Hey look, I finally reviewed a newly released game in a timely manner. Guess I’m cool, now. This the the roughest draft, but it’s pretty short for me (about 1 3/4 pages long).
I’m not shy to admit my bias towards Atlus. Any time I play a game developed or localized by Atlus, the likelihood that I’ll hate it is about as certain as the law of gravity. So, here’s My World, My Way, a pretty BAD game developed by Global A, and localized by Atlus. Here’s the kicker, though: the game is great.
Before you think that I’m psycho and close this page, consider what I’m saying. Haven’t you ever played a game that was bad on most accounts, but something about its charm kept you playing? Conversely, I’m sure you must have played a game that had no glaringly bad design decisions, but was so boring that you wanted to just kill yourself. This is what I’m talking about - the exception, not the rule, where a bad game is enjoyable.
Usually, while it’s hard to say exactly why said bad games are so good, it’s easy to give you the answer with My World, My Way. This is a game that makes fun of all the really stupid, tired conventions of JRPGs that people take for granted. from the minute details like all townsfolk looking the same, to the random acts of do-goodery that traditional JRPG heroes partake in - you know, like how they stop at every town and fix the town’s monster problems, electrical problems, zombie problems, or what have you, even though it has little to no relevance to the point of their quest? Yeah, My World, My Way, makes fun of it all.
The tragic irony of this is, in order to make fun of all the worst aspects of the JRPG genre’s gameplay, it necessitates having to BE a bad RPG. In order to satirize something, you have to become it. Satire - as I’ve discovered by playing this game - works a lot better when the object of satire is a story. When satirizing gameplay, you have to faithfully execute all the bad parts, which means you get SEVERAL bad gameplay aspects, as opposed to just a few.
Thankfully, My World, My Way plays the martyr of being a bad game, and does it with so much style that it knocked me off my feet. You are Elise, a teenage princess who has everything she wants in life - except for a handsome boyfriend. When she meets the man of her dreams, she gets quickly blown off. See, this guy is an adventurer, and the idea of marrying a girl who has never had to work for anything in her life - and wants to accompany him on an adventure, no less - sounds like a joke! So, Elise forsakes her life as an unbelievably spoiled princess, and begins her life as an unbelievably spoiled adventurer.
The main gimmick of My World, My Way lies in Elise’s ability to pout until she gets her way. Funnily enough (and I mean it, it’s very funny), Elise’s pouting is so potent that she can actually bend the entire world to fit her will. If she pouts enough, weapon shops will carry more products. If she needs to find grapes in the forest, she can pout until the desert land she occupies becomes a forest. She can pout her way past fighting enemies, needing keys for treasure chests, or even completing quests altogether.
If this game has any real flaw, it’s that the game is astonishingly too long. I beat the game in about 25 hours, and I think that the same got dry in the last stretch (the game is divvied into four chapters). I suppose one could make the argument that it was satirizing JRPGs’ game length, but given that the game makes fun of the more archaic aspects of RPGs that remain present in today’s RPGs, it seems like a really inappropriate thing to do. The funny thing is, I’ve read at least one review of this game criticising its short length.
Now, I don’t write editorials, so allow me this small rant: We’re in a really sad time where gamers feel like they’re entitled to a certain game length. Does anyone remember when games cost seventy dollars, but the RPGs were priced the same as say, Mega Man, which could be beat in like an hour or two? Why do people think that money spent should be proportional to length these days? On the DS, you can pay HALF the price of those old games, and 25 hours is still something to complain about? And really, since when have you played a really GREAT RPG with SUCH a great story and gameplay that you could handle playing it for such a long time? I can count the number of RPGs that exceed forty hours that I looked back in retrospect and said “Man, that was time well-spent” on one hand. When a game boasts that it has eighty hours of gameplay, I weep. Imagine if a movie boasted that it had over fourteen hours of footage. Imagine how much of it would be inane and AGONIZINGLY boring. If a game calls for brevity, why not be happy with it being brief? Otherwise, you can just enough copies of Xenogears to fill your shelf and call it a day.
Anyways, the point I’m laboring at is that this is the worst flaw I’m willing to levy against this game. There are other minor ones, like how the dialogue sequences could have been a little funnier if they were used to slightly better potential. Elise repeats a lot of the same jokes, but there’s one example that stands out in my mind: The manner in which Elise “learns” and “uses” magic spells in this game is downright hysterical. However, the way it’s discovered is so much more mundane, than if Elise had, perhaps, found out on accident? There’s also the 3D graphics, which look hysterically bad, though I don’t think that was meant as satire. The game makes no good use of three dimensions, so I don’t have much of an idea why they went with 3D. The only idea I have is that I’ve heard that the 3D models for the monsters were taken straight out of a different game by Global A, which might have saved them a lot of time in creating assets for the game. If that’s not why they did it, I have no idea why.
I suppose I should talk about the gameplay now…My World, My Way, is a traditional JRPG through and through. Sure, there are some aberrations from the traditional style, but a lot of them are inconsequential; so, let’s spend more time talking about the big deals. For example, Elise’s pouting works with a special sort of points called “Pout Points” which can be used at any time, but can only be regenerated at an inn. Other than that, you have a slime that joins your party - named Pinky - which can ‘mimic’ body parts of the monsters it defeats, assuming their stats, their skills, and even their ability to use equipment. While this is by no means a new concept (SaGa series, anyone?), it’s a neat way to make the game a little more interesting, as leveling up Pinky requires much less time and grinding than Elise.
Also, there’s this system where you can eat one meal per each time you rest at an Inn, and each meal will permanently raise Elise’s stats. This is a very game-breaking aspect, for one reason: As you reach a new world, new meals become available at these worlds. The meals at all the old inns from previous worlds remain the same, though. The problem is, when doing price comparisons for meals, the meals from the earliest towns are always the most cost-effective ways to use your money. I suppose the idea was that the prices went up proportionally with the amount of money you could earn, but since you can always go back to the first towns and get cheaper meals, there’s no point in buying the ones in later towns. I mean, why should I buy the meal that costs 3200 Gold and raises my Constitution by 2, when I could go to a town in the first world where there’s a meal that costs 1000 Gold and raises my CON and Max HP by 1? For 2000 Gold, I’ve not only raised my CON by 2, but my Max HP by 2, meaning I payed 1200 less gold for BETTER stat gains. The end result is that you can buff the hell out of Elise without having to really worry about leveling up at all.
What else? As I mentioned, the game is 25 hours, but it would get a lot less stale by the end if it were just short of 20 hours (let’s face it, it’s a fun idea, and I wanted to see it through, but the reality of the situation is that I’m playing a BAD game, and it gets old). The music and graphics are typical anime-style that you would imagine, with a slightly poppy, feminine edge to the music. Perhaps it’s generic, but isn’t that oddly appropriate for the game’s style?
I came into this review with hardly any idea of what to expect, and I feel a little more bewildered now that I’m done. The game was on almost all accounts, terrible. And yet, it was as if the game was aware of itself the whole time, which makes it so stylish and cool while pulling off all the terrible gameplay decisions. If you’ve read this review and are confused as to whether or not I’m recommending this game, well…so am I. It’s a game I wish I could make people play, but simultaneously, the thought of making someone play through it makes me cringe. I guess if the mystique of such a good bad game is weirdly intriguing, then try this game out, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. It’s worth it but not worth it at the same time. Still, I’d like to think this review was favorable, so allow me to end it with a compliment: My World, My Way is definitely the best commercial satirical RPG I’ve ever played, and, as the sort of frou-frou ‘games as art’ kinda guy that I am, I’m sad to say that this is probably the last time any developer will try this sort of thing in a long time. Maybe it’s for the better, but I’m happy to have played My World, My Way.