Category: Sim

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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Games For Racial Justice and Equality (Part 1)

So, itch.io ran a bundle to fundraise for Black Lives Matter, offering over a thousand games for only $5. As a fundraiser, I found the ethos… questionable (“Give us money so we can do actual activism while you play video games”), but it was a good deal, so I got it.

A good chunk of the items included aren’t actual games; they are either assets or tabletop RPGs. There are still a ton, though. Here are my thoughts on the games I’ve gotten through in the first half of the year:

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Games for Racial Justice and Equality (Part 2)

Continuing where we left off. A much weaker showing this time, with a lot of games I couldn’t even finish.

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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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Yahtzee Croshaw’s Dev Diary

In 2019, Yahtzee Croshaw (the game reviewer who does Zero Punctuation) challenged himself to make 12 games in 12 months and document his progress every fortnight. As someone interested in game design myself, I checked them out and I recommend you do too. They’re all short, free, and incredibly varied.

In this post I’ll give my own ranking, and short thoughts on each one.

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Rune Factory 5

Rune Factory 5 is a game so incredibly disappointing that I have come out of retirement to complain about it.

The way I would describe this game is: It’s like no one at the developer was familiar with crafting games other than Atelier, and then they crammed RF4 to see what the series was like, and then half-assed the production of the game.

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Spiritfarer

Yet another seemingly cute game that’s actually grimdark depressing. Maybe we should be concerned that’s become so common? This one is at least up-front about it: You play as someone who guides dying spirits to the afterlife, fulfilling their last requests before you do so. But even knowing what to expect, it was so much more depressing than I was prepared for.

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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 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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