Under Your Radar: Mugen Souls Z


Infinite Field (Mugen Field) by Miyu
Couldn’t find the lyrics in English, don’t feel like translating this one.

Radar Logo 2

Mugen Souls Z Box ArtIt’s time for Under Your Radar! Today, we’ll be discussing Mugen Souls Z, known in Japan as Overwhelming Game Mugen Souls Z. It is the sequel to Mugen Souls, a game I Did Not Finish. I won’t be repeating information from there (most combat systems are the same). The game was released for PS3 this year by NIS America, and was released in Japan before that by Compile Heart. For the first few months after its English release, there was a crash bug in an area required for the true ending of the game, but this has since been patched.

Mugen Souls Z Screenshot 1

Yet again, we follow undisputed god Chou-Chou trying to take over a set of worlds, 12 this time, but there’s a twist. Her powers are accidentally absorbed by ultimate god Syrma, shrinking Chou-Chou significantly and eliminating the effects of her enslavement powers. In order to return this power, Syrma must absorb the power of the other 11 parts of the ultimate god and force the undisputed god power out of herself (like an overflowing container).

Prior to this happening, Chou-Chou scattered almost all of her allies from the first game onto those 11 other worlds to make things more interesting. There is also a story going on about the ultimate god, and why said ultimate god was split into 12. The story follows a very basic pattern of going through all the worlds and gaining more allies, with only minor twists outside the endings.

Mugen Souls Z Screenshot 5

The game has two endings, and the requirements are simple, though a guide will be necessary for the true ending. If you get the normal ending (done by simply not getting the true ending), the game ends on a depressing but hopeful note, Belleria is removed from the party and you are unable to visit any of the worlds, meaning you have to stay on the ship, limited to challenges like the Mugen Field until you go for new game plus.

The true ending is obtained by seeing all of the Mugen Field events until you fight a certain bonus boss. This is straightforward, and you want to frequent there anyway for the sake of grinding that’s even more efficient than the Disgaea series (not to mention how that’s where you go to increase the party size, raise level caps, etc.). The only problem is that the events come in batches that have specific cut-off points. Some events may be seen at any point up until just before you set foot on one world, while another set may need you to visit a certain world for the first time, see the cutscene, then immediately turn around and leave before entering the Mugen Field. In any event, we live in an age where it is trivial to look this up, and it’s not like we’re talking about a game with a lot of long and needlessly asinine sidequest lines, just this one.

Mugen Souls Z Screenshot 2

If you get the true ending, Chou-Chou joins your party with her powers restored as the strongest character in the game, and the final boss also joins the group. An extra world is additionally made available for high-level combat. The long and short of it is that it’s the ending to go for, since the normal ending is unsatisfactory while this one feels like an ending. That said, I got the normal ending by mistake and got all the way back to get the true ending within an hour or two (most of that time spent skipping cutscenes and dodging fights), so there’s no harm in seeing it.

Mugen Souls Z Screenshot 6

As with Mugen Souls, gameplay is needlessly complex, though the developers have clearly taken steps to simplify things greatly. Outside of battle, everything is the same except loading times are now fairly instantaneous. It’s actually fairly impressive. Another change is that the Moe Kill mechanic is now called Captivate, and there’s now blatantly-labelled success rates for every move. Also, the restriction on transformations outside of battle was removed (though it’s just as restricted in-battle). You need to successfully use the Captivate mechanic on entire planets to progress through the game, which means you’re effectively seducing the planets into eternal servitude.

Mugen Souls Z Screenshot 4

In battle, the mechanics are largely the same as the original Mugen Souls, but with a few changes. First off, Syrma has access to all of the same mechanics as Chou-Chou, meaning you basically have two of her in the post-game. Additionally, the billiards mechanic is no longer so pointless, since it delays the turns of all affected characters.

In fact, this means most battles are either an instant victory or constantly delaying the enemy’s turn so they never get to attack while you either try to knock them out or attempt to Captivate for an instant victory. Most of the time, however, bosses will be hard-to-impossible to use Captivate on successfully, and failing enough leads to the enemy just getting stronger.

Mugen Souls Z Screenshot 3

Since I was making active use of the Mugen Field for grinding and to see the true ending scenes throughout the game, I was well-prepared for all but one boss fight, which I think you’re supposed to lose. I managed to win using the power of the billiards mechanic’s turn delay and the fact that it does a fixed percentage of enemy health as damage. Additionally, with the Mugen Field being able to increase the amount of reserve character slots, I was able to swap out any character who’s almost knocked out and have them heal safely while others did battle. The characters don’t heal if they’re sent to the back while knocked out, but they heal over time if they have at least 1 HP remaining.

Basically, this game rewards grinding, though it feels mandatory due to the ending requirements and the game’s difficulty curve. Still, the Mugen Field is significantly more fun for grinding than, say, anything from Disgaea. And the Mugen Field is literally just a bunch of contextless encounters in a row, so that’s saying something about Disgaea.

There’s also a fairly detailed create-a-character, as in the previous game, with DLC parts for various Compile Heart characters, like Neptunia‘s 4 goddesses and Nepgear.

Mugen Souls Z Screenshot 7

Verdict

I’m torn on this one. The game is significantly improved, but it’s also missing a notable layer of polish. It’s no longer blatantly bad, but I think this merits the first use of my new mid-level rating.

Debatable

The game is some fun, but feels lazily put together at times. The excellent load times make it a bit more forgivable, but not enough to outright recommend.


CIMG

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2 thoughts on “Under Your Radar: Mugen Souls Z

  1. Oh, hey. I remember hearing about this game. There wasn’t a lot of coverage on it though, so let’s see if there’s anything of interest to —

    “As with Mugen Souls, gameplay is needlessly complex”

    ಠ_ಠ

    It sure does sound like there are a lot of systems that need to be learned. And just by reading this post, I’m torn, too. I mean, there’s always been this stigma with JRPGs (at least according to — and occasionally proven by — my brother) that all you have to do to win is mash attack until everything’s dead. So on one hand, I can appreciate some systems that try to make things complex. On the other hand, the ideal scenario is to make systems that AREN’T as demanding as deciphering a wall of hieroglyphics…while blindfolded.

    Oh well. At least they tried something different. That has to count for something, yeah?

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