Monday, October 15, 2012

Five things I dislike about THE 'DENPA' MEN

I've mentioned Genius Sonority's 3DS eShop RPG, THE "DENPA" MEN, quite a few times over the last few weeks and months, and pretty much every one of those mentions was the definition of positive.

In this post, however, I'm going to be a bit negative. Don't worry, "DENPA" MEN fans, I'm not going to rake the game over the proverbial coals. All I'm going to do is point out the few aspects of it that irk me ever so slightly, beginning with:

1. What do you mean I can't change the hero?--I get that the first "Denpa" man you capture becomes the "hero" of your particular playthrough. What I don't get is why you're never allowed to give the guy a rest. Surely he still could serve as the game's central character even if he's sent to the sidelines once in a while? Don't get me wrong: I like my so-called hero (his name's Rudolph) a lot. I just wish I could replace him with a different "Revive"-sporting "Denpa" man on occasion.

2. Every "Denpa" man for himself--I mean that literally in this case. After all, according to the people who made THE "DENPA" MEN, there's only one female character in this game--despite the fact that a number of them look like ladies. As someone who considers himself a bit of a feminist and who prefers to play as female characters in games, that disappoints me. Thankfully, it appears as though this problem has been rectified in the title's just-released-in-Japan sequel.

3. "Defend"? Who needs "Defend"?--I have a feeling one of the folks responsible for the development of THE "DENPA" MEN said something remarkably similar to the comment that kicks off this bullet point while working on the game. How else can you explain its total lack of a "Defend" option during battles? (Those of you who have yet to play this portable RPG: Please note that this is by far the least important of the complaints I'm sharing in this post.)

4. My kingdom for a screenshot--What I wouldn't give for a screenshot option to be included in this game. The main reason: It would make sharing QR codes of "Denpa" men a lot less annoying. (As it stands, players literally have to snap photos of their characters' QR codes, which isn't easy given the 3DS' shiny screen, in order to share them with others on line.) It also would make it a lot easier for folks to show off their favorite "Denpa" men virtually.

5. You don't know the meaning of "difficult"--I've mentioned before (or at least I think I have) that THE "DENPA" MEN is no walk in the park. On the contrary, it means business--especially near the end. That isn't a problem for me, as I prefer tough RPGs to ones that are pushovers. What is a problem for me, though, is that the rise in difficulty isn't always smooth. In fact, sometimes it leaps upward in a shocking manner, only to come down again later. It hasn't been a deal-breaker for me so far, but I'm sure it'll bug (and surprise) a certain percentage of the people who download this otherwise-entrancing game.

So, does all of the above mean that I consider THE "DENPA" MEN to be a fun, but flawed, title? Not on your life. OK, it's not perfect. Of course, few (if any) games are. This one is closer to perfect than I would've expected of a $10 release, though, so give that some serious consideration if you're a 3DS owner who has yet to add this to your digital collection.

See also: 'Ten things I love about THE DENPA MEN'


Viewtiful_Justin said...

It really is better than I thought it was going to be. I figured it'd be cute and fun for a little while, but, really, it's a full fledged game. It could have been a retail release, I think.

I still haven't cleared the cave, Bryan...but to be fair, I haven't tried too much. Difficulty spikes make me feel helpless and angry.

Viewtiful_Justin said...

Oh, and a question for you: When your Denpa Men die, do you revive them, or do you move on and find others?

Bryan Ochalla said...

I agree, Justin -- that it could've been a retail release. That said, I think it would've had a very hard time finding an audience at even $29.99, let alone $39.99, so I'm really glad they went the eShop route.

As for being a bit overwhelmed by difficulty spikes: Well, I understand that. And there are a few of them in this game, unfortunately. I actually think one of the dirty little secrets of this game is that to get to the end without a huge amount of drama, you have to grind a bit -- and that's definitely not something everyone wants to hear or do these days.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, and as for your last question: You're going to think I'm nuts, but I've never returned to 'town' with just one or two dead Denpa Men, so I've never had to revive them or move on without them. I'm guessing that's because I grind like a fiend and because I'm a bit OCD when it comes to RPGs and strategy games (basically, I *have* to keep everyone alive -- no ifs, ands or buts).

I have had my entire team wiped out, though -- one two occasions. And in those instances, I was a bad, bad gamer (i.e., I hard-resetted my game). Sorry, but there's NO way I'm going to put up with losing that many Denpa Men :P

warp said...

I thought nobody ever used the "Defend" option on the RPG menus. So much easier to just attack and heal. I guess maybe when a boss is doing a charge-up for a really big attack, but that doesn't happen too often in most games (at least not enough to warrant a whole menu option).

Bryan Ochalla said...

Although I completely agree with you in most cases, warp, in the case of The 'Denpa' Men I think a 'Defend' option would be welcome, as there are many times when your Denpa Men (esp. the ones without antenna) will have no impact on an enemy but you send them in anyway because there's basically no other option for them. In such cases, I think it would be nice if you could have them defend so at least they could increase their defense should the enemy in question decide to attack them. Or, it would have been cool if you could make antenna-less Denpa Men act as shields for their antenna-sporting brothers when they're not attacking, etc.

honorless said...

#2...did one of the creators really say that? If true, one of the localizers took a few creative liberties. At least two of the denpa "men" I've captured said "This is no way to treat a lady!"

Defend would be pretty nice for the ghost enemies, especially if it could take the teeth out of their breath attacks...

My #1 wish for DM2 is that they work on the overall lack of polish. Like, to open the "Command" menu you hit Y, unless you're looking at the island or world maps in which case you have to hit X. "Command" itself doesn't make much sense and should have been localized as Status, but that's at least better than B being "Remove" on the world map.
...I'm warping back into a dungeon, but whoops, I forgot to buy something. Better hit cancel—but wait, instead of giving me the option to go back to the map, I enter the dungeon at floor 1. I could go on, but I think you get it...

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, honorless!

Actually, whoever mans the game's official (North American) Twitter account has mentioned on a number of occasions that there's only one Denpa Woman in the game.

As such, I wonder what the real story is here? Like you said, a few of my Denpa 'men' have made comments that made it pretty clear they're women, plus quite a few of them simply LOOK like ladies. Hmmm.

I'm glad you'd also welcome a "Defend" option, by the way. And, yes, it would be especially nice again ghost enemies -- and a fair number of bosses, too!

I also agree that the game could use a bit more polish. That said, I think it's pretty darn great as is considering its cost!

Melody (Lizzi) said...

I'm so excited about the release of Denpa Men in Europe.
Do you know the date yet?
Too sad there's only one female character.
I like to play heroines if possible so I can identify myself with them.
Also I think it's terrible that you can't change the hero.
I really loooove to have the choice.
But because of my love for cute "mini"-games with adorable characters (like Pikmin, Animal Crossing, Rhythm Heaven...) I'm sure I'll be happy with it :-)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hello Melody! Unfortunately, I don't know when it'll be released in Europe. I believe it's supposed to hit your eShop before the end of the year, though, so I guess that means it'll be appearing there soon?

As for the lack of female characters in this game: Well, like an earlier commenter (honorless) pointed out, it's a bit questionable as to whether the game actually features just one Denpa woman. Quite a few of the characters you catch definitely look like females, after all, and some even sport feminine names. Given that, it's easy for the player to consider them Denpa women, I think.

i agree that it kind of sucks that you can't change the main character/hero, by the way. Just know that it isn't a huge deal thanks to the fact that you eventually can have eight Denpa men/women in your party at any one time. Still, it would've been nice to have the option...

Viewtiful_Justin said...

Shame shame shame, Bryan. :-P Didn't Resetti teach you ANYTHING?!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ha ha! Believe me, Justin, I thought twice before doing it the first time. It's just that ... I couldn't deal with losing all of those 'Denpa' men (a few of which I wouldn't have been able to get back). I know, I'm a bad, bad, BAD gamer :(

diaglyph said...

The point that worries me the most is the difficulty spike :(
I hate when games either have an easy going main game, but overly super difficult final boss, or what you've described where it goes up and down so you're not sure what level you're meant to be at for the next section. I much prefer a smoother experience, though I dont mind a gentle incline in difficulty at times in RPGs ;) hehe
Does the demo show this? Or is the demo just one small area?

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Igor. In regards to your worries about the "difficulty" spike: The main "spike" occurs when you reach one particular boss. (This boss is the one that killed everyone in my party twice, by the way.) Other than that, I'd say the game ramps up in difficulty fairly smoothly.

I have to add, though, that I think the game's pretty difficult overall. Given that, I'd try the demo if I were you before buying this one. I can't remember if the demo is easy or hard, unfortunately, although I do remember that it's fairly short. You can build up your characters during the demo, though, and then transfer them to the full game, so I'd definitely make use of that should you decide to pick it up.