Review by Hiong Poh

"Quote the Junior....... Nevermore!"

What 'cha gonna do when Digimon Online is running wild? What 'cha gonna do when a huge digi-sequel hits the playstation? What 'cha gonna do, brother, when Digimon World 3 comes crushing down on you?

Bandai has once again released a sequel to its Digimon series for the playstation. Okay, this may not be that big of an impact partly because this infamous series has always been looked down on by many gamers, especially pokemon fanboys, around the world. Almost all of the previous digimon games have been dismissed as childish or contained flaws that cause gamers to reject them. Hey, hold on a sec, did I mention the word 'previous'...?

The first game, Digimon World, was said to have little or no storyline at all. The game revolved around monster breeding which was an enhanced version of what was originally the Digimon key chain gadget. Somehow players rejected the engine in which the game runs on and found it hard to adapt. Digimon World 2 had rpg style elements in it, but the battles took way too long to end. Players often find themselves wondering aimlessly around random dungeons 90% of the time. Digimon Card Battle was a hit, featuring a party type of card playing much akin to Yu Gi Oh. I believe it was the preferred digimon game in the pre Digimon World 3 era. Then came Digimon Rumble Arena, a casual type of fighting game which featured digivolving during battles. It was good, but not good enough to attract hardcore fighting game fans. Now, three years after the release of the first Digimon World, Bandai is ready to prove to the world that they too can make a great RPG of their own.

Digimon World 3 is totally different from all other digimon games. It follows the real RPG aspect of gaming. The engine has been altered once again and this brought some never been seen before features of digimon to the playstation. That includes Blast Digivolving, DNA digivolution during battles and a very complex storyline to accompany them. So you've seen how Bandai's RPGs looked like when you saw Digimon World 2 eh? I assure you that you've seen nothing yet. Digimon World 3 is nowhere like the slow-paced, anti-storyline Digimon World 2; its a whole new game whereby its pros actually outnumber the cons!

Audio: 8/10
The audio that this game delivers are simply astonishing. I used to think that BGMs and in-game-sounds were never really well composed by Bandai before. Well Digimon Tamers: Evolution Battle(Digimon Rumble Arena) did proved me wrong and now Digimon World 3 convinced me. The BGMs really fit the backgrounds perfectly, shaping the atmosphere for it during gameplay. When you're in an ordinary town, a happy music will play. When you're at a place where tensions run wild, a heavy music would be played. Some of the themes that deserve mentioning are the Seabed theme, the DNA digivolution theme ''Beat Hit'' and the boss battle theme. Yup, you did hear me mention Beat Hit. It has been revamped from the original and exists in its karaoke form. Remixes of themes from the previous games are also present. One BGM that I am really disappointed with, though, is ''Brave Heart''. Its opening phase is played and repeated throughout the process of digivolution. However well done the BGMs are, there is still an audio flaw that Bandai had neglected. Yes, the Digimons are not equipped with any voices of their own! What was Bandai thinking? Battles are accompanied with awesome BGMs, but yet no digimon would mouth a single clause - not even an ouch - while fighting. Was it that hard of a task to delay the release date by a few weeks to grab a few seiyuus to dub in some voices? Imagine Ex Veemon and Stingmon DNA digivolving but shutting up during the whole process while the music rolls. Looks damn weird if you ask me. But overall, no one should doubt the presentation of this section. It is a major leap in terms of standard and makes us wonder how much of a height Bandai could continue to climb.

Graphics: 7/10
Yes, the graphics are beautiful. As one would expect, Digimon World 3 exists in a 3-D environment and like Digimon World 1, Bandai managed to pull through and spring it back to life yet again. The backgrounds are highly detailed and the digimons are filled with a greater set of pixels. Everything is up to expectation and the quality is there. The FMVs are pretty well done too. Now here comes the exception. In the overworld view graphics look very much decent and it can make heads turn. However the big problem comes when a random encounter is initiated. Once the battle starts, you'll be dying to get your eyes off the television. The digimons in battle really looks like a rushed work and pulled down the overall graphics of the game. I guess its the poor shadowing technique that caused this problem. Angemon's wings look like they were made of cardboard and Renamon's tail looks like it has been torn apart. Seriously it could have been better. Look at the amount of pixels during battle in Digimon World 2 and compare them to Digimon World 3. It seems that the playstation is really starting to show its limitations. Another problem outside of battle is the presentation of an area. Now whenever you moved into a new area, blue squares will fill the screen and start disappearing when you move towards them. Recall the undiscovered areas in Red Alert and Seven Kingdoms. It is extremely annoying as it obstructs your view and you have to get used to it. I can forgive that though, as I believe that it is a technique used by Bandai to cut short the load times during transport from area to area. Now its not true because I've covered a lot on the flaws of the graphics that make it terrible, it really isn't. Overall graphics are really a step up from its prequal but its just that the little unfixed problems prevent it from being perfect. Asuka city really looks like a heaven. I wish I could be there! Argh.. the nostalgia.

Gameplay: 9/10
Now this element excels and makes you come crying for more. The game plays a lot like pokemon, except that it is in 3-D. The buttons are conveniently spread out across the controller and movements are very swift. Load times are cut down by a lot compared to the previous games. This game runs on a rule that training is a must. Get lazy and you're done for. The wild digimons really do get tougher as you advance into a new area with the storyline. Battles have never been this fun before. The long and tedious battles in Digimon World two were transformed into complex yet faster bouts in this game. Like Digimon World 1, Digimon World 3 provides you with some minigames that hopes to keep you addicted for a long time to come. Amongst them is ''Digital Card Battle''. Yup its the same name as the game released on the playstation earlier, but the game runs on a much simplified ruling. It is bound to keep you occupied for many hours like it did to me. All in all it is perfect, no I should say near perfect. There exists two tiny problem. Firstly the 2 player battle mode is gone, meaning that there will be much lesser replay value in this game. Secondly in order to advance to certain parts of the storyline, you'll have to talk to even the hardest to noticed person or digimon for the triggering of events. Much often that character that holds the trigger is very easily dismissed and thus sent players like us on a wild goose chase. However I'm not really disappointed as the the overall gameplay isn't screwed up like Digimon World 2, or to some, Digimon World as well. Well done Bandai!

Storyline: 8/10
A new game called ''Digimon Online'' is launched. Junior, the main character in this game, along with Teddy and Kail are all excited about playing this game. The goal is to get all badges and to become World Champ. The kids split up upon arrival to the digital world so that they can choose their own path of playing. What adventures are in store for the Junior and his friends as they venture into the unknown?

Reading at what you think is a lame opening, are you surprised by the score? I sure am. I was expecting a pokemon type of plot when I played through the beginning. After all digimon games have a really great reputation of screwing up their storylines, giving them no proper link in between. The deep storyline in this game could possibly shock the world. First time ever, I actually see plot twists that makes sense happen in a Digimon game. They are not just like the one towards the end of Digimon World 2. They are... Wait I'm not here to spoil the fun for you, so I'd rather not release any info of these events. You're gonna have to find them out for yourself! Though not as good as the king of surprises Metal Gear Solid, It is an awesome effort the and it makes this game really worth playing for even if you disliked the gameplay.

Originality: 7/10
This game does include several original features of its own. In Digimon World 3, you cam kick trees to collect boosters for the card game. You also get to travel underwater on an ''airship''. DNA digivolution in battle and the card game rule are some of the other more original features in the game. Other than that almost every other feature is a copy of some other games. An example is the blast gauge. Your blast gauge appears below your life bar and fills up when you take damage. When it is full, you can blast digivolve. Sounds familiar? Trance from FFIX is the originator. Finally, the entire thing about collecting badges and becoming world champ is a total rip off of pokemon! No, the storyline itself is not, but becoming world champ is. Geez can't Bandai think of a better start for the game?

Replay Value: 5/10
Okay the score may differ depending on what type of gamer you are. I would personally not replay this game again after completing it. After all, why would I want to waste time leveling up my digimons again in a second game when that was what I've been doing half of my first game? As mentioned, the 2-player battle mode is gone, thus killing much of the replay value. This game also has a proper ending now, so if you've completed the game and seen the ending, the only way to continue is to load your old saved data and start of from where you last saved at, or start a new game. Damn. However if you are the other type of player who loves replaying RPGs without gameshark, then give this a higher score, probably a 6 or even 7. The game does have many different type of digivolutions for each digimon and you'll have lots of fun getting all of them.

Overall: 8/10
Smashing game. Only thing that hurt it is the removal of the 2-player duel. I can't imagine anybody disliking this game after playing through it. Actually, if you arem't a Pokemon fanboy, Squaresoft fanboy or any other fanboys who dare not bring their heads out of the well to try something new, then do give this game a shot. You'll not be disappointed.

Quote the Junior....... Nevermore!


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/26/02, Updated 09/01/03


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