Digimon World DS – NDS – Review

First there
were Pokemon ("Pocket Monsters") – annoyingly cute and cuddly creatures with a
kiddie show, kiddie merchandise, and a kiddie game that had the best gameplay
of any Game Boy RPG.

Then there
were the Pokemon clones, a group I like to call, "Poke-mimics." They were
cuter, more annoying, and didn’t have the great gameplay of the title they
were ripping off.

there was Digimon ("Digital Monsters") – the clone that got it right. The idea
is the same: collect monsters, use them to fight, and explore the world until
you’re deemed the game’s best trainer (or tamer, as they’re called in Digimon).


The Nintendo
DS exclusive Digimon World DS is more of what you love, and could turn out to
be the series’ most significant release. Whereas before Digimon went
head-to-head with the leader in monster battles, this game is without a great
competitor. There are a couple of differences between the two ‘mons (Poke and
Digi), but it’s not what Digimon World DS does differently that will lure you

Train ‘Em All

You start
off as an unnamed boy or girl. Choose your gender, think of a name, and the
intro will start to unfold. The game will notify you of someone who could be
in danger. You’ll be given the chance to select one of three different Digimon,
each of which excel in a different category. While this is going on, a talking
Digimon chimes in to tell you all about the game, how it’s played, how battles
are fought and won, etc.

Grab your
Digimon, enter the forest and walk around until a battle begins. Enemy
encounters are random, and it doesn’t take long for one to occur.

In battle
you have the options Fight, Move (change position), Item, and Flee. Choose
fight to do the obvious. Your attacks will be displayed with a number on right
side. That number indicates the MP cost of each attack. Fight and win – earn
EXP, food, bits (currency), and possibly items. Flee and you get nothing.

I’ve described could be applied to a Pokemon game, minus the acquisition of
food which does not work that way in those games. But these words are about
Digimon World DS.


Farm, Breed

After the
game was announced I wondered, "Will the touchscreen be enabled?" The answer
is yes, but the results – to no fault of the developer – are not what you’d
expect. This being a turn-based RPG, I assumed that touching the screen would
be a faster way to execute my moves. The game is very responsive to touch
actions, but I found it faster to click buttons as normal.

Digi-Farm is
like a training kennel for Digimon. Drop off your monsters, provide lots of
food (won in battle), and the game does the rest. Pokemon fans should remember
a similar option in the Gold and Silver sequels. In those games you could
breed at the farm to create a new monster. Digimon saves its breeding for
later, opting for other farm activities instead.

Digimon may
ask you to go on a Favor Quest. The quests are side objectives that do not
have to be completed. But if they are, your Digimon’s friendship level will
increase, and you’ll receive more TP. No, not toilet paper – tamer points. The
friendship level is important to how the monsters react to their tamer. Refuse
to complete a Favor Quest, or fail to keep the food supply strong, and the
Digimon will lose respect for you. Their reliability in battle will decrease,
increasing the likelihood that you will lose the fight.

And when you
lose, they lose – their health and a chunk of their friendship rating. You’re
better off taking the Favor Quests. They’re not that difficult (more
exploratory than anything else), and will save you and your monsters from a
lot of turmoil.


Breeding is
not a word Digimon World DS takes lightly. Game producers have referred to it
as "combining," while the manual calls it "matching." They’re trying hard to
stay away from anything that could be perceived as adult content. That’s a
little extreme – won’t kids learn about the real thing in school anyway?

To breed,
match, or whatever you want to call it, players will need to go online. They
can do this from a Wi-Fi hotspot (like Panera or McDonald’s), or from their
own broadband connection using Nintendo’s Wi-Fi adaptor (that plugs into your
PC’s USB slot and creates a wireless frequency) or a wireless router. If you
have a friend code, or are willing to shuffle through the cumbersome setup and
find someone online, you can start the breeding process.

Once both
players have agreed to breed, a Digi-Egg will be born. Watch over it for a bit
and a new Digimon will hatch. Both players get the Digimon, which may or may
not be rare and exclusive to the breeding process. Digimon that are exclusive
to breeding cannot be obtained in any other way.

Aside from
breeding, players can go online to battle.

"Wow, that’s
great! That’s better than Pokemon!"


Technologically, yes – that is a lot better. But just as games without
split-screen multiplayer are disappointing, so are those with online battles
but no offline option. Digimon World DS does not offer any wireless
communication features. Consequently, you can’t battle and breed with friends

The gameplay
is potentially enjoyable for all ages, but that’s not who the box art speaks
to. It speaks to kids. Young players are not likely to run off to McDonald’s
to play online – they’d rather play with their next-door neighbor.

Scoring Details

for Digimon World DS

Gameplay: 7.6
Fun and lazy
turn-based battles that anyone can learn and love. This isn’t for the hardcore
RPG crowd unless you’re into Pokemon. That’s the only thing you should ask
yourself before buying this game. “Do I have fond memories of Ash and Pikachu?”
The gameplay is nearly exact to the Nintendo classic, having a few differences
but not enough to label this game unique. I’m disappointed in the lack of
local multiplayer, but as far as clones and rehashes are concerned, Digimon
World DS is a satisfying game.

Graphics: 6.0
Game Boy
Advance-quality visuals are wonderful on that platform. On the DS they’re less
than spectacular.

Sound: 8.0
Ignore the 16-bit
sound quality and listen closely for one of the deepest and catchiest
soundtracks in a DS game.

Difficulty: Easy/Medium
No more
challenging than Pokemon. Easier in some respects (there are fewer puzzles).

Concept: 6.0
Same old Pokemon
story. Digimon World DS is better than the latest Pokemon game, but that
doesn’t make it an original concept.

Multiplayer: 7.0
multiplayer is nice, but this game does not have a wireless gameplay option.
That means you must go online to battle with another player, even if he
or she is standing right next to you.

Overall: 7.4
The next best
thing to Pokemon … when Pokemon still rocked. DS owners are without a great
Pocket Monsters adventure, giving Digimon World DS a chance to swoop in and
steal its thunder. The quick, straightforward, and familiar gameplay will
appeal to any Pokemon or Digimon fan.