There are multiple Mega-Digivolution forms available including Sakuyamon(featured above). (Photo courtesy of Bandai Entertainment)
Role playing games, or RPGs for short, can prove to be one of the most difficult genres to create a video game for. Not only must the develpoer attend to the elements that make the game an RPG, but they must also pay close to, if not equal attention to, the other elements of the game that make it unique, such as world-building (Skyrim), plot (Final Fantasy) or battle mechanics (every Pokemon game). The team at Bandai, famous for their work on the game franchises for “Gundam Wing” and “Dragon Ball Z”, had a very difficult task when they had to take the elements of the “Digimon” franchise and put them in an RPG, and this task was three times as hard in 2002 when Digimon World 3 came out. The result of their work was very bold and expirimental, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to a good playing experience.
“Digimon World 3” could be considered a mix of the classic “Digimon World” formula with many nuances thrown in, only some of which are inspired by the “Digimon” show. This was the first game where players could battle with characters from the first three seasons of Digimon (so, the original squad with Agumon and Patamon, the second squad which featured Veemon and Wormmon, and the Guilimon/Renamon/Terriermon squad). They also added three never before seen Digimon for the apparent reason of “why not?” (Kunemon, Kotemon, and Monmon)
In the game, the player is tasked with traversing the Digital World, fighting battles in order to level up their Digimon. The digivolution system in this game have actual flow charts online dedicate to it because they are so complex. The player has the option of using one of three digivolutions in battle. If victorious, the rookie form will gain experience as well as the digivolution used, and different digivolution forms will yield different digivolutions.
The good news about this feature is that every rookie digimon can gain, with the right amount of training, every digivolution in the game. For instance, a player can train Agumon so that it digivolves into MetalGarurumon instead of WarGreymon, which is what Agumon digivolves into in the show. A player could even train to achive both MetalGarurumon and WarGreymon forms so that they could earn the elusive Omnimon form.
The bad news is that the player will spend the entire game doing so. The levels that these digimon earn go up to 99, and some forms require digimon to be that level to digivolve. Also, the player will only know the levels of the digimon they are currently using; not the opponents. This can prove to be quite annoying, considering enemy digimon have a tendency to randomly spike in difficulty. The player will not know how much to level up because they don’t know the level of the digimon they’re facing, so guess work is necessary.
As heavily powered as these enemies are, they would not be as iritating as they seem in the game if not for one of the most exotic and infuriating battle mechanics ever. Like in Pokemon, the Digimon with the higher speed attacks first. Completely unlike Pokemon however, a digimon with a considerebly high speed will attack a user’s Digimon twice before it can respond. Oh, you managed to tank Pharaomon’s Necro Mist? Great; he’s going to hit you with it again. Also, there are no tanks or sweepers in this game; every enemy Digimon has every stat higher than yours.
Digimon in this game with good defenses also can “evade” moves, similar to having moves miss in Pokemon. Remember, though, every digimon has higher stats than you, including defense. Therefore, consider the following sequence: a player sends out WarGreymon against a foe Vikemon, a digimon at which WarGreymon has the clear edge. Vikemon attacks twice, but WarGreymon survives with a little less that half of his health. The player then uses Flame Breath, which should be a one hit knock out, but Vikemon evades that hit. Vikemon then hits twice again and knocks out the WarGreymon. This is a very possible sequence that could occur to players, and it is not fun to endure.
On top of all that, the game has a very slow pace. The progression of the game has players backtracking almost as much as they are going forward. Keep in mind, too, that this isn’t Pokemon. There is no fly move that will warp the player to the first Pokecenter in the game. In Digimon World 3, the player is often prompted to return to Asuka City, the first area in the game. The player has to walk across every pixel they’ve walked before to accomplish this, encountering the same digimon they couldn’t beat in the first place. Also, they will be doing so to the same musical themes, since this soundtrack, while memorable, is very limited.
Aside from the multitude of criticism, there is much to praise with this game, in particular the plot. The main character (which is you, the player) actually is supposed to be a real boy who travels to the “digital world” to play the game for a while and then return to reality. Due to a terrorist attack, however, he becomes stuck in the game (a plot line eerily similar to the entire premise fo Sword Art Online). The game’s graphics are mostly 32-bit sprite work, but the cutscenes use updated graphics and are actually very well put together. The main character uncoveres a conspiracy that envloves the creation of a new unstoppable digimon, and could actually serve as a screenplay for a movie.
So, as is usually the case with a game this riddled with issues, the question is is it worth the purchase? An easy answer might be yes, because this is a very cheap PS1 game. A more in depth response, though, might be a yes for fans of the series. Perhaps if you are not familiarized with Digimon lore, you wouldn’t pick this up. However, beyond the mechanical issues, this game is satisfying to a Digimon fan. There is something to be said about having a Renamon and leveling it up so that it digivoves to Imperialdramon Paladin mode. There’s plenty of nostalgia for the show in this game, and coupled with the surprisingly solid plot, means that this is a good game to play. Even if it means you’re using a gameguide so you can enjoy the experience.