So how does the co-op aspect of the game stack up? Before you can access the co-op area of the game, you must play about five or six hours of the single-player campaign to unlock the area that houses the co-op play: the Mirage Tower. Once there, you can talk to an NPC to customize your appearance (customization choices include name, gender, hair style, and hair color), but these changes will only be reflected in the tower. You can play the Mirage Tower single-player or multiplayer with up to two other people via local wireless connection or Nintendo Wi-Fi. Either way, the multiplayer is multicard only, so if you want to team up with a friend or two even locally, you'll both have to have your own copies of the game. There is an interface set up for you to customize messages you can spew out with a button press so your teammates will know what you're doing if you aren't in a position to talk face-to-face (messages such as "proceeding to next floor"). Gameplay in the tower is very straight-forward: each floor you must meet a certain condition (e.g. defeat all enemies, trigger all levers in the correct order) to proceed to the next floor. After every five floors you'll be faced with a boss which upon defeating will present you with various rewards that carry over to your single-player game: base level and job level xp, physical character customization options for the tower (which everyone gets) and cards and gear that you can either choose to bid on against your fellow adventurers (no money involved, just a simple rolling system to determine the winner) or pass. Every 15 floors you can save your progress in the tower so upon coming back during another session you can, for instance, start on level 15 instead of level 1.
While the rewards are definitely nice, the Mirage Tower grew a bit boring pretty fast. I felt a bit like I was doing the Den of Evil quest from Diablo II over and over. Clearing all the enemies from the floor three times in a row gets old, especially when you get to frequently play the where's-the-last-mob game due to the fact that you are not able to see an adequate amount of your surrounds to get such an objective done in any timely manner. The good news is that you always get the map of each floor from the get-go, the bad news is that enemies are not tracked on the map which would have considerably sped things up.
As with the single-player, the co-op part is also plagued with questionable design choices. For no apparent reason you are not able to access your menu while you're adventuring in the tower, so any gear or hotbar changes you wish to make will have to be done BEFORE you start. I promptly ran into a reason why this would be an inconvenience immediately after I started playing. I thought I had set a new stack of potions I had recently purchased to one of my hotbars, but after about three floors I noticed that I hadn't. Because I couldn't access the menu, I could not remedy this problem and as a result I ended up slowly losing health and dying to the boss on the fifth floor. The reason behind this choice is beyond me. Another conceptual flaw is that because everyone who is able to play in the tower must play at least five or so hours of the single-player campaign, I find it extremely unlikely that very many people will have made a healer for the Mirage Tower. This is because Sierra, the main party companion in the single-player, is a Shaman, a powerful healer. So be prepared to do a lot of potion-chugging in the tower without a healer.
The co-op portion of Ragnarok DS is extremely limited and ultimately disappointing. Though the rewards are nice, the repetitive nature of the Mirage Tower and several bad design/conceptual choices make the co-op play become really old really fast. If for some reason you have friend(s) that have their own copy of the game and they're playing it at the same time as you, you might share an enjoyable hour or two playing it together, but because the co-op area takes a good chunk of time to reach and the amount of stuff you can do cooperatively is so limited, it's exceedingly hard to recommend Ragnarok DS as a co-op title at all; it's more like it's a single-player game that happens to have one area where you can play co-op.
The Co-Op Experience: Team up to take on Tower of Mirages, which has more than 50 floors, randomly generated maps and completion conditions, and the chance to obtain rare items.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.