REVIEW: The Denpa Men 3: The Rise of Digitoll

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

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The Denpa Men 3: The Rise of Digitoll | oprainfall
Title The Denpa Men 3: The Rise of Digitoll
Developer Genius Sonority
Publisher Genius Sonority
Release Date May 8, 2014
Genre RPG
Platform Nintendo 3DS
Age Rating ESRB: E
Official Website

Let’s go back to 2012 for a minute, back when the first Denpa Men game was released. It was released during a time when the selection for RPGs on the eShop wasn’t that good. When it came to the genre, your choices were either Dragon Crystal, The Sword of Hope II or Planet Crashers. While not a terrible set of games, they left quite a bit to be desired.

So, on September 27, 2012, The Denpa Men: They Came By Wave broke through as the first good, new downloadable RPG on the 3DS. The game was innovative in how you acquired allies, and even where you could acquire them. The game was great in nearly all facets, earning great praise from us.

The Denpa Men 3 | Meeting

Fast forward to now. RPG representation has definitely been expanded. The field is different than it was two years ago. There is quality, both from budget titles and retail releases. But, while the retail games have added some much-needed depth on the eShop, the Denpa Men series still remains the gold standard for the budget titles.

The Denpa Men 3 | On Digitoll

For those wondering, Digitoll is the island where the Denpa Men live in the game.

The Denpa Men 3: The Rise of Digitoll is the third game in what will soon be a four-game series. You play as a Denpa Man that is randomly chosen for you (or, if you’ve played the earlier games, you can select your previous Denpa Man) as you venture to save Crystal. Again. For the third time. And, unlike the second game, you don’t have a family with her. She’s just a girl that you are fond of, just like the first game.

For newcomers, this story might be OK… and sound a bit like a certain Nintendo platformer. But for returning players, this didn’t seem like much of a progression from the previous games. Actually, it felt kind of like the first game. But it makes sense in the first game because it was focused on introducing new gameplay styles to the audience. That’s what made the first Denpa Men fun. The second game’s story was cool because it progressed your Denpa Man’s relationship with Crystal. This felt like a rehash of the first game.

Here’s something I would’ve liked to see in this game. The kids have grown up and you actually play as the two of them as you rescue your Denpa Man and Crystal from the first dungeon. Unfortunately, you can only save one at that point while the other is taken away until the endgame. And when I say you can save one, I mean you can choose between either your Denpa Man or Crystal. That would’ve been interesting, having to save the character you fought with over the past 60 hours of gameplay from the last two games.

The Denpa Men 3 | Cannons

Use cannons to get to places you can’t reach by boat or foot.

As for the gameplay, it’s pretty much the same from the first two games. However, unlike the story, that’s not a bad thing. I praised the battle system in the first game and have enjoyed the fact that it has stayed pretty much the same since. No need to select each character’s individual actions unless you need to. Just hit the right button for a mass physical attack or let them do as they please with magic.

The main change from the previous games is the fact that you can sail over the ocean instead of just trekking over the land. It’s a good exploration vehicle—particularly mid-game when you can travel over all water—and can actually lead to a quick death if you sail into the wrong area with monsters that have way too high of a level. That’s not a bad thing, either. Sometimes, you just have to pay the price for curiosity in video games.

The Denpa Men 3 | Pebbles

I think I had a guy with this, but it was a more evolved power at that time.

There were a few instances in the gameplay that I did take issue with. First off, I had trouble getting the right Denpa Men for the right situation. I don’t know how Genius Sonority determines where or when they show up, but, at a certain point in the game, I couldn’t find any new Denpa Men, even in places where I had no problem finding them before.

And if you’re wondering why I didn’t just import from the previous games, I wanted to experience the game as a newcomer. This meant playing the game without Jamal–the Denpa Man I’ve ventured with since the first game–and the various Denpa Men I’ve captured over two games that have a plethora of skills.

However, this is a minor problem, as the game remedies this with the ability to rent Denpa Men. What you do is you use in-game currency to purchase a Denpa Man for a short amount of time in order to complete a certain task or fill in a gap in your line-up. You can also put your Denpa Men up for rent, as well, which will earn you some money. I was OK with this system, but I would’ve preferred having my own Denpa Men around with those skills.

The Denpa Men 3 | Wild Wrasse

The second issue deals with grinding. I only remember having to grind once in the first Denpa Men game. It was in the Ice Temple near the end of the game. I remember some grinding in the second game, but I don’t recall it being that bad. This game, however, felt like you needed to grind in order to get anywhere. Sure, you could rent a higher level Denpa Man, but that wouldn’t fix the situation. As a matter of opinion, I think it would make things worse since your team wouldn’t get the experience needed to become stronger if you just had one guy plow through the map. And, even if you had that guy around, you would probably still need to grind anyway.

The Denpa Men 3 | Shopping

Not the most useful item, unless you’re trying to be a completionist.

The final problem I had with gameplay stems from confusion. The first game was never confusing. Just select where you want to go on the map and beat the temple. The second game, I would get lost, but I could find my way pretty quickly.

This game, however, is ridiculous. Puzzles seem overly cryptic. Nothing is spelled out for you. And even when it is, it’s still ridiculous how hard it is to find something. Case in point, there is an island you have to reach in order to enter a temple. To find the island, you have to talk to a researcher that says that you need to travel southwest from the certain location. What he fails to mention is that you have to go south and then slightly west from said location to find the temple. I usually try to do this on my own, but I had to look up walkthroughs and Let’s Plays in order to figure out where the temple was. And this wasn’t the only time I used them to look things up.

The fact is, when you have to look up someone else playing a game multiple times just to see how you need to progress, there is something wrong. I know most people like to figure things out on their own without someone holding their hand, but having a bit of clarity helps.

The Denpa Men 3 | Denpa House

Each Denpa Man has a house on or near Digitoll you can visit.

Other than that, The Denpa Men 3 is great. The music is wonderful to listen to. The graphics look good, and the 3D works the same as with the previous games (if you so choose to play with it on). Bosses have elemental attributes like in previous games and can be defeated in quick order if you exploit their weakness. And, even though the Dwarf speak is back, they do poke fun at it in a joking manner later in the game. You’ll get a good 40 hours out of this $10 game.

The Denpa Men 3 | Meeting and Sending

Another cool feature: you can catch up to eight Denpa Men at a time, meaning there are fewer times you break away from the main catching screen.

Overall, this is a mixed bag. But it’s a mixed bag of quality parts. This is a good title; don’t confuse what I’ve said in the review for anything else. Most of the criticisms I’ve laid out has pretty much been on things that maybe could have been smoothed out a bit more. And that’s really only because I have high expectations for this series. It’s shown that it can be great, this game included. It had a few rough points worth talking about, but everything else was solid and on point. Totally worth buying.

The Denpa Men 3 | Real-life Denpa Men

Review Score

Game provided by publisher for review purposes.

About Jeff Neuenschwander

Jeff has been a supporter of the website and campaign since the beginning. Joining in for E3 2012, he worked his way up the ranks quickly, making it to the Editing Manager post at the beginning of 2013. Jeff has a wide variety of tastes when it comes to gaming and pretty much likes anything that is quirky, although his favorite genres are Action, Platforming, and RPG. Outside of gaming, Jeff is a musician, being trained as a trombonist for Jazz and Classical music, and holds a degree in Sound Recording.