🎮 Disc Creatures
Written by Renkon2023年 10月 24日
It would be impossible to talk about Disc Creatures without first mentioning Pokémon, especially its first generation of games. Disc Creatures by Satto of Picorinne Soft is a creature-collecting game, and much like in Pokémon, it has you catching and battling monsters using rock-paper-scissors type matching for the creatures and moves. And it uses a limited color palette and chiptune music to evoke old GameBoy games. The title screen and its color palette are almost surely designed to immediately evoke memories of loading up Pokémon Red/Green/Blue.
But these homages, while charming to encounter, do not make up the heart of Disc Creatures. This game strikes out on its own right from the start. Instead of aiming to defeat everyone and become the Pokémon Champion, here you are a Disc Ranger (shortened to DiscR) who takes on quests to help the various people and creatures of the world. And instead of sending your monsters out one by one, you instead have a team of three creatures to coordinate attacks together. Even the fact that the creatures of this world can talk and work together with humans adds an interesting dimension to the world. Disc Creatures is less about being the very best like no-one ever was, and more about teamwork and building community.
I really enjoyed the writing and humor in this game. Early on, you enter a haunted forest that seems to go on forever, with so many creepy trees and ghosts. Finally, you arrive at a cafe, Disc Creatures' equivalent of the Pokémon Center. There is an ordinary man standing in front, and this is the one screen in the forest that looks to be free of ghosts. When you go inside to heal, the person behind the counter looks kind and friendly as usual; but the instant you turn around, her face darkens and her eyes are two bright red points in her empty face. When you go outside, the ordinary man is suddenly and inexplicably five times taller. It's just so weird! There are tons of little visual gags peppered throughout the game, and they add so much charm and wonder. I spent a lot of time poring over every square inch trying to tease out all the secret reactions or dialogue.
The battle system also deserves special mention here. I enjoy a meaty turn-based system, and Disc Creatures delivers. Each creature has one or two types, such as Water, Fire, Magic, and so on. They also learn moves of various types, and you can equip up to four moves on each creature. Each type has their strengths and weaknesses, and they are usually intuitive. Using a Water attack on a Fire creature will be, as they say, super effective, whereas the reverse is not.
But the rub here is that you will be fighting three-on-three battles, meaning you will need to plan and strategize what creatures to bring with you and what moves they will use when setting out on a mission. There is a lot of mix-and-matching you can do here, since your creatures do not forget or overwrite moves, but merely equip or unequip them from your menu. Your creatures also have an innate ability, so it can be worth it to catch (or install, rather) different creatures of the same species to add even more options to your battle repertoire.
Your creatures need energy to use their moves, and if their supply runs out, they will need to leave themselves open to attack by recharging for one turn. Knowing when to go all-out with your expensive attacks and knowing when to be more conservative leads to battles that feel strategic and deliberate. I especially enjoyed the boss fights. They have far larger health pools than normal enemies and telegraph their attacks, letting you plan out your course of action. Taking them down can be tough but were incredibly satisfying.
Disc Creatures uses an episode structure to tell its story, and most of them start out with you accepting jobs from the DiscR board. This means you are frequently returning to your starting town and seeing how things grow and change in your community. There are quests where you need to help clean up toxic waste, or deal with a doppelganger playing pranks. Some of the quests can also get quite dark and deal with serious topics like bullying and poaching. For all the limitations of the GameBoy-like graphics, there is so much life and vibrancy to this world.
I highly recommend checking out Disc Creatures if you can. The English localization is excellent, and retains all the charm and humor of the original Japanese. And for those who have already played it and want more, the follow-up Disc Creatures World is currently in development! I cannot wait to dive back into this world and burn more creatures to disc!