NIS America sure know what they are good at, offering a steady flow of turn based combat games involving a very strange assortment of characters, the Disgaea series being their crowning glory. So how do you go about topping that, well how about running around as what are perceived as, busty, but very young girls in skimpy clothing trying to take over the universe?
Mugen Souls does not do things small, with our protagonist and self-proclaimed Undisputed Goddess Chou-Chou declaring from the off that she wants to take over the universe. This self-centred ruler Chou-Chou has the ability to turn anyone into Peons, loyal followers who do her bidding and so, the Goddess and her party begin this selfish quest to take over the surrounding seven planets, making anyone who gets in her way kneel before her.
Set up like many other Japanese role playing games (JRPG's), we then take Chou-Chou on a huge quest, travelling to far off planets, fighting plenty of enemies and shopping for new items; it is all a bit too familiar in some terms, however Mugen Souls saving grace is the very original battle system. It is set up like a turn based system but Chou-Chou and her party are able to freely run around the fight arena before deciding who to attack. The more basic one on one battles are no different to other games, selecting a foe and choosing to attack from a list of options, with an option to use a link ability if any of your party are close by, offering even more power to true attack.
As mentioned earlier Chou-Chou herself has some unique powers that she can take to the battlefield, with her having the ability to turn enemies into Peons. Lower classed monsters will turn into small and cute rabbit like creatures called Shampuru's, where the more powerful beings will maintain their own looks. Using this power she is able to use a Moe Kill attack; this method is a little confusing, but by using her persuasive powers, you need to select specific words from a predetermined list to try and convince them to turn to your ways. Each monster has a mood and affinity so choosing the right words is vital, with successful transformations granting new Peons or you may even earn some new items. However get it wrong and the enemy monsters will go into a fearsome frenzy, regaining full health and powers and also getting a damage boost. Gauging the mood is quite easy as each enemy will have a happy of smiley face type emoticon next to them but the affinity is a little harder, thankfully to make sure you have the right affinity, Chou-Chou is able to change her personality into one of seven alter-egos that include Masochist, Sadist, Hyper and Ditz and by using these and learning their benefits, Chou-Chou will soon be transforming everyone to her way of thinking.
Travelling the long darkness of space between planets in her ship the G-Castle, Chou-Chou may come across other enemies who are against her universal domination. Here the game changes to a ship versus ship battle that is very similar to a paper, rock, scissors game, with you guessing what the enemy ship is about to do and hoping you get the right reaction, be it throwing up shields when they attack or using pierce cannons when their shield is up. It is not total guess work as if you watch the health of the enemy ship you are able to tactically work out their next move, be it attacking, defending or healing.
Though trying something different in action terms it still boils down to what most other JRPG's offer, with plenty of shops to visit, allowing you to customise looks and also purchase and create new weapons for Chou-Chou and her party. On the planet's surface you have the classic field approach of running around lovely looking environments whilst fighting any monsters you come across, making your way to the boss of each area.
The presentation is mostly to a high degree, with an outstanding quality to the voice acting with pretty much the whole game being dubbed into English and the visuals having a very innocent cartoon edge to it, but do not let the cute fool you, there is lots of swearing and innuendo throughout this title, with most of the characters perceived as busty girls in skimpy clothes but also harbouring the appearance of a child.
Just like most of the other NIS America games, Mugen Souls will need a lot of time and patience to get the most out of it, requiring plenty of revisiting previously conquered lands as different versions of Chou-Chou to grind away and gain even more of those Peons and cash to purchase the plentiful customisation items on offer.
If you like your games with a slightly more obscure Japanese humour and hours upon hours of RPG gameplay this will be right up your street, just getting your head around the new and confusing battle system will take time.
Words by Ash Buchanan.
Review Policy (Version tested: PS3)