It's a playable Digimon RPG in the states. There isn't a whole lot to really say about it. The story is OK, and the art style is kinda...decent.
The degeneration system is frustrating because even if you do degenerate, there's no guarantee that you'll get a new level cap high enough to evolve further.
The attacks are unoriginal and just bland.
The random encounters with no way to repel them, on top of a maze for every dungeon is beyond stupid. It's completely counter productive to exploration.
Digimon World DS was the first entry in Digimon games for the Nintendo DS, and it came out just before Pokemon Diamond and Pearl were released. A lot of people remember these games fondly as an alternative take on the Digimon World series, but honestly, if you really look at these games, they’re incredibly average. Not to say they’re bad, but they definitely aren’t good. My main gripe with this series is that it actually copies a LOT from Pokemon, which I’ll go into later. The fact that it came out just before the first Pokemon DS games shows how they were just trying to grab the hype from fans waiting for Pokemon, and it worked because I bought this very average game.
What you See and What you Hear
Visually, this game isn’t bad. The Digimon have either little sprites that follow you around on the world or they’re in battle with full art, it’s pretty nice. It’s not outstanding by any means but it’s one of the aspects that worked pretty well. The music on other hand…is garbage. It’s some of the most generic game music I’ve ever heard, none of the tracks are memorable, I actually turned off the sound most of the time.
The Story, again, is not awful. You start off as a kid sucked through the computer into the Digital World (Classic Digimon, I can dig it) and you join a Tamer Union and go through the ranks. Along the way as you raise your Digimon, you run across a threat to the Digimon World only known as “Unknown-D”. The only thing that bothers me about the story is the pacing. You basically get one story mission per rank, led by a different Digimon leader, and when you finish that mission you rank up. This isn’t like, rank 1, 2, 3, etc. this is from Bronze to Platinum, so like 4 or 5 ranks. Each story mission does last a while, but the pacing just feels off to me.
Digimon games have always been about raising Digimon from small creatures, to big creatures, and how this happens varies from game to game, but the Digimon World series usually just uses it like an RPG. Digimon have levels, stats, and when you reach a certain requirement you can evolve into the next stage.
There are a few weird things about the gameplay that really bother me, and some things that are just plain stupid. For one, (and this is one of the things they ripped from Pokemon) you can carry up to 6 Digimon on your team, 3 fighting and 3 in your reserves. This just feels very strange to me, like your connection with your Digimon feels less personal when you have so many with you at any given time. Though to be fair, it’s actually rather difficult to obtain new Digimon. You can only do it by consistently and randomly running into the same Digimon you want over and over again in the wild until you have enough random encounter data to make your own. This would be more difficult than it sounds, if random encounters weren’t EVERYWHERE. Outside of the city, random encounters are obnoxiously present, and there is no way to turn them off. No Repels, nothing.
Oh and I forgot to mention, every single dungeon is a maze, you’re expected to explore and sometimes backtrack to make it through the area for each mission. Having either random encounters OR a maze would make sense, but having BOTH with no ability to turn on a repel is just stupid. This is particularly apparent in the Swamp level, where you have to navigate a maze that has these oneway warp whirlpools which mostly send you back to the beginning.
The second thing that irks me about the game is the evolution system. I said before that on it’s face is a pretty standard level system. Get your Digimon to the right level and to a specific stat number, and you can evolve them. What’s irking is the presence of a level cap for every single Digimon, so even if your Digimon evolves at level 25, they could have a level cap at level 20. As you can imagine this is very frustrating, but there is a way to raise the level cap. You have to “degenerate” your Digimon back a level and then raise it back to the level it needs to get to the stage it was just at. Then you have to raise it AGAIN to get it to the Evolve level. I may have lost you, let me give you an example.
Lets say you have an Agumon, at level 20, it has hit it’s level cap and to get to Greymon, you need to get to level 24. What you need to do is degenerate it to Koromon, raise it back to level, say 9, and then again to 24 (Assuming the cap raises enough to reach the level you need). To add insult to injury, every time you evolve or degenerate, you reset back to level 1. So to go from Koromon to Greymon in that scenario, you need 8 levels to Agumon, and then another 23 for Greymon, and then another like, 35 for Metal Greymon, and so on. The only consolation is that every time you level up, your HP and MP gets replenished, so that’s nice. One last thing about the degeneration system, Digimon World DS doesn’t give you the option to degenerate until you reach 3 bosses into the game, so if you reach a boss and you’ve hit your level cap, you’re kinda screwed. The sequels Digimon World Dawn and Dusk fix this, but that’s all they fix.
The last thing that bothers me about the game are the attacks. Every…single….attack in the game are the most generic, boring, unoriginal attack you could possibly imagine. Some of the higher stage Digimon and the iconic ones have a single iconic attack, but that’s it. Battles are incredibly boring because of this.
It’s a real shame that we don’t have any decent Digimon RPGs in the west. There are lots of cool ones over in Japan, but due to Digimon’s lack of popularity in the states and other countries outside of Japan, Bandai doesn’t really want to take the risk of importing them, despite the petitions that show the interest. If you’ve never played Digimon World DS, and you’re a fan of Digimon, it’s worth playing for the Digimon aspect, but it doesn’t have a lot of replay-ability and as a game, it’s very average. The degeneration system (and the lack of it for the first quarter of the game), the lack of creativity when it came to attacks and the relentless random encounters in a maze like environment make this game very frustrating.
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