Digimon. Some say it is a cheap Pokemon rip-off capitalizing on the monster craze. Other claim that Digimon in its original form was around before Pokemon. Still others say it is completely different and much better than Pokemon. I see it as something that is becoming popular because people are sick of Pokemon and parents and teachers are aware of it and banning it left and right. It could be that all of this is true but 1 simple fact remains. You ainít gonna get no Pokemon on your Playstation. So you will have to settle for Digimon.
Let me first point out that I am a fan of Pokemon and an even bigger fan of Monster Rancher so when I saw that this game was going to be a combination of the two I was really hopeful and excited. The truth is that it is a combination of the two games but it fails to capture the fun of either game and only really captures the boring parts. Though it has the potential for fun and interesting gameplay, I think that most people especially kids will find the game uneventful and monotonous.
The beginning of the game showed some real potential. There is a village and all of the Digimon have left because they have lost their heart. You have been ported inside a Digimon game machine to help convince the Digimon to come back to their home village. Great, already the game has given me a purpose and a need to explore. I am provided with a Digimon based on my personality and I am off right?
Wrong. First I have to train my Digimon at the gym because just leaving with a weak Digimon is a sure way to get my ass kicked. Plus you donít get that much experience from battles. Most of it is acquired in training. The training is kinda cool, very reminiscent of Monster Rancher. Each task builds up a different aspect of my monster. There is even a mini-game to make the training less monotonous. Throughout the training and the rest of the game you must keep an eye on your Digimonís personal status. You must feed it when it gets hungry, put it to sleep and get it to a toilet when it needs to poop. I know that the maintenance of the Digimon was the original premise behind the Tomagotchi-like hand-held but in this version it just gets annoying.
Once you feel that your monster is tough enough to protect you from the wild Digimon you can venture forth. This is where the game gets disappointing. There are two aspects of the exploration. Finding stuff and fighting stuff. Sometimes you find stuff that you have to fight. Either way the action is not all that exciting. First of all the areas are too simplistic and open. The camera is very close, meaning that new screens are constantly loading as you try to cover ground. If loading time is something that frustrates you, steer clear. What is more is that the screens are mostly open areas with little eye candy to make them interesting. Every once in a while you will stumble across something that is interesting to discover. However, most of the time you cannot interact with these discoveries. So basically you are walking around finding a lot of nothing.
The areas are vast and undecorated for a reason however. They are populated with monsters that are hunting you and your Digimon for trespassing in their boring homes. This allows you to see and avoid any enemies that you do not want to fight as opposed to the Pokemon games where the enemies are invisible and randomly attack. Also the fighting is in real time in these environments so it is better for them to be sparse so that the fighting can be seen. It makes you realize why games like Final Fantasy have separate battle screens.
Now lets talk about the battles. Even though the battles are in real time without any meters to fill up before the attacks are made, the fighting is stilted and random. It takes a while to build up your Digimon to the point where you have options for the fight. Until then you just have to watch the monsters run around and hit each other and hope that your Digimon hits the other one more. The only effective move available is running away. There is no difference between giving the monster orders or letting it dictate its own battles. This is a real shame since the format is the closest thing to the way they fight in the cartoons. The problem is that there is too much delay between your commands and the monsters actions.
There are some other aspects of the game like tournaments and a evolving village but by the time you get to appreciate these aspects you will already be so frustrated with the boring journey that you just wonít even care. Unless you are a huge Digimon fan with a lot of patience the PSX version will just tire you. It is a good concept but not a fun game. Games are more than just goals. There has to be a fun and interesting way to accomplish these goals for the game to be worth playing and this is something that Digimon lacks. On the plus side the monsters make a really funny sound when they poop.
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