RPG Review #171: Digimon World

NuMetalManiak Does anybody even remember what Digimon was all about? It came out basically as the masculine equivalent to Tamagotchi, but then again had to expand further into having an anime as well as a few games. And here I am playing through this entire franchise of them, starting with this Playstation title. And well, this is a Playstation title that I wasn't expecting to be an incredibly harsh game to completely complete. But I do hear that the other games in this Digimon World series are significantly different from one another, so we're going to see how they go next time.

Gameplay: The gameplay is a combination of both the digital pet that Digimon originally started out as, and then the almost traditional RPG mechanics. I think it would be a good time to start talking about the virtual pet mechanics in this game. You control a guy who has one, just one, Digimon with him. This is his pet and he is allowed to train this pet any way he wants. And there's just tons to do with this overall. Training can be done at a specific gym or training area, you can allow the Digimon to just do the challenge for a while and then get a permanent boost in their stats. You of course have to feed the Digimon with the food that will give them both weight and happiness value. And the happiness value can also be raised by praising them when they do something. There's also a discipline bar, which dictates how well they will listen, and there's even a scold command in case they do something wrong. Like if they need to use the bathroom. Yes, this game does feature Digimon needing to poop, and there are toilets and porta-potties they can use, but they will go whereever if you don't make it to the toilet in time. And training must be done in moderation to avoid tiredness or other such issues. If you train Digimon well, they can Digivolve into stronger Digimon. So while the ultimate Digimon is a goal to achieve, therein lies another issue, age and stats. You cannot have your Digimon forever, because at any point there can be what's known as "fading away", ultimately ending the lifespan of a Digimon. But in that end they produce an egg, hatching into a different Digimon that you can raise up again.

But then you have the regular RPG gameplay that you have to balance with the training of your Digimon. There's a lot to get sidetracked before you get to the game itself and what it has. You'll of course be exploring this world, expanding a home city as well as participating in battles with Rogue Digimon. And it's a good time to mention, I really don't like it. The thing is almost entirely AI controlled, especially at the beginning, you can use certain commands to try and further influence your Digimon, but in the beginning you're limited to just "your call" and the Digimon just battles with what they are up against, which can even be several opponents. Every Digimon has techniques they can use, which cost their MP, but also the only way to learn other techniques is to beat other Digimon in battle. As you grow the stats of the Digimon the brains stats allows for more commands to be used. There can be a ton of battling in this game, but the slow pace and mostly AI control doesn't make it as great in my opinion. Balancing out mostly AI-controlled battles with the virtual pets makes the overall pace of the RPG go down.

And then there's the mechanics of time. In this game, time moves much faster in terms of days and years. There's a clock in the upper left corner which shows your time in-game, but it's also somewhat confusing to read and even moreso there are events that depend on the time in game. Grade: C+

Characters: This section is basically blank. While I could label all the Digimon, there's really too many of them and you're better just looking them all up online. And your character is some kid with a traditional thug hat, at least he's a good kid and a trainer of a Digimon, but he's got no name other than the one you give him.

Plot: And oddly enough, with all the sidetracking to train the Digimon, it's really easy to forget there's even a plot to this game. In fact, the only thing I really can say about this game's plot is that most of it will be in the beginning and end of the game. Your character is some closeted kid who has Digimon and when he uses it one time, he gets sucked into the digital world. According to Jijimon, the leader of File City, several Digimon left File City and have became feral as a result. The boy's own Digimon is either an Agumon or Gabumon depending on questions answered in the beginning. Afterwards, he's tasked with restoring File City, by finding all the feral Digimon, possibly battling them, and also expanding the city. And you get extra amenities in the city as a result, growing more food, creating shops and hospitals, all in good. This also increases your character rank, which is another goal.

The ultimate enemy in this game resides in a place known as Infinity Mountain, named Analogman. He's another tamer who has a MachineDramon, which is the ultimate boss. His goal was to essentially enslave the Digimon, which is why they were originally feral at first. And after you beat them, you can still play the game getting all the optional stuff, such as tamer ranks, all Digimon acquired, and the many medals. It's certainly not unlike Pokemon with regards to plot, there's the whole "start out with one trusty pet, train it, have it battle, go through some challenges, and then there's this one villain that you gotta deal with". So overall, it's very basic for a plot. Grade: C+

Music: Arguably not a bad point for this game. The different themes feel decent enough, for a game involving a digital world, it's not sunshine and rainbows, but funky guitar work and synth to accommodate whenever you're not adventuring and feeling the ambience. In other words, battle themes are really where it's at. Grade: A-

Overall grade: C+

The first Digimon World was easily the most ambitious. There's a ton to digest in this game especially with regards to training, but I feel that you spend far more time doing that that the plot of this game, which wasn't that amazing, falls sort of flat. It is certainly worth a try, but it'll be different than the other games in the franchise for sure.