Digimon World Data Squad - PS2 - Preview
When the digital world collides with the real world, you get—
Well, yes, that’s true. You do get .hack. But in this case, you play as a trainer and street fighter, not an MMO warrior, and summon monsters to battle in a game called—
Uhhh…no. I could see where you’d think that. I’m just glad there are no cards to speak of, because then you’d mention—
Yes, that’s what I expected you to say. But that isn’t what I’m talking about today. This game, from Namco Bandai and inspired by Japanese RPGs, is Digimon World: Data Squad. It stars a young boy named Marcus – a kid whose semi-hotheaded attitude could get him into serious trouble. But when trouble strikes, he whips out a monster that’s faster, stronger, and more of a warrior than any of his human companions could hope to be.
The story follows the recent disappearance of children from the real, non-digital world. No one knows why the kids disappeared, if they’re just lost or if they’ve been abducted. But it is believed that the digital world could be the culprit. Being the anxious trainer that he is (and member of a secret group called Data Squad), Marcus takes on the task of finding the missing kids.
One updated feature excluded, Data Squad’s battles aren’t that different from the previous games. But the battle menus have been given an eye-catching facelift. Action, Guard, Support, and Escape commands are at your disposal. Each one is surrounded by clickable icons that function as the commands’ contents. As shown in the screenshot below, you could click on “Action” before selecting an attack. Or you could just push up, click on one of the attack icons floating above, and perform the move a little faster. It’s not a huge difference, and certainly not a groundbreaking change, but that’s because it’s just the battle menu layout.
A more significant evolution comes from the digivolution function, which now allows you to evolve Digimon faster than before. The game announced that the “DigiSoul Charge” had reached the proper level, and within 30 seconds my digital monster had turned into one ferocious beast. He still smiled and looked nearly as approachable Chuck. E. Cheese, but now had the power to deal twice as much damage.
Chances are the first thing you’ll notice about Data Squad is that it has traded in its straight-polygon visuals for cel-shaded effects. Each character (human or Digimon) is 3D and wrapped in cartoon shading to give the game a cool anime appearance. Considering that this game is based on the Digimon Data Squad TV show, this was the perfect time for developers to make the graphical shift.
Enemies are of the fun and playful type, minus the cutesy appearance of the more recent Pokemon like Togepi. They’re kid-friendly, and might be cute in some players’ eyes. But there are no eggshell creatures in this game. You’ll see walking trees, little green men (plants, not aliens!), a lion/human combo, creatures that resembles dinosaurs, and dozens more. Each comes with its own set of attacks, most of which are named with children in mind. Agumon, the Digimon Marcus commands at the game’s onset, deals attacks like “Baby Burner” and “Nuts Shoot.” That last one wasn’t a typo – it really is called Nuts Shoot.
To create the sense that players are trapped in a world that’s being influenced by something digital, the developers applied computer elements to certain areas of the environment. Most notable are the sand effects at the beach. Walk along the shoreline and you’ll notice a trail of light polygons forming underneath the tide.
Transparent force fields are another computer element. They will prevent players from accessing some locations – to bypass them, find and touch the field’s spherical pixel collection, which looks like a holographic orb. However, just as the programming of one software element could negatively affect another, a new force field may be activated by the elimination of the first. Most gamers know this scenario as a door puzzle, but Digimon fans – younger and less exposed to the traits of RPGs – may be confused by the process. They’ll need patience to get through it (more so than in Pokemon), but it shouldn’t present too much of a problem.
Summoning the attention of Digimon fans from all around, Digimon World: Data Squad begins its journey on September 18. Stay with us as we bring you more on Digimon’s new PS2 and Nintendo DS adventures in the coming weeks.