It’s a confusing trip, playing Denpa Men 3. One minute you’re circling around your garden trying to capture more guys to join your adventure with the 3DS camera; the next you’re on an RPG adventure trying to save the world. There’s so much going on that it’s almost impossible to catch your breath, and with very little in the way of narrative or tutorials, you’re on your own in a brightly coloured and surreal world. Despite this, with a little time and an open mind, Denpa Men 3 soon becomes an addictive pleasure to play, and a title that deserves to be solely planted on a Nintendo system.
It’s almost like the lovechild of some of gaming’s most notable series; Pokémon, Animal Crossing, Pikmin, Dragon Quest and more. You start off with a greeting from a random Denpa; a brightly clad guy who needs your help to rescue a kidnapped friend. After a very brief conversation your adventure begins and you begin to recruit Denpa Men to your aid using the 3DS camera. The top screen displays your current surroundings, whilst the bottom boasts a radar showing the location of current Denpa Men in the vicinity.
Capturing is easy; aim and click the A button and the Denpa is caught. Some require more work than others, and different characters will appear in different places dependent on radio signals in the area. Some Denpa Men come with aerials stamped firmly to their heads that harbour special abilities, such as lightning attacks and healing powers, and the overall look and colour of the character defines their abilities, strengths and weaknesses. In short; the more outrageous the Denpa, the better they will be in battle.
Once you’ve caught your fill of Denpa Men, you’ll be let loose in the games over-world. Its design is similar to last year’s Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and the comparison stretches even further, giving you the ability to customise anything from your Denpa’s outfits to their homes and garden. In fact, the strongest part of the game isn’t the main story or the battle system; it’s the little things you discover on your travels.
The game offers a fair amount of side stuff to get involved with, and any self re specting hoarder will find themselves filling their homes up with useless junk, going fishing for top selling game or grinding enemies with the hope they drop rare loot. It’s a fun and interesting ecosystem that rewards hard work and dedication.
Once you begin exploring the environment you’ll soon run into some of the games well designed and varied monsters, giving you an introduction to the games surprisingly deep turn-based battle system. You can select each attack individually, or you can go all-out either offensively or defensively. For the most part your team box clever and help each other out in times of need, which is often in the latter part of the game as a fair amount of grinding is required to progress due to a couple of difficulty spikes here and there. If you’re selective with your Denpa Men you’ll soon have a winning team on your hands that’ll see you through the difficult patches.
Like a lot of other RPG titles, after a few hours grinding away at enemies you’ve seen and done all the combat system has to offer and it can grow quite tiresome. Despite this, the game constantly gives back, and loot comes thick and fast, be it a new coffee table for your home or a fancy new argyle sweater to kit your favourite Denpa out. You’ll want to work at getting more, and even when that becomes tiring, you can always retreat back to your favourite fishing spot to make money to pimp up your home.
The Denpa Men series definitely won’t be for everyone, and a few of its main draws can be the very things you’ll be sick of after a while; using the camera to search for new recruits and the battle system being the two that’ll stagnate the most, but by looking above these minor flaws you’ll realise it’s quite a special game. Denpa Men manages to take bits from several genres and put them into one experience without feeling contrived, and overall it’s a fun escape from reality that wouldn’t belong anywhere else than on a Nintendo console.
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