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.
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.
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?