An improved, but still flawed experience.
I reviewed Mugen Souls for the site a few years ago. It was a confusing JRPG that had a decent battle system, but convoluted mechanics that were poorly implanted and explained. Not to mention, I was not a fan of most of the dialog throughout the story. Like I’ve said before, I will always give a game the “old college try.” So when I started playing Mugen Souls Z, I was cautious, but not condemning the game. What Mugen Souls did wrong in mechanics was improved and better explained in Mugen Souls Z, but some of the same annoyances remained.
Even in the first iteration, I thought the battle system was rather sound. In Mugen Souls Z it holds true to the original game, with a few improvements. Taking a page out of the last few Hyperdimension Neptunia games, the turn-based combat with attack radius returns to Mugen Souls Z. Positioning and use of the environmental hazards and buffs are important, and add a good amount of strategy to it all.
Price I’d pay: $25
Length: 30-40 hours
Losing the Moe kills from the first game, which was by far the most confusing thing in that game, a new mechanic is introduced that does the job of the Moe kills. The new Captivate ability allows the player to turn enemies into peons, but not at such a high risk. Instead of going in blind when trying to turn an enemy into a peon, with Captivate, it actually shows me the results of my actions before I do them. That way, I don’t enrage an enemy or end up taking forever captivating them.
The upgrading system and level progression are done very well, and going from the field map to the G-Castle home base is quick and easy. It does feel more streamlined, and that I can appreciate.
Even through I’m not a fan of the actual dialog (more on that in a bit) I have to say the voice talent in the game is very well done. Players looking for a more authentic feel can change the voices to Japanese if they wish, but the English voice actors do a fine job.
Now, the problem I had with the first game creeps back here – that being the long, overdrawn and annoying dialog. I can’t say how many conversations I read or heard from the voice actors that had zero bearing on the story or the task at hand. It was just there to waste time and served no purpose. I would be fine with that if it was humorous, but I never found it funny in the least. It mostly revolved around Chou-Chou talking about being amazing while ditzy Syrma says something stupid or naive and Nao saying they’re but hopeless and dumb. Usually that was the theme for almost every conversation, and they lasted for five minutes at a time.
The bigger problem with the dialog is that I can’t just up and skip it because sometimes, vital information sneaks into these spiels and I have to see it, otherwise I’ll end up not knowing where to go next. I understand this is all subjective and I will fully admit, these characters have never appealed to me. I know many players of these kinds of games enjoy them and to each their own. Still, even fans of these games will find themselves going through dialog as fast as they can read it.
For a game that looks like a PlayStation 2 game from 2003, Mugen Souls Z still has some major frame rate issues. It honestly blows my mind how a game that looks this basic can have such bad running issues. Granted, I will give the game some credit, the loading times from the first game are vastly improved, but I still can’t get over how choppy this game runs.
Like I said earlier, I will give any game a shot. Mugen Souls Z has some good things going for it and the improvements are a nice addition, especially coming from someone that didn’t really enjoy the first game. While I still dislike the dialog and most of the characters, I can still see this has a decent battle system in place that RPG fans will understand, and enjoy for what it’s worth. If you’re into the anime style games and don’t mind trekking through a good amount of inconsequential dialog, it’s not a bad choice.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.