Scheduled release date:
October 16, 2012
Publisher:
NIS America
Developer:
Compile Heart
Number Of Players:
1
Genre:
RPG
Release Date:
October 16, 2012


NIS America has yet to abandon the hardcore JRPG faithful. They have kept mostly true to the sub-genre’s roots, publishing quite a few titles from talented developers like Gust and Compile Heart. The latter team has produced Mugen Souls , a game that – like so many other niche JRPGs recently – doesn’t take itself seriously for a moment, and still manages to provide the player with a ton of depth. From what I’ve played, the mechanics are unfortunately mediocre and the in-game visuals are kinda disappointing, but the target audience should appreciate the effort.

Really, this game is all about making you grin for a variety of reasons. Firstly, there’s the seven-world structure (starting with the Sun World), where you will explore and attempt to “conquer” each world. When I say conquer, I’m talking about the sudden whim of the grand supreme ruler, a little pink-haired girl named Chou-Chou, who has some surprising abilities. …still, it’s strange for her to think she can simply rule everyone and everything, which is part of the plot’s enduring comedy. Anyway, the areas are of a decent size and quiet colorful, and you encounter enemies in the field.

When running into a foe, you switch to the battle screen to begin the turn-based encounter. Now, here’s where the true depth of the game starts to shine: Mugen Souls appears to be a blend of Shin Megami Tensei , Suikoden , and Disgaea . Those who remember the SMT installments are familiar with the concept of enemy recruitment; those games let you capture opponents in battle, after which you could train and even breed them. It’s similar here, but there’s a twist- You have to get the foe to fall head over heels in love with Chou-Chou; if you’re successful, they will become a besotted, loyal Peon. Yeah, they’re called Peons.

The interesting part is that you have to check the personality of the foe and compare it to Chou-Chou’s, so you select the three “approaches” – including Abuse, Hit, Kind, Confess, etc. – to lure them to her side. For extra fun, Chou-Chou has seven distinctly unique forms (the fact that there are 7 worlds is no coincidence), each of which alter her personality. There’s the ditzy blonde, the “emo” iteration, the sassy and sexy, the elegant and graceful, and more. You can change Chou-Chou’s form with L1; you can even change in a battle after seeing what types of enemies you’re up against; it can give you the definite edge.

Speaking of battle, like Suikoden III , you can move a certain distance before executing your action. If you’re in range of an enemy, you can attack; if not, you can defend or whatever. If you’re close enough to an ally, you can Link up and cause big damage to the hapless enemy, which also get smacked with your special abilities. Finally, there’s a Blast Off skill that actually tosses an enemy into other enemies so as to inflict even more pain. Plus, you’ve got the standard RPG elements, such as equipment, experience, and active and innate skills, so there’s no shortage of stuff to consider. Strategy and micromanagement galore.

The mechanics are just a little wonky, though. You seem to run around the open areas almost too quickly; it creates a blurring effect that I don’t think was intentional. The camera isn’t great and although you can gain the edge by striking an enemy before battle begins, the swing is so slow it’s very difficult to time correctly. Also, I have to say, the in-game graphics won’t impress anyone. This all being said, the JRPG fans will adore the depth and really have a good laugh at the humorous dialogue and situations. This one kinda pokes fun at itself.