I’m Addicted to my pocket rocket
It has been just under two months since it’s release, but nevertheless Manamon 2 has made quite a big splash. Since the developer went dark after the first release, the unexpected release of the second Manamon caught many off-garde. No one knew it was coming, only a small group of testers. Whether this is the best practice for game release isn’t up for review though. Instead the game itself is being reviewed. Is it worth the money? Should you buy it? Hopefully some of these questions can be answered throughout this review.
Developer’s Summary Of The Game
Manamon 2, like its predecessor, is a turn based role playing game in which you capture various feral monsters you find around the world and use them to help you complete the brand new storyline.
It features a new online system which will allow you to trade and battle your friends to determine which of you is the stronger Manamon Tamer, all without messing with your router’s firewall or sharing your IP address…
In the world of Manamon, children between the ages of 10 and 14 embark on a journey to challenge the 7 stadium leaders in their country. Once those stadium keys are collected, the challenger may proceed to challenge the Master’s Stadium with the goal of becoming the Manamon Master.
Though most start their journey right away at age 10, you were regrettably unable to start your journey, but now, some years later, it is finally time!
You will travel across the vast drought ravaged country of Kiarre, collecting the 7 stadium keys in order to become the master!
But wait! Who is this strange man calling himself Eshcon? Could he be the one to save Kiarre from its years long drought?
What are these strange creatures called Hyper forms?
As you travel, you will meet many new and interesting characters and quickly find yourself in the middle of a saga that goes far beyond merely collecting stadium keys.
Examples Of Game Play
I didn’t record a game play of Manamon 2 for the blog. There was a live stream but that archive is currently or will be a Patreon exclusive soon. Instead you can check out a lets play made by the folks over at 44K LetsPlays. You can check them out on Twitter @44KLetsplays
Check out the entire playlist of the Manamon 2 lets plays.
The Game Play
Manamon is a game heavily influenced by the Pokemon games. Though I haven’t played any of the Pokemon entries myself, it is very noticeable by the way the Manamon world works. If you’ve played Manamon 1 then you already know everything required about the mechanics as it is identical to the mechanics in Manamon 2. If you are completely new to the Manamon universe it follows a fairly standard RPG template.
The point of the game is to progress through the world from city to city completing tasks and fighting the stadium leaders. To get from one city to the next you have to travel through wilderness maps which have feral manamon. While traveling through these wilderness maps you randomly trigger battles with the feral manamon. The frequency of the feral manamon attacks are based on the amount of steps you take. This is all a pretty standard RPG format. This is just the basic mechanic of the game however.
Each wilderness or non-city area is also a maze that varies from fairly easy to a orgy of randomness. Each section has a boss fight you have to complete to continue as well. Toss in the addition of one or more puzzles you have to solve in each area and you end up with a challenging game with a lot of ramp up potential as you progress.
Each manamon has one or more types, There are a total of 20 types, and each one has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. You are allowed to keep up to 6 manamon in your party at a time. This party is who does the fighting for you. As your manamon fight they gain XP and level. As they level they learn new attacks and their stats increase. You also get the option of choosing how you train them, This allows for boosting certain areas depending on what your party’s strengths and weaknesses are. Some manamon share attacks, but plenty of them have unique attacks or attributes which allows for each one to be different in their own ways.
There are said to be 307 new manamon, but not all of these can be caught so that number is a bit deceiving, more on that later. There are 400 different attacks that can be used however, so there is plenty of variables for each person to customize their party how they wish.
Overall it is a pretty standard RPG in the style of Pokemon. The important thing is that the mechanics are done right. A game like this is made or broken based on the mechanics, and here it is done right. This allows for a good playing experience with easy to use commands. The challenge of the game is put where it should be, on the maps and puzzles built into the game.
I’ve gone back and forth with Manamon 2. When it first came out and I was playing through the first 4 stadiums I was very impressed with the amount of content in the game. It was easily pushing a perfect 10 out of 10 from me. The story is very fun to follow, and there are very few points that are unbelievable or too much over the top. That is the glue that holds the whole game together. If the story isn’t interesting enough to keep you going there isn’t much of a point in playing. Overall it’s well done here, and it really makes the game what it is.
The story plus the gradual ramp up in difficulty work really well with one another. This is one thing I don’t see any problems with at all, it is well done. You start off with small puzzles and bosses. As you progress they start to get more and more difficult in a very noticeable way. Each boss has a puzzle as part of their fight as well, you can’t just hammer them. Instead you have to figure out why something works on them and why something else fails horribly. Once that puzzle is solved then you can fight them normally, it is a nice feature to add a dimension of challenge to the important fights.
One of my biggest criticisms with the original manamon is how the types in your party didn’t have much effect on outcomes. You could use any type as long as you just leveled them really high and blow through anything the game threw at you. That seems to have been balanced somewhat in this release though. It is nice to be required to level up different types that cover the weaknesses of their fellow party members. Without that it would be as simple as grinding and blowing through everything you run into.
Both a positive and a negative are the new manamon. We get to see a sprinkling of new ones added to the game, and their sound effects are noticeably better than the originals. The negative part is a rather large percentage of the new manamon are not catchable. I don’t know if the non-catchable manamon are included in the 307 number, but if so that is a bit disappointing. There are new ones you can catch however, and they are quite a bit different than any of the old ones from game one.
My biggest issue with the game as a whole pops up with the story around the fourth stadium. This is when a lot of different things happen. The story becomes more and more confusing, but not in a way that benefits the game. You are just sort of left wondering where to go next. I’ve had conversations with other people who ran into the same issues at the same points. Everything gets jumbled and you aren’t given direction on where to go or what you should do, this is frustrating and could be cleared up with just a couple words to point you in the right direction.
The other big issue I had was after entering Requia. This was purely on me though. You talk to someone and they move, however I didn’t know they were moving to clear a 1 tile wide door out of the map. I spent four or five days aimlessly wandering around Requia an the catacombs,Because of this I completed the biggest maze in the game which is meant to be a post game feature. Since I had no direction on where to go, I had no way of knowing I should not have been doing that part of the game then. I know of one other person who had the same issue. It might be a small amount of people, but it is a huge side track from the story that really adds to the confusion with the storyline after stadium four.
The only other issue found was with the content and storyline distribution throughout the game. In Manamon 1 we know exactly how far through the game we have progressed based on the stadiums we have already beaten. With Manamon 2 this is much more deceiving and impossible to figure out. The stadiums are not used like they were in the old game, only the first four can be used to gage some progress. After that the rest of the stadiums are mostly tossed in like a post game feature. The brunt of the story takes place in Requia, not in the main world. I had no clue about this when playing. This was what made me think this game had more content than Manamon 1 originally. After realizing Requia is the end game I came to find out it is about the same amount of content as the first game just all put into everything before stadium 5. This isn’t necessarily bad, it is just not known when you start, and if you think you’ll have the same amount of story for all seven stadiums you will be disappointed as I was.
The game is overall just as good as Manamon 1, but I still can’t decide if it is better or not. I know if you were a fan of the first game, you will enjoy the second game as well. They are very similar, only with different manamon and worlds to explore.
Really the only big thing here is clarity on the storyline. I’ve talked to a lot of people who agree something could be done here. There are just too many points in the game where you don’t know where to go. The story is good and accented with plenty of side quests, but some direction is needed especially when dealing with Requia. This could be done through some extra dialog, or a NPC who gives some more information, anything done to clarify it would work.
It would also be nice if we were able to catch the new manamon in Requia. It is just odd to have all these feral manamon we cannot catch, and no reason is given for why we cannot. They are there, a lot of them sound pretty bad ass, but we cannot catch them. There may be a reason for this however, and if so maybe just knowing that would help.
The only other suggestion would be to have a way for players to gage their progress through the game. Because the stadiums cannot be used, the player has no way of knowing if they are on the last boss battle of the game, or if they have more to go. This would be nice to know, and it would also give everyone an idea of progression which would help overall.
The one side point I have to mention is the price point. I was going to leave this out because so many people are touchy about it, but I would be neglecting one of the biggest issues with the game. I feel this game is worth money of course, it should not be free, but the price of 40 USD is a bit steep. I could see 25 or 30, but 40 is pushing it for an audio game. I get it is one of the better single player games out there, but it is still single player. Online battles are a nice feature, but they don’t make it an online game because of it. I just feel the price point is too high, and with a lower price the developer could make net profit by selling more copies, but that is ultimately up to the creator. I just think 40 USD is a price out of reach for a huge percentage of people who live outside the states. It should be paid yes, but the current price point is too high in my opinion.
P.S: don’t mention the price of main stream games, they are not even in the same universe as audio games with content and features offered. That is a silly argument and everyone who uses it knows it.
Conclusion & Rating
There isn’t much more to say. This is a solid game. Even with the issues with the story it is still good. If those issues weren’t there this would be really pushing a 10 out of 10 for me, but with the frustrations caused by vagueness in the linear progression it isn’t perfect. That doesn’t mean it isn’t good, it is a really good game and one of the best games of 2019, just not perfect, and with the price you really have to be pushing a perfect game. With the issues, and the price point it does deduct from the game for me, but not too much.
Rating: 8 out of 10.
If the price was a bit lower, and the storyline was fixed. This would easily be in the high nines for me.
the Giveaway closed at 18:30 EST on December 29, 2019. The winner will be notified via a direct message on Twitter then announced by @bsg_blog.
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