|Release: May 9, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Mild Violence|
by Jenni Lada
I'm riding the waves again, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. The Denpa Men 2: Beyond the Waves has arrived on the 3DS eShop, giving everyone a chance to battle evil dust mites and monkeys with freaky little dudes and dudettes that have a penchant for colored jumpsuits. But I'm getting ahead of myself, and I’m probably confusing a lot of people who don't know exactly what Denpa Men are.
Back in September 2012, Genius Sonority and Nintendo unleashed The Denpa Men: They Came By Wave on the eShop. 3DS owners then had to use AR functions to search WiFi signals around them for Denpa Men, which they would recruit to help a specific Denpa Man save his girl, Crystal, from the King of Evil. The Denpa Men 2 picks up a few years after, with the same Denpa Man, if you'd like.
In The Denpa Men 2: Beyond the Waves, our brave little Denpa Man is in trouble again. He calls out to the player for assistance, because some monkeys are ruining his farm and terrorizing his family. He doesn't have the strength to fight them alone, and needs someone with a 3DS to help him catch some friends to fight them off. After using the 3DS to search local waves for floating Denpa Men and Women, and getting three to join the party, the monkeys are driven off and the day is saved.
Not. Said monkeys tattle and bring in an even bigger monkey who kidnaps the Denpa Man's wife and two children. He then takes off, leaving players and their new Denpa friends with an epic quest. Following this quest will take players around a fairly large and colorful world to save the abducted family.
Of course, players can't just rush off and save the world. Not with the few Denpa Men and Women they have. The Denpa Men 2: Beyond the Waves is part AR shooter and part turn-based JRPG. To get the party members necessary to explore new areas and be a big hero, people first must catch Denpa. This is done by entering a tower in the Denpa town, holding the 3DS up, and using the system's cameras to "scan" for new allies. Let me assure you, it is as embarrassing as it sounds.
While someone could, theoretically, find enough Denpa Men to fill a party by sitting at home, scanning the WiFi signals from themselves and their neighbors, the best Denpa are only found by going outside and making a fool of yourself. After all, standard Denpa, with no special ability antennas, are no fun. People need variety. I needed glowing Denpa, which are stronger than usual and often have a special antenna attack or buff, which means I had to hunt for them. I wanted multicolor Denpa, which are strong to two different elements. I was compelled to scour areas for Denpa that are already equipped with clothing. Naturally, after recruiting those guys and gals, I unequipped the clothes, gave them to better Denpa, and left the ones I recruited just for the clothes somewhere in digital Never Never Land.
Fortunately, I didn't have to look too hard. The AR portion of The Denpa Men 2 has been adjusted. I noticed glowing Denpa Men appear far more frequently than they did in the original game. However, multicolor Denpa's appearance rates appear unchanged, and it is as though clothing-equipped Denpa are the new glowing Denpa. Aside from the appearance changes, catching remains the same. The only alteration is the incessantly irritating "commentary" by the hero Denpa Man. It was initially novel when I realize he had a high-pitch, sped-up voice and could talk to me as I played. That amusement lasted all of 15 seconds, fading once I realized he would be constantly commenting on my catching competence. Moreover, the overuse then led me to cringe anytime I heard said Denpa talk during the story. Those who already have a strong team from the original game and wish to do as little AR hunting as possible can transfer over their characters after a certain point in the game.
It's interesting to note that the Denpa themselves have been changed a bit in Denpa Men 2. There are two new solid-color Denpa I have seen. Silver Denpa are strong against Fire, Ice, and Water, but weak against Electricity and Dark, while Purple are stronger than normal against Light and Dark, but weak against all other elements. Striped Denpa have been nerfed in the sequel, as this time they aren't just strong against the elements represented by the two colors on their suits, but also have both of those colors' weaknesses. Ones with antennas have a chance of having one of the new special skills to use in battle, like Steroids, which strengthens one Denpa. Just note that if a player does transfer over Denpa, the striped ones will be assigned additional weaknesses upon arriving in this installment. Also, all transferred Denpa Men arrive in Denpa Men 2 at level 1, regardless of their prior levels.
The JRPG part of The Denpa Men 2 picks up the moment a player leaves the tower. The hero Denpa Man's farm functions as the game's main town, with facilities like shops and homes offering reasons to visit to recuperate, swap party members, stock up on items and equipment, and tend to a farm. Once a player leaves town, trouble seeks them out. The monkeys aren't the only opponents to best in this world, which now is laid out like a standard, Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest land. Critters like cats, dust balls, trees, and corn cobs are out for Denpa blood. Players can see all of them on the world map or in dungeons, in case someone would rather avoid a battle, but I say fight whenever possible. Like the original, The Denpa Men 2 is no easy ride and will eventually get quite difficult. Especially since there's the fear of a Denpa dying and having to either rescan a QR code or go hunting to find him again, forcing the player to then go through level grinding to make the Denpa viable again.
The Denpa Men 2's battles remain one of the best aspects of the game. They're still turn based, but executed in such a way that they never feel tedious. Players go from having four, to six, and, finally, to eight party members, and can press a button to initiate auto all-healing or all-attacking assaults against opponents. If "attack" is pressed, all the Denpa assault one enemy in a massive swarm, saving time so players don't watch each one attack one at a time. I'm also still impressed by the option that lets Denpa "Go For It," as it still knows when healing or buffing would be appropriate. Plenty of items are also available to help heal Denpa and attack enemies as well as provide equipment and clothing to make characters stronger.