Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mugen Souls Z (PS3) Review

Mugen Souls Z is the sequel to Mugen Souls, and stars a few newcomers while also retaining the main characters and all the peons from the first game.  This time, Chou-Chou leaves to subjugate a new set of planets, twelve this time, and add them to the long list of everything that is hers.  She quickly meets Syrma, who accidentally steals most of Chou-Chou's powers with her mysterious casket.  Not one to let something like that go, the undisputed god and her friends will tag along on Syrma's mission to beat all of the ultimate gods and steal their power, in the hopes of restoring Chou-Chou to her original size.

The graphics are similar to last time, with high quality pictures of the characters used for story scenes and 3D super-deformed models for the exploration and battles.  There's also some nice pictures for a few story scenes, which can be unlocked for viewing on the G-Castle.  The story pictures for characters have more movement than last time, which is a step in the right direction.  Also, the 3D models are not just the one type, and created characters can have different chest sizes.  In an effort to be equal, males can also have the same chests.  So if you want to recreate the famous Pokemon episode with James and his inflatable boobs, you can!  It might seem minor, but I like that not every character is basically a little boy, so they look different from each other.  As far as I can tell, the voice cast from the previous game reprise their roles, although each of Syrma's moe types does not have a separate voice.  If you prefer to hear the audio in Japanese, there is dual language support as well.

The flow of the game and battles are pretty similar to last time.  You arrive on a planet with the intent of finding the ultimate god of the place and putting them into Syrma's casket to steal some of their power.  Usually this involves beating them up first.  Battles take place on a small field, and your movement is defined as a circle from your starting area.  Once you move into position, you can attack anyone in your attack radius, which is different for each weapon type.  You can also select various skills you have learned and use that instead of a regular attack.  Crystals that grant various bonuses or penalties are scattered around the battlefield to add spice to each encounter.

The battles might not be the most revolutionary thing to happen to RPGs, but they are fun.  Planning where to move and positioning attacks can make encounters much easier.  Blast Off attacks make their return, which allow you to knock enemies into another place, into each other, or even into the air!  Using this can move any pesky crystals, or destroy them.  Unfortunately, the easy bonus from hitting an air item seems gone in Mugen Souls Z.  Even so, battles, leveling and the flow of the game in general seems a lot faster than the original Mugen Souls.  I still did a little grinding in spots, but it wasn't near as much as the first game.

Moe Kills are still intact, which can use the type of girl the enemy is interested in to make them a peon.  You can change your type once per turn to better match any opponents you wish.  You can still subjugate several Planet Spots on each location for bonus money and to unlock other areas.  This time, the locations are on the map when they are available, without having to discover them first.  They also seem easier to "peonify" than in the last game.  G Castle battles are back and even better than before.  How?  Well, the G Castle now transforms into a giant robot for the fights.  As we know, robots make everything better, and I really like that change for the G Castle battles, which I was already a fan of.  The Mugen Field also returns, which helps get experience and unlock other useful functions like more job classes for peons, more slots to equip armor and other goodies.  Sadly, fighting in the Mugen Field did lock up my PS3 on several occasions, so be careful when using it... and hopefully it gets patched soon.

A new thing added to field movement are various skills.  Besides being able to jump (not new), certain Planet Spots make your jump higher, which opens up shortcuts or leads to treasures.  There are other powers that unlock during the story, like the ability to grab higher chests, unlock special ones or teleport to some hard to reach places.  On another happy note, you can change the camera's rotation speed!  It felt really slow to turn in the original, so I was glad to see I could increase it.

Being an RPG, there is a good amount of playtime in Mugen Souls.  I got about halfway through the planets in 25 hours.  This also included some time spent returning to worlds and subjugating every available point, some grinding and even a Peon Fusion or two.  While the game clock showed I was spending lots of time playing, it felt really quick.  There's also other things you can do to occupy your time in the game, like the Mugen Field and other unlockable areas, plus stat maxing with Peon Fusion.  The trophy list is also similar to the previous game.  There's one for each planet completed, ones for reaching certain levels and doing lots of damage.  A good spread of things to do to earn them, but there will be more than a few that will require lots of time to get.

I liked the original Mugen Souls, but I'm certain I like Mugen Souls Z even more.  It feels faster and more fun than its predecessor, and the story is much more lighthearted.  If you haven't played the first, they even cover the events for you, so newcomers can jump right in.  There are lots of things to do in the game, and timely tutorials to explain them.  I'd recommend the game to any fans of JPRGs looking for another game to sink many hours into.

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