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    2014-06-20

    Mind Zero PS Vita Review



         When it comes to choosing an RPG to play on your PS Vita, you have so many classics to choose from. With several entries from the Final Fantasy series, Chrono Trigger and it's sequel, Persona, Alundra, and so many more, it's difficult to put your faith into trying something new when you can go with something you already trust to be good. You may not have heard much about it, in fact maybe nothing at all, but Mind=0 is definitely a new game you can trust to fill your RPG needs. Mind=0 may have it's flaws, but it's definitely a game any RPG fan will be glad to have in their collection. It starts off slow, but once it gets going, it's difficult to put down.


    Gameplay- 8/10 Mind=0 is an RPG/dungeon crawler, and while a lot of your time will be spent leveling up and preparing for battles, it seems a lot more of your time will be spent talking. The game takes quite a bit of time to get going, and the beginning is full of long stretches of dialogue. This may be a turn off for some, I myself wondered when some action would take place, but it will pick up in time. Once Mind=0 does open up you will be treated to a map with several locations you may choose to visit, with new ones opening up frequently. Most of these are more dialog events, some to just get to know your friends a bit better, and some that will open up side missions. These are, for the most part, optional, and are indicated by green markers, while the story progressing mission is marked in red. There are shops to stock up on items and armor, and stations to travel between different sections of a larger map. Then there are, of course, the dungeons(referred to as the "inner realm"). Once opened, you may freely visit them as much as you like, and I recommend doing so often to level as much as possible, this game picks up in difficulty by the second dungeon. I played on the normal difficulty setting and found it to be a nice challenge. So if you aren't into grinding, and the satisfaction of strengthening and gearing up your characters, this may not be the game for you. There is no real walking around or anything, unless you're dungeon crawling. You choose a location on the map and are either treated to a cut scene of dialog, a shop to buy and sell things, or a dungeon to explore. Exploring dungeons is done in first person, very reminiscent of the Persona games. The majority of battles are invisible random battles, with a few key fights being marked on the map. I found the random encounter rate to be very considerate in how frequent they occur, never feeling like it was too ridiculous, a problem many older games suffered from.. Actual battles use the good old turn based system and are both in first and third person, with you being able to see your characters attacking. The enemy encounters are both fast and fun. You are able to fight physically or by summoning your MIND(Major-Inner-Node-Displacement), which will battle in your place. You may summon or dismiss your MIND at anytime it's your turn, as long as you have the appropriate points to do so(MP-Mind Points). There are a few meters to learn and techniques(skills) to choose from, and while it may seem confusing at first, you'll get the hang of things once you get going. There is plenty of strategy to be found in the battles, learning to utilize your MINDs, since they can only remain in battle for a limited time, is a key part in overcoming the numerous enemy encounters and the key to survival. The same goes for deciding what skills to equip for each area, some adding elemental bonuses that certain enemies have a weakness against. The game does a pretty good job at teaching you each new thing that comes up, and you can review these tips at anytime. You are also given the option to switch to an auto mode in battles, letting the cpu do the work for you. This is really only a smart move for easier fights, as the cpu doesn't always make the best choices, but it is a nice option to have for those long dungeon crawls. When not traversing the corridors of the "Inner Realm" you will be completing side missions and doing more character building(talking). Did I mention there is a lot of chatting in this game? While some of this talking is story related, a lot isn't, besides getting to know characters better, and if you aren't into pointless 5 minute stretches of babble about shopping and such, these parts may seem tedious. Like I said, most of these events are optional, but you may miss out on an item or two if you choose to bypass them. Stores offer a number of items and accessories to purchase and equip, and there is sufficient amount of customization with both armor and skills, giving plenty for the player to do outside of battles.
       
         Control wise I appreciated that you can use both buttons or touch screen anytime throughout the game, leaving it totally up to you to choose what you feel comfortable with. Personally, I felt menus were better navigated by the touch interface, while battle commands and the like were better suited for old fashioned button use. Having the option is really nice, and you don't have to go through menus to change it up.
       The game plays and controls great, and it somehow makes all the grinding seem as if it isn't a chore with fast and exciting battle mechanics. While it still may get tedious, Mind=0 offers a good balance between dungeon crawling and story development, as long as you don't mind learning about the characters you have on your team through long stretches of dialog scenes.




    Story- 7/10 The game tells the story of Kei Takanashi and friends as they discover the existence of another world parallel to our own, along with uncovering the truth about the mysterious MIND occurrences happening throughout the city. While the majority of the public believe MIND to be a drug that messes with the conscious and causes hallucinations, Kei and his crew learn the dark secret of what is really happening. These MINDs are inhabitants of the "inner realm" and are very violent and strong beings that most humans from our world(the "outer realm") would not stand a chance defending against. After certain events unfold, each of our heroes find themselves in the shop of the mysterious Undertaker(not the WWE legend). They are given the task of choosing a weapon among a large arsenal in her unworldly store. Choosing the correct weapon(and there is only one that is correct) will allow them to go on living, but choose the wrong one and it means instant death. One by one the heroes find they have chosen wisely and are allowed to continue on living, but with a catch, these weapons come with a hidden contract. The group now find themselves somehow connected with a MIND of their own, becoming what the game refers to as "Minders". With so many unanswered questions, Kei and friends eventually find themselves helping out a peculiar private eye with the task of defending their world, the "outer realm", against an increasingly number of folks being possessed by these MINDs from the "inner realm", as well as learning more of what is happening around them from him. The game is very story driven, and I don't want to ruin anything for you. Just know, it may start out very slow, but gets pretty interesting with some play time. The story does take many breaks to build character development and to help you learn about everyone a little better. Some of these pauses don't make much sense and could have been timed better. Why would someone want to go shopping for socks in the middle of a mission to track down a MIND terrorizing a park? Some of them do work into the story much better, such as a character wanting to test out equipment in a nearby dungeon.
       
    The characters you will come to know throughout the story are very typical anime personalities, but are all very likable. You get the brooding teen, who seems older than he is. The high school girl that sounds and acts like a 10 year old. Don't forget the wacky teen male who's all about the fun in life, contrasted by the serious, hot headed teen girl who is strong and tomboyish and likes to smack him every now and then for being a fool. It's all there, and while you've seen the types before, I personally found all the characters to be rather fun and enjoyed the interactions they have with each other. The story is very well written, and even at it's silliest moments, keeps you interested enough to continue on. Story and characters are two of the most important parts of any RPG, and Mind=0 delivers well on both of those aspects.




    Replay- 2/10 The game is definitely worth a play through, but there isn't much to make you want to continue after that. There are plenty of trophies to find if that's your thing. I found the game a bit too dialog heavy to want to play it again anytime soon, but having a good RPG in your library is always nice to come back to at some point. It's a RPG,  a good one will take time to play through, and Mind=0 is one of them. Replay really comes down to how much you enjoyed it and how soon you want to experience it again. I feel replay with any game of this type is rather low, even with a Game+ option. An RPG should last long enough as it is, very few invoke an immediate replay. The real question is will this stand the test of time, will you come back to this as you would Chrono Trigger or Xenogears? Personally, I say no. While I really enjoyed playing through the game, I can't see myself one day ever saying, "Huh, you know what I feel like playing... Mind=0". This feeling doesn't effect my score though, as some games are just like that. Mind=0 is still a great game, especially if you're looking for a new RPG to get into, it just isn't legendary.





    Graphics/sound- 5/10 I found the graphics quite lackluster in this game. Characters outside of battle are just cardboard cut outs, with very little to no animations. While they are very nicely drawn, the lack of movement does stick out. This annoys me in these types of games, while they work, it just seems a waste of what the Vita is capable of. When a character says something like "look at this" and is supposed to be showing you something, there is nothing on screen. That really bothers me, if someone is supposed to be holding, say a hat, then draw a hat in, I don't see why that's so difficult. There are times when a character will hit another character, except they aren't, they're just standing there, I guess you're just supposed to use your imagination... When you do see your team battling inside the dungeons, they are nicely animated, along with the enemies they battle. The graphics still aren't up to Vita standards, but at least they are moving around, with all the attacks and skills being satisfying to watch as the battles play out. Dungeons themselves are severely lacking in detail. We're talking early PS2 here, barren corridors with no life, and very little detail. Graphic wise, the only thing that separates this from a PSP game is the touch control, and I expect a bit more than that on the PS Vita.
        On the other hand, the music is quite good, with a lot of catchy tunes. I was really surprised by this, anime type soundtracks usually aren't my thing. Don't get me wrong, there are those quirky obnoxious tracks, but for the most part the tunes are very fitting, especially during the dungeon parts, and that's where you'll be spending a lot of gameplay time. The sound effects are typical of a RPG game, nothing too special or anything that stands out. The voice work, I thought, was really a highlight. Speaking of, I highly recommend choosing the Japanese voices over the English ones, I found the English voice work not as well done and somewhat silly at times. It's not horrible by any means, just, I felt the Japanese voices were much better acted. Whichever you choose(you have the option every time you start up your game), you'll be treated to fully voiced dialog throughout the game, which is always nice. Both, the English and Japanese voice cast put a lot of care into this game, especially considering how much dialog there is. A nifty little feature I really appreciated was the ability to have the dialog scenes auto scroll through so you don't have to press the button or tap the screen to keep the scene going. Even with all the dialog, as the game went on I didn't mind it so much, there were even scenes I found myself laughing out loud.
       In the end, while I am annoyed by so many details left out of the stale graphics, Mind=0 offers enough in other departments to make up for it, and keep you playing. It's an RPG, in a genre that commonly uses super deformed sprites, I guess I can't complain too much about looks. The music isn't Final Fantasy quality, but it still does the job and sets the mood just fine.

        Mind=0 is a very enjoyable game, if you can get past the first hour or so of the slow story. It's a solid game to have in your collection and if you enjoy leveling up and outfitting your team with the best gear you will get a lot out of playing it. The game picks up in difficulty rather quickly, and by the third dungeon you will find yourself needing to grind to get your chosen team up to par. If this doesn't sound fun to you, you may want to skip this game. I loved it, and found I missed a nice challenge.  With more and more games of this type making it simple to get through without much effort on leveling, it's good to see some true old school grinding games still being made.The story is just intriguing enough to keep you interested, even if there are a number of seemingly pointless dialog scenes, they are still well written and nicely voiced. Like I said, most of those are optional, so you could skip them, but to get the most out of the game I suggest sitting through them. Sometimes you'll be rewarded with an item, but most times they are for character development only, and maybe a chuckle or two. If I have any complaints, it's the lack of detail in the graphic department. I know it's a pet peeve, but little things such as objects on screen add so much to a game, especially when the graphic style isn't much to begin with. If you are a fan of RPG's and dungeon crawlers, I highly suggest picking this game up, as you will not be disappointed in what it has to offer. It can get tedious at times, but fans of the genre know exactly what to expect. This is not an easy game, and it will take a good amount of time to play through. That's a good thing considering there isn't much replay value here. While it may not take advantage of the Vita's power, it still is a great game in it's expanding library, and if you're looking for a lengthy, challenging adventure, this is a solid buy. I love these types of games and I'm glad to have come across this. It may not be epic in the world of RPGs, but it's definitely worth a play through.




    Gameplay- 8/10
    Story- 7/10
    Replay- 2/10
    Graphics/Sound- 5/10
    Overall- 7/10

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    Item Reviewed: Mind Zero PS Vita Review Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Gabriel Watkins
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