Mugen Souls Z by Idea Factory is an action role-playing game that places you in the role of Lady Chou-Chou, an ultimate God that is responsible for creating seven worlds. As our God-like heroine explores an unknown universe, she discovers twelve worlds that were created by another God. Feeling challenged as a divine deity, Lady Chou-Chou vows to conquer each world and defeat any enemies that stand in her way.
As the game begins, we see Lady Chou-Chou and her loyal companions exploring the cosmos in their spacecraft the G-Castle. It’s learned very early on that Chou-Chou’s peon, Ryuto, had been hard at work improving the G-Castle’s defenses. The result is the ability to ‘transform’ the ship into a hulking, mech-like warrior with enhanced armor and improved firepower.
The game quickly switches to a tutorial that explains the in-game controls and the intricacies of combat, as the G-Castle is suddenly attacked by inter-dimensional foes. The first battle involves a Georizer – a dinosaur-like mech beast with giant pincer-like claws, and a group of purple shadow monsters that use environmental objects such as lanterns for their physical bodies.
Once the first tutorial ends, the game switches to a planet where Nao, a treasure hunter that is on her latest haul, discovers an artifact that turns out to be an ancient coffin containing Syrma, a self-proclaimed Goddess. The tutorial continues from this point, explaining how to interact with the various items in the envionrment to eventually capturing peons (i.e. monsters) during combat (more on this in a moment).
Mugen Souls Z is an acquired taste, and this is due to its combat system — it’s divided into two segments: G-castle space battles and standard turn-based excursions during the world exploration portions of the game. When the G-Castle battles an enemy spacecraft, it enters what is called the ‘Castle’ showdown – a 1-on-1 battle between both vessels. The combat sequence displays a split screen view of both the player and the enemy.
At your disposal are a variety of ‘attack’ skills that increase as they level up. These skills include a Standard Attack, Fast Attack and Pierce, to name just a few. The Standard Attack skill is a basic cannon that inflicts moderate damage; Fast Attack lowers your enemy’s ability to attack and inflicts enormous amounts of damage; and Pierce is a powerful attack that nullifies conditions such as Reflect and Drain.
Since these battle sequences encourage the player to anticipate their enemy’s attacks, it is possible to select skills from the Defense menu to convert incoming attacks into recoverable HP (Health Points) and SP (Spell Points). Skills HP Drain and SP Drain are important and should be used often during difficult space battles. Misjudging your enemy’s actions will result in the G-Castle sustaining damage, so maintaining a good defense is necessary. Plus, it’s important to listen to your crew when they give advice during combat; it could mean the difference between victory and defeat.
Defense consists of repairing the G-Castle, restoring its SP and reflecting attacks by using the following skills – HP Restore, SP Restore and Reflect (which reflects incoming attacks). When you initiate HP Restore, a quirky animation of large hammers appear on-screen, repairing the G-Castle of its inflictions. Moreover, you can check the compatibility of your attacks against your enemy by pressing Square button, which brings up the ‘Check Compatibility’ menu. From there, you can compare attacks and decide which ones will be the most effective. It’s worth noting that combat isn’t the same when you’re exploring the colorful worlds of Mugen Souls Z.
While combat remains turn-based, the player has the freedom to move party members without losing a turn. However, the only way to attack an enemy is to have it standing inside a party member’s attack radius. The combat menu contains options to attack, use skills and defend, among others. An action window is also displayed in the top-right corner of the screen, shuffling the attack order of both your party members and enemies. Unfortunately, the combat system during the exploration segments offer nothing ground-breaking or memorable. The ability to convert enemies into peons or items is an added bonus, though.
The main character, Syrma, has the ability to charm opponents and turn them into items. If the attempt fails, it will cause a rage-induced boost to their stats. But if you’re successful, they will become your peon and increase the power of the G-Castle. But more importantly, you must travel between Planet Spots to fulfill requests that involve either an item or being charmed by Syrma’s fetish poses. Once you have finally made a planet your peon, you will encounter that planet’s Ultimate God. The objective is to defeat the God before Syrma can imprison them inside her coffin and consume their power. For all intent and purposes, the peon system is a refreshing approach to the JRPG genre.
Mugen Souls Z is a casual role-playing game that doesn’t take itself seriously. Plus, the environments are linear and play more-or-less on ‘rails’. Levels are sectioned off into small areas that contain special events and items related to the story. The player must complete these specific events to proceed to the next area/town. For example: as you explore these mini worlds, you will encounter infinity-like symbols that litter the landscape. When your party comes in contact with one of these symbols, a story-related cinema will play. The majority of the game plays out in this fashion.
The graphics are a collection of cute, SD (Super Deformed) Japanese characters and brightly colored backgrounds. Spells and other abilities don’t have the same on-screen prescience as some of NIS America’s previous titles (i.e. Disgaea or Hyperdimension Neptuna), but they are passable nonetheless. The monsters you encounter are also rendered in the SD format, so expect your senses to be overwhelmed by the cuteness this art style brings. But most importantly, the cinemas contain some of the best Manga art ever seen in a JRPG.
Mugen Souls Z is a quirky role-playing game that targets a specific audience. Casual gamers will appreciate the small environments and simple gameplay, while seasoned veterans of the genre will enjoy the story and difficult boss encounters. In the end, Mugen Souls Z doesn’t try to be anymore than it is – a simple, enjoyable game with a likable cast of characters.
Platform: Playstation 3 (Available on PSN)
Developer: NIS America
Platform: Idea Factory
ESRB: T (Teen)
|Incredibly beautiful Manga-style illustrations.|
|Professional voice acting and a memorable sound track.|
|Simple in execution, but very addictive to play..|
|Mugen Souls Z is more of an RPG-lite than some of NIS America's previous titles, but gamers of all skill levels will still find something to like in this charismatic adventure about Gods and their authority over the universe.|