With the success of sequel Nexomon: Extinction, publisher Pcube has seen fit to release the original and previously android/PC exclusive, Nexomon, to consoles. The first of this ‘Pokemon-clone’ series is being released at half the sequel’s price, but does that mean that its value is worth half?
Well, it depends who you ask.
I reviewed Nexomon: Extinction earlier this year giving it 8/10 without having played the original, but now having played both, it’s clear that Extinction is not just another money-grabbing sequel with multiple versions and colors, but it instead perfects the original, filling in the cracks in all the right places and greatly improving the overall experience.
The story and the overall background are much the same across the two games with immortal foes acting as antagonists spanning across different millennia. Omnicron, the evil king of all Nexomon and his children threaten to rise once again and rule over mankind – and that’s pretty much it, and don’t worry, you won’t forget – as you’ll be reminded every few mins of it. As the voiceless wonderkid you appear out of nowhere to save the day with a cast of allies and tamed Nexomon that you amass on your world-traversing journey.
As you have likely noticed by the theme and design of the game, this is very much aimed at a youthful audience which may explain away the narrow and uncomplicated story, but it can get a little tiresome and repetitive as very little else fills out the world and its characters, despite it having all the tools to do so. There are multiple maps of NPCs and all of them can be spoken to and just like most other RPGs that wish to teach stealing at an early age, almost all of the buildings can be entered and pilfered from. The goal is too simple though as you learn nothing about yourself, your friends, or much else that isn’t linked to the meticulous hunting down of the poor evildoers.
Familiar to anyone who has picked up a turn-based Pokemon game is the battle system, which provides your 5 creatures with 4 elemental or physical attacks and health items to defeat the opposing team.
This system, in addition to the game’s 2D design, is where the charm of this game originates creating an addictive and moreish experience. The animation, the sound effects, the soundtrack, it all comes together brilliantly in each fight to make the hundreds of battles that you take part in, fun and enjoyable experience and if need be, a quick one.
Unfortunately, the leveling system is too generous making it far too easy to level up, meaning that with only a little grinding you can be 6-7 levels above the area’s enemies and can defeat a boss’s entire group with one Nexomon and with a single blow each. A facet of the game that this doesn’t exactly lend towards is the numerous times that you’ll defeat an enemy in battle only for the story to have you lose. This is hardly unique to Nexomon, but what makes this worse is that the gameplay is so easy that you might defeat a seemingly impressive enemy in under a minute or two and expect the game to praise you for your comprehensive victory, only for you to be utterly perplexed when both you and your allies are completely wiped out when the story resumes.
This contradictory aspect is somewhat of a reoccurring theme in Nexomon with the game even contradicting itself in short conversations. Assuming we haven’t come to a child-friendly adventure of Good vs Evil expecting a gripping story and outrageous difficulty (which ironically the sequel does get right), however, and there is fun to be had here with amusing scenarios and hilarious self-awareness from our robot sidekick, Atlas.
The chibi-like anime designs animation and the colorful maps utilized through the Unity engine relaxes, and the soundtrack, while not very expansive, does a lot with very little, providing atmospheric and appropriately groovy tunes for each area. Having said that, I would have enjoyed each map more if the content was more varied, but judged on these aspects alone, the game oozes potential.
It’s a narrative that repeats itself over and over – and perhaps unfairly so – but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the predecessor has many unrealized or incomplete ideas that the sequel solves. Your inputted name is actually used in the conversation in the sequel instead of being a forgotten feature, you can entice Nexomon with food to catch them, there are conversation options and the narrative actually grabs you, but most importantly, there are side quests and you can access areas that aren’t essential to the story at that time, which provides a variety of task and character development that the first game desperately needs. A further feature of the sequel also provides detailed and customizable game settings, so if you find it too easy or repetitive that can also be adjusted.
It’s a shame that there wasn’t any effort made to remaster the original with the improvements of the sequel, but at $9.99, the publisher is seemingly aware of the deficits but has little inclination to change them. So, while Nexomon does still offer some value, it falls short of the essential Pokemon-like gaming heights that the sequel hits, and as it isn’t necessary to play this prior to Extinction, this predecessor lands haphazardly and squarely in the ‘for fans only’ aisle.