"Mugen Souls looks like a game that fans of the genre and NIS America's past efforts will really enjoy."
Although the actual release of Mugen Souls in the US has been delayed, the game is ready enough that the folks at NIS America were willing to let us take another look at it. This is one of the titles that Neal played at E3, and he really enjoyed it, so how is it shaping up now that it's close to making an appearance on store shelves? Here's what I can tell you after spending several hours playing it.
Story-wise, Mugen Souls is a game in which you play the part of a goddess who has decided to take over all of the game's seven worlds. Not just the people on them – she has even vowed to make the very worlds themselves her peons. Each of those worlds has a hero and a demon lord who she must conquer in order to exert true dominance, and she has the ability to change between a number of forms (ditzy, sadistic, egotistical, etc.). She uses those forms to figure out what type of girl attracts a given hero or demon lord, then battles them and uses her sexy wiles to sweep them off their feet. Don't get me wrong: this is a much more lighthearted and silly game than it is dark and sensual.
The gameplay features a dizzyingly large number of options, and from what I've seen, those who get their heads wrapped around the possibilities will find Mugen Souls to be a game with Disgaea-like levels of replayability. Combat is turn-based, but characters can move freely around the battlefield, rather than being confined to specific squares. If things are getting a little crowded, you can set their special attacks to actually propel enemies across the screen, and if a party member isn't doing enough damage on their own, you can move them near other characters and team up for some devastatingly insane combos.
Each of the worlds I've visited has a very distinct look, along with its own set of monsters and unique music, which helps keep things fresh as you move through the game. And thus far, the music has all been great - I would definitely buy this soundtrack. Based on my time with it, Mugen Souls looks like a game that fans of the genre and NIS America's past efforts will really enjoy. Look for a full review as we get closer to its US release in October.
"Mugen Souls promises a quest filled with laughs and one-liners. "
Mugen Souls is a title we did not expect to see on the E3 show floor. But there it was, tucked away in the back corner of the Tecmo-Koei booth like the weird kid who's ostracized by his cooler and more popular cohorts. And it's too bad, because this proverbial "weird kid" is actually cooler than expected.
Mugen Souls comes with a reputation, due to the notorious controversy surrounding some explicit images that have shown up on the web. Tecmo-Koei kept mum on that when asked, but did say that the game's content, particularly the dialogue, remains virtually unchanged from the original Japanese. The Japanese voices are also intact, so purists need not worry.
The cartoony graphics are lively and colorful, fusing the best qualities of bubbly anime and over-the-top Saturday morning cartoons. The funniest of these are the wild and crazy special attacks that make the flying flapjacks in Rhapsody appear calm. These combos and specials feature giant catapults, pirouette tornado machines, and other such silliness. The environments are exaggerated too, often parodying stereotypical JRPG environments like a wacky airship battle similar to Skies of Arcadia. It is also possible to customize your characters' appearances over the course of the game.
Parody is the name of the game, and one of the most amusing aspects we saw was the parody trope of heroes who do bad things like invade peoples' houses, open their chests, and break their vases. But you don't play the hero or his sidekick (who's embarrassed by her bikini despite it having abnormally high DEF). You instead play an adorable anti-hero evil goddess who wishes to make peons of every hero and villain in the game's seven worlds. One of her loyal companions is a fallen angel who accidentally did a good deed and whose villainy is therefore forever cursed. Basically, every time she does an act of unspeakable evil, it turns out to be a good act that saves people rather than harms them. With characters like this, Mugen Souls promises a quest filled with laughs and great one-liners.
The battle system is turn-based, but with a free-roaming battlefield. In the beginning of your turn, you move your character around the battlefield, and if an action is within their radius, you can take it. In addition to the wacky normal attacks, specials, and combos, there is a three-step charming system where selecting a combination of three options can charm an enemy into being a peon, similar to evoking the interest of a demon in Persona 2.
This PS3 exclusive reportedly releases September 18, 2012, with a main quest promising 30-40 hours with many more hours of extra content, similar to a Disgaea timesink.