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The bonus “Mugen Field” dungeon is one system that stands above the rest but still falls short of what it could have been. This dungeon is a good place to grind up experience and even has its own storyline involving Mini-Chou-Chou's alternate personalities, but as with everything else in the game, there are too many unnecessary fiddly bits added to it, and an unreasonable amount of time would have to be spent inside it for its full value to be realized. Similarly, the game's ship-to-ship combat system is a fun rock-paper-scissors game at its core, but upgrading the ship requires more effort than the experience deserves. This imbalance between time invested and results gained echoes throughout the game, making what could have been a silly, breezy gaming experience into a slog. Less of a slog than the first game, perhaps, but a swamp hike nonetheless.
Much like the gameplay, the presentation is a mixed bag. Everything is bright and colorful, perhaps too much so for some players, and there's a reasonable level of diversity between the various worlds. Neither the 2D art used in conversations nor the 3D battle and exploration art distinguishes itself in terms of quality. As usual with Compile Heart, budget restraints are obvious graphically. There's a similar issue with the music, which is properly bubbly but not outstanding. The English voice work is pretty good, though, performed with gusto by what sounds like NIS America's usual crew.
Mugen Souls Z can certainly be fun to play and delivers some nice humor to gamers who are familiar with Japanese pop culture. As a full package, though, it's a bit shoddy. It has too many systems that aren't compelling or interesting to use, particularly considering the amount of time it takes to get results from them. In this sophomore series title, the developers should have trimmed the fat instead of marginally improving it and adding even more unnecessary systems. The base gameplay doesn't hold up for the full length of the game, and the added complexities not only fail to add to the game's appeal, they actively work against it. Just like many of the game's secondary characters, it will be difficult for most players to be convinced that experiencing Chou-Chou's charms is worth the attendant drudgery.
Senior Contributing Writer
Date: May 15, 2014