Man, Mabinogi. Mabi-fucking-nogi. Brings me back to some good times. Honestly, this was one of the first MMOs I’ve seriously played, and I loved it to death after playing it for a while. My ex-girlfriend, Marisa, introduced me to this game about 4 years ago. Due to me being in a long-distance relationship with her at the time, I said to myself, “Hell, at least it’s free to play. Always a bonus. Plus, I’m sure she’ll appreciate me at least TRYING it,” unaware of how much of an impression it’d leave on me. I downloaded that motherfucker and logged onto Mabi for the first time, ready to explore the promising lands of Erinn..
I logged on and was immediately plopped into Tir Chonaill, the starting town. At first, the game didn’t make a good impression on me; it looked way too casual , like there wouldn’t be enough gameplay to keep me busy. I slowly realized, though, that Mabi had way more to offer than I could even think of. When Marisa and I started playing, we started off around season 2-3, when the paladin and dark night transformations first came out, so there was nowhere near as much content as Mabi has now. We had no more than four towns, the rich kids wore $50k robes, and being a paladin or dark knight was pretty much being a god. It felt simple and friendly, and, in hindsight, was a really good foundation for expanding upon. Mabi’s main strength, though, was the freedom of choice it allowed you. It was something I hadn’t seen in an MMO up to that point. The ability to do whatever you felt like doing at the time combined with an open skill system that cast off the restrictions of separate classes synergize so well together that you truly feel like that you can do anything. Want to go fishing after murdering a pack of wolves? Go for it. Want to spec for being a swordmage who knows how to cook? Go for it. Wanna just chill with your friends in town? Goooooo for it.
Time went on, and Mabinogi got more updates, I didn’t have as many people to play with as I had hoped for, and I got busier with school, so I fell out of the Mabi scene for quite a long time. Years passed, and one night, I was looking through some old pictures of mine and discovered that I still had my Mabinogi screenshots saved deep within the depths of my hard drive. Looking through my folder, I got really nostalgic, and even though I didn’t have anyone to play with, I updated my Mabi client and hopped back into Erinn for the first time in years. I looked around for the night and was honestly stunned by how much had changed. It didn’t feel like it did when I first played. Now you could say that it didn’t make the same impression the second time and my standards were too high, but I could kind of “sense” that the spirit of Mabi had changed a little. It went from adventuring and socializing to a watered down instant messaging service with Mabi’s graphics and gameplay thrown on the side. People felt more interested to just talking about their lives or whatever their friend did than questing.
Now, don’t get me wrong, guys and gals: nothing’s wrong than hanging out with your friends. I think it’s a nice change of pace and prefer to sit around for a bit after some dungeon runs or whatnot; however, absolutely no-one seemed interested in playing the game, especially with strangers. People weren’t accepting of playing with randoms at all. It was sitting with friends in town, checking on their personal shop, or being AFK. Nothing else. No one wanted to explore the world and just have fun. It seemed like a chore to them. Aren’t the main driving points in an MMO in meeting new people and having fun? The “new” Mabi didn’t seem true to the “old” Mabi spirit, ESPECIALLY with the Shakespeare updates. Implementing Shakespeare seemed like a huge break in the reality of Mabinogi. This is a game with goblins, orcs, imps, dragons, and gods; Shakespeare is a HUGE change in direction for the game. Granted, Mabinogi has Celtic and English roots, so it seems like Shakespeare would synergize well, but the truth is that it doesn’t. It shatters this meticulously crafted world with a giant backhand from our own reality, which brings the player out of Erinn and back to, I don’t know, fucking Idaho or something.
Now don’t get me wrong; Mabinogi is still a good game. It just doesn’t feel the same to me personally as it did when Marisa introduced me to it. It felt a little more familiar to me than it does now. A new MMO that was ready for adventure in a new world, with a new player also ready to explore and discover. I would say it’s like if you grew up with a friend for a long time, then he moves away for a while, and you meet up when you guys are in high school or college or something and looking at how much he’s changed. He’s still the same guy, but there’s that nostalgic factor that you’ll never be able to feel or experience with him again. To me, Mabinogi will always be a part of my gaming history, and hopefully the original Mabi “spirit” will be renewed along the line to draw me back in.
For those interested in trying Mabinogi: Click here for the Mabinogi home page. It’s free-to-play, so there’s no excuse for not trying it! And if you want to play with me some time, I’m on the Mari server. Maybe I’ll see ya around! :D