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The Most Diabolical Aspect of Square's Demons' Score is the Hellish Hidden Cost

Illustration for article titled The Most Diabolical Aspect of Squares emDemons Score/em is the Hellish Hidden Cost

Released today for the iPhone and iPad, Demons' Score is a rhythm action game from iNiS, the creators of DS classic Elite Beat agents, so the decision to spend $6.99 for a chance to play it was a no-brainer. I'm just not sure I want to fork over the additional $37 I'd need to purchase the rest of the game.

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In Demons' Score your character, Serenity, battles demons using the signature rhythmic tapping that made so many DS owners fall in love with Elite Beat Agents back in 2006. Each level consists of a corridor of combat, followed by a boss fight with a demon.

The first boss you battle is Asmodeus. Once you defeat him you make a pact with the demon via a magical phone-based plot device, giving Serenity the power to transform into a provocative half-demon form. This new form proffers bonuses to defense as experience points earned in battles and changes the song played during the corridor scene.

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"What a nifty mechanic!" I thought to myself, looking forward to battling and unlocking more outfits — I was a big fan of Final Fantasy X2.

I eagerly plowed through the next corridor, took down the second demon, and chose to make a pact, just as I had done with the first one, and a "Processing Your Purchase" screen popped up.

Illustration for article titled The Most Diabolical Aspect of Squares emDemons Score/em is the Hellish Hidden Cost

I knew $6.99 was too good to be true for a Square Enix mobile game.

Flipping through the silhouettes of the demons waiting for me to best them in battle, I counted nine new characters total, each running $2.99 apiece. That's nearly $30 worth of extra cost.

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Now I can skip these purchases and continue playing the game, but since the corridors leading up to the bosses feature music and gameplay patterns determined by the demon you're wearing, unless I pay I'm stuck listening to the same music and fighting the same battles with slightly different graphics every time I play.

Out of curiosity (and a love of funk) I spent $2.99 on a pact with Belial.

Illustration for article titled The Most Diabolical Aspect of Squares emDemons Score/em is the Hellish Hidden Cost
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Two levels later I was already tired of the music. I longed to hear what the other demons I had unlocked had to offer, but at that price? It probably won't happen.

Illustration for article titled The Most Diabolical Aspect of Squares emDemons Score/em is the Hellish Hidden Cost
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Illustration for article titled The Most Diabolical Aspect of Squares emDemons Score/em is the Hellish Hidden Cost
Illustration for article titled The Most Diabolical Aspect of Squares emDemons Score/em is the Hellish Hidden Cost
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Now if I do soldier on to the end of the story, which runs the course of three difficulty levels, I can spend another $9.99 to unlock Satan's difficulty level, but I think I've been punished for my purchase enough.

At least it's a universal app?

Congratulations Square Enix, for taking a game I was incredibly excited about and making me despise it. My feelings are best summed up by the negative review left on the iTunes entry for the game by one Arth0s: " scooped this up because I liked Inis's work with Nintendo for the DS but don't be like me!!"

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DISCUSSION

TheSadClown
Nightshift Nurse

The IAP model in Demons' Score is easily the most insane I've seen yet. It's really just a hair away from a game saying, "Congratulations! You just beat stage 1! Here's the gold and experience you earned. Would you like to spend $0.99 to access it?"

Apple really needs to start reigning in these bullshit IAP practices. Sure, the publishers are at fault, too (very much so...the greedy shits) - but ultimately the responsibility lies with Apple to govern their own ecosystem and establish some rules and guidelines to keep things from going totally overboard.

It's a shame too, because given its pedigree I was eagerly anticipating Demons' Score (and at its core, I still like it), but it's also become a poster child in short order for so much of what's seriously wrong with iOS (and mobile in general) as a gaming platform.

Apparently, Capcom's pulling a similar stunt with Street Fighter X Tekken - placing access to ranked online matches behind the same sort of "wait or pay" option that governs most mobile building sims.

As it stands, with each month I see the App Store reminding me more and more of the environment that caused the crash of 1983. It's not an exact parallel, but their are definite echoes of it all around.