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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by Bandai

Ups: Cool raising/ training sim; teaches good values and life lessons; backed by hit cartoon series; unlimited hours of raising Digimon. 

Downs:  Not enough user control during battles; gets repetitive for older gamers.

System Reqs:
Sony PlayStation

s1-01.jpg (4518 bytes)For some kids the storyline of this game is a dream come true. After arriving home one day, you notice something odd about your Digimon key chain. Upon inspection you are quickly sucked a la Tron into another world and surrounded by Digimons you have never seen before. Their leader, Jijimon, informs you of the reason they brought you over: your skill with raising Digimon. It is their intention that you will hunt down the Digimon who have left the city and convince them to migrate back. And so the story begins.

Aside from that extremely loose storyline, which serves to give more of a contextual reason to be within the Digimon world than anything else, the focus of the game revolves around the raising and nurturing of your sweet, little Digimon—I call him Perfume. Along with this comes a great responsibility. If your Digimon, in my case Perfume, doesn’t get enough sleep (handled through the menu and indicated by a thought bubble with ‘Zzzz’ in it) then he can become sick or worse: once he becomes sick, without medical help he can, well, croak. Poor little Perfume.

s2-01.jpg (5151 bytes)Once you’ve mastered the language of Digimon, of which the learning curve is not too steep and consists of a few basic pictures, the raising of your pet becomes a bit easier, if not a little more time consumimg, much like, I would imagine, raising a child. During the course of the game, your pet will need to sleep, eat, and even go to the restroom (or potty as other characters in the game refer to it). The need to go to the restroom is one of the more humorous aspects of this game, but only serves to provide a few giggles with the first few flushes and farts.

A gripe of mine (and I’m sure with others out there) is the lack of control you have as a player within the game’s battle mode. After waiting a longer than usual period for the fight to begin, you’re thrown into a situation where the only actions you can perform are call out to your Digimon, throw them special power-ups, and, once their break point has been reached, execute their special move. That’s it. Part of me wishes Bandai would have designed a more intricate battle system and made it better than their pocket version; you know, go the extra step. Instead, they pumped most of their effort into mirroring the pre-established handheld gameplay. Of course, this is a minor marketing decision: make it better or make it the same. They went with the latter in my opinion. Another poor quality of the battle system, for me at least, is how often I accidentally ran (this was before I realized I couldn’t do jack) from my enemy. I don’t mind running, but when it happens after being attacked a couple of times, you’re hit points have worn down enough that you are forced to go back to the town and rest up.

s3-01.jpg (4555 bytes)Instead of wandering around the various portions of the Digimon world (which is not too large, but large enough to have some diversity among creatures and terrain—and of course, the further you move away from the city the more difficult your enemies become) to increase your pet’s skills, you have another method to increasing these abilities: the training course, which boasts trees you can attack, boulders you can push, and gloved poles which will strike you repeatedly (to increase defensive skills).

Essentially, you drive all aspects of your pet’s life: from eating to sleeping, morning to night, et cetera. As such, you need to learn a variety of ways of acquiring certain items, namely food. At the start of the game you find a farm which grows your local meat. From this farm you’re allowed to take only a set amount per day. After that you’re on your own, which brings me to mushrooms. These dandy fungi grow in the forest and elsewhere and you’ll run into them periodically throughout your search for other Digimon. My recommendation is to stock up on as much meat as possible (use it during battles) and feed your Digimon with mushrooms. They seem to not last as long, but they’re much easier to find than meat, which sometimes you must purchase, though their only downfall (the mushrooms) is their affect on your Digimon’s digestive system. For some odd reason if you put your Digimon on a strict mushroom diet they need to incessantly go to the restroom—bothersome since your Digimon dislike going on the ground; you must find them their own restroom or they grow unhappy. In case your Digimon does become unhappy, you need to bolster their emotions by giving them food or praising them after they perform good deeds and likewise punish them for doing something bad.

There’s nothing to swoon about with these graphics, although the FMVs are really well done, the rest of the game seems pretty standard; there are no real neat textures, no rendered backgrounds. Your Digimon are cute, but still noticeably polygonal. But, I never said this was a game to buy for its graphics.

s4-01.jpg (4058 bytes)The good aspects of Digimon are the lessons it teaches about what it takes to raise an animal. Now, when the kiddies do ask for that dog or cat or turtle for their birthday, they will know some of what it is like to be responsible for other, living, creatures. Granted, there’s nothing like a ‘real-life-experience’ but with video games growing more and more complex and violent, it’s nice to see something out there which promotes a different take on life—that is, let’s hope by playing games like Digimon our kids understand there is more to being a creature than just being another’s target. In this respect, Digimon takes the cake alongside its competitors (we won’t name them in this article).

So, if you’re kid is into the cartoon (and it’s all the rage right now) then this might be a good thing to pick up for them. But, one note of caution, Digimon isn’t for everyone; there is too much repetition and not enough story to back up running around beating monsters. I mean: it’s cool and all to get them to move back to the city, but part of me believes the country is probably a better place for animals. Don’t you? Parents, it’s your call. Rent it or buy it, you’re kids will enjoy it.

--Mathew Baldwin