The Denpa Men: They Came By Wave is so typically Nintendo. You’ve got Mii-like heroes whose genetics are determined by the radio waves all around you. Better yet, you can only pluck these suckers out the air by scoping them out through the 3DS’s camera.
Chockfull of lairs, towers and underground tunnels to explore, players are required to arm themselves with a party of eight Denpa Men. These colourful airborne fighters are made up of surrounding Wi-Fi signals and as such, you’re encouraged to travel far and wide to discover a wider sample of Denpa subjects – but it’s not a requirement.
The signals around your home should provide ample party members to lead an odd-ball ensemble into battle and QR codes should add some diversity to your selection.
Your home island comes equipped with all the staples of the genre from areas to examine records, pick and choose your captives and buy and sell items to carry with you into the game’s plentiful levels.
This is where things fall into the slightly more traditional side of things as you lead your troupe into battles through floors of stodgy dungeon crawling. You’ll snake through tight corridors, forage for chests and battle minions to level up the gang.
Combat is turned-based comparable to the most recent Dragon Quest titles release on Nintendo DS but before you let out a long sigh, there are some caveats to this.
Auto-battle functions are hardly new to the genre but when your troupe is eight soldiers strong, it’s a godsend. Furthermore, the Denpa Men dish out their attacks in a multi-man barrage, battering foes with a rugby scrum like mentality rather than queuing up to nip away at their health bars.
They’re pretty quick to react to the ebb and flow of battle too. Turn off autopilot and you’ve got full control over your Denpa men although it’s only really necessary to intervene when you’re a man down or in a tricky boss encounter.
It’s a bit RPG 101 at times. Dungeons are labelled with recommended levels and as their colourful onesies suggest, battles are often rock, paper, scissors affairs. Each Denpa Man you enlist will mouth off with a sort of battle cry while your leader will regularly stop to talk you through tutorials and prepare you for the dangers ahead.
It holds your hand tightly throughout, which is likely to deter seasoned RPG players, but this streamlined approach never feels dumbed down. Despite its heroes tiptoeing in colourful suits, adorable minions, and light-hearted presentation, there’s a considerable amount of heft to this eShop offering with 20 hours of exploring, battling and Denpa hunting.
So The Denpa Men: They Came By Wave has all the gimmickry Nintendo’s name has become synonymous but this dungeon crawler serves as a perfect introduction and a charming addition to a typically harsh genre.
Version Tested: Nintendo 3DS
Review copy provided by Nintendo