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Mugen Souls Z Review: fun combat wrapped around a convoluted mess of a story

on 21 May 2014

Role-playing games are a genre of video games that can explore any kind of world, any kind of narrative, and are only constrained by the imaginations of its writer and creator. Mugen Souls Z by Compile Heart is one of those games that push the envelope of taste in the west due to the lack of said constraints in Japan.

Mugen Souls Z is a sequel to the original Mugen Souls, and as such a lot characters will be crossing over, with some new ones sprinkled into the mix. Chou-Chou, the protagonist from the first game, gets transformed and takes a back seat to Syrma, the newest, air-headed hero. The story revolves around Chou-Chou trying to regain her former form, all while conquering a new set of worlds. It is not too deep or complicated of a story, just good, clean fun for those not wanting to think too hard.

Frustratingly, the dialogue and pacing for the game are a complete mess. It took about an hour and a half to get through the mandatory training fights, which was less than five, and the introduction storyline, before the game could even begin. Even then, that was short lived, as random cut scene after cut scene occurred that was little more than pointless banter about nothing revolving around the plot. It felt more like chatting for the sake of chatting. RPGs are all about the story, so it was a complete letdown to me.

Having reviewed Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory last year, it became obvious this was from the same company even without looking at the box, due to the fact the art design of the characters was very similar. Due to that connection, this game is already type-casted, and thus divides the consumer base. The raunchy jokes, BDSM lifestyle, and other sexual proclivities are all highlighted in the story and game mechanics. This is not a game for kids, and with some of its anime cut scenes, it also borders on the line of becoming a softcore erotica title. As mentioned, this divides the consumer base. If you hate that kind of lifestyle, Mugen Souls Z will not be fun in the slightest. If you are into kink, or at the bare minimum don’t get offended by overtly sexual themes, then the design of the characters and their personalities can be enjoyed.

This seeps into the game mechanics, so it is not like there is kink for the sake of kink, which is a creative spin for those bored with the world of a vanilla lifestyle. There is also a lot of gender-bending involved in the creation of new units, which was unique and funny. Want to make a transsexual character? Now you can. All the characters can be dressed up in alternate clothing, which have stat bonuses, giving the players an incentive to play dress-up with the cast. Don’t like how the main cast looks? Go ahead and change their clothing. Want a male-to-female character? Put a set of breasts on a male character, and give him long, luscious hair.

The BDSM and sexual themes are integrated into the combat mechanics through the captivate system. For lack of a better term, Syrma attempts to seduce the monsters, planet energy spots etc, throughout all the worlds you explore. You pick a set of three poses, each with a different success and failure rate, which builds one of three meters that either gives you a peon, an item, or makes them angry. Syrma also has numerous personas, thus being more seductive to differing creatures. For example, the sadist persona would work better on certain enemies than the hyper, or masochist personas. Each persona, of course, comes with a different costume of differing traits.