Preview: Digimon World 4 (XB) Hands-On

Publisher: Bandai / Developer: Bandai / Genre: Role-Playing / Release: 04-01-05

I have played some horrible games in my time. ET for the Atari 2600, Nightmare of Druaga, Chicago Enforcer, Beyond Good and Evil, Final Fantasy VIII, but man, I have to say that Digimon World 4 could quite possibly be flat out THE worst video game I have ever experienced. When I was sent the Beta Build of this game, little did I know I was in for a game that didn’t need to be “touched up,” it needed to be burned into ash, just like everyone who had even the slightest relation to this game being made.

Now to be fair, this game is just a build. It’s not done and it’s not for release yet, but it is coming out in a month, which means Bandai has some major work to do. And by major I mean, maybe junk the game and release 40 minute tape of a man stuffing squirrels up his anus because that would be less offensive to me than the amount of life I wasted on this.

This is probably surprising a lot of you because, hey, I love the Pokemon! Pokemon are wonderful in every way. Adorable characters, great games, and most of all, it can be enjoyed by all. Not so with Digimon. Digimon was the first Pokemon knock-off, although in truth it came out before Pokemon in a Tamagotchi type format. But it failed miserably and after Pokemon came out, Digimon re-created itself, building a legacy of a second rate cartoon and third rate video games.

But Digimon 4 has outdone itself in the streak of Digimon crappiness. Considering even the slightest hint of popularity for Digimon died years ago, you’d think they would release something not horrifically bad in order to revitalize the franchise. But no no no no no my friends. Not Digimon. Because who ever controls that part of Bandai has to be either a furrie or a serial killer. Because only that level of derangement would allow for this game to even make it to gaming journalists in this state.

But enough of my forebodings. Let me go into detail about what you will go through if you play this game.

First off, you turn it on and you see a decent demo. However it in no way compares to a lot of other stuff on the Xbox. We’re talking CGI that was Koudelka quality on the PS1. Meaning, that last generation, this game’s CGI would have been drop dead stunning. But here, it’s average at best.

And then we flip into the actual game itself, and well, to put it bluntly, it is awful. The graphics is this game would be considered average for a PSX game, and on this generation on consoles, they are flat out terrible. Blocky, bland, and devoid of any charm of talent, it looks as if they have been rehashing the same graphics since the first Digimon World. If Bandai was say, SNK, and this was say, King of Fighters, then, and only THEN would they have an excuse for this because those games were made for the Neo fricking Geo. But no, this is painful to look at, and even when they do big close ups of characters, they’re more or less blobs on my television.

You’re given an amazingly awful plot about basically being a Digimon rent-a-cop/security guard. Then you have to find your commander in chief but you’re not told how or where, even when you talk to the 30 or so people running around on your massive home base. It might as well be a labyrinth. After about 30 minutes I discovered that out of all the portals that are in the home base that you can’t actually use, there is one that works. No labels or anything. Just random chance I discovered this. And if this was me playing, imagine what this game would do to the psyche of a small child.

Then you find your boss and are given your first mission, and you’re off. And that’s when the hate REALLY begins.

What I am about to describe is the first level called, “Death Valley.” And any RPG gamer worth their salt will be yelling at the monitor they are reading this on, or applying their palm to their forehead and swearing. Ready? GO!

Okay, you start off and you fight two enemies. Now. You’re obviously level one. Look! You do 5 points of damage to the enemy. But if they touch you, and I mean literally touch you, they don’t even have to swing, you will take 15 points damage. And it takes about a dozen hits to kill these enemies, which again, ARE THE VERY FIRST MONSTERS YOU FIGHT IN THE GAME. You do have a block ability, but it rarely works even though the computer’s block will always succeed. And it blocks a lot. And then, once they are dead, you get a whopping 10XP! Don’t worry though, it’s only 350XP to level two!

Yes, that is all real. That is all part of the game. And if you have never played an RPG, I will have to inform you that that paragraph contains everything that could be possibly wrong with an RPG. ESPECIALLY an action RPG geared towards children. The starting out of the game should involve easy enemies and a quick level up so that you can get the feel of the controls. But this is insane. Any kid playing this will throw it down after 15 minutes of this crap. And I didn’t because I had to play through the preview copy.

And it doesn’t get better from there. This is a constant through the game. And it gets even more frustrating when you realize that every time you die, you lose all the items and money (called bits) you found on the level. It’s hard to aim, and your special charge attack ends up causing you damage, because after you charge in and do a piddling amount of damage, your character is then surrounded by enemies and touch-touch-touch! Oops! You’re in pain. Ugh.

The camera angles are possibly the worst aspect of the game in the fact that you have no control over them and the computer will zoom in and out and change your angle without a moment’s notice. This can be death considering the fact aiming is amazingly hard in this game. You can be perfectly lined up with your opponent and form some reason, you fire completely away from it. Annoying and aggravating.

There’s also some collecting to be done in the form of digital trading cards. I think that pretty much sums it up in and of itself.

Then you get to the end of the level, and you find a third communication from your boss who says “OMGWTF? Your friends just attacked you! We have to find out why!” Now, this would be important if 1) my friends had attacked me in the first place and 2) I had ever found communication #2, which was never there. I scoured the entire level, but the only way left to go was a way that killed me instantly due to 6 enemies at once doing massive amounts of damage to my paltry levels. And even with extra levels it was still killing me very quickly.

And this is just one level. I haven’t even begun to discuss the rest of the game, and quite frankly I don’t want to, as I think it would make me physically ill.

The music is good. And you can pick from one of 4 starting Digimon. But other than that, there is nothing even remotely likeable about this game. The controls are terrible, the menu screens are poorly done, the plot is badly conceived and ever worse in terms of the writing, the graphics are an insult to what this generation of consoles can achieve, and whoever designed the game itself has either never played an RPG before or decided to do everything the opposite of what makes an action RPG fun. Again, little to no adults will buy this game for themselves, and the intended audience will hate this due to the many issues I have listed above.

Look, in Bandai’s defense, a lot of these issues can be fixed before the game comes out, even if they have to push back the date. It’s pretty easy to change damage and defense rates, and a little bit harder to work on the collision detection and aiming, but it can be done. Here’s hoping that they do.

As of right now, Digimon World 4 earns a “Worst Game of the Year” nomination from me, which is sad, because just a week ago I wrote the review for a game I consider to be the best. Here’s strongly hoping that the eventual release is retooled and a lot better than this, because quite frankly, it’s a pretty easy task to accomplish.