By Steve Baltimore / May 20th, 2014
|Title||Mugen Souls Z|
|Developer||Compile Heart, GCREST|
|Release Date||May 20th, 2014|
When NIS America announced they were bringing Mugen Souls Z to the West, I was pretty skeptical. The first game had many issues that plagued the gameplay and which wasn’t well received by many fans. Still, I was willing to give the series a second shot. Was this new installment worth my time, or just a waste of it?
The story begins with the protagonist of the previous game, Chou Chou, exploring space for a world to conquer. She soon spots twelve shiny worlds that seem to fit the part. Upon exploring these worlds, she soon runs into the newly-awakened Ultimate God Syrma, who has a strange coffin with her. Chou Chou, whom as we know is kind of dumb and thinks everything belongs to her, has to check it out. Upon her examination, she is sucked into the coffin and her powers as the Undisputed God are absorbed, making her tiny. The only way to restore Chou Chou to her normal form is to absorb the powers from the other Ultimate Gods spread throughout the twelve worlds.
This story may sound similar to the first game, where you were collecting heroes and demon lords from the seven worlds, and, in fact, there are a lot of parallels. All of the cast from the first game return for this installment, as well. I found the first half of the story to be pretty boring at times, but it does get a bit more interesting towards the latter half of the game. Like the first game, there is still plenty of fan service and humor to be found here, but you have to put in a bit of time to get to it.
Graphically speaking, this is a vast improvement over the first entry. All of the character models and landscapes on each of the twelve worlds look pretty good. The effect in the first game that made the backgrounds look like they were covered in Vaseline when you turned the camera are gone. The frame rate is much improved, as well, and, even when crazy special moves are going off in combat, it keeps a pretty good rate. The only place it takes a strange dip is when you’re moving around G Castle. This really doesn’t affect anything, but it’s odd, considering.
Sound-wise, everything is about average — the soundtrack features pretty typical, upbeat music you find in other Compile Heart games. The Peons are voiced in English this time around. They, however, do not say as many things as in the Japanese audio, but it is better than nothing. The English dub is pretty well done, for the most part. Voices fit the characters, and the returning characters have the same voice actor/actress from the first game.
Combat hasn’t changed very much from last time around, so I am only going to cover what is new or different this time around. If you need more details on the combat, you can check out our own David Fernandes’s review of the first game. The biggest difference this time around is Chou Chou is not playable due to her small size. So, Syrma will assume her role to captivate the enemies into peons. The captivate system works exactly like it did last time around. Each enemy will have a personality with some sort of fetish they like, and you have to pick a personality and pose to change into to capture the peon. This system is somewhat improved this time, however. I felt it was a little less random than in the first game, but it is still by no means perfect.
The other major change to combat is the Coffin Skills. Whenever you make an enemy into a peon, it will trigger a Coffin Skill from Syrma’s coffin. These range in effects from stat boosts to HP recovery, you can set this to whatever skill you wish. The Peon Ball has changed a bit, as well, and is now known as the Ultimate Soul. This is a joint attack between Syrma and Chou Chou. It powers up in exactly the same way based on the number of Shampurus you have collected throughout the game, though you will have a limited number of these to use on each world before returning to base. The damage for Ultimate Soul will also increase if you have a large number of PP when you use it. Be warned, though, it will deplete all your PP when you use it, and the overload rate increases when anyone is KO’d in battle. If the overload level goes too high — just like with the Peon Ball — it will blow up in your face usually resulting in death. The last new feature is Damage Carnival. If you do enough damage during a battle, you’ll get bonus points at the end of combat. You can upgrade this to make it require more damage to activate, but provide a bigger bonus.
Even though the combat didn’t change very much, it was much easier to gain levels and Mugen points due to the improvement of the captivate system and Damage Carnival. I found it much more enjoyable than the previous title.
G Castle is still your home base and it works basically the same. You can still use the Weapons Shop to buy and upgrade weapons, the Hot Springs for one-time stat boosts, Peon Salon to create peons and Clothing Shop to buy clothes. There are a couple of new additions, such as the Mugen Shop and the Challenge World. Challenge World is just as the name suggests — various battle challenges that will reward you with items and tickets to use in the Mugen Shop. In the Mugen Shop, you can spend tickets to unlock various features. These include new jobs for your peons, permanent battle bonus points and various other goodies. You can find these tickets in treasure chests or in the previously mentioned Challenge World.
Creating Peons has been upgraded a bit. You can now select many more faces and hairstyles. You can even unlock the ability to use custom character portraits for them. I thought this was a pretty neat feature, personally. The images will have to be a certain size and format on the PS3, but all the details are given when you get ready to import one.
The biggest change, by far, is the world maps. There are a total of Twelve Worlds, as the story says, but when you get the planet energy to 100%, by captivating Planet Spots, it will unlock the ruins on each world. This gives you many more maps to explore this time around. By taking all the Planet Points on each world (which I highly recommend since it is the easiest way to get Gold, Mugen Points and some of the rarer materials for making items) you will also receive the Ultimate Treasure for each world. These usually contain some pretty good items for your party to use.
As you complete worlds you will gain Ultimate Fusions. These Skills have various effects ranging from the ability to snag floating chests to the ability to swim. When you capture certain Planet Spots, you will gain power ups. These include Ultimate Vault, which allows you to jump higher; Ultimate Snag, which allows you snag locked floating chests; Ultimate Hunt, which allows you open locked chests; and Ultimate Warp which allows you to use certain warp points. These are all boosted versions of the Ultimate Fusion skills. This is probably the most annoying part of the game. The way they have these skills spread out across the planet points make for endless backtracking. For instance, the chest that requires Ultimate Snag may be at the top of the map while the Planet Point that grants you the skill may be at the bottom of the map. Aside from the fact you will be visiting each of these worlds several times to start with, since you will need to revisit them once you gain an Ultimate Fusion to get the chest and access areas you couldn’t reach before, this just seemed like a lot of leg work to me that could have been streamlined easily.
The Mugen Field works just exactly like it did in the previous game – bet some Mugen Points and head down into the 100-floor abyss. Though, this time, you will need to unlock the floors past 10 in the Mugen Shop before they are accessible. As anyone who played the previous game knows, running these floors multiple times is a must to gain important rare items and the easiest way to gain tons of EXP in the game. That being said, there is a game-breaking bug here. The game will hard freeze at times before loading the next battle. This makes the endgame and doing the extra portions extremely difficult to deal with. I hope NISA has a patch coming to fix this issue soon. *UPDATE* NISA has patched this bug, so this is no longer an issue. The final score has been changed to reflect this.
All in all, this is a better outing than the first game. The combat and graphics are much improved, and, even with the Mugen Field being broken, it is still much easier to raise your charm levels and gain Mugen Points than it was in the previous title. If not for the bug, I would say this is an average game, at best. If you’re a fan of the first game, you would likely enjoy this one, as well, but if not, you should probably pass on it. For the price of $49.99, you get about 33 hours of gameplay here to get the normal ending, though you could sink more into this one if you want to get the true ending or all of the trophies.
*Note: this score has been changed due to a patch for the Mugen Field bug.*
Game was provided by the publisher for review purposes
Compile HeartIdea Factory InternationalMugen SoulsNIS America