I can’t tell you how many hours I spent wide-eyed and cross-legged in front of my barely working tube TV in my room. The Playstation 1 whirred semi-silently next to me while I clicked the controls on my controller. I was too young to ‘fully’ grasp the concept of Digimon, let alone how to take care of them to get the ‘perfect’ results for digivolution. Balance that with the meticulous care-taking (feeding, sleeping, pooping) and I was a pretty crappy (pun intended) Digimon tamer. File Island was absolutely screwed when I was at the helm.
BUT MY REDEMPTION HAS COME.
(It only took 17~ years).
Bandai has released Digimon games of varying styles, from the live combat weapon style of Digmon World 4, for the Gamecube, and the handheld turn-based DS Games (Digimon World DS, Digimon World Dawn, Digimon World Dusk) but there has never been a game akin to the first Digimon World. What set it apart (aside from the care-taking aspect and rebirth) was the battle style. There was an element of control for the player in these other games. Definitely not for Digimon World. You could ‘Command’ your ‘Mons to use an attack but it was up to them whether they used it when the enemy was in range or if they even used it at all. As you grow in level it gets easier but for a beginner it was an absolute slog.
This turned off many players who come from other genre games, such as Final Fantasy, Pokemon, and other turn-based RPG’s. Digimon World: Next Order is the first glance, and a fantastic love note, to the original Digimon game that started it all.
There are a few quality of life changes that make the game ‘easier’ than it’s predecessor. A tiredness stat that you can track, an upgrade-able gym that you can easily track/plan training, the lack of the ‘brain’ stat, and the fact that the digivolution requirements ARE GIVEN TO YOU. I can’t tell you how many snacks I had to give out at lunch to find out the numbers I needed for my Agumon to digivolve into Greymon. I still never managed it, to be honest.
Playing Next Order flooded me with an extreme wash of emotion and nostalgia. Aside from making it slightly easier, it is a perfect companion to Digimon World. There is a level of respect for the system and with the added Digimon (Always love me some BanchoLeomon) the possibilities seem relatively endless. Rebirth into digi-eggs never felt like the game was going to end because I had to start over. The Gym made it easy to grind and after a few hours of gameplay my City was looking pretty fantastic. As you convince Digimon to come back to the City they add something of use, whether it is a job or items per day. Even Numemon has a use. It felt like forever to get an Item Shop in the first game, whereas you get it pretty early on in Next Order. Auto Pilots and Porta-Potties FTW. When you would approach an important point that would move the story along, or more importantly contained a boss battle, it was marked on the map and visually where you’d walk to on the ground. It cheekily reminds me of Pop Team Epic concerning their conversation about boss battles. Compared to Digimon World you have plenty of time to prepare for boss battles. They’re never sprung at you.
As far as games go, Next Order is easier and more enjoyable. There is an obvious difference in the graphics (the game came out in the US when I was 6) and there are many, many more Digimon available compared to the first installment. Next Order builds upon the Digimon empire and gives a very respectful nod to the mechanics that made up the game. Given that this is the first game of it’s kind since the North American release of Digimon World in 2000, it’s an excellent game to carry the torch. Even grinding out levels was enjoyable and I felt like I redeemed the many File Cities that crashed and burned under my 6-10 year old cheeto-dust stained hands.
While the first two Digimon I got when I first started weren’t ‘ideal’ or the ones from the show, the game helped me explore alternative Digimon I never would have wanted or thought to have gotten. Show Digimon are practically time/rebirth locked so that you get to play things that are lower-tier in popularity. Forever love to Ranger and Reaver ❤
I do not believe that Metacritic was fair with the 68/100 rating. RPGFan rated 5/10 as well. Playstation Lifestyle rated 8/10, which is a much fairer score. This game is unlike any other game on the market and if you did not play the original Digimon World the premise and style may be a bit harder to catch on to. If you are not prepared to have a notebook with scribbled stats for your favored Digimon or willing to spend a while in the Gym grinding out stats for Digimon you may dislike, it could rub you the wrong way to begin with. Stick with it, the game is absolutely worth the kick in the nostalgia.
Tyger Score: 8.5/10