Published on September 20th, 2012 | by Sgt. Mettool0
“The Denpa Men” Demo Impressions
Well this one certainly took me by surprise. When I saw a trailer for the quirky, distinctly Japanese The Denpa Men: They Came By Wave a few months ago, I was pretty sure it was going to be one of those titles that never sees the light of day outside of the land of the rising sun. It was just too quirky. Too cute. Not only that, but it’s an RPG. Who the hell in America still plays those?!
Then I heard, just this morning actually, that there is a localized demo available in the 3DS eShop RIGHT NOW! And being the sucker for quirky RPGs that I am, I booted up my 3DS and pulled that sucker right onto my system.
So who are The Denpa Men? The game doesn’t give much explanation, but they’re little creatures that look like little fat people cosplaying as Pikmin. And you can catch some Denpa Men of your very own by using the 3DS’s camera. Similar to Face Raiders, you move the 3DS around to locate Denpa Men, and try to shoot at them using a net.
Denpas are randomly generated in appearance, stats, and abilities, so it’s always good to capture a wide variety of them to experiment with. Some may have spells, while others may be simply pure damage dealers. Once you feel like you’ve assembled a decent party, it’s time to do some dungeoneering.
The dungeons in The Denpa Men are where you’ll be spending the bulk of your time fighting monsters and collecting treasure. Dungeons are very… simple, to put it nicely. They consist of simple corridors and pre-set treasure boxes; nothing elaborate to say the least. There isn’t much more here than “Grab the chests, fight the monsters, and move onto the next floor.” It’s like something straight out of 1992.
The turn-based battles are likewise simple in presentation: Your Denpas exchange blows with monsters in your typical RPG fashion. It’s all extremely simple, save for a nifty feature that allows units on the same faction to take their turns simultaneously instead of one at a time. It’s not gameplay-changing, but it does speed up the process significantly.
Despite its simplicity, The Denpa Men is a surprisingly challenging game. But the challenge is rather unique for an RPG: You cannot simply out-level the competition. Refreshingly, this is not enforced by setting hard level caps or making monsters level up alongside you. Instead, the difficulty is overcome by diligently catering your party to the dungeon’s needs. Finding the right Denpas with the best stats, resistances, and abilities is the key to success. And while you can level all you want, it boils down to how well you can micromanage and adjust to new circumstances.
My only real complaint is that the battle interface is rather misleading. It is set up in such a way that it led me to believe that I only had two commands: auto-battle and auto-battle without spells. Underneath these two buttons were my Denpas’ status bars, which displayed their HP and MP, but did not have any cursors, buttons, or defining features to speak of. It wasn’t until the third floor of the dungeon that I had the balls to manually select a portrait and press A, which gave me a list of manual commands for each Denpa. Up until that point, I had relied solely on auto-battle, making the game harder than it was. It would have been helpful to have a more obvious indicator showing me I could manually control the battle; I almost went into this review under the impression that everything was automatic!
At the end of the day, The Denpa Men is a charming little eShop game that, despite its simplicity, has a surprising amount of difficulty under its belt. Catching new Denpas is fun (hand it off to your mom and watch her have a blast). And while the dungeon exploration may not not be up to snuff, there’s sure to be a lot of bang for your buck here when it gets released in the eShop next week. Keep an eye out for it!