Mugen Souls Z Review

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"There’s a lot about this game that makes it distasteful, a disgrace even, to Nippon Ichi Software; and, believe me, I never thought I would hear myself say this about a video game, but it’s largely due to sex."

When I was younger my grandmother beat the mantra that “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all” into my head almost daily. Bearing this in mind, the best thing I can say about Mugen Souls Z is that it’s a fairly solid JRPG. Mechanically, it matches every stereotype of the genre: turn-based combat, exploration, hundreds of items, and character customization. But while the components are all present, they’re not all welcome. There’s a lot about this game that makes it distasteful, a disgrace even, to Nippon Ichi Software; and, believe me, I never thought I would hear myself say this about a video game, but it’s largely due to sex.
First off, let’s talk about the gameplay. I really like nearly everything NIS puts out in the US and one of the big reasons why is that they seem to be one of the few publishers that put out JRPGs that seem to capture the magic that “the old games” used to be able to do consistently. Nearly every other game has a tight and fun experience that makes you want to play each next section even if you don’t like JRPG style storylines.  Hell, one of my only problems with NIS’ new game The Witch and the Hundred Knight was the horrible position of the stamina bar; otherwise the gameplay was fun, the art and sound was compelling, and the story incredibly interesting. Oh, and it doesn’t really matter what style of RPG either, NIS seems to hit it out of the park in every genre.


"I know it’s a manga style to have ridiculously proportioned women who happen to look like little girls, but Mugen Souls Z acknowledges that these are all prepubescent girls while they are having a naked steam bath together with several men present."

Until now. This game is a chore to play. Combat is turn-based, with real-time movement around the battlefield preceding action choice, be it an attack, a skill (ie. Magic), defending or using an item; all set to a turn meter in the top right of the screen. So far so generic, then. The standout feature is the ability to “captivate” opponents, turning them into little fluffy Shampurus that power your space-ship/transformer, the G-Castle, which is used to fight other ships in a separate battle system. Successfully captivating an enemy also provides a bonus on the battlefield if there are any enemies left, such as dealing damage or healing allies, for example.

Captivating itself revolves around picking a “Fetish Pose”, such as Sadist or Masochist, then picking three poses that the enemy in question will like. These range from a hug; to the main character Syrma bending over until she shows her underwear while moaning “I’m sorry.”
…And this is the main issue with Mugen Souls Z. Sex in games itself isn’t necessarily a problem. Rarely is it done well, in fact nothing springs to mind, but at least the characters aren’t the children that Mugen Souls Z exploits. I know it’s a manga style to have ridiculously proportioned women who happen to look like little girls, but Mugen Souls Z acknowledges that these are all prepubescent girls while they are having a naked steam bath together with several men present. “Artful” placement of steam stops the game short of actual pedophilia, but I still had to play it with the curtains closed in case passers-by called the police. You could argue that these girls, despite their looks, are all ageless Goddesses, but the terminology used to describe them is hard to look positively upon.
The sexualization is constant as well. Those Fetish Poses I mentioned? Well they change Syrma’s dress: the Sadist outfit is an open trench coat, a bra, tiny knickers and fishnets held up on suspenders. Early in the story, the Undisputed God, Chou-Chou, is pseudo-raped by a mystical coffin that steals all her powers, all the while she is crying, and I quote; “A bunch of things just came and they’re all drippy and gooey and squirming and… Nooo… Gross, gross,GROOOSSS!!!” Meanwhile, her main male manservant gets a “nosebleed” after moaning like a pornstar. And, in case you missed the subtle sexuality here, another character tells him he “Needs to wipe this mess up.”


"Basically, Mugen Souls Z is a bland, generic JRPG. The only thing that makes it stand out from the crowd is the rampant sex that runs through it."

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, I was talking about the mechanics. Well the exploration is poor, for a start. You’re forced to traipse from one end of a world to another multiple times between cut-scenes, in apparently-open-world-but-actually-linear-areas put to shame by the original Spyro the Dragon. At least the different worlds are varied, with a Medieval town followed by an electronic plaza.
The story is a bit of a mess, too. The Undisputed God, Chou-Chou, has gotten bored with her seven worlds from the first game and has set out to conquer twelve new ones. Almost straight away she accidentally loses her powers to one of the Ultimate Gods, Syrma, and it becomes a quest to regain her powers, with Symra’s help, by defeating the twelve Ultimate Gods, one on each world. The world is devoid of all life as you run from one infinity symbol to the next. Going out and conquering worlds as a god with a giant mecha building a minion army sounds fun, but this game manages to completely suck that fun out of it.
It doesn’t help that all, either, that the dialogue is delivered via static pictures of the characters talking, only some of which is voiced. It means hammering “X” to get through ten minutes of dialogue before you get any action. I wouldn’t mind all this if the story was actually interesting, though— but it’s not. It’s bland and generic; but at least these bits are somewhat aesthetically pleasing, as the engine that runs the third-person combat and exploration could be a relic from the PS2 days. And that’s the whole game. You play twenty minutes of running around some of the most barren RPG worlds in ages plugging away at terrible combat only to be rewarded with hours of boring dialog filled with sexually charged crap involving a bunch of teens and pre-teens (or at least they look that way).

Basically, Mugen Souls Z is a bland, generic JRPG. The only thing that makes it stand out from the crowd is the rampant sex that runs through it. Which could fly elsewhere, but just seems almost “taboo” in the western world. Personally I found it distasteful; games are better than this, and Mugen Souls Z is the precise reason why the entire medium gets viewed as juvenile. If you like JRPGs you could probably do worse, nothing about it is inherently broken, but you could also do a hell of a lot better.

Review by: Sara Perfin | Reviewed on: Playstation 3
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