Pikmin may have been scurrying around the undergrowth for the past decade, but over the past few years, Genius Sonority has uncovered other mysterious creatures. The Denpa Men, colourful critters that inhabit radio waves and who can’t be seen by the naked eye, first made an appearance in They Came By Wave, then Beyond the Waves, and now in their third adventure, The Denpa Men 3: The Rise of Digitoll.
Only visible by scouring your surrounding environment using the 3DS camera, you first begin by securing yourself an adventurous troupe of the creatures through the realms of augmented reality. Searching high and low you’ll fling nets to capture from their aimless meandering, instantly recruiting them to your cause – that being the ocean-trekking, dungeon-roaming assortment that players have enjoyed before.
As with Miis in StreetPass Quest, their unique appearance indicates whatever strengths they’ll bring to your dungeon-crawling party. The colour designation represents their elemental resistance, such as light blue being resistant to ice but weak against fire, whereas their height indicates whether they’re strong or quick. Yet it is their antennas that you should pay most attention to, each tied to the skill that they have at their disposal whether that be magical attacks, party healing, or debuffing the foes that you face.
New to The Denpa Men 3: The Rise of Digitoll is the “Catch” skill, allowing you to capture any monsters that you face to then summon them to aid you in later battles. This switches things up partly from that which has come before, players no longer being entirely reliant on carefully varying their Denpa Men party to succeed. Whether that be fiery dragons or lumbering trees, you’ll welcome the support of such towering companions to turn the tide of battle when needed.
Battles themselves are turn-based and carefully geared toward experienced players and newcomers to the genre. You’re free to choose between “Go for it,” an all-out attack with physical attacks and skills, “Conserve,” which only uses physical attacks, and “Strategy,” allowing those who want more control to choose between more diverse options.
Your party attacks en masse, so you won’t be able to drill down what each individual Denpa Man does each turn. While some may find that a deterrent, it results in speeding up the combat scenarios allowing more emphasis to be placed on your exploring darkened dungeons and tombs. Fallen Denpa Men drift into the sky as ghosts, although players can retrieve them at the Spirit Shrine if they fork over enough cash.
There’s purpose behind your quest, players looking to recover their childhood friend who has found themselves suddenly kidnapped by monsters. Digitoll, the Denpa Men’s hometown, acts as your base of operations, which can be extended by collecting XX Parts to unlock surrounding residential, garden, and rental islands, allowing you to provide homes for more creatures or grow plants.
Players can now decorate the interior of their Denpa Men’s homes, choosing the wallpaper and furniture, while the Bazaar Island allows you to buy and sell items from other players. There’s also a lottery that will reward you with rare items, a shop that lets you crush plants to create paint to splatter your Denpa Men with, and a Recycle Shop owned by fairies that lets you throw three items into a pot to create a new one.
While the Denpa Men’s chirpy voices can grate, Genius Sonority overlay this with a gloriously energised soundtrack that’ll have you bopping along throughout your lengthy quest. The aesthetic’s equally radiant, Digitoll’s colourful buildings being in stark contrast to the muddy dungeons that you wander through.
It comes as a surprise that a Nintendo eShop release is able to leverage such depth, even if The Denpa Men 3: The Rise of Digitoll doesn’t remarkably extend upon that experienced within its predecessors. It is a particularly vibrant world that the Denpa Men populate, and one that players will not only enjoy being in but will immediately feel the impulse to explore.