Latest in Gaming

Image credit:

Portabliss: The Denpa Men (3DS eShop)


This is Portabliss, a column about downloadable games that can be played on the go.

The Denpa Men (officially The "DENPA" Men: They Came By Wave) seems at first glance like something new, alien, and weird, thanks to its augmented reality gimmick and, well, this video. But upon actually playing it, I discovered that this game was designed for comfort in a way that I wish every classic RPG had been.

I don't mean it's easy – in fact, only one of my four-person party survived the boss battle at the end of the demo. But everything about the interface is streamlined to allow you to play without any of the repetitive annoyances that turn people off of classic dungeon RPGs.

That streamlining starts with the method of delivery. As an eShop game, The Denpa Men just lives on your 3DS, allowing you to jump into a dungeon for a few rounds of combat any time you feel like it, without having to carry a cartridge around. It's a small thing, but the digital format lends itself to casual play nicely.

Even nicer is the battle menu itself. The battles are turn-based and simplistic, in a Dragon Quest sort of way, which means you already know how they work. You can set each character to attack, use an item, or one of their special skills (magic, basically). Or you can just push a button to have your party auto-attack for a round. Or – and this is even more user-friendly – you have the option for them to fight automatically without using any special skills, so you can save Antenna Points. Since most battles have multiple rounds of just attacking anyway, these options allow you to get through them quickly without the annoying parts.

Portabliss The Denpa Men 3DS eShop
Even better, attack animations consist of all of your attacking Denpa Men running up to the enemy and tackling it simultaneously. No long battle animations, no waiting for each character to take a turn.

Your party consists of little color-coded Mii looking guys you catch using your 3DS camera at different Wi-Fi hotspots. They're floating around your room, and you have to move the camera to line them up and then fire a net at them. The really powerful ones, who have special "antennae" that enable special abilities, are able to move quickly to avoid your net. All of them give you cute little dialogue, and sometimes special items, when you catch them. All the little personalities give The Denpa Men a little Animal Crossing feeling.

That Animal Crossing feeling crosses with the Dragon Quest IX impression I get from the combat (and from the adorable enemies, some of which look suspiciously similar to, say, Drackies) make me want to sink every spare moment into this adorable little game. If you feel even a slight inkling that you might feel like some old-school RPG-ing right now, you should check out the demo immediately. There are Denpa Men floating around you right now, waiting to meet you!
The Denpa Men is available in the 3DS eShop on for $9.99. We're always looking for new distractions. Want to submit your game for Portabliss consideration? You can reach us at portabliss aat joystiq dawt com.

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr