Game: THE '"DENPA" MEN: They Came By Wave
Developer: Genius Sonority
Publisher: Genius Sonority
Release date: 2012
THE "DENPA" MEN is often described as being "a lot like Dragon Quest." Although the comparison is apt, it's also a bit simplistic.
After all, although the two games sport similar battle engines, senses of humor and straightforward (some might say non-existant) stories, they're otherwise pretty unique.
THE "DENPA" MEN, for instance, lacks the kind of sprawling overworld often included in Dragon Quest games. Although I initially considered that to be a negative, over time I came to the realization that it sped things up considerably--which is a positive in this case because it allows you to zoom from the hub island to your next destination (always a dungeon) and back again with a blink of an eye.
Also, although both THE "DENPA" MEN and Dragon Quest feature lightning-fast battle scenes, I've found those of the former to be a lot more fun than the latter thus far. (And this is coming from someone who loves Dragon Quest's battle sequences.) In part, that's due to THE "DENPA" MEN's wacky character designs, I'm sure, but it's also due to what those wacky characters do during said scenes. Case in point: When a player prompts his "Denpa" men to "Fight" rather than use magic, said party members race toward selected baddies and attempt to headbutt them into oblivion--an action that's even more entertaining than it sounds.
Speaking of THE "DENPA" MEN's battles: Something that sets them apart from those found in many other RPGs (both old and new) is how malleable they are. For instance, you can hit your 3DS' X or Y buttons and let the game's AI choose your options for you (X orders the AI to not use any "skills" (magic, basically), while Y gives it the freedom to do as it wishes), you can assign specific tasks to each individual "Denpa" man or you can mix and match your commands.
Last, but surely not least, THE "DENPA" MEN differentiates itself from its dragon-centric counterpart by having players scan their real-life environment (using the 3DS' AR capabilities) to catch their multi-colored party members. It sounds kind of lame in theory, but in practice it's surprisingly enjoyable (and addictive). Not only that, but it basically gives you access to an unlimited array of playable characters, which isn't something that can be said of many RPGs.
One thing THE "DENPA" MEN doesn't offer that the Dragon Quest games do is a top-shelf soundtrack. That's not to suggest that the music in this Genius Sonority-made eShop title is terrible; rather, it's to suggest that, for the most part, it merely gets the job done. (It must be said, though, that the main battle theme is pretty darn good.)
With all of this chatter about how this 10-dollar digital release does and doesn't compare to one of the best RPGs ever made out of the way, you're probably wondering if I think it's worth picking up or not. The short answer to that question is: Yes. A slightly longer response, though, is: Yes, if you tend to enjoy the genre and if you don't mind a (sometimes rather stiff) challenge.
See also: Previous posts about THE 'DENPA' MEN and 'somewhat gay' reviews