Moco Moco Friends
- Street Date:
- November 17th, 2015
- Reviewed by:
- Elizabeth Henges
- Review Date:1
- November 19th, 2015
- Game Release Year:
- Aksys/Nippon Columbia Co., Ltd. (Licensor)
- Racjin Co., Ltd.
Digital 3DS version reviewed.
'Pokemon' has practically become an annual series, but the iconic monster collecting franchise is not getting a new mainline title this year, leaving a sizable gap in children's and adult's wish lists this holiday alike. In place of 'Pokemon', though, other monster collecting RPGs are looking to fill that hole on the holiday game shelves. Nintendo's own 'Yokai Watch' is attempting to be the next smash hit, but Aksys has also quietly released 'Moco Moco Friends', their own cutesy twist on the tried and true formula. Can this 3DS title fill the gap 'Pokemon' left behind?
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
'Moco Moco Friends' stars the titular Moco as she just (barely) graduates from school to become a Witch. Witches control Plushkins, stuffed animal-like creatures that occupy the world, with human and Plushkin working together to solve problems and make people happy. Moco decides to go after the Stella Medal, a special reward given to only the most standout of Plushkin Masters.
That's about it for the plot. It's very simplistic, and serves only as a reason for Moco's mentor, Michiru, to essentially push a bunch of fetch quests onto her student. The flow to this title, like the plot, is extremely simplistic as well. Players take quests from Michiru and the townpeople, which mostly consist of getting to the bottom of a dungeon, and then returning to the quest giver and listening to a lengthy conversations filled with oft-repeated jokes until the reward is received.
Sprinkle in some basic crafting and gardening, and the ability to random recruit new Plushkins (which is more random than it should be), and that's about all 'Moco Moco Friends' has to offer. It's a decent feedback loop; dungeon delving and quests move at a fast pace, and it's unlikely anyone would need to grind to reach the game's conclusion, though the option is there for those that want to. However, this can become very repetitive after a while, as there's very little story to really push the player along, and there's an unusually high amount of chatter that explains nothing.
Being a monster collecting RPG, the Plushkins are the real stars here, and they are absolutely adorable. But they can also fight, and the battle system is reminiscent of the 'Pokemon' titles. Each of the Plushkins can learn four abilities, and most have an elemental affinity that can be used to gain an advantage. There's a semblance of depth here, although most of the battles are easy enough that strategy can mostly be overlooked. I completed many boss battles in only a few turns, and even the more difficult ones can easily be mitigated by using the Plushkin's strongest skills and burning through Moko's magic.
What this all boils down to is that this game is mostly focused at a younger audience and RPG newbies. There's not a lot to keep track of, and the simplicity of 'Moco Moco Friends' makes it very welcoming to those that are overwhelmed by the plethora of numbers and mechanics of many RPGs. Those looking for an in-depth experience similar to 'Pokemon' may come away disappointed, but there is some fun to be had here.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
The graphics of 'Moco Moco Friends' is a mixed bag. When the Plushkins are fighting, everything looks great, from the Plushkins themselves to the attack effects (even if they're basic looking in nature). Outside of battles, though, the zoomed out nature of the dungeons makes Moco's character model and the other assets look off, almost as if the developers used the battles models without regard to how they would look from farther away. The majority of the graphics, though, look quite good.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Honestly, I was surprised with how great the 'Moco Moco Friends' soundtrack is. The music is bouncy and bubbly and perfectly represents the cute and happy atmosphere of this game. I found the music to be very pleasing overall. There's little in the way of voice acting, with only limited lines said by the characters in Japanese, but the voices fit the characters. I did find Moco's voice to be a little grating after a while, but considering the girl's personality, it could have been a lot worse.
There is some stuff to do beyond the credits of 'Moco Moco Friends', but like the game itself, it's repetitive in nature and doesn't seem worth doing for most players. There are more fetch quests, and of course collecting all the Plushkins, but it's difficult to really get into the post-game when these tasks were repetitive even before the credits rolled. The content is there for those that want to delve into it, but the title itself doesn't give a player much reason to.
'Moco Moco Friends' is great for an RPG newbie. It's simple, it's colorful, and manages to distill the genre down to its basics and makes it fun for short bursts—perfect for a portable. But, anyone looking for a deeper experience should not be looking towards 'Moco Moco Friends', as this simple title will lack the substance that most RPG fans cherish.
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