Mugen Souls Z Review

Gaming

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Mugen Souls Z
Developer: Compile Heart
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PlayStation 3
Release Date: May 20, 2014
Price: $49.99 – Available Here

Overview
Making a game too simplistic to play through can be regarded as boring while making too many complex systems will either leave gamers avoiding most of these systems or stuck in confusion as they muddle through the title. Mugen Souls was a game that had a number of systems that could confuse gamers and although it took some time to grasp these mechanics fully, even then they seemed to be problematic at times. As such when Mugen Souls Z was announced, it was a bit of a surprise that NIS America jumped on this sequel for release in the West. Well… now that Mugen Souls Z has been released has it improved over its predecessor?

Story
For those who are unfamiliar with the first game, the “Undisputed Goddess of the Universe” Chou-Chou had set out to conquer seven worlds and make them and everyone on them her peons. As one would imagine, she manages to do so and now after her victory over those seven worlds, she is now looking at twelve new worlds to conquer. Unfortunately for Chou-Chou, her confidence ends up leading to her downfall.

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After spreading out her allies from the first game, who are collected later as part of the game’s story, Chou-Chou arrives on the first planet only to stumble upon a hero named Nao who has just woken up the Ultimate God Syrma from a strange coffin. After dealing with the situation, Chou-Chou looks at this coffin only to stumble into it and get locked inside. Once she is stuck in the coffin, pink goo fills it and saps away all of her powers and although she manages to escape, she Chou-Chou is now practically powerless and to make matters worse she is now a chibi version of her already small self.

Lacking her powers, Chou-Chou joins with Syrma in an effort to continue her goal as Syrma’s abilities are tied to the same goals that Chou-Chou has and if Syrma manages to get her powers back, then maybe Chou-Chou’s will return as well. As such the pair venture off on a journey to conquer a new set of worlds in what is an incredibly strange storyline with an infectious set of humor.

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The basic story of Mugen Souls Z is really basic seeming at times and takes a while to really get going but this is made up for by the cast of characters players gather over the course of the game. Fans who liked the characters from the first game will be delighted to hear that they will be returning with the same personalities as before and the new characters are also quite a treat, especially Nao as she regularly plays the straight man, or woman I suppose, to the groups outlandish and strange behavior making her a nice sounding board for the player’s thoughts at times.

Gameplay
In many ways, Mugen Souls Z is nearly the exact same as what gamers found in the original Mugen Souls. Players are tasked with traveling between planets and trying to conquer them by triggering events and finding specific points on each planet and meeting a certain goal that can be anything from gathering items or defeating enemies to making them become your peon by using the game’s Captivate system. To do this players will be spending a large amount of time in combat which is still a bit confusing for newcomers, but better explained this time through so it may not be as intimidating to potential players.

Combat is a turn based affair and is triggered when the player encounters an enemy on the field either by running into them or attacking them to gain the advantage at the start of the battle. The combat in the game has been refined but mostly in regards to the side bits as the basics are still the same. The player’s four character party can move around the field and attack enemies with various attacks and skills that can be linked up to create over the top attacks that only a game like Mugen Souls Z could pull off.

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Blasting enemies around the field returns and is beneficial at times, albeit still a bit complex Players can create outrageously high damage outputs thanks to the damage carnival mechanic and earn an increased reward from combat, and the Captivate System also plays a big role. Returning players will recognize that this system has been refined the most as it is now easier to actually tell what an enemy may like or dislike and matching these fetishes is easier as players can change Syrma’s personality type during her turn without a penalty.

As such performing the various moé poses and phrases is easier than before as players can see how an enemy will react before performing a set of poses and nicer looking as well. Successfully captivating an enemy will make them your Peon which increases the power of your castle as well as Syrma’s special Ultimate Soul attack.

Outside of combat players will also have to deal with the G-Castle fights that have also been modified compared to the prior game to be a bit more complex which is for the best in this regard as they were way too easy in the first game. These fights can still be rather easily handled if the player predicts how the enemy ship will react and choose their action accordingly but it is actually a bit challenging this time around.

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Grinding for experience points in the Mugen Field, enhancing equipment, and creating new peons from scratch also return and are pretty much the same as before though the Mugen Field has been tweaked a bit to allow players to use checkpoints to leave and return. That being said, a large amount of the game still requires quite a bit of grinding which fans of the genre have probably come to expect at this point as Mugen Souls Z can be played for quite a long period of time as the player explores everything the title has to offer.

Visuals
Mugen Souls Z remains similar to its predecessor as far as art style is concerned but it has been given a few enhancements here and there as the field exploration with Syrma is a bit more detailed than what was presented previously. In fact most of the character models have a bit more shading to them this time around which is for the best as it adds a little extra detail to their chibi style forms.

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That being said everything else is still as colorful and over the top as ever with linked attack animations ranging from hilarious to ridiculous. The game sports some nice looking character portraits that fit well with the game’s anime aesthetics and have a number of varied poses to react to the story’s oft ridiculous situations.

Audio
As with the first game in the series, Mugen Souls Z comes with both the English voice track provided by NIS America as well as the Japanese voice track. The English voice actors and actresses have reprised their roles in the game and the new characters are voiced suitably enough as Syrma’s various personalities are also given the same treatment Chou-Chou’s were in the first, with the character’s tone changing to match her personality type.

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The game’s background music is fitting considering the type of game that Mugen Souls Z is as it is full of upbeat sounding pop music as well as enjoyable some rather enjoyable combat music, which is a plus considering how much time the player will spend fighting enemies.

Overall
Mugen Souls Z is pretty much everything a fan of the first game would expect as it continues Chou-Chou’s ridiculous and oft hilarious journey to try and conquer the universe while also introducing a new set of likable characters. The combat system has been refined a bit to be more approachable to newcomers and change things up a bit for players returning for to continue the series in this improved sequel.

8-5-capsules-out-of-10
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

As a big fan of anime and games I'll be quick to cover anything that happens to be of interest.

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