E3 2019: Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers Preview
The Y2K problem, but with time.
06.19.19 - 7:04 PM
Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers sounds like a simple RPG on the surface, but one look at the game tells you it's something very different from anything else Nippon Ichi have done before. With the story of a simple SNES RPG and the visuals of a Western children's cartoon, Destiny Connect charmed me right out of the gate, and I had a big smile on my face the whole time I was exploring Clocknee.
I started out at the beginning of the game, on New Year's Eve in 1999. You take control of Sherry, who goes out with her best friend Pegrio to explore the town before the clock strikes midnight, but her dad is late getting home and no one has heard from him. On that night, just before the millennium celebrations kick in, time freezes for everyone, apart from Sherry, her best friend and her mum. But when Sherry goes looking for her mum at home, she can't find her and instead uncovers a robot called Isaac in her dad's secret basement. Sherry, Pegrio and Isaac then join forces to restore the flow of time and find out where Sherry's father is.
Clearly inspired by Chrono Trigger's time-travelling plot, Destiny Connect sees Sherry go back and forth in time to discover why time has stopped. I didn't get to test this out, but I'm fascinated to see how far back or forward in time the game takes you. Sherry herself seems like a fun main character, with a spirited personality and some real guts, and she pushes herself to understand the world and fix the problems around her. Her relationship with Pegrio is very cute, as she spends a lot of time teasing him or forcing him to come and help her out.
I only got to explore Clocknee both before and after the time freeze, but Destiny Connect feels like a beginners RPG, or an RPG the whole family can play together. The appealing visual design, clear checkpointing and sweet, easy-to-understand dialogue makes this an easy RPG to pick up and play. So while it wasn't overly exciting to look around town, it did feel wholesome to explore and see the bright, colourful buildings and the variety of characters walking around. It's very simplistic but easy on the eye and extremely easy to enjoy.
Mostly, the game feels like wandering through your favourite childhood cartoon, and I could easily draw comparisons to the likes of Jimmy Neutron. The character designs are extremely expressive and varied, and I haven't seen another game like this before, especially from Japan. Sherry's big green eyes and her cheeky smile are adorable, and you can see so much detail in her model, from the freckles on her face to the fabric in her dress.
Another visual quirk within Destiny Connect is that all of the enemies and weapons are based on household objects. I only saw animated toasters in the demo, but there's everything from vacuum cleaners to washing machines and light bulbs. Even the weapons follow this trend, with Sherry using a hairdryer as a plasma gun. This makes the world feel extremely fun and varied, and the enemy and weapon designs never failed to make me laugh.
While I didn't get any hands-on time with the combat, I did discuss it at length with NIS America, but again, there's nothing mind-blowing or unusual to genre veterans or newcomers. Destiny Connect's fights are all turn-based, with each character having unique abilities — so Sherry has gun skills which use more powerful blasts or bullets, and Pegrio uses various gadgets to attack foes, like Jeff from EarthBound. This is clearly to ease new players into the game and teach younger players the mechanics.
Isaac, though, functions differently. Throughout the game, you acquire different Gears, which you can equip onto your robot friend, and this customises his appearance and his abilities, kind of like a class or job change. One of these turns him into a Firefighter, which gives him a hosepipe weapon and attacks that differ from his vanilla skillset. There are lots of these to collect throughout the game, so I'm bound to have some fun playing around with Isaac's set-up, and I can't wait to see what other jobs he acquires.
The time I spent with Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers was pleasant. I wasn't bowled over by anything, but I loved the visual design, the quirky enemies and the simplistic approach the game takes to the genre. If this is something families can enjoy together, then I'm all for it. The game launches on October 22nd in the West on PlayStation 4 and Switch, which is the perfect time to snuggle up with a hot drink and play a wholesome, family-friendly RPG.