If there’s one thing you won’t find often here at n3rdabl3 or with my own writing, is giving up. I don’t like to review things when I haven’t seen them all the way through, regardless of deadlines and the such. It’s not a thing I enjoy; leaving something unfinished before I commit to a review, It isn’t right.
But sometimes, a game comes along where you have to break your moral codes and Mugen Souls Z is that game, because by whatever is holy, it’s a hot steaming pile of anime trash.
Mugen Souls Z is about Chou-Chou, a character from the previous game who is trying to conquer the universe. This backfires when she’s introduced to Syrma, a god who drags a coffin around with her. Chou-Chou’s power is absorbed by the coffin and she’s shrunk down to a little thing, leaving Syrma to take her place in combat.
The story is something that made me want to start bashing the controller into my skull, hoping it would embed in some form. While the basic plot is okay, it’s what happens within it that drove me completely up the wall. Mugen Souls Z is essentially ‘Anime Tropes the Video Game’. After a lengthy introduction, you’re thrown into a video of the main characters dancing to high-pitched, J-Pop. It’s horrifying, as it plasters its unironic fashions and ways onto you.
I’m pretty sure there’s very much an audience for this, but that isn’t me. I like anime that either knows it’s silly or isn’t daft. There’s a fine line and this is somewhere in the stratosphere of trying to capture that particular breed of anime fan who might reach into their pants and stroke whatever’s in there.
Then there’s Syrma, who appears to be a source of a lot of problems I have with the game itself. She’s a ditzy blond, amnesiac, ‘cute’ character. She also is, like every other character, an anime character trope, equipped with giant rosey breasts that continuously bounce whenever her portrait comes in conversation screens. Rooting through the Mugen Souls wiki, I found what were either promotional images or artwork from somewhere (maybe included with another version of the game?) and it’s just exploiting this character to get someone aroused. This exploitation also works into the game’s actual systems. It’s gross and embarrassing.
The game is split in multiple sections, as with any role-playing game. You explore the areas laid out in front of you, initiating battle by either running into event diamonds, monsters or the monsters hitting you. At some points, you will also use the G-Castle – your base of operations – to do battle in space as a giant robot.
Everything to do with combat is turn based, with you positioning the party available into different parts of the field to hit either a group or a single enemy. It’s all quite basic stuff really, but there’s so many systems in place, that when you’re first learning the game, it could become quite confusing. It sort of assumes you’ve already played the previous game or even other JRPGs like it.
A main problem I found with moving characters about the field, is that you can only move them within a specific circle that encompasses the main character of the party. So if the battle starts and Syrma isn’t up for selection off the bat, you’re limited to where you can go and who to attack, wasting turns of defence when the low-level enemies surrounding you could have already been dealt with. It adds a slowness to an already tedious battle system in place.
The game even introduces tutorials with “Overwhelming” in the titles, which isn’t a thing to be proud of. I understand what it’s trying to do, as it slowly introduces the crazier aspects of the game (you can reach damage of the billions and still have a ways to go in some cases). It’s just that, with so many basic systems in place, it starts to pile on even before you get to the Peon capturing things.
Chou-Chou and Syrma can capture enemies and turn them into items or peons, which obviously can be used later on in the game. To do so, you need to choose the right look (which changes Syrma’s outfit and attitude) and choose the right ‘fetish poses’. That sentence right there made me exhale all the air in my body, just so I could hope to faint to never have to think about it ever again. You choose different poses and the ones that you do, matched with the right look, can lead to different outcomes. It’s a really neat idea, but it’s done this way, once again, to meet the expectations of those that want to get off on it.
I mentioned giant robots and it’s true, they’re certainly here. In a capacity that’s not really cool, unless you really like rock-paper-scissors. You choose one thing, they choose another and you hope that to get it over with really quickly, they don’t put up any defences. Mugen Souls Z made giant space battles with robots a boring affair, it’s this type of hatred that I have for it.
It also runs like garbage. Big, cutesy graphics on a system that the game is made for and it chugs when exploring areas. It’s this nasty sub-thirty frames per second, where you clearly see it trying to reach for that as its goal, but it even fails in this regard. I like my games colourful, big and chunky. It’s fun to look at, but this can’t even manage to get past the formulaic and sterile Japanese look that any game in this niche section of this particular genre has already beaten to death.
Mugen Souls Z is a game that doesn’t do anything right, but has all the components of a game that could have worked in a way that could have been pretty cool. Instead, it opts for an exploitative and gross attitude for multiple characters and even then, everything to do with them and the story is so painfully dull that I can’t even muster much anger regarding it.
The best thing for Mugen Souls Z to do, is find a hole and bury itself in it, mixing in petrol and other flammable liquids to scorch its disgusting self off our Earth.
This review was written based on the PlayStation 3 version of Mugen Souls Z provided by the developers.