Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Moco Moco Friends (3DS) Review
At first Moco Moco Friends looked like a cutesy version of Pokemon, and in a way, it kind of is. Instead of normal monsters, the ones in Moco's world are Plushkins, which are like living stuffed animals. It's a pretty neat idea and setting for the game.
While the story started off fine, it quickly irked me. There just seemed to be so much idle chatter. I'm fine with characters conversing, but the people in Moco sometimes just add a lot of extra dialogue that I got tired of very quickly. Plus, you can't exactly mash through it, since there are gaps in the dialogue boxes appearing for moving and other things. The actual story is fine and easy to follow. Each chapter tends to be similar: opening dialogue, talk to someone else, go to dungeon(s), defeat boss, dialogue, move on. It works for what it needs to do, even if it is formulaic.
Dungeons are small and randomly generated. Each floor has about 3-6 rooms connected by hallways and look like dungeons found in mystery dungeon style games. All the ones I've encountered had only two floors and then the boss room, so they are very bite-sized. It's not really as bad as it may sound. While they are a little short, at least they aren't over 20 floors, since that gets boring too. Each dungeon has a particular theme for the simple scenery. There are also random treasure chests and harvest points to get items from.
The harvest points each have a little mini-game with them, where you hold the A Button and let go at a certain point in the animation. If done correctly, you will get two items instead of one. If you let it go too long, you fail to harvest any items, but the harvest point remains. You lose a few seconds, but keep your chance at getting two items, so it's always better to let it go longer than shorter.
Battles are turn based and feature up to 3-v-3. You select the move you want to do for each of your party members, and then all combatants do their moves in...some order. It doesn't feel like it is solely based on speed, but it's also not entirely random. Up to four Plushkins can be taken with you, but the fourth is a reserve that you can use to replace one. Usually, I have that as the one I'm trying to level up and rarely switch them in to combat. It would be nice to carry more for that purpose. Switching or using an item does not take any of your Plushkins' turns, either.
Each move that a Plushkin does takes some of Moco's magic, represented by the dots around the gear in the top right of the screen. Each turn Moco restores half of the total number of dots. Usually the stronger the attack, the more dots it takes, which is shown on the attack. The circle in the middle of the gear builds up and when full, allows unlimited magic for 1 turn. Unfortunately, it is automatically applied. It would be awesome to save it for a boss fight, but you can't. It's still a nice feature that gets more useful as you get more magic-hungry abilities.
The Plushkins can learn up to four moves, but one of them is always a generic attack. Once they learn another move, you can choose to replace one of the three with the new one. My favorite part of the combat is selecting the move/item and target. It's done with the different directions on the d-pad, which is pretty intuitive. I've probably seen it before, but that doesn't diminish how fluid it is. My only gripe with the combat is the accuracy. The base is 90%, meaning you miss more than I would like. It only goes down from there. The big attacks that hit the whole enemy group are costly and tend to miss at least one opponent. Bleh.
Plushkins can also evolve to a new, higher form once they reach a certain level and you have some specific items. Their level is reset down to one, but their stats are higher than the previous form. It will take them more experience to level up in the new form, but they are capable of taking on some higher level enemies. They also have a max level, but you can basically sacrifice one of the same type to increase it. Each one will also have up to two innate skills and up to two species skills. To unlock the skills, you will need some more, different items and raise their level some. So, there is a good use for some extra Plushkins, and I like how involved the leveling is with them. Now if only it were easier to get the items necessary.
The town that Moco resides in has some useful functions. First there is the Plushkin house that lets you do things that pertain to the monsters themselves, like change your party, evolve them or awaken their innate abilities. Second is the sewing house that lets you convert your harvested materials into different types of items, like healing ones and equipment. This is really useful, but you can only dictate the type of item made, and the result is random. Obviously, this can make it time consuming to get the ones you actually need. Third is the farm that allows you to grow seeds to get particular materials and has a few harvest points like the dungeons. You can also set plushkins at special pots that they will harvest. This function is really nice, but suffers from the same problem the story does. There is way too much dialogue and animations for just assigning a plushkin to a pot to harvest. Again, not game-breaking, but annoying. It might only be an extra 10-15 seconds, but multiply that by how often you are using the garden and you get an idea of how much time is wasted.
The game is not really difficult at all, and I don't think it is supposed to be. I didn't have a single of my plushkins get KO'd until late in the game, and really only happened because I had a newly evolved one that hadn't caught its levels back up. Even then, I won the fight with no other issues. I'm fine with the game being on the easy side, since it's likely intended for younger audiences and it's pretty relaxing to play through it. It will probably take around 15-25 or so hours to make it through the game, depending on how focused you are on doing the story versus other stuff. Getting some of the rarer plushkins to join you will take some luck and time, since you need particular dungeons to show up, and then have to get lucky again for them to join you after battle.
Moco Moco Friends feels like a mix of Pokemon with some mystery dungeon elements (and no, not like Pokemon Mystery Dungeon). It's a very cutesy game, and my 5 year old daughter thought many of the monsters looked cute. It's not very hard, and probably just right for kids. While I have a few small problems, mostly related to the extra dialogue in the game, it is pretty relaxing to play. The monster designs are pretty nice, but the dungeons are kind of bland. Still, Moco Moco Friends is a decent RPG on the 3DS.