Posted on November 2, 2012 AT 05:42pm
The Japanese role-playing game genre is fairly predictable over all. You play as a hero. You must defeat the evil that has overtaken your world and level up killing monsters. Mugen Souls turns that idea on its head and creates something a little different, for the better and to start your game off right, there are eight free add-on packs you can download from the Playstation Store.
In Mugen Souls, you are Chou-Chou and your goal is to make the everyone and everything in your universe your peons.You want the seven worlds and all their inhabitants to be under your control. In a sense, you might be considered the evil overtaking these worlds except you do have to defeat each world’s demon lord, so maybe it’s more like trading one evil for another? You travel on a ship you refer to as G-Castle. As you gain power, G-Castle’s population grows and shops begin to open. Mugen Souls attempts to create a game what has more than just kill-and-level but they did bite off a little more than they could chew.
The graphics are cartoon-y but it works for this story. The story is far from pretentious and the game certainly does not take itself seriously. At certain points in the game you find yourself in group baths and teasing the male characters with your lack of modesty. Sorry boys, no nudity. The environments are colorful and each world has its own style. The music is catchy and the standard edition comes with the official soundtrack included sung by the
Mugen Souls is fun. I had a great time with the characters and the fact I had the option of either killing enemies or just making them succumb to my charms thus turning them into my peons instead was an awesome change. The problem I had was with all the other added on options. It became a little overwhelming. The game throws all these nuances and battle options at you from the very beginning and then starts to add more as you progress through the story. You have the typical battle mode, Moe Kill (which creates peons), peon balls, turning blast off or on, turning peon off or on, G-ship battles, and the list goes on. The developers would have done better just sticking to a couple of elements rather than cramming all of these options in.
I found Moe Kill the most challenging, the most fun, and the most frustrating all at the same time. Chou-Chou has multiple personalities and you must choose the correct personality for the enemy you are trying to make your peon. Within that personality option are three choices you must make to interact with the enemy. Choose wisely and the enemy becomes your peon. Don’t and you might have to battle them, as in the case of master gates, or try again on your next turn. Here is where it gets frustrating. The game tells you to match the personality (sadist, masochist, hyper, graceful, ego, ditz, terse or bipolar) to the personality of the enemy. Don’t worry, that will be listed in the enemies stats. Then you must gauge the enemies mood and try to choose the correct three interactions to woo them over. You would think that if one of the enemies had a masochist personality, then matching it with your masochist and picking those subservient options would win them over. Not so, if they are in a bad mood you must try to find nice options and if they are happy, find mean options. If they are somewhere in the middle, good luck. Once you think you have it all figured out, it seems to stop following its own rule. It was still a fun option regardless of its inconsistencies. Since your goal is to create peons and to make continents your peons, you have no choice but to use this.
G-Castle chip battles are more of a rock-paper-scissor type thing. You have to guess what your opponent’s next move is and pick your next move to counter it. There are hints but trying to decipher them is not easy. You will get to strengthen your ship with experience and peons, called shampurus. The more shampurus, the better off you are. The ship battles are fairly short for the most part so you won’t spend too much time with them. On G-Castle is an area called Mugen Field. Here you can farm experience. You will wager money and be pitted against enemies on the ground or end up in a ship battle. Winning these battles will net you Shampurus, which are these bunny-like creatures that monsters turn into when they become your peons.
I could go into more about the battle systems but I think you can get a clear idea that there is a lot to learn and a lot going on. Frankly, there are way too many elements. Increasing the size of your peon ball, upping your charm skills, fighting, air battles, fusing peons, field battles to up stats, buying weapons, armor, and then upgrading those with elements and G-Up points…it gets to be way too much to keep track of. I found myself pretty much sticking to Moe Kill and just standard turn-based battling. I only resorted to everything else when I was forced to. If you want to try to do it all, I suggest a notebook so you can keep notes on how to do everything and what each option does exactly otherwise you might find yourself running in circles doing the “Muppet fail” trying to remember everything.
Another feature that was fun to play around with was the ability to create a peon. You can choose the features you want and dress them in clothing you can buy or find. You can add can even add them to your sub party. It lends some individuality that JRPGs can sometimes lack. I felt a little like Doctor Frankenstein, in a good way.
The story was engaging. Chou-Chou is adorable and naively egocentric. Each of her companions have unique personalities as well. The dialog will challenge that fourth wall from time to time as well, lending to the overall humor already in place. For example, at one point Soul Skyheart tells Sandy Sunshine that he makes her wear bikinis because they have a high defense level. Anyone that plays RPGs knows that with female characters, the smaller the armor, the higher the defense. It’s those little things like this that really make Mugen Souls charming. There is an impressive lists of characters that you will be able to choose from, I mean huge list. You will be able to create a main party and sub parties. Outfit your characters with weapons, armor and clothing options. The nicest point here is that all options are interchangeable between characters. You don’t have items that are specific to one character thereby limiting your ability to increase the stats of your party through equipment though I will say that being able to put a bra on a male character does make me giggle.
I thoroughly enjoyed playing Mugen Souls despite the issues. There are too many elements and this over complication of the game detracts from the pure genius of the basic battle system. Still, if you are a fan of the genre you are going to like this one. The step to the right it takes from the normal RPG formula is refreshing and welcome. The developers just had too many good ideas that they wanted to include and that kept them from developing the core ideas fully. While not a perfect game, the general formula is good and because it challenges the normal RPG conventions, Mugen Souls is worth owning.
The Good: Humor, Charming Characters, Not Normal RPG fare, Fun
The Bad: Moe Kill can be Frustrating
The Ugly: Battle System Contains Too Many Elements, Too Complicated
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