Denpa Men leads you on the pretty path of least resistance.
Denpa Men are curious creatures. A disarming hybrid of Pikmin and the Nintendo Mii figure, these odd characters come together under your supervision to conquer numerous dungeons and vanquish evil.
The eShop RPG’s augmented reality mechanic, which allows you to pluck the titular Men from their home on the radio waves, is only a means to the game's far-off end. While initially used to put together a modest team to conquer the game's early dungeons, this AR capture system exists to complement the game's most notable quality: a streamlined approach to difficulty, death, and progress.
With no-frills gameplay that could serve as the dictionary definition of "dungeon crawling," playing and succeeding The Denpa Men requires more patience than strategic input. The game takes measures that ensure a steady, if often dry, experience throughout, even in the face of stronger opposition. In any given dungeon, your party of up to eight battles through floors of enemies with the intent of reaching and defeating the final boss. To combat the strengths and weaknesses of foes, you can catch and select Men of differing qualities and skills to send into battle, with the additional option to buy and tweak equipped items and clothing (different patterns of which can provide different buffs for the wearer).
With those decisions made, your Men enter the game’s myriad simplistic turn-based battles. At the outset of each encounter, you can dictate the actions of each Man separately (ideally to take direct advantage of a skill or item), or issue an auto-fight order that utilizes any present skills for the round. Send out the broad command after a damaging enemy attack, and the default party leader will use his revival ability to bring back a defeated comrade, or another Man will heal a party member with particularly low health. The game's shallow approach to dungeon crawling comes with the baggage of frequent and repetitive encounters, and though it occasionally behooves you to get into the specifics of each Man’s action, this one-button option helps somewhat in mitigating their ponderousness and lubricating the game's one-note grind.
In its design, The Denpa Men is somewhat comparable to a box of crayons: the contents are inviting and colorful, but limited in what they can create. Though eager and accessible, The Denpa Men suffers from a lack of meaningful direction or outlet for its otherwise interesting characters. The game includes some modest systems in the periphery of its simplistic RPG gameplay, but they all lead back into an unchanging core gameplay the game stretches over dungeon after dungeon, often testing your resolve to grind through the area more than it does the competence of your strategy or team.
The Denpa Men could be considered "old school" in this way, a quality that may make the downloadable game an appealing distraction to some, but its surplus of unchanging RPG content drags on the novelty of the experience with time. Like any crayon, The Denpa Men quickly becomes dull.