Every time I play a new game I try to keep a clear mind, to give it a fresh slate and a fair chance. Especially when it is a game where I have not played the previous installations. Although this game is a sequel, it is new to me. So going into it I had no idea what to expect- no clue what kind of game it was. I was excited; it's rare that you get an opportunity to play something that is truly new, something you can take in and appreciate. It was something I really tried to do. Unfortunately this fresh experience went stale rather quickly. Almost instantly I had a sour taste in my mouth.
The first impression this game gives you is far from a positive one. Right out of the gate you are expected, not told, to know what to do. You have to capture Denpa men to join you on your adventure. (I still couldn’t tell you what a Denpa Man is, the game tells you it is a creature that travels by wavelength and frequency.) This was the most puzzling task I have taken on in a video game in recent memory. You must use the 3DS camera to aim a cursor at floating Denpa men and shoot when they get in the reticle. You must shoot exactly when they are in your sights. If you try to lead the shot into them it will fail, if you are a little too far behind it will fail. This was not the part that confused me. What confused me was the concept of using the camera. The Denpa men float around and you have to physically turn the DS until they are in front of you. I use my 3DS for gaming on the go, in the car primarily. So for a game on a mobile platform, that I am sure plenty of people use while stuck in a car, to force you to move so freely was very odd. It was a very difficult thing to do and moments in I wanted to just turn it off. Although the game did get better it was exceedingly frustrating in multiple areas.
Denpa Men 3 throws you right into a kidnapping. You are to rescue a fellow villager from her abductors. It’s a typical adventure RPG with a turn based combat system, similar to that of South Park: The Stick of Truth. You are the leader of a party that starts out with 4 total members but quickly expands to 8. As the party expands it become evident that you must put a deep amount of thought into items and the abilities of your team. If you try to skate by you will most likely fail. Although the party system does have a high level of customization, it has an unsavory layout. At times it is very confusing to look at.
The combat is very dull. It is also incredibly inconsistent. I found myself in battles I could do in my sleep and then minutes later in a battle that I had to rely on luck to win. Through the battles I discovered an increasingly frustrating element in the party system. Specific Denpa men have side abilities, some of which are healing abilities. Although this is helpful at its surface there isn’t a description of the abilities. The more I played the more I realized how vague these abilities were. Some of them tell you exactly what they are going to do. Others force you to randomly add new Denpa men into your party and try to figure them out on your own. This would not be such an issue if the combat were scaled properly. Throughout the story you take on bosses and those, although difficult, are more of a stepping-stone. Most of the enemies you face AFTER a boss are actually more difficult than boss you just defeated. It only gets worse from here.
As you progress through the story you are introduced to new kinds of enemies, most of which have additional effects. I ran into a cloud enemy that would duplicate if I hit it, unless I killed it. What made this so difficult was that the game never explained this to me. I was never given any kind of tip as to how to get around this. This happened later on again with ghosts. Of course I figured out there were items that I could use to make physical attacks hit ghosts, but the game never told me. At first I was trying to battle normally but I couldn’t damage the ghosts. I was forced into fleeing over and over again until I got the proper items. Now I am not insinuating that games should spoon feed the players, however, this game seems to be marketed towards children and I have no idea how they could expect a child to figure these kinds of things out. A game that is rated E for everyone SHOULD have tutorials and explanations on how to do things. If games geared for adults at least nudge you in the right direction it is baffling that a game like this lacks those kinds of features. It is possible they were in the game but locked into dialogue with NPC’s. If that’s the case then shame on them for making you talk to everyone just to get the bare basics of a game. I firmly believe that a player should not have to dig through dialogue just to try to get a better understanding on a combat system.
Usually every game has some kind of aspect that seems repetitive , but for the most part they also have some aspect that changes. Maybe I am just being greedy. With great RPG experiences on actual consoles maybe I have the bar set too high. Even Pokémon games, which are extraordinarily repetitive, find a way to stay fresh; Denpa Men, however, does not. The combat gets old very quickly due to its ever-changing difficulty, and, the missions are essentially the same things over and over again. The quests consisted of going from point A to point B to obtain item X. It grew old very fast.
The game failed to suck me in. I never once put it down and thought to myself “I just NEED to play it for a little bit longer”. I adore games that feature some sense of realism, whether it be the world, characters, or story. Denpa Men had none of these. Where most games grab my attention very quickly this one failed to grab it at all. I was very disappointed. It requires an intense amount of patience to get a true feel for it, a level which I do not have. I have a tough time writing this game off completely. If you do have a high level of patience I can see how this game COULD become pleasant. However I see myself forgetting about this game entirely in a few months. It didn’t give me anything positive to hold on to. Maybe it is just the style of the game that gave me a bad taste, maybe it’s just not my cup of tea, maybe it is your cup, or maybe, the tea just isn’t very good to begin with.