If you have a few hours to kill, and you would like to invest that free time into a quirky JRPG, then The Denpa Men 3: The Rise of Digitoll might be the fix you are looking for. I never had the chance to play the first two games in the series, but from what I understand, you don’t need to in order to enjoy this installment.
First off, the music is catchy as heck and the little adorable Denpa men look harmless and cute, but some of them really pack a punch. The graphics are colorful and the more I play my 3DS, the more I like having the 3D option. For this game, I thought the 3D worked well and I found myself leaving it on for the duration of my adventure. The characters looked to me like a weird mix of Teletubbies with their weird little body suits and sprites from and old favorite of mine, Gitaroo Man, from a few years back. The game looks cute, but it’s not necessarily a kiddie’s game. Although, with its somewhat simple control scheme, it might be a good place to start out if you are new to RPG’s. I did find myself grinding a bit in order to level up. It probably wasn’t necessary, but I can never help myself. I like to be a bit overpowered if I can be.
The story here is typical JRPG fare; which is fine because it gets the job done. No, you don’t wake up in a strange place with amnesia and special powers, but you do have to rescue your friend Crystal from some nefarious characters. You go after her, find out she is somewhere else, do a couple of fetch quests, learn she has been moved again and eventually…well you just might find her. The fun isn’t necessarily just in finding her, you know she isn’t going to be at the end of that first dungeon anyway; the fun is always in the leveling up and gaining access to new areas and recruiting new Denpa’s.
Starting a new game, you immediately you have to recruit Denpa men to help you in your adventure. Early on you might not even be sure why you would pick one Denpa over another. Turns out that some of them have antennae on top of their heads and this allows them to have special powers like healing or reviving or some other magical skill. The poor guys with nothing on their heads are more of the tank type characters and usually start off with more physical power and HP.
The fighting mechanic is fairly simple. You are able to choose a strategy and assign it to the X and Y button. It may be a strategy of “go all out”, in which your characters will fight with physical attacks or use magic and healing in whatever way they see fit. It may be a more conservative attack where the Denpa’s will conserve magic and only use physical attacks. You may choose to heal or be defensive. These strategies are not set in stone. You can change them on the fly. When you choose what you want to do that round, all of your men act and you can see them attack or heal. Once that is done, you pick your next move for the group and wait for any counter attacks from the enemy. Of course, you can choose individual moves and whether or not to use items or run away.
At the end of the day, besides having the RPG elements to it, this is also a game about collecting and sharing. You have options to use Streetpass to collect jewels and to sell items to other players. Jewels are a second form of currency in the game and besides gold, the only way to purchase certain upgrades and features. Collecting is a big deal in this game. You collect Denpa’s to help you along. You can switch them out at just about any time. You collect loot, accessories, pieces of furniture for your Denpa homes and gold to buy things. There is even an option to import a character from the first two games if you happen to have an old save file of either.
I am not usually one for collecting things in games. I like to play through from beginning to end, usually bypassing as many side quests and collecting games as possible, unless they are absolutely necessary. But, I did find myself building up the population of my islands and furnishing my homes because I was having fun and liked leveling up my characters and a couple of the mini-games such as fishing. The fishing game comes into play pretty early in the adventure and it is a great way to earn lots of money by selling your catch.
There were a couple of features that I really liked in this game, which made the adventure more enjoyable. Firstly, once you visit a place, you can “Jump” to it whenever you want. Just by pushing the X button, a menu of previously found location pops up and you can instantly teleport your group to that place. Plus, every time you enter a town, your group is healed and fully restored. So, if you are like me and enjoy grinding to level up and collect loot, you don’t have to be near a save point or a town, because as long as you are on the world map, you can instantly jump to a town once a battle is won and heal up. Then you are ready to go out and adventure some more.
Secondly, if your team is somehow unfortunately wiped out, you will lose the members of that team forever. But, for a price, you can go to the Shrine on Digitoll Island and revive them. That way, if you have some favorite little guys in your group, you can keep them around, even if you have been completely wiped out. But don’t worry, if you are wiped out, you keep any experience gained and all of your accessories and equipment go back into you inventory to transfer to another Denpa if you wish or if you revive a favorite character, he can be equipped immediately just as he was before. This helped alleviate some of the frustrations of re-equipping characters. Oh, and another thing, all of your collected Denpa’s, even if they are not in your immediate group, level up as you gain experience. That way you don’t have to worry about switching out guys that never get used just to level them up. They are always there in reserve.
Denpa 3 is a worthy download, and was a pleasant surprise in my opinion. I’d never heard of the series and finding a quirky and fun JRPG that offers a nice adventure and plenty of extra in the form of socializing content and collecting, make this a definite recommendation. What seemed overly simplistic and a bit too cutesy at first glance, turned out to be a pretty fun and rewarding adventure.