Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Retro Review: Digimon World

Players: 1-2

Rating: Teen (Comic Mischief)

Digimon sprang up right alongside the Pokemon revolution, and never really had the thunder that Pokemon did.  That said, BanDai made several solid titles around the Digimon franchise.  Digimon World, one of the first, is one of them.

A while back, I included Digimon world in one of my Top 5 lists.  While the opening cinematic tells you absolutely nothing about the game, it's still ridiculously awesome:

 Is that awesome, or is that awesome?  Digimon World takes place on File Island, the same setting as the first season of the anime.  When your digimon keychain goes haywire and sucks you into the device.  You land in File City, which you discover to be a shadow of what it once was.   After answering questions from the local guru, the player receives either an Agumon or a Gabumon as a first pet.  You're tasked with exploring File Island and convincing other Digimon to join you in File City.  As more Digimon join the city, more buildings open up.  This gives you better item shops, as well as a fighting arena, a clinic, and even a restaurant.

Not every digimon is available all the time.  Some digimon show up on certain days (yes, the game includes a calendar) or certain times.  Obviously, this adds a level of time management to the gameplay, and certainly makes things a wee bit tougher for you.

Exploring File Island is actually pretty interesting.   The whole island feels like the inside of a computer.  There's random Integrated Circuits sticking up out of the ground, random electical outlets that are as big as your character, it's kind of funny Digimon World mixes it all together.

When BanDai made Digimon World, it had to do something to separate itself from the glut of generic RPGs out there.  It accomplished this by removing "leveling" in the traditional sense.  As your digimon fights other digimon, it will earn bonuses to certain stats.  There's also a training gym in File City that allows you to dramatically raise certain stats over the course of a few hours.

Edumaction: Learn me a book!
This growth system allows for another facet: Digi-volution.  At specific intervals, your digimon with "digi-volve" into stronger forms.  This new form is determined by the former digimon's stats.  Certain forms, like Greymon or Angemon, require very specific conditions to obtain it.  For those with the "gotta catch 'em all" mentality, this will keep even the best trainers busy for a very long time.

Like the virtual pets, you digimon will need to relieve itself.  Run for the nearest bathroom, or your digimon will poop in the field.  Yes, they actually included bathrooms in-game.  Younger Digimon, like Agumon and Patamon, give off a small farting sound.  Champions and Ultimates, like Tyrannomon, Andromon, and Megaseadramon, make what can only be described as a wet fart sound when they use the bathroom.  Hooray, toilet humor!

The inclusion of multi-player is interesting, but fairly convoluted.  Players have to have two separate memory cards, they need to "register" their digimon for the battle mode, and there are limits for how many digimon a player can register.  Further, the multi-player modes can pit a rookie level digimon against and ultimate level digimon, even if it's obviously not a fair fight.  As one might expect, this can and will lead to some frustrated friends.  It really feels tacked on, more like an addition for showing off to friends.  The game as a whole doesn't really need it.

Even though this game has a lot going for it, the biggest thing that I love about Digimon World is that it's just plain fun.  I cannot tell you how many times I've started a new game, played the dickens out of it, and come back later for more.  The game has this hook that keeps bringing me back. It's a real gem from the PS1 era that deserves a lot more attention than it gets.


Hazumu Pāru said...

Im play DW. Trying to get Numemon

ddrfr33k said...

Numemon is probably the easiet Champion digimon to get. All you have to do is not sastisfy any of the other conditions. Best bet: ~600 HP and MP, <75 for all stats, and fight Modokibetamon south of the training gym eleven times. Should get you your beloved green slime.