If you think of the weirdest game you’ve ever played, it probably doesn’t come close to Mugen Souls (well, aside from those Japanese games that never get official English translations). Here we have a game that is so over the top that it’s really quite spectacular. If you can name the excess, you’ll find it in Mugel Souls. An excess in colour? Check, this is one of the brightest games you’ll ever play. An excess in Moe? Check – the chibi characters and squeaky voices are as cute (or irritating) as you’ve ever experienced. And the combat? Oh yes, it’s excessive. The damage numbers can run into the billions (that’s right, over 1,000,000,000).
And the sexualisation that is a hallmark of Otaku JRPGs? Well, yeah, that’s excessive here too. This is going to be a sore point for a lot of players, and it is important to warn people of it going in, lest it offends them and they go back to the exploding head headshots of Call of Duty feeling like they wasted their money on a “perverts” game. NIS America has removed the especially contentious scenes from the Japanese version, but you are still going to have to deal with a whole lot of sexualised humour if you’re going to get through this game. ‘Humour’ being the key word though – Mugen Souls’ various scenarios are downright hilarious – but not everyone finds the Japanese sense of humour funny.
Mugen Souls plays a little like Hyperdimenson Neptunia mk2. You’ll run through a range of corridored environments, battling enemies and triggering cut scenes on a regular basis. The combat itself is quite engaging; it’s turn based and takes place in a circular arena. Strewn throughout the arena are crystals that have a random impact on those caught nearby. Taking advantage of the beneficial crystals, while working around the negative ones comprises a good portion of Mugen Soul’s strategy.
Or, at least, it does for most of the characters. With the exception of Chou-Chou (I’ll get to her in a second), the named characters and the custom-built characters that you can create for yourself all work like very standard JRPG fighters. You’ll equip them with standard weapons and armour (naturally the weapons are way over-the-top in size), and you’ll dress them in a range of costumes. One little extra strategic touch is that it’s possible for these soldiers to work together for massive damage attacks – those who have their turn close to their allies can “link” in for these literally earth-shattering events.
Perform wall and the monster will become a peon. Perform badly and the monster will be angered and gain a significant boost to its combat abilities. This process is what takes up the majority of battle time, rather than the combat itself, and it does take some time to get used to for people used to the more standard combat system of a game like Hyperdimension Neptunia.
Needless to say, all this stuff comes together into a giant, beautiful mess. It doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense in the early stages, but if you roll with the punches a little it doesn’t take long to become pretty competent at Mugen Souls. Like Hyperdimension Neptunia working through the game itself isn’t especially difficult, but some of the optional extra missions are for the truly hardcore.
For deep and amusing combat, Mugen Souls is a great purchase. It’s not the longest JRPG out there, but there’s enough meat to want to come back and play a second or third time, and there are nearly endless character customisations and optional dungeons to explore. The only question is, then, whether you’re able to handle the more obscene moments in the game.
- Matt S
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