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Hands-On The "Denpa" Men: They Came By Wave
There are some games that look like nothing special when they're announced, but then appear to be some real masterpieces. I'm pretty sure, most people wouldn't have thought that the Pokémon-series would become so successful. But now in 2012 another surprisingly good game got released on the japanese eShop-Store: Denpa Ningen RPG!
Everything began when Eric (one of our editors) told me to shoot a video with the demo of Denpa Ningen RPG. I was not very happy about that, since I already had to make a video of Theatrythm: Final Fantasy and my time on that Wednesday was pretty short. But I did anyway. After my first minutes of playing the game, I noticed that something about Denpa Ningen RPG was different. It's pretty simple, but charming. One week later, when the retail-version was released, I bought it for 800 yen (around 8 Euros or 10 US Dollars). By now I've played for like 14 hours and finished like 50 percent of the game, maybe less. But I think that's a pretty good time, especially because it's a downloadable game.
But what is Denpa Ningen RPG about? The title can be translated into “Radio Man RPG”, what exactly tells you what the gameplay looks like. You are controlling up to eight characters (which look kinda strange) through about ten different dungeons, which differentiate a lot from each other. There is a forest-, a grave-, a castle-, a lava- and an ice-dungeon. Every dungeon comes with its own strange, but charming enemies. A battle begins when you touch an enemy. You get the advantage if you manage to sneak up from behind, so it's worth to start a battle by yourself instead of getting attacked. The fights themselves are turn-based battles, kind of similar to those in Dragon Quest. Very important for the battles is what your Radio Men look like: If they have an antenna on their head they can use magic. There are healing-spells, but also a cyclone- or icicle-spells. Those skills are restricted by AP. After they used up all of their AP they headbutt the enemies like normal Radio Men without antennas. You get new EP when the enemy is defeated, which are needed to level up your characters. Aside from getting EP you can increase the character stats by giving them new clothes or other items. But there are also normal items like healing-potions and AP-Refreshers. Those can be used in- but also outside from battles.
You've got different choices during combat: you can attack or use magic or an item. But there are also two kinds of auto-play. If you press the Y-Button, your characters will use headbutts but also magic spells, but when you use the X-Button they will only attack physically. This saves time and works pretty well with normal enemies. But when you fight a boss, you should give your commands manually. From the technical part, you can't say anything against Denpa Ningen. The graphics are pretty sweet and smooth. The 3D-Effect is amazing and even after playing straight for eight hours it is still delightful. The soundtrack is something to argue about because it's as strange as the rest of the game. I like it pretty much, though. The game is about 400 blocks big, which makes it pretty small. It's really stunning how much Genius Sonority managed to put into a game like that.
Aside from all the dungeons, which you can enter from the world map, there are some other institutions. You start the game by going into the observatory and start looking around to find new Radio Men. And by looking around I mean your surroundings, because the game uses the cameras on the outside of the handheld. So you walk through your room and try to find those little creatures. If you catch more than eight comrades they will be transferred into a box, just like in Pokémon. You get more boxes once you progress in the game, so that you can start to expand your collection. Every Radio Man in the boxes is being trained too, so you don't have to level up when you change your team. There's also a store on the island, in which you can buy new items.
Up until now I only talked about the good things. But there is something I have to mention: The games difficult level is way too high and it's unforgiving. When you die while fighting an endboss, you won't just get a Game Over, you also lose all your characters. So you have to go back into the observatory to recruit new comrades. Those are on the same level still, but the skills you got by travelling the dungeons are lost. This makes it really difficult, because you need those skills to have a chance against the dungeons bosses. If you can find a portal, you can warp back to the overworld. But be careful: If one of your Radio Men is defeated and not resurrected before using the portal, you will lose him forever! You can find those portals in front of the dungeons bosses most of the time and get fully healed when you travel back to the overworld. The only thing I can say about the bosses is: They are difficult, especially if you can't speak Japanese. If you can, you could wear the right clothes to prevent greater damage. But even then the game would still be challenging, and sometimes even unfair.
But let's get to one of the best features of the game: I already mentioned that there are a lot of different Radio Men. But now guess how much... 10? 20? Maybe 50? No, it's a lot more than just that. I guess there are around 500 (!) different characters in all forms and colours. You can send out your Radio Men and get new ones via the QR-feature. There is this website which made it its goal to list all QR-Codes and up until now there are a lot of those codes (site in Japanese)! Too much to collect all of the Radio Men in one run. But there is something like a Pokédex which lists all of the characters. And exactly this feature will cost me a lot of time. The game itself will take up to 30 hours, collecting every Radio Men at least 10 hours on top of that. So it's 40 hours for 8 Euros or 10 US Dollars. Pretty good deal, I think.
It's really amazing what Genius Sonority did with this title. You get a simple and easy to learn game, which is really difficult to master and will take you around 40 hours to complete. And you get that for only 8 Euro or 10 US Dollars respectively! You will get mad because of the high difficult-level, but the collection of all of the Radio Men will delight all Pokémon- and Dragon Quest Monsters-Fans. If the highest possible score is not enough: This game is a must-have and we can only hope, that Denpa Ningen RPG will come to Europe and the US. Because this game is much better than some of the retail-games and you have to play it.