Though NIS America had about four titles in the works, Mugen Souls was the only game they brought to the E3 Expo in Los Angeles this year. Even this title was hidden away in the midst of Koei’s games. It is somewhat understandable, due to the prohibitive cost of floor space at the Los Angeles Convention Center but, honestly all of NIS’ upcoming imports look great and Mugen Souls was probably the one I was looking forward to the least. Apparently, I just didn’t realize how fun this game really was.
NIS is probably best known for the Disgaea series but this year has also seen the conclusion to the Arland games and Hyperdimension Neptunia MK2. Atelier Meruru was able to finish the tale of Arland on a high note and is easily the best and most complete as far as gameplay of the series. Mugen Souls is a compilation of sorts as it takes a lot from what works well in other NIS games. The story, while borrowing themes from Neptunia, runs along the same humorous vein as the Disgaea series and the combat and exploration have a definite Atelier feel.
Mugen Souls tells the story of Chou-Chou, the Undisputed Goddess who has decided to make everything in the galaxy bow to her, because they are pretty…and she wants them. In Chou-Chou’s galaxy there are seven differently colored worlds and each of these worlds has its own unique theme. Luckily for her, she has a few assets to help her along this path. The first tool she has is her space ship which is a weapon itself although only useful for fighting other spacecraft. As the Undisputed Goddess she also has an ability that makes people love her and if that weren’t enough, she can change into a total of seven different forms, including a sadist and masochist to help with that process.
Though Mugen Souls was apparently able to squeeze out a Teen rating from the ESRB, the themes, innuendo and animations are geared for a mature audience. Pretty obvious from the beginning, the game is centered around Chou-Chou’s sexuality. Many are sure to take issue with the apparent age of the characters but, western sensibilities are often less forgiving with Lolicon anime or manga anyway. If you’re able to get past the hyper-sexualization, there are some pretty funny jokes and aspersions to be found in the game. It’s probably just not something you’d want to being playing with your grandparents in the room.
I did mention ship to ship combat but before you start conjuring images of the upcoming Assassin’s Creed 3 warship combat or even Skies of Arcadia, let me tell you now that it’s nothing like that. Mugen Souls’ space combat works in a Rock, Paper, Scissors kind of way where you pick an attack or defensive stance in anticipation of your opponent. Like Skies of Arcadia though, the enemy typically has a boarding party that you and your party must stave off in the game’s typical combat field. Besides a couple of encounters, these occur before Chou-Chou lands on each planet.
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