Not every Digimon game needs to be an epic role-playing game with super-deep breeding mechanics. Sometimes a person just wants to raise some digital monsters on a virtual farm for some basic turn-based battles. Digimon Links, released this week for iOS and Android, is exactly that.
As much as I appreciate all the extra stuff that comes in massive games such as Digimon: Next Order and Cyber Sleuth, it's nice to get back to basics. Breeding and battling have been the bread and butter of the digital realm since Digimon first came on the scene as an action alternative to the Tamagotchi virtual pet. Digimon Links does a fair job of covering both of those bases.
First off, it has them Digimons. Players capture digital monsters at varying stages of evolution using currency either earned in the free-to-play game or purchased with real cash.
Those Digimon hang out on the farm, sort of a mini town sim where players can farm meat and train, upgrade and digvolve their virtual friends in various ways.
When not taking care of the stat-enhancing, creature-cultivating business, players take part in a series of story missions, which are basically three-on-three turn-based RPG battles. Players form a team of their favourite critters and pit them against other critters, because Digimon is all about the critters.
The battles are pretty basic. Players and enemies trade blows until the other team falls. Elemental weaknesses and strengths play into it, and at higher levels players will need to pay close attention to their team's stats, tailoring their squad to suit the situation.
But basic can be good. Basic certainly looks really good, especially when the Digimon pull off their special attacks. Look at little Agumon go.
You want ninja birds?
How many rushes was that?
Did somebody order Life Claw? Oops.
Digimon Links has been out in Japan for a while now, and several long-time players have told me the game quickly grows boring. I can see that. The battles are samey, and teaming up with other players, while novel, just means I have to wait longer to take my turn. But for now it scratches my Digimon itch quite nicely. Plus it's free. Free can be nice.