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Mugen Souls Z Review: Is Enthusiasm and Combat Enough?
For all its negatives, Mugen Souls Z has some simple and fun combat and brings enough enthusiasm to the table to make me not actively dislike it. You kind of get an idea of what you’re about to go through with Mugen Souls Z as soon as you look at the box art, and this only gets driven home when the menu cutscene feels more like the opening to an absurd anime than a video game. And that’s a good way to describe the game as a whole: absurd. It’s going to be a game that comes off as very “Japanese-y,” like a lot of Nippon Ichi Software games and JRPGs, so its time for some shoddy voice acting, random music videos, some fun mechanics, and a story that’s kind of goofy and not all that interesting. Hurray.
Mugen Souls Z a JRPG made by Compile Heart studios and published by Nippon Ichi Software and is a direct sequel to the first Mugen Souls game. Set several months after the first game, the game opens with Chou-Chou, Mugen Souls‘ protagonist who, finds there are twelve new worlds (which is more than the seven worlds currently in her possession) that are in dire need of some good old fashioned conquering and subjugation. Needless to say, this doesn’t pan out, as Chou-Chou gets her power drained by the coffin that the real protagonist of the game, Syrma, carries around. Both Syrma and Chou-Chou quickly come to a mutual understanding and agreement: Syrma wants to absorb all the other god’s powers to return to her original form, and Chou-Chou wants to subjugate the twelve new worlds to add them to her collection. Naturally, with Chou-Chou having her powers absorbed, she blames and bullies Syrma into doing the heavy lifting for her plans. That’s the plot in a nutshell; not exactly the most deep of storylines, but at least the game doesn’t put on airs and take itself seriously.
Mugen Souls Z stumbles in a lot of ways. To start with, it takes quite a bit of time until we get to actual gameplay outside of the basic tutorials, which can be disheartening and a little insulting, considering the vast majority of combat is actually fairly intuitive and easy to grasp. Personally, I don’t think it should take an hour or two for players to actually get to gameplay after hitting the start button. One specific thing that bears mentioning as well is that the game at points gets a bit lewd or more risque then some people might be comfortable with. An example would be right after Chou-Chou gets her powers drained, the characters all elect to take a bath together, and for no reason they explain their circumstances to each other and the whole scene comes with convenient steam censoring which you’d expect from a hot springs episode of some random anime. A lot of the voice acting isn’t really up to snuff as well, as most of the voices don’t really fit the characters that well and they end up making the characters sound sillier than you think they should be in some situations, and downright bad in others.
Mugen Souls Z quickly takes refuge in its absurdity though, and is that is a smart move when it comes to this game. The game itself has a lot of silly things that it does with reckless abandon, such as giant robots that are powered by the enemies you’ve converted into peons and come complete with transformation scenes that its hard to keep up sometimes. Mugen Souls Z also follows the Disgaea mentality with the idea of bigger being better as well when it comes to damage. It is very satisfying to see absolutely absurd numbers being thrown around for damage and more bonuses being added on when you hit certain thresholds of damage and other specific criteria. The characters themselves are mostly over-the-top as well, and the situations they often find themselves in and can be endearing, but the game pushes this too much at certain points and it can kill any attachment we may have formed with certain characters unfortunately.
Combat is the place where Mugen Souls Z is best. Like in the previous game, the turn-based system returns. Characters can move about the battle and use any attacks that they want, and each attacks have a certain radius to them which allows for players to hit multiple enemies at once. Additionally, there are environmental bonuses and hazards you can get in battles by being near them. This creates a nice bit of territory control, as you often need to decide if you want to keep the hazards and possibly let your opponents benefit from them as well, or if you just want to destroy the hazards because you’re getting sick and tired of certain bosses camping out near all the bonuses so they can laugh at your puny weak damage. You have a party of multiple characters including customizeable ones to gives your party some flexibility in whatever you want to do. A lot of the weapons add some spice to the game as well, such as being able to wield things such as chainsaws and other silly kinds of weapons usually not found in these kinds of games.
Overall, would I recommend Mugen Souls Z? I would recommend the game to those who liked the first game or if you’re in the mood for a JRPG and don’t currently have any other games on your radar that you’re considering purchasing. If you are a fan of western RPGs and don’t want anything to do with JRPGs, then I would recommend you steer clear of this game. The game isn’t awful by any stretch of the word, but its graphics, voice acting, and fairly laughable storyline don’t do it any favors, and the combat, which is one of the game’s saving graces, can get repetitive after a while. A lot of people will be turned off by the game, but for all its negatives, Mugen Souls Z has some simple and fun combat and brings enough energy to the table to make me not actively dislike it. Give it a go if you’ve got some time and don’t hate JRPGs.