This game is far more user-friendly than you might first expect. The cabinet looks something like this:
The game itself is a MOBA that I assume is based around Alice in Wonderland, but I probably miss most of the references in translation. As per usual, minions are coming down lanes, and it’s your job to stop them while also defeating enemy champions. Games are set on a strict time limit because this is an arcade, and money has to come from somewhere. I believe you get about 7 minutes per game. There is a jungle area, but it’s more just to disguise your movements. Instead of purchasing items here, you equip them before the game, and they activate as you hit certain levels. The same goes for your skills, which can be slightly customized as you gain cards.
That’s right: there’s also a card aspect blended into this. As you play each match, you gain cards that can either be equipped or used to power up your different characters. If it’s silver or gold, it’s a power-up, and they will immediately ask you which character you’d like to grow. At first, the characters just gain gear and skill slots, but later on they’ll start gaining stats that will make them more powerful.
If this sounds like your kind of game, playing a touch-screen MOBA while also collecting rare and powerful cards, then read on.
Using the amazing powers of my phone, I’ve taken a very basic shot of the equipment you will be using to play.
That’s a joystick in the middle of the ball. You move your character with the joystick, and you perform a dodge roll when hitting the big button and joystick at the same time. Other than those two functions, everything else is performed with that giant pen (hand for size reference). To attack, you swipe from your character in the direction you want to shoot the attack. This costs no mana, but your character will stop moving while you fire. To perform a magic attack, you hold down the stylus button and draw a path from your character to anywhere on the screen. Some characters will throw out a damaging shot that follows your path, while others might just throw a bomb to the end point of your path. This attack costs mana, but it isn’t an actual skill card.
For your skills, you simply grab the skill at the bottom of the screen and put it in the middle. If it’s a skillshot, you will then aim that shot and tap to fire. If not, it will activate on its own. That’s about all there is in terms of actions you can perform. Swipe for basic attack, hold button and draw for magic attack, and slam cards for skill attacks.
It’s worth noting that each character has his or her own basic and magic attacks, so they may perform differently than you might first expect. I just learned those things through trial and error. What’s more important is selecting just one character and practicing with only them for each match.
When you first load into the game, you pay a certain amount to get tickets. During your first couple of plays, each game will only cost one ticket, which is equivalent to one dollar. The more tickets you buy at the same time, the more extra tickets you’ll get for free. Five dollars can get you eight tickets, so it’s best to prepare for a longer session. Most games are quite good about providing tutorials for first-time players, and Wonderland Wars is no exception. I’m not going to try and type japanese here, but “yes” is always on the left, and it’s always the best answer. Trust me on this one. Once through the tutorial, you’ll finally be met with the main screen. Here you can see three or four options of gameplay.
At the top is PvP, the middle is vs. AI and the bottom is for setting up each character. As you can see, eventually each game costs two dollars rather than the beginning one. So, those 8 tickets will end up buying you 4 games. For practice, I’d recommend choosing the vs. AI option and then picking a map with the lowest difficulty. You still get rewards, so it can be far more fun than getting beaten up against other Japanese. When ready, clicking the top option will just take you to character select, where you choose your champion and wait for the match. As for the bottom, that’s customization.
To work the customization, you’ll be given another strict time limit. Once that runs out, they’ll ask if you want to use another ticket to get 3 extra minutes of time. This is one of the few times where you should say no. If you really want more time, after each game you get another free minute to get things done, so make sure and customize after each match. I can’t explain every button here, as I don’t read japanese, but you choose a character to fix up and click the bottom-right big button. After, move around equipment and skills until you feel satisfied. Again, click the bottom right button, and hit yes twice. That’s all there is to it!
Each piece of gear generally has positive and negative effects. Even the best items may also decrease range or health in exchange for power. My best advice for what to use is to just look at icons. If it lowers speed, theres a foot icon and a down arrow. Also, HP and MP are still in English, so you could read these, too. Wearing equipment is probably always preferable to going in bare, so just toss on what you have until you build an inventory.
Most of what happens in Wonderland Wars is exactly what you’d expect. The minions fight each other, but if you hit an enemy hero, they attack you. A difference about minions, though, is that if they reach the enemy tower, they get destroyed when they do damage to it. Therefore, you need quite a few minions to blow up a tower. On towers, they are a bit strange. In fact, they don’t actually do anything but act as a spawning point for minions. They won’t attack you, so if you can clear everything out, smash away at the tower. By moving next to it and holding your stylus on the tower, you can do good amounts of damage, but this is obviously risky.
Apart from regular minions, teams also work together to build up a special meter. As each person levels, the team level goes up, which builds the meter a bit more. Once full, a random player’s special spirit will be summoned. These are the cards you equip that say “Soul” on them. They are special passive cards that can potentially change the match when activated by the spirit meter. When a soul is equipped, it gives you different stat buffs once you reach the required level. When activated, each soul calls out a different giant guardian that acts as a kind of mini-boss for the other team. These guardians all have different missions, and I can’t tell which one does what. However, some will make a B-line for the towers and destroy one if it gets close enough. Others will work to clear waves of minions over and over, causing your team to get one huge push. Still others might just protect friendly champions from enemy champions. Try each one out until you find something you like.
There are speed boosting platforms located near your spawn point. Walking through them gets you into lane quicker. Also, there are healing fountains that should be used whenever you get low. Certain maps have one in the center while other maps only have healing fountains in the back of your base.
At the end of each match, you are given six cards to choose from as a reward. Once you choose a card, they will ask if you want to spend your tickets to choose two more cards from the group. The correct answer here is “no.” You may also receive Overdrive cards, which are what you use to level your champions. Make sure to be investing in one or potentially two champions only. Otherwise you’ll be spread too thin, and your champions will be underpowered in matches.
Another thing of note is the shop. In the game, you’ll be collecting these maple leaves as currency to spend in the shop. The shop offers your standard F2P MOBA fare, from unlocking the different heroes to upgrading your equipment and souls. It’s relatively self-explanatory, so I’m not going to go into detail.
One final thing of note is the Wonderland Wars Library, which is an entirely separate cabinet located near the regular cabinets. This has a few special features. The video below gives a pretty clear explanation, even in Japanese.
I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure it will occasionally stream games from one of the cabinets at each arcade. Also, if you log in here, you can check out your replays to see what other players were doing. You could also watch top-tier replays from the best players in Japan.
The most important thing, though, is that you can use this to buy card packs. For 100 yen, you get six cards that go directly into your account. Truth be told, I only bought a single pack, but each card was 3 stars or above. You aren’t getting to play the actual game, but you can obviously gain large amounts of power by investing in a few packs before playing competitively.
Overall, this is a game for people who enjoy the MOBA formula. Collecting characters and gear is rewarding, and I personally enjoy the shorter length of each match. The stylus is your main weapon, and you use the joystick for moving and dodging. The first option in the main menu is PvP and the second is vs. AI. You have 60 seconds to customize before each match, so work quick. Use the Library to buy new packs and learn from the pros.