|Dev: Genius Sonority, Inc.|
|Pub: Genius Sonority, Inc.|
|Release: May 8, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Mild Fantasy Violence|
by Jenni Lada
It's that time again. Once again, we raise up our 3DS systems to the sky to scour the waves for some of the strangest, whimsical creatures in the virtual world. The "Denpa" Men 3: Rise of Digitoll is here, which means another 20-30 hour JRPG to consume our time as the lovable Denpa re-enter our lives. Yet, somehow, this installment feels different. It's still fun, of course. While the previous two The "Denpa" Men games were purely whimsical affairs, I couldn't shake the notion that The "Denpa" Men 3 was a more capitalistic endeavor. A-B-C. Always be collecting.
The store of The "Denpa" Men 3 remains unchanged from previous installments. Once again, players encounter a new Denpa or one from the previous adventures. The abduction prone Crystal has been taken captive by enemies, and the heroic Denpa man who loves her sets out to rescue her, getting caught up in a plot to protect people all around the world in the process. To be honest, it's rather tiresome and a more stimulating plot device would have been appreciated. Still, it does get the job done, and after a while the pursuit of profit will be more than enough reason to travel the world.
Players can't do much in The "Denpa" Men 3 without the Denpa. These bodysuit clad men and women are the key to not only the salvation of both Crystal and Digitoll, but for a successful, financial future. Which means making a fool of yourself, heading out into the real world to catch them. This is done via an augmented reality mini-game. Wireless signals in the air around you spawn Denpa men, some of them even glowing with extra power or with multicolored bodies.
If you've played Face Raiders, the stock AR game included on every 3DS, you're familiar with the capturing mechanic. The Denpa fly around, and players press the A button or right trigger to send a net out to grab one. However, The "Denpa" Men 3 includes two new innovations. One is that Denpa will fight back, and fire blobs of paint at the screen to obscure your view. A quick shot at the oncoming projectile will cause it to splatter. It's frustrating though, because it can be difficult enough to capture the special Denpa without them fighting back. The other new feature is an occasional treasure chest, which can be opened to find money or an item.
Once players have a reliable crew of four Denpa men to start, the JRPG elements envelop them. The starting island is a home base, with room for the homes of the first batch of heroes and heroines, a shop, a museum, a place to revive fallen Denpa and a cave that leads to the first dungeon. It's the first of many safe, civilized areas, and when the team of heroes sets foot in any of these sanctuaries, all health and antenna power is restored. It's quite a comforting notion, since battles await both in dungeons and on the overworld map.
Anyone familiar with old school games will find themselves at home in a The "Denpa" Men 3 battle. They're largely traditional affairs, yet streamlined as well. Players select the Denpa's actions at the start of each turn, and can individually decide each party member's motions, choose to have the group attack all out with everything they have, or fight conservatively, without using any antennae powers. When a turn begins, the Denpa may attack en masse, depending on whether they're attacking in general or using special skills.
However, there's another game changer. A Pokémon-esque element is included, as some Denpa have the ability to capture monsters. These can be a second line of offense and summoned in a fight to turn the tides in case a specific skill or additional strength is needed. It's quite a help, and I found sometimes it even could help eliminate some of the grind. Since swapping Denpa in and out of the party is even more effortless than previous installments, it means someone can easily go from a summoner-heavy party to one with skill-specific Denpas. It's never been easier to be prepared for every situation.
Truly, The "Denpa" Men 3 tries to fill that same quirky, JRPG niche as its predecessors. Enemies once again are unusual, ranging from unconventional animals to various kinds of plant life that have suddenly come to life. It's bright, colorful and cartoonish, again proving the series to be quite a relief in a gaming age where many RPGs are more serious or detailed like Dragon Age or Rune Factory.
But, that doesn't explain why I feel that The "Denpa" Men 3 really comes down to being all about the money. Frankly, the Denpas live in quite a consumeristic world. I mean, the fishing industry alone accounts for the bulk of every players' fortune. After acquiring a basic fishing pole and bait from a nearby island, they're able to fish at various fishing holes around the world, gaining experience and leveling up their abilities. Caught fish sold at the right time can bring in massive fortunes, as the fishermen gnome will sometimes feel generous and buy your catch for more money than usual. And, if someone happens to catch something rare, like a Napoleon fish or stringfish, well, then they're set.
Which works wonderfully, because The "Denpa" Men 3 provides plenty of opportunity to spend money. To start, there are item and equipment shops that sell items that can be used in battle, armor and clothing Denpa can wear, and even furniture for favored Denpas' homes. Granted the interior design aspect is purely cosmetic, but it's so easy to earn money in the game that it's a welcome way to spend spare pocket change. I'd even say it's encouraged, since a player can tap a button for a quick reminder as to what they should be doing, making it easy to step away from the main quest to become a millionaire.