My World, My Way (DS) review
My Way or the Highway!
Playing My World My Way (MWMW) is a liberating experience, at first. For those of us who are used to RPGs that involve endless random encounters, slow experience gains, or bosses that are either too easy or too tough, this is a breath of fresh air. Don't like these enemies? Get annoyed with them and you can make them go away. Not getting enough experience points? Demand more and you can increase them for a while. Having trouble with some bosses? No problem! Declare that monsters stink and you can lower their levels and kick them to kingdom come, or increase levels to make more of a challenge. In MWMW, you can do all this, and more, and this light-hearted and engaging turn-based romp never takes itself too seriously.
Although the enemies feature male warriors and female ninjas, psychotic donkeys and spear wielding penguins, fire breathing potatoes and kicking buffaloes, the focus of the story is on Princess Elis, and her desire to impress a guy. She's someone who is used to getting her own way at all times, but when she meets a handsome adventurer, he isn't interested in a spoiled brat. It's a slim premise on which to build the whole game, and you have to accept that Elis would cut off her long hair, abandon her fancy clothes and castle comforts, and set off into the unknown all for the sake of a man's attention, but it is totally believable that Elis's unique skill is getting her own way, simply by pouting.
This is one of the draws of the game. As well as guaranteeing more cash, more enemy drops, and more experience points, Elis can change her surroundings, paralyse enemies, stop them casting spells, or tell them to get lost. Of course there are some limitations to this or there wouldn't be much point in playing at all. Pout points are low at first and when she completes various tasks she becomes more skilled at pouting. These are quests that are set by the mayor of each town, and have to be fulfilled in order to unlock the gate to the next location. With more pout points you can even decide that a quest is boring and pout to complete it!
Elis is not alone on her adventure. Her companions are a pet parrot (Paro) whose name indicates what might seem to be a lack of imagination, and a pink slime called Pinky (you see where this is going). Together they explore four lands: Grass Land, Desert Land, Snow Land, and Chaos Land with similarly non-evocative towns, for example: Grass Town, Sandy Town, Ice Field, or Evil Mountain. Each "town" is set inside a mapped area with various terrain: forests, prairies, ponds, orchards, flower gardens, fields, and many more, all of which contain appropriate enemies and all of which Elis can alter using her pouting skills.
But, this game is aimed at subverting the conventions of RPGs. How many times have you played a game with an icy area, a fire area, a desert, a bog, a forest, a graveyard and so on. MWMW doesn't attempt to disguise this, and is completely upfront about the usual RPG stock locations. More than this, it's made clear, fairly early on, that this world, the locations and quests that each town's mayor will impose on Elis, are designed specifically for her. You see, her father, the king wants to give his daughter anything she wants, and if she wants to be an adventurer, then so be it, she shall have an adventure! But not one that might seriously harm her.
To this end the king tasks his captain of the guards, Nero, with ensuring that Elis learns everything she needs to know, and creating these environments for her to test her mettle. Even the locals have been roped in. Most towns (it varies a bit) have a mayor, an innkeeper, an arms dealer and an item seller, and you soon realise that these are the same people, recycled, as Elis moves from town to town. Her dawning realisation is comic, but she won't be fooled by the more obvious ploys.
Other factors are brought into the mix. A wise owl gives hints and spells for Paro to use, and Fortune Tellers will give advice about where to find things. Also, in a nice addition for those who have played Master of the Monster Lair (MML), the protagonists of that game, Kate and Owen are brought in to build dungeons for Elis to explore. (And only Elis can enter most of these since there is a barrier set up to any male who might attempt to enter, and yes, all major bosses are female too.)
MWMW is really the sequel to that game and the gameplay is pretty much identical, as are many of the enemies and items. Enemies inside dungeons are all visible, and those in the town's maps will appear when you move onto a terrain. Start a battle and you don't see your team, just the enemies, and you can choose from a range of spells or weapon attacks. The battle plays out in turns, depending on speed as to who goes first. You can acquire ice, fire and holy magic and a range of defensive and healing spells, and there are all kinds of weapons which also have a range of elemental effects together with specific things like chain attacks on a knife, and stunning attacks for clubs.
Most of Elis's spells are learned by Paro (but really Paro has no function beyond being a cute parrot). When she is hit by an enemy spell, Paro learns it when she next levels up. This adds a small degree of strategy, since you need to discover which enemies will enable you to learn these spells, and it's no good killing them off too quickly before they get a chance to hurt you. Pinky, being a blob, has no natural abilities at all, and cannot equip weapons until she has learned a weapon skill from an enemy. It's the same with spells and other equipment. After a battle Pinky might be given the option to mimic an enemy's part: legs enable the wearing of boots, body might give you the armour option, and mimic a head to boost MP and enable a spell. You cannot control the offer of mimicking, but you can decide to accept it or not.
What all this means in practice is that Pinky is made up of the sum of her parts, and the stronger enemies she copies, the better chance you have of winning battles. Although this is a fun system, the fact that you cannot control which part is selected to mimic can make it frustrating and you might have to defeat the same enemy many times before you learn that elusive spell or sword skill.
However, the key to success is not just using your Pout Points to make things easier, or copying the best qualities from enemies for Pinky, but eating lots of meals at the inn. In a change from MML, Elis doesn't have to find ingredients for meals, and all you need to do is buy from a range of food on offer at every inn. Each meal will boost various stats, and part of the challenge is to decide what to eat. Will you indulge in Chocolate Muffins to increase your pouting capacity, or Ostrich Steak to increase HP and speed? Of course, buying meals gets expensive and selling off excess items as well as killing enemies, adds to your cash (fetchingly called Gilberts).
In the end, the need to raise more and more money can become a bit of a chore. And this is where the game begins to lose its attraction. You cannot move freely between locations until you've completed the quests which net you the means to open the gate to the next location, and so you can get stuck in one town (with its limited options for food). The arrangement of locations can feel a bit stultifying. Complete one town, move to the next, get more quests, (which range from finding various items or killing a set number of particular monsters) rinse and repeat.
Although there are a number of dungeons, just as in MML, you don't get to make these yourself, and tracking through many complicated floors (5 for the final dungeon) to reach the boss can get tiresome even though you can avoid most encounters. The attractions of changing the terrain of the various town's maps (don't like a marsh area, and you can change it to a desert island!) loses its appeal when you realise that most of the enemies are the same ones you encountered a long time ago, just with increased levels.
However, the design is nicely done, the menu navigation is simple and clear, and the fact that the details of all monsters you've encountered and items you've found are listed for you, adds to the desire to find everything!
This is not a great game, and it's not as good as MML, but it doesn't have any pretensions to be more than it is. Elis is great fun as a lead character, her fearlessness and general disdain for ferocious enemies is cute and funny. One comment to a boss that "All I care about is how many experience points you're worth." should raise a cheer from anyone used to level grinding.
Community review by threetimes (August 12, 2009)
A bio for this contributor is currently unavailable, but check back soon to see if that changes. If you are the author of this review, you can update your bio from the Settings page.
If you enjoyed this My World, My Way review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!