Category: Monster Collector

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor

Firstly, can we all just collectively boggle at how the localizers decided translation is for chumps? Customers should not have to flock to translation sites to know what the title of the series means.

Anyway. Devil Survivor is a spinoff of the Shin Megami Tensei series, and the first in the series I’ve played all the way through. (I tried the first game once and couldn’t get into it.) I’d say it’s very good for the most part, but in the end it kind of goes to Hell. It definitely tries really hard, but it fails to follow through on its ideas properly.

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Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2

So, I decided to try out Devil Survivor 2. I reviewed the first game a while back; this one is a spiritual successor kind of sequel, with no direct relation to the first game’s events. I did not like it nearly as much. The characters are a pack of annoying anime cliches and the plot is virtually nonexistent outside of the final Big Choice, which is just more “the answer lies in the middle” propaganda. I couldn’t even be bothered to do a NG+ for this one.

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Digimon World Re:Digitize

In 1999, Bandai broke Digimon into the mainstream with the release of its first video game title: Digimon World for the PlayStation. Digimon World was, by any objective measure, a terrible game. The mechanics were incredibly convoluted, punishing, and poorly-explained, glitches abounded, and everything was filtered through a poor translation that just made everything even more confusing. Even with the official strategy guide, we were barely able to muddle our way through to the end.

I loved it anyway, because it was also an incredibly unique game. It was a fascinating blend of open world, town sim, monster-raising sim, and RPG. You were given free reign to explore a huge, fascinating world with tons of secrets and interconnecting parts, and every digimon you recruited contributed to the central city in some way. At the beginning of the story, the city is totally abandoned, with nothing but a sad empty market square; by the end, it is a booming community with a variety of incredible services. Even the digimon that provided only minor or aesthetic additions delighted me; I loved seeing how all of them contributed in their own way.

Unfortunately, this was to be a one-off. The sequels in the series were completely different genres, adopting much more standard RPG mechanics. I’m not sure what they were thinking, because this is Digimon, so it’s not like it has anything going for it but the monster-raising aspect.

So imagine my surprise when I heard there was a spiritual successor to the original Digimon World, using the same mechanics! It was called Digimon World Re:Digitize and though it was never released outside of Japan, a fan translation was made. I decided to try it out on a whim.

I discovered they made Digimon World into a functional game — but at what cost?

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Yo-Kai Watch

I recently tried out the first Yo-Kai Watch game, out of curiosity for what the rest of the mons scene is doing.

My most important takeaway is that anyone who says Yo-Kai Watch is trying to copy or replace Pokemon has clearly not only never played the game but never played any other mons game either and probably thinks Pokemon has a copyright on the genre. The two franchises share a target audience, but otherwise they could not be more different. Yokai talk and are presented as distinct characters, yokai cannot be commanded, and most shockingly of all, the protagonist isn’t silent!

As for the game itself, it is a godawful grindy mess that can barely be called a game. But it has some interesting ideas, and I enjoyed the creature designs.

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Digimon World Re:Digitize Decode

So, a while back I reviewed Digimon World Re:Digitize. The fan translation for the 3DS port, “Decode”, was recently finished. I decided to give it a whirl at the behest of the Digimon community’s insistence that its new features fixed all my complaints about Re:Digitize.

In general, I found it an improvement — it follows up on a lot of dropped plot threads from the original, adds lots more NPC dialogue with genuinely helpful tips, and adds several new side quests that provide useful features. But it still doesn’t fix any of the fundamental problems I had with the original.

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Monster Sanctuary

Monster Sanctuary is a cross between a monster catcher RPG and a Metroidvania. I am interested in both of those things, so I decided to check it out.

This game is better than Pokemon in every conceivable way except for the most important one: Monster designs. As you can see in the banner above, monster designs are incredibly basic, usually consisting of real plants, animals, or mythical creatures with only minor twists. And those tiny overworld sprites are all you’re getting; you don’t get to see detailed closeups in battle like you do in Pokemon. This is highly unfortunate, because the game is otherwise very enjoyable and has a number of features I wish Pokemon would include.

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Monster Rancher 2

Monster Rancher 2 is an old game Farla and I played when we were kids. I decided to pick it up again to examine it with fresh eyes as part of my mons exploration. (I skipped the first game because sources tell me it was basically the same, except grindier.)

In theory, this game is everything I want out of Pokemon. In execution it’s very half-baked, and I got bored of it pretty quickly, but it has a lot of potential worth examining.

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Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth

My investigations into the mons scene continue, this time with Digimon. This is the most Pokemon-like Digimon game I’ve seen: You can raise any digimon you see and the pet sim elements have been removed to focus purely on battling. This makes it very easy to compare with Pokemon, which is useful because it does a number of things differently.

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Shin Megami Tensei: SNES Trilogy

Time to spice up this Christmas with some good old-fashioned blasphemy! A while back I reviewed and mostly enjoyed the Devil Survivor games, which are a spinoff of the Shin Megami Tensei series (or Resurrection of the Goddess if you’re not a weeb who thinks leaving things untranslated makes them cooler). The main series is also highly praised, so I decided to check it out, especially since as a Pokemon fan I’m interested in monster-catching games, and this one actually predates Pokemon by a significant margin! I chose to skip the NES Megami Tensei games and start with the SNES Shin Megami Tensei trilogy.

Sidenote: Every game starts with a standard “Any similarity between our characters and real people or organizations is purely coincidental” disclaimer, which, LOL. LOLOLOLOL.

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Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne

This was the first main series title to get an international release, I guess because the moral guardians finally quieted down enough for Atlus to feel comfortable floating their screed about the many evils of Christianity to the rest of the world. But did you know it’s actually not the first entry in the overall franchise to get such a privilege? A few spinoff games got American releases earlier, where the series title was localized as Revelations. That’s genuinely such a great title. “Resurrection of the Goddess” may be literally accurate to the Japanese title, but it’s an artifact title with no meaning for most of the games. But “Revelations” so neatly encapsulates what the games are about both literally and symbolically on so many levels, and it’s a Bible reference!

So of course when it came time to finally bring a main series title international they decided to throw that in the garbage so they could not bother translating the title at all instead, because what is localization.

So it’s time to explore Revelations Untranslated Word Salad III: Nocturne, the third numbered entry which is actually the fourth entry, or sixth if you count the pre-reboot Megami Tensei games. The franchisening has truly begun.

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Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers

The years preceding Localization Crimes III: Nocturne saw a large number of spinoff releases for the series. One of them was Persona, which Act reviewed way before this, but a lesser-known one was Devil Summoner, which is basically identical to the main series so I’m not entirely sure why it’s a spinoff.

The first Devil Summoner sounds interesting from the Wikipedia article, but it was never even fan-translated, so I instead started at Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers. Ah, you know something’s a franchise when it contracts colon cancer!

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Abomi Nation

Abomi Nation is a roguelike mons RPG — essentially, an entire game built around a randomizer Nuzlocke. I think this is a pretty smart pairing — the biggest problem in mons games is that it’s infeasible for a single player to use more than a small fraction of the total roster, so by building the game around multiple playthroughs and randomizing your team each run, you get to appreciate a wider variety of mons than you would otherwise.

The Nuzlocke comparison is very apt, however, because the gameplay is otherwise nearly identical to Pokemon’s, with all of its flaws along for the ride.

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Digimon World: Next Order

I despaired of ever getting to play this because it was a PS4 exclusive, but this year it got ported to Switch!

Digimon World: Next Order is the third true Digimon World game, conceived as a throwback to the original PSX game and a followup to Re:Digitize, which I reviewed here. It is a much better game than either of them and does a better job of recapturing the essence of the original Digimon World, but still falls woefully short. Admittedly, at least part of this is definitely that the original Digimon World‘s formula wasn’t very good to begin with, but a big part is definitely the design decisions of this game, particularly a lot of things that are most definitely problems with the current generation of gaming.

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