Reviewed: October 11, 2007
Released: September 18, 2007
Digimon have been a staple in North American since 1999. The series has spawned several TV seasons, cards, action figures and video games. Namco Bandai has been behind the marketing of Digimon from the beginning and has recently released 3 new titles this year. The first two are Digimon World Dawn and Digimon World Dusk, dual SKU titles for the Nintendo DS. Digimon World Data Squad is the third game and also the game that I am reviewing now.
Digimon World Data Squad is not only a first in its story but follows the characters from the new season of Digimon that airs this year. This new chapter in the DigiUniverse is completely different from past games and shows. Digimon World Data Squad is also a first in the way it is played. Unlike previous titles, Data Squad is a special breed of RPG known as a Dramatic/Innovative RPG. What this means is that your Digimon partner is affected by how you treat it.
You play as Marcus Daimon, one of the 4 Savers and a member of DATS or Digimon Accident Tactical Squad, from Digimon Data Squad, the new TV show. It is your job as a Saver to protect the human world from invading wild Digimon from the Digiworld. Digimon World Data Squad surprisingly enough runs parallel to the anime by almost the same name.
Digimon has always been geared toward young children, much like the series that Digimon was said to be ripped from, Pokémon. Which is nonsense, they are nothing alike. Now I have sadly played almost all of the Pokémon games, and personally I think Digimon is leagues better. For one thing Pokémon has no real story and I can’t stand hearing pika pika for half an hour. Digimon actually has a serious story line and to be honest I love this.
In the Pokeverse, you capture as many Pokémon as you can and train them to fight. In Digimon, you train your single Digimon to fight and survive. I’m 25 years old and I love Digimon, weird huh. I have also had the fortune to play the first Digimon game created, Digimon World for the PlayStation.
The interface of Digimon World Data Squad is pretty straightforward in its design. There is a straight forward Heads-Up-Display (or HUD) when you are traveling in the Digiverse. The name of your current location is shown in the upper left of your screen and you Partner Digimon is shown in the lower left of your screen. The partner Digimon icon not only shows what your Digimon is but also his Health Points (or HP).
The controls of Digimon World Data Squad are pretty basic and easily figured out. You move around the game field with the left analog stick and zoom in and out by pushing up or down on the right analog stick respectively. The one this you cannot do with the camera is look around you. I would rather be able to turn the camera around the character then look at his clothes. You can examine objects or talk to characters by using the X button, like most RPGs. The games menu can be accessed by pressing the Triangle Button, again like most RPGs.
Like all of the previous Digimon games, you train your Digimon Partner to make it stronger. As you level up your Digimon, your Digimon’s status rises as well and in turn they will digivolve or change in to an entirely different Digimon. Marcus’ partner Digimon Agumon featured in all of the games and shows can digivolve down two different paths depending on which requirements you meet. You can digivolve Agumon or any other Digimon you possess by doing a Digisoul Charge during battle or in the Galactic Evolution System or GES for short. Your Digimon’s digivolution process is shown is in the form of stars floating in a galaxy. Hence the weird name. Your Digimon are constellations and you can cycle through possible paths that you can digivolve your Digimon into. Once your Digimon evolves using the GES system he or she stays that way. This is pretty cool considering what they could have done.
The combat system is where the game gets interesting. Now as mentioned this game is different than all of the previous titles. In Digimon World Data Squad, your Digimon tell you what they want to do in battle. When it is your turn to attack you are presented with what is called the Emotional Command System or ECS. The ECS resembles a honeycomb pattern of sorts around your Digimon. Depending on how your Digimon is feeling, various commands can be present. There are 4 basic command types available: Action, Guard, Escape and Support. Guard and Escape are pretty self explainable so I will skip over these two and concentrate on the other two.
The Action command consist of all the attacks that be executed, and there may be several different commands to choose from. Say your Digimon is feeling particularly riled up, you will see more red Action commands present than the other three types. But if your Digimon is weak more Guard or Escape commands will fill the screen. Now the fourth type, Support, is for Marcus to choose. These commands vary for the ego boosting “Cheer Up” to the Digivolving “Digisoul Charge.” There are a few “power up’ enhancements that can be used in battle and are usually stat rising in nature.
There are items that can be bought or found in the different “zones” in Digimon World Data Squad. These vary from Healing items, to items that are used in battle, mostly status altering attacks used on your opponents, to map items that can alter your enemy encounters or change your friendship with your Digimon. Mastering the battle items will make your battle a lot easier. Trust me on this one.
There are not too many major cutscenes in Digimon World Data Squad. Most of the cutscenes are in the form of the Digivolve sequences in battle. The graphics are cel-shaded and quite frankly the worst part of the game. I have seen cel-shaded games that have looked a hundred times better that this one. Digimon is a well loved series, so why must they torture us with bad graphics
The sound in Digimon World Data Squad is probably the one thing that I really enjoyed the most. The battle music was pretty cool, but it did get repetitive after a while. The boss fights at the end of each stage featured a different tune but the music didn’t change much. Each zone had its own music in the background and that’s the way games should be. Nobody wants to hear the same tune for hours on end.
The voice acting was actually pretty good and I recognized one voice actor right off the bat. There are a hand full of voice actors that known for their roles in some of my favorite anime shows. If you are not an anime fan then you probably not recognize any of their names.
The one voice actor that I recognized was Crispin Freeman, the man behind Alucard, from the anime Hellsing. This man is amazing in every sense of the word. A few of the other mentionables in Data Squad are Steven Blum, the voice of Toonami’s host robot and Spike from Cowboy Bebop. Also Kyle Herbert, known for Gohan of Dragon Ball Z, and Colleen O’Shaughnessey, who was the voice of Sora, from seasons 1 and 2 of Digimon: Digital Monsters.
Digimon World Data Squad is pretty decent value wise. Since you can digivolve you Digimon in different ways you can replay it and try for that path you didn’t go for the first time around. The game is however quite long. The battles can go on forever at times, and the lackluster graphics don’t help much. The battles can get repetitive and saving is a pain since you can’t save where ever you want. Digimon World Data Squad retails for $30 dollars but I think you’d be better off waiting until the price drops to $20 dollars.
Digimon World Data Squad was decent as far as gameplay was concerned, but the graphics weren’t the best. I’ve seen better cel-shaded games on the PS2 than this title. Since I am a fan of Digimon, I was pleased with the wide variety of Digimon available to use and even those that I couldn’t use. One of my greatest moments in playing Data Squad was getting Agumon to his Mega form. At $30 bucks this game is a bit too high for its quality but I would recommend renting this game first before you buy it. But if you are a diehard Digimon fan then by all means pick this game up.