Sept 18, 2007
When the boundaries between the real and digital worlds break down and digital monsters start kidnapping human children, whom do you call? If you're a fan of the Digimon television series, you'd know the answer immediately: the Digital Accident Tactical Squad (also called DATS), of course! Digimon World: Data Squad is the Digimon series' latest game, and this time, it's in the form of a turn-based RPG.
The game has a fantastic concept. You manage the relationship between the trainers and their Digimon - depending on the Digimons' moods, they'll want to perform different actions in combat. For example, if you scold a fragile Digimon, she might want to flee from battle, whereas if you throw her a few words of encouragement, she might really desire to Sunshine Bazooka an enemy. How do you know what your Digimon want to do, though?
This is where the problems start. Instead of a typical command menu in the lower left corner, four brightly colored menus (Action, Guard, Escape, and Support) appear in the middle. From there, dozens of different command plates "honeycomb" outward in a messy web - however, instead of a unique command on each plate, like you'd expect, the same three or four commands are repeated randomly. The more times a command appears, the more your Digimon wants to execute that command. So if you see twelve "Smiley Slaps" and only ten "Sunshine Guns," then you know your Lalamon really wants to Smiley Slap someone. The problem with this is, if you want to make your Digimon happy, the game degrades into a mere counting exercise, which isn't much fun. Plus, the fights are so easy that it really doesn't matter which commands you give your Digimon anyway.
To make matters worse, in addition to the overly simplistic combat, each order you give is accompanied by long, repetitive camera pans. Think you can tolerate the sluggish pace so long as the scenery is nice? We should warn that though some of the cel-shading is attractive, most of the environments look plain and underwhelming. Running through them, interrupted every few steps by slow and uninteresting battles, is not a pleasure.
One thing we did enjoy, however, was seeing the evolution of our Digimon. When we met certain requirements, the Digimon could shift into more versatile forms (such as healers, giant dinosaurs, and long-eared kittens). However, that one aspect isn't enough for us to recommend the game. Fans of the series might find it entertaining to rescue kidnapped kids while battling the Seven Demon Kings, but most people will find precious little to enjoy.