Mugen no Frontier: Super Robot Taisen Original Generation Saga
, it's quite a mouthful, but that doesn't negate the fact that it's one of Banpresto and Monolith Soft's latest releases for the Nintendo DS over in Japan. The faux-real time RPG, abundant in guns, swords and fan service (Oh-my!) recently caught my attention after I'd heard that it had a battle system similar to Namco x Capcom, which I've been interested in for some time, although never had the chance to play. So, despite my lack of knowledge of the Japanese language, I decided to try it out.
Starting the game I was greeted by two completely unfamiliar faces, Haken Browning, a white haired cowboy that looks straight out of Wild Arms (Did I mention he has a rifle with what looks like a bastard sword blade shoved into it, pocket-knife style?), and Aschen Brödel, whom if I didn't know any better, would assume was a green haired, fur-less, cyborg version of Felicia, who happens to change personalities whenever the under layer of her suit rips off. I wish I could really say more about the character's personalities and the sort, but I'm confined to assumptions. A quick note though is that Aschen's personality swapping is made very apparent by a change in voice tone, in addition to her clothing vanishing.
Aschen getting ready to kick someone's face in.
Being bombarded with a handful of pop-up tutorials within the first couple steps I took, I tapped the "A" button as rapidly as possible to blaze through and get to the part of the game I really wanted to play. A few steps later I was found waiting more with a small cut-scene between Haken and Aschen breaking into a facility of some sort. Only moments after I walked through the facility doors was I enlightened by the sudden burst of light as the transition of a random battle! I was overjoyed to see the two main characters on the screen parallel to two oddly shaped robots, so much that without thinking I jammed on "A" multiple times. Without delay Aschen burst forth toward the upper robot I'd selected and unleashed a flurry of kicks, then punches, then kicks, then punches and some more kicks. As boring as mashing "A" to attack may sound to some, I was absolutely hooked to the game from that point on.
KOS-MOS being KOS-MOS...sy
That was all about 7 hours in the game ago. At this point I've learned all the basics, and some of the advanced techniques/combo setups of the battle system. It plays a lot like Tales of the Abyss/of Symphonia's (Completely free roaming) battles combined with a combo system similar to God Hand's (The ability to mix and match available attacks into combos), minus the character movement and hundreds of attacks to choose from. Each character gets about 5 (That's my estimate given the amount of space on the combo setup screens) different attack strings to set up in their combo. Each one is executed in battle simply by pressing "A", and each one uses up a certain percentage of COM. I won't go too far into detail about COM, but essentially it's the stat that governs how many attack strings that character can use each turn of battle. It's also noteworthy that if a character is next in line for the attack turns, you can shift right to him or her to continue a combo, as well as calling in characters from the back (unused) line-up to assist.
Besides the entertaining battle system, the rest of the game is fairly amusing as well. Sure it's fairly boring to go through walls of unintelligible text, but once you get past that and figure out the basics of navigating the menu screens, things can get quite interesting. As stated previously, you're able to set up what attacks you use in each combo and then be tested in a practice arena, allowing you to check if your combos are up to par or just completely worthless duds that wind up letting your enemy hit the ground and block, or worse, go into force break defensive mode (Your turn ends and the remainder of your attack does absolutely no damage). There's the basic equip/unequip menu, letting you adorn your characters with a weapon, armor and two accessories (Ooo...Ahhh). I've just been equipping whatever makes the numbers next to my stats go higher, although I'm sure there's some equipment with some amazing abilities that I'm missing out on because of that barbaric route. Then of course you have the spell, item, status, formation and sound menus, each of them being just the basic RPG staples.
Navigating the dungeons can be a blast, all thanks to Haken's bastard-swiss army rifle. Pressing "A" near certain objects will cause Haken to drive the blade of his gun into whatever stands before him, most of the time it's rocks, but it differs on occasion. Busting things open isn't just for personal amusement either, as it can net you some spiffy equipment and items, helping you to save your hard earned cash.
Haken's special sounds like Klondike Node, I can't be the only one who wants to go out and buy a chocolate coated vanilla ice cream bar right now.
Despite all the positives around the game though, it isn't without its flaws. There are times where the enemies are just downright cheap and go into force break mode before you even have the chance to get the second attack in your combo off (It's happened to me on multiple occasions, even if the first attack is a launching type that sends the enemy flying into the air). Other times the fodder you face in a dungeon isn't even worth a second glance at compared to when you get to the actual boss. The fourth dungeon in the game is a perfect example of that, tossing measly Alice in Wonderland card knight ripoffs at you before you go to fight a small lolita dressed in red who proceeds to decimate your entire party with status ailments before you even have the chance to attack. Although that situation can be remedied with a large dose of grinding, it's agitating to say the least (Especially since I'd fought every random battle up until that point).
Mugen no Frontier also suffers from DoA syndrome, heavily playing on the fact that nearly every girl you encounter is well endowed and then some. Special attacks for the female party members and enemies range from raunchy to laughably odd. but the one factor that most (2 so far have been the exception) of them share is that they're just perv-service. I'm aware that this sort of this isn't uncommon in Japan though, so I can't criticize it too much.
As far as negativity for the graphics go, there isn't a lot to gripe about. The one thing that does get to me is the world map and dungeon sprites, they look as if they were ripped straight from an early SNES RPG, very bland and standard. The in-battle sprites is another story completely though, those are incredibly smooth, detailed and gorgeous for a DS game.
And of course the most horrific point of all, the fact that we will probably never see this appear stateside. Although ATLUS managed to bring over the first OG for the GBA, this installment of the series has KOS-MOS from Namco's Xenosaga as one of the playable characters in the main storyline. So unless Namco actually decides to bring this over here, it's a slim chance that ATLUS will be able to shell this out.
Almost half way through the game, Mugen no Frontier has been a positive experience. It's minor demand for knowledge of Japanese makes it playable with little aid of a translation guide, which is a huge plus for those who don't have constant access to the web on the go. If you've already blown through the rest of the DS's RPG lineup and are itching for some more, pick it up.
Current Verdict :
8 out of 10
A Quick Note:
This is my first blog entry here at Destructoid, I don't write long-winded things like this regularly, so I apologize for any shoddy grammatical mistakes, typos, etc. I hope to better my writing as I go on here. read