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Mugen Souls Z Review: Who Put Disgaea in my Hyperdimension Neptunia?!

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Mugen Souls Z is a direct sequel to the first Mugen Souls title released on 2012. The story still follows the haphazard tale of Chou-Chou and her current peons making everything in the universe hers, ranging from peons, people, enemies, objects to even planets.

This JRPG rollercoaster is filled with the heavy induced nonsense that NISA has on most of their titles with Compile Heart’s characteristic touch.

To touch up on Mugen Souls Z’s story; after the events of Mugen Souls in which Chou Chou inadvertently saved her galaxy from the God of Destruction and befriends the daughter of that God. Her party goes out to search for more planets for Chou-Chou to take control.

As the G-Castle reaches to the 12 glittering planets in one galaxy, Chou drops her peons off in each planet and begins her peon crusade in Rose World. The game cuts to a brand new hero to the title; Nao who has begun her journey of becoming a reputable hero.

This game makes no subtlety in being loud. The design and motion of these characters and elements are very rambunctious and a bit scatter-brained, but in its chaotic display contrives a sort of unique harmony that sits pretty well after getting accustomed to it.

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To a newcomer of the Mugen Souls franchise and possibly a NISA title, this would feel awkward in how it blends fantasy and sci-fi elements with rainbows, mechs and cute bunny peons called Shampuru’s.

It took me a bit to fully appreciate it’s splendor. Most of the assets are done with 3D assets which are created diminutive in a chibi-form. With how the game is presented; the chibi-formed models are actually a very good choice and fit really well in this comic world. 2D assets are only used in cutscene dialog which are very cleanly done and have interesting color schemes.

When running around and exploring the 3d worlds, I found it to be fun but on a visual standpoint can feel very contained. There’s definitely room for improvement on creating stronger variety to the world overlay and makeup. This isn’t a huge deal though as the game still does a great job of giving variances to the tasks at hand that could get done.

The battle system in this title is the pesky part of the experience. Battles are strewn into two parts. First up, there’s a 4 person party turn-based battle with active movement and mech battles. To start on the simple side, mech battle’s are thrown in the game’s story and optional “Mugen Field” every now and again in which CC’s main base of operations transforms into a giant mech and dukes it out with a large enemy.

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These battles are presented in more of a rock, paper, scissors base with comments thrown in the battle by the enemy or ally to give an idea of what the enemy’s next turn would be. There is a simple attack, pierce, and defense.

Attack’s will do the most damage and will usually debunk pierce damage. Pierce attacks defeat any sort of defense mechanism and defense, whether it be a reflect or drain action, will absorb or repel any attack other then pierces.

The same attacks clash and strength of the attack bests out. This element is very similar to the one on one battles in the Suikoden series which I won’t lie, got me excited. These types of attacks can be upgraded via the store inside the base or the store inside the Mugen Field to make them all the more powerful.

What’s nice is that although the game does throw a lot to the player, if you don’t follow 100% percent, especially in the fever mode mechanic, a good chunk of the mechanics are not necessary to beat the game and are generally built for the heavy grinders/post-game players (AKA this guy). So fret not and take those baby steps into learning the mechanics.

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So whats this Mugen Field you may ask? Mugen Field is a randomized dungeon that changes from battle to battle and varies from mech battles to standard battles. You can set limits on your characters like opting out of utilizing healing techniques to gaining bigger boosts in money and experience.

You can even gain access to special shops in between battles or simply recuperate at rest stops. Bigger rewards tend to lie at milestones, like the tenth floor, which expands your character’s affinity to weapons and unlocks further potential.

This is still just a small part of the game; after a short bit in the story, you will be able to create your own peon from scratch with a certain job, in traditional NISA fashion. You can merge peons for upgraded stats and skill transferring.

With all the characters in the game, you can also change their clothing to boost certain stat percentages per level up. With money as well, you can level up weapons to be vehicles of mass destruction.

By using G Points, you can upgrade the rank of the weapon to push the threshold of how much you can level it up. The amount of customization within this title is absurd when getting into the thick of it.

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The story within the game is very charming with some very funny dialogue. The game likes to throw risque 2D art and dialogue, both of which are normally found at the end of each chapter.

This doesn’t phase me too much, but to others may receive a bit of issues. Some of the dialogue is actually pretty funny in those aforementioned scenarios, so it justifies the art a bit more to those who are quick to judge for it being tasteless.

There are more striking issues that effect the players. One is the re-occurring frame rate drops. I only particularly notice this when traveling around the town in game. However, with so much movement happening on the screen at once, like when the hero moves –  this is when the game begins to slightly chug. There were also some infrequent hiccups when loading up a battle, but this became quickly forgotten.

A big issue I had with the game is that it seems there’s a decent glitch when entering the Mugen Field in the sense that there’s a chance of it freezing up when loading the next battle screen.

It happens every now again and can majorly ruin a player’s experience. This leads me to believe a slight lack in play-testing which is a shame because these are quite noticeable issues damaging a wonderful title.

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The other minor things would be slightly more viable clothing options for men, even though the game is generally filled with women party members. It was pretty funny to dress male characters in women’s clothing, but it took a bit of a single playthrough to just get more gender neutral or more masculine clothing.

I just thought it wasn’t fun to create a new peon naked and leave him like that for awhile before gaining money and the right clothing choices.

This wasn’t the worst thing in the world, and not a detriment to the score of the title. I would have liked to see preloaded clothing on top of new peon characters, similar to the main characters. These clothes don’t adjust stats, but it would allow the player to avoid going through a large chunk of the game with a naked character.

Also, I would have liked to make the 3D environments a little more varied in the art side, especially when it comes to the dungeons. The layout from the game design end is pretty good, especially for some worlds but some worlds in particular can be a bit lackluster. It’s definitely passable and enjoyable, but could do with a bit more variance when given the chance.

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What the game also does well is that there are a ton of characters in the game. The story still keeps all the characters prevalent in the story, which is awesome that none of them get left behind the dust. Outside of the fun quirky dialogue the premise of the story is good enough to follow but nothing to write home about.

I am more swayed by the heavy amounts of customization the game provides for you in the battlefield playground. The player also can grab tickets to unlock special classes, bigger boosts in exp or gold attainment, etc. As said before, the customization in this game is absolutely ridiculous and I love it.

The audio besides the beginning intro mishap is pretty golden. The title is dual track so the player can opt using the English or Japanese voices. Both are decent.

From playing a bunch a titles like this it’s almost natural for me to just go for the Japanese VA but the English isn’t the worse. The soundtrack sounds very similar to Disgaea with its signature peculiar music selection, especially when it comes to a few of the town themes.

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This is a great and fun title, especially to those who are big fans of NIS America titles, this will be their immediate cup of tea with buttloads of customization available. This is all on top of a more active RPG environment, and then its strategy RPG counterpart. To newcomers, be aware of the immense amount of mechanics thrown on top of you.

The tutorials do a decent job of explaining the mechanics, but even those can be overwhelming to newcomers. Despite all of this, Mugen Souls Z is awesome enough to where the game can be completed with minimum understanding of the heavy mechanics  – which is nice but you won’t fully appreciate the splendor of the title until you go deep into the rabbit hole.

Editor’s Note: Due to the importance of the Mugen Field in the story mode as discovered through research and constant crashing, Chris lowered the score from an 8.5 to a 7.5. NIS America is currently in talks with the developer to make a patch to fix the issue. They are estimating the release of the patch to be sometime late June or early July – so if this is improved, we will amend the game’s score.

Mugen Souls Z was reviewed using a code provided by NIS America. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s reviews/ethics policy here.

Chris Gollmer

About

I have been an avid gamer since I was a child, playing Legend of Zelda on the NES and began true niche gaming during the SNES/Genesis battles.