Hands-On Preview: Mugen Souls
Mugen Souls may be a name you’ve never heard of, and I wouldn’t blame you. I hadn’t heard of it, either, until NIS America announced that they were bringing the game to the West. I received a preview copy a little bit ago and got a bit of a chance to play around in the first couple hours of the game.
As you’ll first notice when you start up the game, it’s done in a very vibrant anime style, reminiscent of other NISA titles like Disgaea. In fact, that same sense of humor pervades the game – at least the portion I’ve played so far – so if you’re a fan of that, you’ll definitely want to check this title out. What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was how completely outrageous this game is – and I mean that in a good way. Outrageous characters, outrageous settings, outrageous vehicles, outrageous colors, outrageous dialog – you name it, everything about this game (that I’ve seen so far) is outrageous.
The game puts you in the shoes of a goddess, Chou Chou, who gets it into her head that she is going to travel to the seven worlds in the galaxy and make them all bow down to her and do her bidding. Simple enough premise, right? I mean, this chick is cray-zee, in the strongest sense of the word. She has some angels to help her, as well, and they fit your standard anime archetypes. The idea is to go around creating peons in the form of these strange (and sort of creepy) bunny-like creatures that then go around doing Chou Chou’s bidding, whatever that may be. I’m also quite sure PETA may have issues with how much she verbally abuses her bunny-creatures, but, then again, that’s the fun of it, right?
The battles in Mugen Souls contain some of the most interesting mechanics I’ve ever seen in an RPG, most notably the “Moe Kill” system. The idea here is to turn enemies into these minions of yours, except to do this, you have to align Chou Chou’s current mood or temperament with that of the enemy. If you do that correctly, the enemy gains affection with you and, eventually, transforms into a little creepy bunny rabbit thing. If you mess up, the enemy could become enraged, which makes them even more difficult to defeat and, of course, poses a larger threat to your party.
To travel around the universe, Chou Chou and her posse have a rather flamboyant ship called the G-Castle to fly around on, which seems to act as your home base and includes basic services – shopping, saving and the like. Part of the game also includes G-Castle battles, which are ship-to-ship battles vaguely reminiscent of the ones we all remember from Skies of Arcadia (you just got all hot and bothered, didn’t you?). The first hour of the game walks you through both a ship battle and a ground battle, so you get the gist of all these mechanics – especially the rather complex “Moe Kill”. But, after a few fights it isn’t too hard to pick up the basics.
On a personal note, I think I had a smile (or at least a smirk) on my face the entire time I was playing the game to try it out. I’m not quite sure why, but just the characters and the general premise of the game are, once again, so outrageous that it just makes you smile. In addition to that, I had my wife sitting next to me while I was playing, and we passed each other rather awkward glances as a sequence played near the beginning of the game where Chou Chou announces she’s going to take over all the things…via song. With fan service galore, we watched, our mouths probably hanging open, not sure quite what to say or what to expect next.
All I have to say after my initial experiences with this game is that I hope the rest of it is as outrageous as the first hour. If so, I’ll be a very happy camper. It isn’t every day a game comes along that just has fun with itself, and Mugen Souls seems to be a game that does just that. It’s set to release exclusively on the PS3 in October, and we’ll definitely have a full review for you closer to launch.