GAME NAME: The Denpa Men 3: The Rise of Digitoll
DEVELOPER(S): Genius Sonority Inc.
PUBLISHER(S): Genius Sonority
PLATFORM(S): Nintendo 3DS
RELEASE DATE(S): May 8th, 2014
Those of us who are fans of JRPGs know by now that Japan can make an RPG game of just about anything. We’ve seen high school children consorting with demons, knights and wizards saving the world, and even teenagers collecting monsters to battle with. So when I tell you that someone in Japan has created not one, but three games about little people who live in radio waves and gain powers through their antenna, it should come as no shock to you. The Denpa Men 3: The Rise of Digitoll is the latest entry in this acclaimed portable RPG series and it serves up classic JRPG tropes with a colorful cast of heroes at your disposal.
The game begins by finding the Denpa Men floating around you. They are invisible to the naked eye, so you must search for them through the 3DS camera. You are encouraged to move about the real world as the Denpa Men appear on your screen to generate a wider variety of skills and abilities. For those who cringe at the thought of walking around town waving their 3DS in front of their faces, there is a choice to turn off the camera. This allows you to find a better choice of Denpa Men without having to travel anywhere. Some of the abilities that can be generated are your run of the mill JRPG spells: healing, reviving, and elemental attacks. One ability that stands out is “Catch,” which allows you to capture enemy monsters Pokémon style.
Once you form your party, your quest begins! Your main Denpa informs you that his lady friend is missing. Before you know it, you’re off storming your first dungeon. I’ve never been a fan of random battles, preferring to see the monsters on screen as I trek through treacherous labyrinths. Thankfully, TDM3 is of the latter category. Enemies roam across the paths looking for you. Their level is displayed above them, giving you a rough estimate of their power. When you collide, the battle begins!
Combat is your classic turn-based, menu selecting affair. Trading blows with the enemy is very smooth, and if it becomes tedious there are two options for auto-battling. One option sticks exclusively to physical attacks, while the other sprinkles in the magical abilities of your characters. One aspect of battle I really loved in this game is the physical attacks. When your turns line up for successive physical attacks, all of your participating Denpa Men run into the fray and wail on the unfortunate enemy. It was incredibly satisfying the first time it happened, and remains satisfying every time you can get your entire party to pummel a target, especially when your party size increases.
Different colored Denpa Men come with different elemental strengths and weaknesses, giving a bit of depth and strategy to exploring an area. You cannot swap party members inside of a dungeon, but it is not at all a chore to go back outside and switch for a more appropriate character to battle with.
There is more to do than battle and quest through the storyline, however. Dressing and accessorizing your Denpa Men is a series staple that returns in this sequel, and as you progress through the story you can build and expand a house for your characters left out of the party. Your Denpa get their own private island get away to spend their down time in until you call them to battle.
With so much to do, it is easy to forget you’re playing an eShop title. The graphics do their part towards this end spectacularly, as does the audio. The entire game looks and sounds magnificent. Maybe a little too colorful, but magnificent all the same.
I only had two real gripes with this title. One was the voice acting. When the Denpa Men talk, their high pitched, chipmunk like voices are incredibly grating on the ears. It would have been infinitely better to have no voice acting at all rather than the obnoxious, sped-up-recording voices the Denpa have. My other grievance is with the NPCs talking. They do not have voice acting, but their speech is written out in Bizarro Superman/Incredible Hulk style speech styles. Finding out exactly what to do can be somewhat difficult when your instructions are given in two-three word sentences in all caps. I was stuck even at the beginning of the game for an embarrassing amount of time because I simply did not know where to go. Eventually, I grabbed a boat and sailed everywhere to no avail until I finally stumbled upon the proper destination. This problem became much less significant when I realized that the map screen contains a hint tool tip that recaps your newest objective.
The Denpa Men 3: The Rise of Digitoll is a great handheld JRPG with tried and true, classic gameplay elements that is hard to put down. It cherry picks from a treasure trove of genre tropes right down to the bad voice acting and mostly useless, vague NPCs. The combat remains facile throughout the story and there is plenty to do outside of battle. If you are not turned away by the childish, colorful theme, then there is a really solid game waiting for you.