Review – Digimon World Data Squad

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Publisher: Bandai Namco
Genre: Turn-Based RPG
Platform: PlayStation 2
Release Date: September 18th, 2007

Premise

Based on the Digimon Savers/Digimon Data Squad anime series, we follow Marcus Daimon and his Agumon on a mission to stop a rogue Digimon. During his mission, he is defeated by a powerful Digimon, known as Creepymon. While Marcus vows revenge against him, his vendetta is postponed when DATS learns of a group of missing children and its relation to a place in the Digital World known as the Dark Area. What is the connection between this terrifying area of digital space, and is it connected to Creepymon?

Story

All in all, we are looking at a pretty cookie cutter story. Since most of the main plot can be connected back to the anime series (and references to the series are many), all that was really needed was to create a side story with the existing characters. It does help to watch at least some of the anime to really understand the references. That can be a drawback for many, as it means that additional investment is required to really enjoy it.

Characters

Again, there isn’t too much that is very unique about the characters themselves. A few original characters were introduced into the game, but they didn’t really add to much to the progression. Basically there was no character growth at all, leaving the build up to the story alone.

Visuals

This game at least looked rather good for its time. The combat animations were fun to watch, and the overall aesthetic of the map design was decent. My only issue is that some map visuals were merely re-colored and re-used, which shows a little bit of laziness in the development. Two specific maps looked almost identical, and that was where I really came to the conclusion that the developers weren’t actually trying.

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Audio

Audio had way too many problems, both technical and thematic. Thematically, I just couldn’t get a good vibe from the music. It was really a mash-up of different types of techno and epic music, and it rarely fit the vibe of where you were.

The technical part came mostly from the voice acting. While the acting itself was less than fantastic, we are also hit with the fact that thanks to terrible loading times, I would hear random lines coming from people after a fight that I should have heard during the victory screens. There were also many cases where the voice audio was too low and I had to turn up my volume to hear. The sound settings did not really help this one way or the other.

Gameplay – Exploration

Exploring the game is as easy as selecting a map location and going there. Once there, you can run around with a bird’s eye camera angle and explore your area. Each area has its own puzzle gimmick that will need to be cleared in order to proceed to the next part of the area, or to the boss. There are also treasure chests littered around, so it’s also a good thing to find. Enemy encounters are random, and you’ll know when it’s happening, since the load times in game are slow, even by PS2 standards.

Gameplay – Combat

Fighting is done with a party of three Digimon and uses a straightforward turn-based timing system.  When your Digimon’s turn comes up, you can do one of four basic commands: Attack, Support, Guard, and Flee. Each main action has a subset of actions within its category. These sub-actions are based on which Digimon you are using at the time. An example would be that the support command includes using an item, or using a specific power-up move, where an attack would just be for different types of attacks that Digimon has.

What’s interesting about the combat system is that the Digimon will give you an idea of which ability it would prefer to use at the time. What will happen is that the command will branch out, and show you multiple actions of the same name. Whichever one shows up the most will be its preferred attack. The choice of attack then will affect your relationship with your Digimon. This is something I wish was elaborated on a bit more in combat gameplay because at its core, it’s quite neat. It gives your Digimon a say in what it does, instead of just barking orders. Sure, you can still do that if you want, but it’s nice to see that connection between tamer and Digimon.

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This game expands on the Digimon types by having a total of eight different types, paired into fours. This means that each type in that pair is weak to the other. In my playthrough, I didn’t really notice any resistances to other types, but the weaknesses were definitely there.

Digimon also have the ability to Digivolve in battle if the conditions for its evolution are met. More on that….right now!

Gameplay – Digimon Progression

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While EXP was the main feature in levelling up your Digimon, Each individual Digimon has an expansive tree to Digivolve. In order to Digivolve, certain conditions must be met. These conditions can include things like having beaten a total of 25 Dragon type Digimon, or dealing 50000 total damage. Some are even extreme enough to say you need X amount of a specic stat. For the really high level Digimon, there are very lengthy requirements, making completionism a total grind fest.

Once the conditions are met, a Digimon can only evolve in battle using the DigiSoul Charge command. I liked this system, because it made combat more interesting by spicing up your party on the fly. The drawback is that if you weren’t paying attention to your Digivolution map, you may end up evolving down to a weaker Digimon, and there’s no way to go back in battle. You can change which Digimon form your partner starts with in the main menu, so you can go back to it at any time.

Gameplay – Optional Content/Side Quests

The only optional content within the game are in the form of high level side bosses. By defeating them, you unlock the option to eventually Digivolve into them. The requirements are still hefty to become them, since they are supposedly the best of the best. I found that it wasn’t all that necessary for the final boss. I somehow happened to have a system that worked in order to get through the game.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a die-hard Digimon fan, then I can recommend the game to you. It’s hard to recommend it to anyone else. I want to say that I enjoyed this game, but my enjoyment came solely from the fact that it was a Digimon title. This is a prime example of a game that needed a lot more QA testing before its release. The load times were terrible, the music was sub-par, and it seemed like the developers just stopped caring at one point. The sad part here is that if they had done this tweaking, I think the game would be a much more enjoyable experience. The combat was solid and had a smidgen of individuality for a standard turn-based experience. Overall, it’s not a bad experience. It’s just not a terribly good experience either.

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Review – Digimon World Data Squad

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