I see banners for this sort of thing constantly, but almost never for the same game twice. The banner is always roughly the same, though: stupid game name (“Dofthat!”), anime bikini girl with weapon, optional fantasy landscape, overreaching slogan (“Live the ecstasy!”), carefully specific feature lists, and FREE MMO in big letters.
Are these things homegrown in the English-speaking market? Are they ported over from Korea? They all have some kind of RMT revenue model, right? Or is it in-game ads? Diku gameplay or what? (A couple look like platformers to me.) What markets are they popular in? Have developers from outside the genre ever made one? Has a particular developer done more than one? How many DON’T have generic fantasy settings? Are they PvP, PvE, what? Do they have “stories”? Do they have official forums? Does anybody on Qt3 have first-hand impressions of them?
Most of them seem rely on microtransactions for revenue, and they predominately come from Korea (though a variety of other southeast Asian nations get in on the action too.) I’ve occasionally been tempted to try one but never have.
PC Gamer’s latest issue covered free MMOGs and picked 9 of them as the best of the bunch (though at least one was an upcoming release), including a couple of the anime-ish ones. The only one I’ve tried which I kinda liked is Granado Espada (aka Sword of the New World): hella grindy, but you get a 3-character team and both the premise & the graphics are fairly weird & appealing to me.
I played a little, umm, Mabinogi. Free, plus you can pay for some extras, but the extras aren’t really necessary, at least to begin with.
It really isn’t bad for the first 10-15 levels or so, actually has some content, but it quickly runs out of steam.
Randomly generated (but very simple) dungeons are the bread and butter of gameplay, and it’s more efficient to do easy dungeons than hard ones, and there’s no end game.
There some content episodes in the Korean game that are slowly being localized and installed in the American game, but they are rather slim and not worth the small amount of money you need to pay to unlock them.
Edit: Mabinogi is distinguished by having a slightly nongeneric setting in that it’s very loosely based on the Mabinogion, and thus has various Welsh and Irish elements.
I played albatross 18, AKA Pangya, which is basically an anime-styled golf MMO. Super Swing Golf for the Wii is a port of it. It’s the same free to play + microtransactions model. I like the game enough and played it enough that I bought some of their golfbucks as a way to pay for my time spent with the game.