The Denpa Men: They Came By Wave
We can list the good augmented reality games on one hand, and thankfully, The Denpa Men: They Came By Wave makes the cut. Available through the 3DS eShop for $9.99 (and worth every virtual penny), this surprisingly fun dungeon crawler from Genius Sonority Inc. blends a cool "got to catch them all" AR mini-game with old school RPG adventuring. The result is a strangely addictive mish-mash of ideas that, while ultimately simplistic in nature, will keep you hooked for weeks.
Half of this game, the augmented reality part, utilizes the 3DS camera to help search for Denpa Men, bizarre-looking creatures that seem to be a cross between Pikin, Miis and Teletubbies. Turns out, there are a slew of them that exist in our world, but thankfully, Nintendo's system finds the little buggers with minimal effort. That said, each one is different in terms of size, color and antennae, and it's your job to capture these beings to form a team, casting nets to prevent them from floating away. To that end, the more valuable Denpa Men are the toughest to nab, and it's common to look like some weirdo out in public as you frantically tilt your 3DS in a variety of directions.
The second part of this title plays like a standard dungeon crawling RPG, as you lead a squad of Denpa Men through different environments in search of monsters and loot. The former is by far the most important, since leveling up your Denpa Men is key to success, particularly when it comes to tackling bosses, which are (as expected), significantly tougher than the weak bats, pigs and other low level baddies you'll stumble across.
As for the combat, it couldn't be simpler. You have the option to randomly assign maneuvers to specific Denpa Men, or instruct them to auto attack, watching as they gang up on enemies and pummel their adversaries into oblivion. What's more, items you pick up during your travels or at the in-game shop let you heal characters on the fly.
On that note, we have two complaints. The first involves battles, which are quite tough to avoid since enemies give chase; thankfully, you can run away after battles commence. The second deals with those aforementioned dungeons, which are quite bland and contain the same repeating scenery. A bit more variety here could have gone a long way.
Neither of these issues, however, should keep you from downloading The Denpa Men: The Came By Wave. While not the most advanced RPG in the world, it manages to entertain through its AR mechanic, the desire to uncover new Denpa Men and the constant leveling. Definitely one of the quirkiest, most unique titles on 3DS, by far.
Review code provided by Nintendo.
What's Hot: Tons of Denpa Men, cool AR feature, leveling up characters, tackling dungeons for loot.
What's Not: Tough to avoid enemies, dungeons lack detail.