Soul nomad & the World Eaters PS2 Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under PS2, Retro Content, Retro Reviews

Like any Nippon Ichi game, to call Soul Nomad & the World Eaters a typical strategy affair, would be an injustice. You do move miniature soldiers around a grid based battlefield and lay waste to similarly tiny soldiers, but whereas the explanation would come to an end right here for most, for Nippon Ichi’s games that’s only the basics covered.

Nippon Ichi games are unmistakable. The sprite based visuals, the loopy sense of humour, the creative mechanics and best of all the perfect combination of ocean level depth and accessibility, that leaves it up to the player of just how much they want to get out of the games. The developers passionate fan base will be glad that Soul Nomad has all these features very much intact and would have been salivating at the prospect of more madcap shenanigans and extreme levelling up.

Narrative wise, Soul Nomad is a bit more restrained than some of the developers past offerings (namely Disgaea and Makai Kingdom) but the quirky humour is still there, though it’s meshed with more drama this time around. You’re the largely mute Revya, of which in the early stages of the story is intentionally inhabited by an evil god (the amusingly sarcastic and obnoxious Gig) with the purpose being for you to use his incredible powers to fell the World Eaters, ancient and colossus creatures of mass destruction. As always there’s a mixture of relatively normal characters and others that wouldn’t be out of place in a mental asylum. Perhaps this sort of explanation is also fitting for the game itself.

As opposed to single units, Soul Nomad instead has an emphasis on squads. Each squad is placed in a room, all of which have their own stat enhancing décor and have slots for you to place your own to further increase the strength of them (Nippon Ichi fans will be used to this craziness, whilst the uninitiated will think I’m making it all up). The amount of units and rooms you can have at any one time increases as you advance through the game allowing you to eventually have in your control a pleasingly sizeable army to nurture.

Setting up these rooms can at times be a difficult exercise in trial and error and the unhelpful menus certainly don’t help matters. Changing the type of room is a random process, which means the formation and character slots available is also out of your hands. Further making life hard, is the fact that unless other rooms are locked, they too will change, which can on occasion mess your intended plans up, though as you make your way through the game you’ll gain extra locks, but also extra rooms. It’s a vicious cycle, that perhaps was constructed so as players couldn’t easily knock together the ultimate squad, but nonetheless, when set-up doesn’t always go as you please it still can frustrate and will perhaps prevent some people, that have already found a satisfactory set-up, from trying further tactical options, such as newly obtained rooms.

On the battlefield, it’s largely typical strategic elements in play. You move your units about the maps, tactically positioning them and separating enemy units by luring them towards you (which is probably easier than it should be, as typically for a Nippon Ichi game, enemies aren‘t the sharpest knives in the drawer and will focus their attacks on your weaker units). Defeating enemies will level up squads, which of course will increase their effectiveness in battle.

So it’s a bit more restrained than usual in combat too. There’s nothing as silly and hilarious as throwing team-mates around the map, or confining units to items to increase their stats. Puzzle elements like the geo panels and miracles are also absent. Nippon Ichi hasn’t completely gone boring on us though (they must have calmed down a bit on the drugs though, we can only hope they don‘t kick the habit altogether) there are items that allow you to split squads in two and others that allow you to combine them, whilst special attacks are typically visually OTT all of which echoes (though doesn’t match) the craziness of their past games.

Soul Nomad may not be the most strategic game that the genre has to offer, but that’s never really been the primary focus of an Nippon Ichi game, but instead its more about bending the rules and the chance to level up your army to ridiculous extremes, ultimately granting you a wealth of power. Soul Nomad & the World Eaters certainly delivers in this regard and is yet another quality game to Nippon Ichi’s name.

8/10

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