|Posted by Morpheel on October 7, 2017 at 5:30 PM|
Hello, Guru Morpheel here to talk about Mononoke Forest by Gamedo Inc. for the 3DS. With a name like that, you might be wondering just what is this game about and... That's an excellent question, actually! If I had to describe Mononoke Forest in a few words, I would say it's a city management game where you build the city by throwing Pokemon-esque creatures, called Mononoke, around. Yes, it is as weird as it sounds.
But, what are the Mononoke? Well, the best way to describe them is, they are spirits of nature that feed on the happiness of humans; the happier they are, the better the Mononoke feel. Each kind of Mononoke has different abilities and powers over the environment, when paired with the right partner they can do a variety of things, like cleaning up the land, making grass grow or attracting wildlife, among many other things. There's also an antagonistic group of them known as Pest Mononoke, which instead feed on the unhappiness of humans. A third subset of Mononoke, known as Great Mononokes, are able to create a substance known as Cororoke; they are important, because Cororoke powers up the regular Mononokes considerably, without Cororoke, the Mononoke are almost powerless.
Our story begins in a land that has been ravaged by Pest Mononoke and left in a very dire state. Now without a Great Mononoke to provide a supply of Cororoke, the few remaining Mononoke can do very little to help the surviving humans that populate their village. One day by coincidence, an amnesiac Mononoke capable of producing Cororoke appears in town, which renews the possibility of cleaning up the place and attract new Mononoke to help develop the village again. As you clean and develop the town, new kinds of Mononoke start to appear, which gives you new tools to make the town a better place to live. Better living conditions means happy humans, happy humans means happy Mononoke. Of course, happy humans also means unhappy Pest Mononoke. The evil Pests will visit the town every now and then to try and hamper your progress. They are very powerful and can be debastating if left unchecked.
Ok so, that's the story, but how's the game? Well, as I mentioned, the main gameplay mechanic involves throwing groups of Mononoke around. During the day you can explore the town on the top screen and do various things on the bottom screen, from reading an encyclopedia to forming your party of Mononoke, among other things. To start the night sequences, which is where you actually get to play the game, you need to select a quest or tap the moon icon, this will initiate the action in the sector of town you have on the top screen. During the night, you now have your party of Mononoke in the touch screen, drag a lone Mononoke to another one and they will form a group. Depending on the members, the group may have a certain power, you can only bring five Mononoke with you, so it's important to learn the effective combinations. You also have Cororoke available, drag one to a Mononoke that doesn't have one equiped and now the area of effect of that group is increased, the more Cororoke in a group, the better the effect. While your Mononoke take some time to return to the touch screen, other Mononoke will be flying around on the top screen, they may decide to drop down for you to use, and you can make them fall by knocking them with a group, but they will leave if you ignore them too long. You have a limited number of throws per night, run out and the night is over.
Throwing the groups of Mononoke involves placing your stylus over the group and dragging it down, like a slingshot. The angle of your stylus directly affects the angle of the throw and it can be very spotty, sometimes you will accidentally fling your team in the wrong direction while trying to move them, other times you will end up messing the shot while lifting the stylus and hit the wrong square of the map with them. The game is overall very forgiving, but if you consider that this is how you ultimately design the town, getting the wrong thing in the wrong place can really end up runing your plans, which can be frustrating.
As you may expect, your ultimate goal is making a perfect town. In addition to the designing aspect of the game, you also have several metrics to keep an eye on: Evironment, Happiness, Wealth, Health, Food, Moral and Education. These all range from -100 to 100, and they all start at the worst rating. If you want to keep the town in a good state, you need to keep an eye on several factors that may affect several of them, for example, the season may affect the sources of food, which may decrease moral, which in turn will make the humans litter more, which will decrease health and evironment, and so on. It all sounds a lot more complicated than it really is, and can make the game feel overwhelming at times.
As you progress through the main quests, every now and then you will be visited by a Pest Mononoke, during every new day they will do something bad, like throwing bags of grabage around. To prevent them from staying too long, you need to fight them. Fights work very similar to the regular night stages, with the main difference being that you now have a time limit instead of a throw limit, and you can throw individual Mononoke at them. Unfortunately, they are very very strong, and your Mononoke are very very weak, combined with the ridiculously short time limit, they're guaranteed to take you several nights to fend off, which means you'll also spend several nights fixing their mess. Thankfully, the Mononoke do get a bit stronger as they grow.
Presentation-wise, the game sports some very nice and coloful graphics, the Mononoke in their various forms are cute and the many options you have available make it possible to create some very nice looking cities. The music is fitting and unobtrusive, which is nice. The various menus and options can get a bit hard to navigate, but it's nothing too bad, and you don't usually need to mess around too much, outside of a visit to the encyclopedia every now and then to check Mononoke combinations.
This game proves to be a bit overwhelming at times, and while the gameplay is extremely simple and easy to understand, it can also be a bit spotty. However, this is a very compete package with tons of things to do and many little objectives to work towards, like filling the encyclopedia, getting achievements, leveling up your Mononoke, and stuff like that, so if you enjoy the game, there's a ton of content for you. Witnessing your town grow and thrive is extremelly satisfiying, but if you're looking for a relaxing stroll in the forest, you could end up bitten by a Pest Mononoke.
I give it 7 Cororoke out of 10.