what you want is a laptop, buy a freaking laptop. If you want to play iPad games or use iPad apps, then buy an iPad. the world is a simple place...

  • Quine

    There is almost no interactivity in this game. The only choices you make are in deciding how much to bet, and that's not very complex. There are all sorts of excellent board game apps for the iPad: Small World, Samurai, Carcassonne, Settlers, etc. This is just an RPG themed version of Snakes and Ladders.

    • Funkyflychicken

      I have Dungeons and Dice, Neuroshima Hex, Everlands, and Civ Rev. Also picked up Zombie Dice for a cool, quick game. Was going to get Samurai or Carcassonne, but not sure if they are what I'm looking for. I really like Dungeons and Dice, and this game seemed like something simple enough to play a quick round with the kid or wife, but also themed around the RPG/fantasy stuff that I love so much.

      • Quine

        Medici, Keltis Oracle, Mu, and Honey That's Mine are also worth looking at. Board games are my favorite iPad genre. Especially since the adaptations have already been tried and tested, so you know that they're honed and well-balanced. And they had to become popular on the basis of gameplay rather than cool graphics, so they tend to offer more strategy.

        TouchArcade should do a little piece on board game translations.

      • EastsideStompers

        I personally HIGHLY recommend Samurai. By far the best online implementation in a board game. I don't play Carcassonne much now because I find the way they have put the 'Quick Matches' together with random people quite clumsy, with no real asynchronous play. You HAVE to play a whole match in one sitting or you lose! Not to mention it's really only the bare bones of the game (the physical board game has masses of expansion sets with different tiles etc). Samurai on the other hand is perfect in every way. The game play is brilliant and not too complicated. Sorry, I'm rambling...suffice to say....GET SAMURAI: )

      • Noah

        Dungeon's and Dice is actually pretty awesome... the only thing that would make it better is if the AI could control the other PC characters, instead of playing the game with 2-3 friends... you'd be playing against the computer.

  • DeInit

    It's called "needing the real estate". Scrollable view for developers who would sacrifice overlays for the sake of the gameboard feel sounds an unlikely choice.
    Unless they're showered with requests, I doubt it's going to happen.

    • Funkyflychicken

      Well, I know they don't want the help/hint overlays because of breaking the immersion/feel of being the old arcade/board style of game, and for the iPad that's fine, it works for that. But as developers, I'm sure they also want to see the most return and exposure possible for the game as well. I don't see it as that much of a stretch to at least put a scroll feature, especially if there really isn't THAT much going on other than, as stated above, it's an rpg-themed snakes and ladders. Which doesn't bother me at all, that's exactly what I saw this as after reading the article. But the more devices they can get it on, the better. And unless Apple can lower the price, or finds some way to push the iPad harder, I seriously doubt the thing will take off in a HUGE way (surely though in a small niche area with disposable income people) as a digital board game system. No one is going to be paying 500-600 plus to play some board games with their families on a digital device, especially when cheaper alternatives are already coming to market. (Hear that Hasbro or anyone listening? Make a 100-200 dollar digital board game tablet, include 5-6 games with it, and make other games and updates available for download through online market). THAT I could see taking off for purposes such as this.

  • Ivan

    WTF???? Most of iPad users are not gamers. But the iPod/iPhone are!

    • Anonymous

      ? I bought the iPad for gaming. I love strategy games, board games, and RPG's - all of which go much better with lots of screen real estate.

    • Anonymous

      So you think everyone purchased the iphone because they're gamers? I think you got it backward, particularly since the iPad makes more sense for gaming. I have an iPad and Iphone 4 - love 'em both. My iPad is used primarily for gaming, web browsing & reading. As for my iphone 4-- great for gaming while on line waiting for a free postal agent, and of course, most everything else.

    • Deadchinesegiraffe

      40+% of them are playing games. Thats all, check flurry

  • Mwhite67

    I just picked this up, and I'd have to say based on a few minutes of playing I don't think it would work very well on the iphone. you kind of need the view of the board for the game to really feel like a board game. Sure you could scroll all over the place or zoom in and out, but it just wouldn't be nearly as good.
    Also game is sort of fun even if there's hardly any strategy involved. not that great with 1 player, but would be good with 3 or 4. Seems kind of like a kids board game.

    • Mwhite67

      also might be better if you were playing for money or if you could figure out a way to make it into a drinking game.

  • Solo

    This game is awesome, It's fun, it's retro, it's original and it's beautiful.

    • cinemaxgames

      Thank you.

  • Sentientdead

    I totally dig on this game. The atmosphere and aesthetics are really fun, and the actual game mechanics are simple but work well. Losing battles and/or landing on a teleport space will often lead you back to the beginning of the board, but this lends itself to the traditional "grind" of an RPG, beefing up your stats before battling the dragon at the end. Leaderboards and save-states will be a welcome addition to an otherwise solid game.

  • Cbohaty

    I bought the game and overall its a great concept and has a lot of polish. here are some things I would liked fixed/addressed in an update:

    1) I personally don't like the "roll 1 to start" idea. When your playing single player its annoying. When playing multiplayer its annoying too because it can take forever just to get on the board. Maybe just the highest roller goes first concept instead?

    2) There need to be more spell options for both defensive and offensive spells. When I'm "betting 2 mana" so I can try to heal or regain mana, it can take forever to land on the one I want (not fun). If there were more versions of mana gain and heals taking up the wheel it would function better. Maybe some are 10% heal, 10%mana -etc

    The "betting 1 mana" wheel seems balanced though! Sometimes I don't want to use the other wheels because with this one I at least get something out of my turn rather than landing on nothing and loosing my turn.

    The wheel above "betting 3 mana" needs to be full of more attack spells. It took me forever to defeat the dragon because I was unable to land on any heavy hitting spells. I kept getting lightning. (Also my armor was at 99% so it was just me sitting there taking no damage and trying to get a hit on the dragon). After 15 minutes of low hitting lightning I got bored. More Please!

    If these wheels could be more flushed out it would make for a better experience.
    I hope you address these problems! I tried to play the game with my girlfriend but it was taking to long to get anywhere to be entertaining! The game has potential to be great but there are these minor problems in the way.
    This is the first time i've posted on this site (although I visit A LOT!) and its because there is a great game hidden under these minor problems

    • cinemaxgames

      Thank you for your feedback. We will update this game, especially solo game.

      But as we already wrote in forum, we already work on first update to bring save feature and fix some typos.

  • Cbohaty

    also a Portrait view with the entire gameboard would be great!

  • Quickmix

    Great Game!

  • Gunghir

    I love the ipad haters this game in useless on the tiny iphone 4 screen... So buy a ipad you moaners πŸ˜‰

  • monster

    "Journey of Fortune: Dragon's Fire is on sale (today only) for
    β€” 75% off the standard
    asking price. A brief video of the gameplay can be seen here.

    App Store Link: Journey of Fortune: Dragon's Fire,

    lul wut?

    • Greg Feingold

      The article was posted yesterday πŸ™‚

    • cinemaxgames

      We decided to make 50% off until next update, next update to bring autosave on exit feature and several bug and typos fixes. Stay tuned!

  • XyrisKenn

    I like the game. Simple, fun to play - great design! It's reminding me of the herna bars style. Just solo play so far but it would be fun with friends in the evening before going out.
    A horizontal mode to show the board might be cool. Well done guys.

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  • Terrazzo Repair

    The combat wheel also allows you to indicate how much Mana the next attack should use, the more the mightier your attack, of course.

  • Terrazzo Care Boca Raton

    Your journey is marked by an illuminated indicator

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