Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: One Year Later

It may be hard to believe, but it’s been a whole year since I first played this game and reviewed it. Since then, I feel my opinions on it have changed considerably. Having logged over 80 hours worth of time with this game, I feel that I’ve grown from just liking it a lot to loving it considerably. Having played this game so much, the flaws have become far more apparent to me. So, I want to go into full detail on my current opinions of this game. Why? Honestly, this is one of the best video-games based off an anime I’ve ever played.

This game definitely had a lot going for it. It had a ton of Digimon from over six different seasons, and even including some that only appeared in manga and other games. It had an interesting plot, which sadly became formulaic halfway through. It also had a cast of memorable and bizarre characters, including Jimiken, who is somehow the best and worst character at the same time.

This game also managed to incorporate a bunch of elements from several of the TV shows. The game had a simplistic turn-based combat system, but with enough varied special moves and flashy attacks that it rarely got boring. The game was fun, albeit grindy. In order to obtain any of the really powerful Digimon, you had to grind for days on end.

While their were ways to circumvent this, grinding was still a tedious affair. This was especially annoying when you couple it with the fact that you need certain stats to get certain Digimon. It turns from grinding into a bizarre maze of stat increases and trips to the farm, making the arduous task of getting the strongest Digimon that more annoying. I know that they are supposed to be difficult to get, but certain Digimon like Omnimon were a pain to obtain. Especially because Omnimon was a lot weaker than the Digimon that I had to fuse together to get him.

One of the shining moments of this game was the designs of all the Digimon. They all looked great, just like how they did in their respective seasons. Some may say that it’s jarring to see all these creatures in one game, especially when a lot of them were originally drawn in different art-styles. Still, having such a various cast of color creatures to collect made the game that more entertaining.

It’s still hard to believe how hooked I got on this game. For a while, it was all I played. I beat it twice and even got a ton of the really hard to get Digimon! Still, after a while I got burned out on it. Fun game with a unique setting and world, but a game that still feels very repetitive.

Another problem with the game was the spotty translation. It’s not as bad as the translation job done for Dragon Ball Fusions, but it leaves a lot to be desired. You know your game has a problem when it starts to referring to its main villains as something completely unrelated to them at all. Regardless, this is still a game that I can back to even after a year and still get some fun out of.

Sure, the difficulties are either too easy or too hard with little middle-ground, and the game may drop its interesting plot halfway through, but I still find it to be one of the better anime-to-game adaptations. This was the first time I ever gave an updated opinion on what I think, and to be honest it hasn’t changed all that much. Still, I thought since the 20th anniversary of Digimon is fast approaching, I’d take time to revisit one of the best Digimon games in my opinion. Now I pose a question to you the reader: What is your favorite Digimon game? Feel free to tell me in the comment section! Keep in mind, you don’t need a WordPress account in order to post comments.

Sweet As Syrup: Digimon Adventure Anode/Cathode Tamer Veedramon Version Review

Yep, this is officially the longest title of anything I’ve ever reviewed on my blog! I thought I’d talk about a Digimon game that I’ve been getting into as of late, a rather forgotten title known as “Digimon Adventure Anode/Cathode Tamer”. This was one of the first Digimon video-games ever made, and was created while the series was at its most popular in Japan. It also introduced the world to Ryo Akiyama, a character who would make appearances in the first three seasons of the series.

This game was the series’ first foray into tactical RPGs, and one of their last. Sadly, the series would rarely revisit this genre. Regardless, I want to discuss this game. With Digimon’s 20th anniversary fast approaching, I feel it’s time I take a look at a forgotten classic. Without further adieu, let’s dive right in!

Background Information

Digimon Adventure Anode Tamer was originally released in 1999 for the Wonderswan, which was a Japanese exclusive console. A second version was released in 2000 called “Cathode Tamer”, and eventually a third a version of the game was released for the Wondereswan Color. This will be the version I’m looking at, the one known as “Veedramon Version”.

Unlike the other two versions released, Veedramon had an English version and was primarily released in English-speaking parts of Hong Kong. The Digimon Tamer series on Wonderswan proved to be very popular, and soon the main character Ryo Akiyama started making appearances in the show. It started off as a few cameos, but eventually he became a canon part of both the second and third seasons.

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Can you smell that? That’s the sweet sweet smell of 90s nostalgia!

Plot

Taking place after the end of the first season, Digimon Anode/Cathode Tamer focuses on a young man name Ryo. One day, Ryo is chatting on a message-board, until he gets a strange message on his computer. After foolishly touching a Digi-vice (a tool used on the show to enhance the power of a Digimon) our hero is pulled into the Digital World.

This is where he meets Digital Monsters, known as Digimon. Ryo is forced to work alongside a lizard-like Digimon named Agumon, in order to rescue the Digidestined from the original show. You see, all the kids have been defeated and captured by the villains of the first season, who have resurrected and become more powerful in the process. Ryo is tasked with using Tai’s Digivice, along with partnering up with the chosen Digimon to once again defeat all of the Digidestined’s foes. Not only this, but Ryo has to go up again an all new villain named “Milleniumon”, an evil hybrid Digimon who represents the Y2K virus.

Yeah, the plot for this game is pretty generic. While it’s cool that you get to fight all the villains from the first season in game form, the reason they are all there feels a bit like a cop-out. They are all conveniently resurrected by the new villain, and none of them offer any interesting bits of dialogue. I get that this is a Wonderswan Color game, and that they were limited in what they were allowed to do.

Still, I can’t help but feel that they could’ve done more with the setting. Digimon Adventure was a show that had a universe that was ripe for expanding upon. Instead, they decided to rehash season 1 all over again. This wouldn’t bother me so much if they got the character portrayals wrong. Sadly though, characters behave in a very unfitting way. For example, after you save every Digidestined, they just leave the Digital World and basically abandon you to your quest. They never offer to help or stay, and they never come to your aid.

I get that this is done so that more attention is put on the player character, as opposed to side-characters. It’s just really out of character for the Chosen Children to just have somebody else do all the work for them. Am I thinking too deeply about this? I probably am, that’s just how my brain works. Regardless, I felt the plot to be very bland and forgettable. Very few interesting things happen, and it just ends up feeling like a hollow story overall.

Gameplay

The game is pretty basic in terms of structure. You can have a maximum of 3 Digimon in your party at at time, same goes for your opponent. In these 3v3 fights, you take turns with each individual Digimon. You move them across the grid to attack your opponent Digimon. While it seems simple, there are some things thrown in that help spice up the gameplay.

The game introduces something called “Variable Moves”. These are basically Digivolutions, a form of transformation evoked by Digimon in the series. However, Variable Moves are different in that they only last for one turn, where Digivolutions often last a lot longer in other games. Variable Moves are basically special summon attacks, and can be used to attack your opponent, heal an ally, or even buff your part members.

You can also use items both in and out of combat. These range from average healing items, to food or waste disposal items. That’s right, the game has some simulation elements to it. You have to take care of your Digimon, by both feeding it and cleaning up after it. Unfortunately, these particular elements of the game felt tacked on. More often than not, it felt like the hunger system was just an excuse to send me running back to the village to buy more meat. Thankfully, this doesn’t become too much of a problem, since you are given meat in battle.

Outside of combat, you can acquire new Digimon and travel the over-world. The over-world isn’t fancy, and it lacks any real depth to it. You just travel to new dungeons to send your Digimon to. There’s no secret areas, hidden zones, or anything to make it remotely interesting. Even the Pokemon games had wide open areas for you to explore! Sadly, the areas you explore feel so barren. There are very few Digimon to talk to in such areas as well.

Speaking of the game’s flaws, there was lot of elements to this game that generally rubbed me the wrong way. For example, the aforementioned Variable Moves system is rather annoying to get working properly. The game starts you off with no moves for any of your Digimon, you have to unlock them all by scratch by experimenting with different party combinations. The problem is that you get them entirely at random. It’s possible to get moves that could’ve been useful two dungeons, while in a completely new dungeon.

Balancing is another issue with the game. Certain Digimon that you are given at the start of the game feel way too overpowered. A good example of this was Veedramon, who pretty much broke most boss encounters. I liken Veedramon to Frederick from Fire Emblem, put in the middle of a battlefield and everyone will die in an attempt to take him out.

The game’s biggest offense though is its repetition and length. The game is very repetitive in its combat system. Certain fights will drag on for what feels like 30 minutes, sometimes longer. It gets really old, really fast. All the while, you’re stuck watching the same animations over and over again. It’s like if they made an episode of Digimon and only had a budget of 5 bucks and only about 20 frames of animation repeated over and over.

I feel like that’s an apt summary of this game in a nut-shell: “It’s like Digimon, but not as good and extremely dated”. It may sound cruel, but in terms of gameplay I feel it just doesn’t measure up to the flawed gem known as Digimon World, which came out the same year, but for a different console.

Visual Stimuli

This game looks pretty good for the time, to be honest. The sprite work is typical of a Wonderswan Color game, but they manage to capture the art-style of the original show very well. Digimon are well-designed and the battle sprites look nice enough, even if a few of them can look a bit uncanny valley at times. Sprites on the over-world can look a bit too simplistic though.

The problem with this game comes in the sound department. It sounds pretty bad, which is a result of the console’s limitations, I know. Still, the soundtrack felt grating at times due to the loud blaring noises. Another problem I had with the game was the odd translation. For some reason, the English version of the game chose to use a mixture of both the Japanese names and the American localized names. This made certain scenes feel a little odd for me.

While I did like the graphics, I felt the localization and soundtrack were a bit too stale for my tastes. As previously mentioned, the audio was blaring and the game’s localization couldn’t decide which translation it wanted to stick to. In all honesty, I found the production values of this game to be fairly hit-or-miss.

In Summation

I know that I have been fairly harsh on the game up until this point. I know it isn’t entirely fair, seeing as how this game was one of the first few Digimon games ever made. However, it did help kick-start an entire sub-franchise, and introduced the fandom to a character who would be popular for years to come. I guess I went into this game with too high of expectations.

Now, do I hate this game? No, but I have trouble saying that it’s a good game. It’s a middle-of-the-road game. I enjoyed parts of the game, and was totally a sucker for the nostalgic elements of it. The problem was that the game was too short, lacked an interesting plot, and didn’t do enough to distance itself from the many other tactical RPGs coming out around that time.

So, with that I can say that the game isn’t as sweet as syrup. Do I recommend it? Well, kind of. I can only really recommend this game to two kinds of people: Those who love Digimon and Ryo, and those who love tactical RPGs. While you can easily skip this game in favor of future games, I do suggest at least trying it. It does introduce the hero and villain of this series and is fun for an hour or two, but that’s about it. Anyways, that’s my personal thoughts on the game. If anyone else has played this game, I’d like to hear your thoughts on it as well. If you feel I presented any elements of the game incorrectly, feel free to call me out on it. Regardless, I hope you all have a great day!

Sweet As Syrup: Digimon Next Manga Review

Good news, everyone! The Digimon marathon starts today. I figured I start off with something Digimon-based that not a lot of people know about. I discussed the Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01 manga, but have yet to discuss its spiritual successor. You see, there’s been several Digimon manga over the years, but few of them have actually run that long. The second Digimon manga series to run for a fair bit of chapters was Digimon Next.

After finally finish V-Tamer 01, I quickly dived in to this series and read through it in the course of a week. I think it’s about time I cover this series. Is it worth reading or enjoying? Well, in this review I’ll let you know if this older Digimon manga is worth reading or not.

Background Information

Digimon Next was a manga that released a couple months prior to Digimon Savers / Data Squad, which was the newest Digimon anime at that time. The series began in 2006 and ran until 2008. While using similar elements to Savers, Next borrows most from Adventure V-Tamer 01. Much like most Digimon manga, this series never received an American release.

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That’s probably the most badass Greymon I’ve ever seen!

Plot

The story revolves around a young Japanese teenager named Tsurugi Tatano. One day, Tsurugi is whisked off to the Digital World after playing an online game, where he meets up with his partner Agumon. The two start off on a bad foot, but quickly become good friends and reliable allies to one another. Tsurugi quickly becomes friends with a bunch of other humans too, who have also ended up in the Digital World. Tsurugi meets up with other characters like Yuu and Ami, while doing battle with the mysterious “Black Winged Knight”.

While this does sound like it could make for an interesting manga, it sadly does not. The story feels very derivative of the previous Digimon manga. I felt like I was reading most of the same story again, just with different characters. The villain in the motives behind said villain felt like they had been done better in V-Tamer 01. Is it terrible? Of course not! However, the plot never feels like it does anything interesting with the setting.

The problem I find with the manga that it never manages to take the series in a unique direction. It’s stuck taking elements from Savers, without being able to deviate too much from a typical Digimon manga. This bothers me greatly, especially due to the fact that most entries in the Digimon franchise manage to do something unique and interesting with each installment.

Again, it’s not a bad story. It doesn’t feel too rushed or poorly paced, the characters are interesting and like-able enough to stand on their own and it has a decent amount of chapters. On top of this, the finale to the story itself is pretty dang awesome. Regardless, it felt like a bit of a slog to get to that point. I gave up on the manga several times before I could fully finish it. I still enjoyed what I read, despite my qualms.

Artwork

The art for this series was done by the ever amazing Takeshi Okano. This man also helped co-write Hell Teacher Nube, one of my favorite manga and anime series! Okano manages to make character designs really interesting and manages to make the Digimon look really nice. Backgrounds are decent, though some can seem a little bare at times. Action scenes are intense, and Okano manages to pack a ton of fast action into each individual panel.

The art overall really saved this manga for me. While I had difficulties fully getting into the plot, the art-style really hooked me. It managed to combine simplicity with higher detail, creating something that could be considered both cartoon-ish and serious at the same time. It’s an art-style that can invoke a feeling of both excitement and goofiness.

In Conclusion

It’s got a hit-or-miss plot, but rather nice-looking artwork. I say that if you’re cool with a more formulaic Digimon plot, then I think this would be your thing. I recommend reading V-Tamer 01 over this. If you like V-Tamer and want something similar to it, then I can recommend this series to you. I got a decent amount of enjoyment out of this series, so I can definitely say it is sweet as syrup. It’s not perfect, it feels a bit generic, but it manages to capture what I love about Digimon. In the end, that’s all I can really ask for.

Why I Prefer Digimon To Pokemon

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Would you believe me if I told you that Veedramon was my favorite?

Believe it or not, I haven’t always been a huge fan of the “Mons” franchises. I’m talking Digimon, Pokemon, Monster Rancher, and those various Pokemon “clones” that come out each year. Digimon in particular is a series that I haven’t visited in quite some time. That was until 2015, when I started getting back into the franchise. Digimon Adventure Tri comes out, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth gets announced and released, and my interest is at this point piqued.

Digimon did something that Pokemon could never do: Aim its content and material towards adults. Pokemon to this day is still mainly for kids. It’s a franchise that hasn’t grown with its audience. I apologize in advance if I offend any by saying this, but Pokemon just hasn’t matured or grown as a series. Newer Pokemon games seem to just be exactly like the old games, just with better graphics and more features.

While it’s true that Digimon games have been mostly hit-or-miss, the rest of the franchise has fared far better. Better manga, better anime, better films, etc. The Digimon series featured all these differing universes with own unique rule-sets. It’s impossible to play a single Digimon game or watch a Digimon anime without discovering a new variation on the pre-established world.

Pokemon almost always takes place in the same universe with the same rules, yet introduces new Pokemon which shake up the formula only a tad bit. You’d think introducing god Pokemon into the franchise would gave the series a touch of uniqueness, but the gods are just legendary Pokemon that you can catch. Sure, they’ll play a part in the story sometimes, but not too often.

The Pokemon world felt a bit too grounded, if you ask me. Sure, crazy and weird stuff can happen in the Pokemon world, but the varied nature of all the Digimon universes felt more diverse. On top of this, I always liked the designs of Digimon better. Digimon actually looked like monsters, at least in my eyes. Pokemon were just more adorable versions of real-life animals, instead of being traditional monsters.

Pokemon is a decent series, but it’s never stuck with me the way Digimon has. I can’t pick out too many moments from the Pokemon anime that were memorable or that interesting. Yet, I can remember every single villain the Digidestined ever fought. To be fair, that culd be just a form of bias or selective memory.

To be fair, Pokemon isn’t a terrible series. The games in Pokemon have always been better than the ones that came from the Digimon series. Sure, Digimon had some good ones like Digimon World 3, Digimon Anode/Cathode Tamer, Digimon World DS, and Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, but most of these games were critically panned. Pokemon has always had that massive appeal with their games, which always tend to score high and rake in the cash.

At this point, Pokemon just feels a bit too bland to me. I respect that people enjoy and like it, but I just can’t get back into it. There are too many Pokemon games at this point, and I have no idea which new game to play first. I haven’t touched a Pokemon game (unless you count Pokemon Go) since the original Gold and Silver over a decade and a half ago. Is it time I changed that? Perhaps.

For now though, I’m going to stick to Digimon, with a series that I love. It’s also a series that appeals both to my inner-child and to my adult side. It’s something that I feel I can continue to enjoy, even later in life. So… What do you guys think? Which do you prefer, Pokemon or Digimon? Feel free to leave a comment telling me what you think, let’s get a friendly discussion going and talk about two series that were an integral part of many 90s kids’ childhoods.