“Wait, stop the car! I CAN’T MISS THIS ONE,” I yelled to one of my friends as we made our way to a local Denny’s. He looked at me, rather confused, and pulled over. I was ecstatic, I’d just caught a rare Denpa man.
Genius Sonority’s The Denpa Men 2: Beyond the Waves is a colorful little 3DS E-shop game that chronicles the struggle that a Denpa Man goes through when his family is kidnapped by an unknown villain. You are first introduced to your Denpa Man as he pleads for your help, and asks you to help him save his family. His name is randomly generated, so every player has a different experience with their main character. The first thing this little Denpa does is explain how you can catch him some friends. This is where things get interesting.
Catching Denpa Men involves a certain level of expertise in maneuvering your 3DS and willingness to go outside. The game uses the cameras on the outside of the 3DS in order to emphasize that the Denpa Men live in the real world and are all around us. Though you can start out by finding Denpa Men in your home, you’ll soon find yourself unable to capture any more. This is because they live on the radio waves in the environment (at least, that’s what Calvin the Denpa Man told me). It makes sense then that you find the most Denpa Men in the most highly populated areas within the real world. This mechanic is both incredibly creative and slightly frustrating. Capturing different Denpa Men is a lot of fun, but it is a little inconvenient at times when you’d like most to stay home.
The actual Denpa Men vary in their colors, special abilities, and attack/defense power. This is where you begin to notice the cartoon-y, Animal Crossing-esque art style that gives each Denpa their own personality. They each have their own name, which adds to the idea that they’re all individuals. Their colors determine their respective resistances/weaknesses, which means that you will want to create a different team composition according to what dungeons you are navigating. The game will usually help you out a bit by providing some kind of clue as to what the monsters in the dungeon are like through dialogue with NPCs.
The battle system in Beyond the Waves is a relatively simple, turn-based design in which you can either assign each individual Denpa to a certain task or you can provide team-wide commands such as “Go For It!” or “Heal.” You may run into some issues with the battle system at times that can be game-changing. For example, sometimes you may want the healer to heal a certain member of your party, but if this party member dies, the healer-Denpa will have effectively wasted a turn and will not re-assign the heal to another Denpa. Another somewhat frustrating aspect of the battles is not knowing what order the Denpas will attack in. It’s difficult to come up with a concrete strategy if you become too dependent on one party member’s ability and you need them to go at a certain time.
As far as the gameplay itself, Beyond the Waves is essentially a dungeon crawler. The dungeons are easy to navigate, and the only real challenges as far as puzzles or dungeon layouts go lie in the final dungeon. Though the dungeons themselves aren’t too difficult to figure out, the challenge is in finding them. The game starts out very linear, with every boss fight leading to the next logical step in saving the Denpa family. However, when the world opens up and allows you to navigate the seas, the game begins to offer very little in the way of guidance. Though a fortune teller is introduced in order to provide the player with clues, her dwarven habit of speaking in clipped clauses can make it rather frustrating to find out what exactly it is you’re supposed to be doing next. A lot of the time, the dungeons seemed almost unnecessarily difficult to find, which made the game a little less enjoyable.
In addition to fighting monsters and navigating dungeons, Beyond the Waves also offers a multitude of other activities for the player to enjoy. The fishing system is almost exactly like that of the Animal Crossing games, and catching fish will sometimes lead to different side-quests. You can also plant and harvest dozens of flowers and fruits in order to make paint for your Denpa men (to change their colors and therefore, their resistances/weaknesses) or to attract certain beasts at the feeding grounds. Then there is the Coliseum, which offers different challenges for players and allows you to face different teams of monsters for prizes and glory. Even after you’ve saved your Denpa Man’s family and assured that the Denpa-world is safe from the clutches of the unknown villain, there are a lot of other challenges to be faced within the game.
The Denpa Men 2 Beyond the Waves is a great RPG with few flaws holding it back. A 25-30 hour journey into the world of Denpa Men that is both enjoyable and absolutely adorable. Don’t let the price fool you, this game is as developed as any fully-priced RPG on the 3DS, and it is a great addition to anyone’s collection.
[+Creative game mechanics][+Dungeons are relatively easy to navigate][+Denpa Men are unique and have personality][-Battle system is somewhat flawed][-Finding dungeons can be frustrating]