Digimon World, and Why It’s Better Than Pokémon

Throwback to the late 90s early 2000s the monster phenomenon took hold of the world. Pokémon, Digimon and Monster Rancher exploded onto the scene. Pokémon garnered a lot more popularity than the other two. While Digimon and Monster Rancher faded away, Pokémon has become a mainstay. After playing the early entries for each franchise I don’t understand why.

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Background

Digimon World was released in Europe on July 6th, 2001. I would have turned 10. I got a copy of the game and I loved it. I never had a Gameboy but had a Sony PlayStation 1, so it was my only experience at the time. Like Pokémon, Digimon World do not have you play as the Anime characters. In World, you are digitised and sent into the Digital World. You learn from Jijimon that Digimon left file city due to an unknown reason, and the world is in great danger. You are tasked with bringing them back and finding out the cause.

Gameplay

The bulk of your time is spent training your Digimon at the local gym. While training or exploring you also need to manage the care of your Digimon. Such as feeding them and taking them to the toilet. The consequences of not doing so mean either they die or they Digivolve into a useless Digimon. Digivolution is where your Digimon changes into a stronger Digimon. The last stage of Digivolution is Ultimate. Once you have your Digimon at this level it is usually the best time to go out and explore.

Save the City

When you finish training, you can go out into the World and start focusing on the city. Once you find a recruitable Digimon a battle usually commences. The battles are in real-time and unlike Pokémon, you don’t have complete control over them. If you stat grind Brains, then you can give more commands. Even so, they won’t always listen to you or there will be a slight delay. Even so, it can be quite enjoyable once they start winning battles. When you win, the Digimon will then join your city. Not all Digimon are recruitable. Not all Digimon that are recruited provides any benefit to the city apart from a prosperity point. Certain Digimon comes to find you once you hit a prosperity point threshold. So it is worth recruiting them.

Exploration

One of the most frustrating aspects of this title is exploration. Unlike Pokémon, there are no healing centres. So, if you find your Digimon low on HP or MP you better have an item to replenish it. But keep an eye on the time. Each Digimon has its own active hours. Once you approach their inactive hours you need to let them sleep. This recovers all HP and MP. Sleeping is the only way to save the game. Which if managed well, can be a great asset.
There are a lot of different environments that you can explore. Early game you are exploring a forest, then a cavern system. You’ll find yourself climbing mountains. Including a trash mountain, home to useless Digimon. As you progress, you’ll find that File City will start to take shape. New buildings will appear with services that will help your adventure. These services can improve. when you find other Digimon that work in the same building. For example, the meat farm (yes, an actual farm where they grow meat) will provide you with small amounts of food. Once you have found another Digimon to work the farm. The size of the portions grows as well as the availability of other produce. Your Digimon’s hunger levels grow with each Digivolution.

Digimon Digivolve!

Unlike the early titles of Pokémon, Digimon doesn’t have a set Digivolution path. It all depends on several factors:
· Combat Stats
· Care Mistakes (Toilet Accidents)
· Happiness
· Discipline
· Battles
If you don’t meet the requirements for a Digivolution, they will Digivolve to a different Digimon. In most cases, this is the weakest Digimon of that level. But you may be lucky. This can be frustrating since you may be stuck with a weak Digimon which will halt all progress you are making. The Ultimate Digimon yet are all strong. So, it is worth waiting for the final Digivolution.

Digimon World Help

So now the bad parts of the gameplay. There is very little guidance in this title. There are two Digimon that will provide rumours that you can listen to. But it is very vague at times and sometimes they won’t provide new rumours. One kept bragging about the new city bridge and how they helped build it.
Another area where guidance would have been helpful is with Digivolution. When you start your adventure you have no idea what is required to Digivolve into a specific Digimon. When this game was released, the internet had started to become available so you could look up guides. But even so, I would expect there to be at least some guide to what you need to do to get a specific Digimon. Or even reveal the stats you needed for the last Digimon.

Digimon Don’t Live Long

, all the effort you put into raising your Digimon comes to an end after 360 hours. This can be extended with items or reduced by failing to care for them or losing in battle three times. If your Digimon dies of old age, they pass on techniques and some of the stats to the Digimon egg you receive as a result. You then must raise that Digimon all the way back through the levels to get back to Champion and Ultimate level. Doing this more than twice starts to take its toll. It’s especially frustrating if the Digimon doesn’t Digivolve into the one you want. Killing them off by losing battles or not caring for them has a negative impact on the egg you receive.

Presentation

The graphics of the game looks amazing for its time. It starts with a CGI sequence that explains how you were transported to the Digimon World. The graphics are pixelated but that can be expected for the era. I’ve been playing this on a PSP and could not notice any imperfections due to the smaller screen. which is the best way to play. The audio is also pretty good. Many of the Digimon have their own voices and even their movements have their own sounds. The music is okay, but I usually play the game on mute when on the PSP.
The menus look pretty good, nothing amazing but are easy to read and use. The only downside is that a few of the item names seem to have been translated in an odd way. That they do not fit the space the Japanese text would take up. It’s a small gripe and can be ignored for the most part. It hasn’t caused me any issues when trying to understand what they are.

Conclusion

I wanted to give this a high score. I had very fond memories of playing this title. But those nostalgia lenses are strong in hiding the game’s flaws. One of the core aspects of the game, building a city via actions you do. Has become a game feature that I now look for in other games. The sequels do not do this game justice and have different gameplay. I am so tempted to give this a 5-star rating but due to its flaws, I cannot. So, this title received a 3-star rating.

A new dad, who loves his video games. he's been playing games since he was 2. He likes RPGs and racing games.

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