Digimon World Dusk
Nintendo DS
Reviewed: 10/31/2007

From the looks of its releases in the last two or three years, the Digimon game series should stick to portables.

The big jump in quality comes with these games finally being playable for those who were not already Digimon fans. In the same way Pokémon made fans for itself with its simple premise, pick-up-and-play setup, and in-game rewards in both short and long term, Digimon finally has a portable title that does that too–and overall better. (I didn’t want to do it too much, but the comparisons are inevitable.) This is thanks to the complex, yet easy to understand growth system called “Digivolution.” One monster can potentially become one of a dozen different creatures, depending on which prerequisites the player pursues and certain other decisions he/she makes with the team.

Screen Shot
The slayer of Tiamat!

Digivolution is kept interesting by a battle system which, unlike the PS2’s recently released Digimon World Data Squad, moves at a good pace. Enemies are seen through a first-person view, each positioned on one of five battlefield panels. The same goes for the player party, and there are plenty of attacks with ranges of more than one panel. This puts a bit of strategy into positioning because in some cases, the player might want the circumstantial stat boost that comes with being next to an ally monster, yet others (perhaps boss battles), one would rather avoid certain vicious, multipanel attacks. All the standard stuff is there, with each Digimon able to use skills which are common to its species, its element, and so forth, or use an item, move panels, flee, and so on. The player can see the next five spots in the turn order, which is nice.

Pacing in Digimon World Dusk is just fine. After the introduction sequence, the player is pretty much free to go on various fetch quests in whatever order one chooses. This involves roaming somewhat plain dungeons with high encounter rates in search of common RPG quest objectives. The dungeons are visually well off, though a little more complexity and a puzzle here or there may have worked wonders. Though it should be noted, in the words of Namco Bandai to our friend in the media Lord of Doom, these games are based on “a show for 10-year-olds.” So dungeon simplicity isn’t entirely surprising. In any monster training/raising/collecting game, one knows grinding will be involved somewhere, and this title has no shortage of it, whether it be during a quest or just for the sake of reaching certain prerequisites for Digivolution. And of course, all the while, the multiplayer functions are always there. The only downfall about said multiplayer modes is that while battling and rare Digi-egg creation (some eggs can only be created via multiplayer) can be done online, trading monsters can only be done locally.

But being based on that “show for 10-year-olds,” who are presumably not yet perfect in their reading skills (because kids are stupid), the number of really awkward-sounding sentences is surprising. Grammar flubs are peppered throughout, occasional mistakes in basic spelling appear, and a lot of sentences just plain don’t sound like something anyone would really say. This is a case of the localization team being either A) paid far too much, since they did a job worth almost nothing, or B) paid far too little, so they retaliated with a script that would get lambasted in reviews. Namco Bandai, if you’re reading, I will proofread your game scripts and actually do a good job of it, for fairly cheap. Fire whoever is doing it now.

Screen Shot
Dusk’s dopeass protagonist: Lunamon

Thankfully, plot isn’t the focus, and it’s easy to breeze through Digimon World Dusk without giving much of a crap about the story or paying attention to what’s going on. The focus, appropriately, lies in battling and raising Digimon, and reaping the sweet rewards of Digivolution.

Perhaps the biggest flaw within Digimon World Dawn/Dusk is the lack of polish to the menus. For example, when shopping, if one buys an item (in whatever quantity), the menu goes right back to the Buy-Sell-Exit selection, rather than remaining open for the player to buy more stuff. There are several little things like that, which seem like they would’ve taken only a short time to fix, but remain in the game to pop up and annoy players.

But despite glaring flaws in the script and apparent menu programming slips, Digimon World Dawn/Dusk remain solid titles, thanks to the deep evolution systems and high amounts of party customization. Much like Janelle says in her review of Dawn, the player feels more involved in the monster’s growth here than in other monster collection RPGs, and that helps Digimon World Dawn/Dusk feel very rewarding.

Digimon World Dusk and its companion title Dawn are far and away the best Digimon games released, as they are the first that can easily provide entertainment to fans of the franchise as well as newcomers.

-Heath Hindman

Score Breakdown
Very Good
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Very Good
Story Bad
Graphics Average
Sound/Music Bad
Replay Value Very Good
The Verdict: 7