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(Review) Moco Moco Friends for the 3DS
Moco Moco Friends is a 3DS game by Aksys, same guys behind Guilty Gear and BlazBlue. Thing is, Moco Moco isn't a fighting game, it's yet another entry into the thankless genre of "monster-raising RPGs that are not Pokémon". It was probably more meant to compete with Yokai Watch, though I don't imagine it'll gain all that much traction. What's unfortunate is, I actually like this game for its art style, but this game can't compare to Pokémon by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe it's not such a good idea to be constantly comparing the new kid to what you've already got, but I really think Moco Moco has way more potential than it looks. We just need to get more developers to realize what made Pokémon work out so well, and go from there.

Moco Moco puts a spin on the classic formula of befriending and training monsters for battle by making all the monsters PLUSH TOYS. That was pretty much the main draw of it for me, as I love cutesy plush animals, bright pink colors and sugar-high kawaii desu, and the monster designs are really nice, too. Heck, the starter is an even better Pikaclone than what Game Freak comes up with these days. Look at her, she's everything Dedenne wanted to be! Moco Moco has 120 of these "Plushkins" (named "Muppets" in Japan. Make any joke you want) to collect and raise, with 15 secret Plushkins available if you punch in a secret password.

However, therein lies the first problem: 135 monsters. Not really a whole lot; typical monster battlers tend to have way more on their first outing, and not just Pokémon, either. They're all part of 3-stage evolution lines, too, so that's basically only 45 Plushkins. Generation 1 had around 80 or more fully evolved Pokémon. Also, Moco Moco abuses palette swaps way too much; there are too many Plushkins that look alike except for minor design or color changes, including evolutions. There are like 12 evolution lines that give the "I ran out of ideas so let's recolor the same Plushkin ten times with a different element each" vibe, which is a crying shame. I'm beginning to wonder if they should contract furry artists to design their monsters, at least you'd get something creative.

The plot isn't much to write home about either. Dialogue tends to drag on as each character basically gets an anime stereotype that defines them for most of the game, though not nearly to the offensive extent we saw in the 3DS Fire Emblem games. The main character is always sleepy and always hungry (her spell incantations involve food for crying out loud!) and her friends consist of a happy-go-lucky nature nut, a shy, sheltered shut-in, and a hot-headed cat lady who looks like Rin Kaenbyou (aka Hell's Traffic Accident) from Touhou Project. I don't exactly know what to expect from a game about fighting plush toys, but it would help if they'd at least get a little more creative.

As for the gameplay, what you're looking at is a kind of mystery dungeon game where you have one single town acting as a hub, and you access all the dungeons from there. Kind of like Azure Dreams or Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. The dungeons themselves are way, WAY too bland, however; I've yet to see even a single dungeon be longer than THREE WHOLE FLOORS. And there's way too few enemies on each floor, usually you find items and little else. No traps, no terrain, no weather...oh, but don't worry, the game's balanced pretty well as far as the EXP curve goes. I think the super-short dungeons are that way because they don't want to glue people to the screen for too long, but you could just close the 3DS, that pauses any game no matter what.

So dungeons are bland, but combat offers something a little intriguing. Moco Moco employs a 3 vs. 3 turn-based battle system, and you can speed up the animations to a fairly nice pace. Plushkin have melee and magic attacks, and what's interesting is, MP is shared by the party and it regenerates every round. That means if one Plushkin is going to use a powerful magic attack you might not have the MP to heal. Plushkin can learn up to 3 moves in addition to a physical attack, they can learn passive abilities, and of course level up and evolve. There are moves that buff or lower stats, there are status effects, and multi-targeting moves. An elemental system is in place, but it's the blandest system ever; there are just FIVE types: the Grass, Fire, and Water triangle, and Light and Dark, which beat each other for some reason. Compared to Pokémon with the MASSIVE variety of types and abilities in that game, battles aren't that intense and exciting, but it's at the very least playable.

The weird thing about this game is that it seems to want to be an iOS game. It's certainly simplistic enough for mobile platforms, and it is just the kind of game that would shamelessly employ microtransactions: In this game, you can craft items out of materials, but you don't actually CRAFT per se; you toss the materials to make a certain kind of item in a blender sewing machine and you get a random item of that type. This goes for healing items, equipment, battle items, even evolution items! Which you need to evolve! And not only are the items random, it is also random whether you recruit a Plushkin after beating it. The item that increases the odds is fairly uncommon, and the other option for getting more Plushkins is to use yarn items to summon a random Plushkin.

What also annoyed me is that when you do eventually evolve, after all that work to meet the level and item requirements, evolution resets your level. Stats are derived from your level, unlike Fire Emblem, so you really are back to square one here. It's actually more efficient to just recruit evolved Plushkin instead of leveling them. One time, I evolved my Needlemound into Pinmound and then summoned a random Plushkin. It turned out to be Pinmound. You can save-scum any random item crafting or Pluskin summoning, though, so it's not too bad. This game seems MADE for microtransactions, and yet there aren't any, which is certainly a good thing, but geez! Oh, and the starter evolves at certain plot points, so leveling her up is actually a waste of time since the game actually sets her to a decent level after evolving. But wait, if you can do that for the starter, why not everyone else aaaagh

So yeah, that's Moco Moco Friends. I'm gonna finish the game and get all the Plushkin just to say I did, but the unrealized potential is very disappointing. If you can get it at a bargain or something there's no real reason not to give it a try, though. Especially considering the developer donated some of their profit to charity when the game came out - it's nice to see developers doing that on occasion in the wake of the money-grubbing lately.
I haven't even heard of Moco Moco Friends, and legitimately did a quick search after reading all this. I have to say the art style is actually pretty damn cute and I would buy the game myself just because of that cutesy style. Seems like a nice game to play every once and a while when trying to get out of routine. Actually, this seems like the type of game I would play after having an awful day. I cannot imagine anyone playing this game pissed off and or sad, it really looks impossible with this much cute shit on the screen.
I have the awful habit of saying puns at the wrong time. Feel free to slap me if I do, I deserve the...

( •_•) ( •_•)>⌐□-□ (⌐□_□)

Maybe we should make a mod for it adding stuff, and make a rin joke in their too.
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It'd be easier to make a clone of it considering how standard the battle system is.
I guess so, make it the exact same except for name.
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Okay, the characters in this game are officially dumber than Andy from Advance Wars.

"What's a Barrier?" she says.
Na andys dumber, he becomes rivals with a person who's specialty is airplanes.
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So now that I'm balls deep into the gameplay I figured I'd brief everyone on the game mechanics in detail so they have a leg up when they start the game.

To start, Plushkin are all ranked D, C, B, A, or S. The higher-ranked Pluskin are objectively better in every way (That's right, the D-rank cannon fodder you'll recruit lots of are all completely inferior!) so your main team should consist of only Plushkin that are rank B in their lowest stage since they'll evolve to A and then S. Luckily the starter starts at B rank...but don't bother leveling her up at all until she reaches her final form, because both her evolutions are triggered by the plot, and as stated, level resets when you evolve.

As for item crafting, all you really need are Evolve items and Assist items. The rest can either be bought or don't have much of an impact on your play. Regular crafting materials can be bought at the store, but the "Plus" materials can only be found in dungeons. You'll know them when you see them because the material will shimmer. In dungeons, you will find seeds which are planted in the garden to make cloth. If you get a "Plus" seed, plant it ONLY in the shimmering flower pot, or else you won't get a "Plus" cloth out of it. And you need this to craft the rarer items.

To help find what you're looking for, there are six dungeons that have ONLY a particular material, but they're only available at random; if the dungeon you want isn't there, check back in half an hour since that's how often they change.

If you only want to clear the game, of course, you could just ignore all that and grind up levels. The starter is good enough to carry you the whole game, and some decent backup to keep her alive can't hurt, either. If you want to collect all the Plushkin...hoo boy. Okay. You have two options when getting new Plushkin: Evolving what you have, or just recruiting the evolved forms.

The former takes LOTS of leveling up, depending on rank. D to C takes 20 levels, C to B takes 30 levels, B to A takes 40 levels, and A to S takes 50 levels. Oh, and you also need Evolve items. The requirements are always view-able, and if crafting goes bad, remember that every element of RNG can be save-scummed. Speaking of which, recruiting simply requires beating an enemy and hoping they join you, and you have two ways to increase your odds: Heart items, and fighting in a "Plushkin Fever" dungeon. This is extremely unreliable, but you'll have to at least recruit the unevolved forms.

One thing more. There are five secret dungeons consisting of nothing but the boss that you can only visit once a day. To unlock these, punch in the passwords listed on GameFAQs.

Only 65 more Plushkin to go in my collection~

EDIT: 53 to go. What the hell kind of Pokémon clone saves like 15 monsters for the last three dungeons? The game is already over by then!

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