Video Game: The Denpa Men
I see Radio People...
A series of unconventional RPGs for the Nintendo 3DS
, made by Genius Sonority
. Known in Japan as Denpa Ningen no RPG
—roughly, "Radio People RPG." But what is
a Denpa Man or Radio Person, and why are they RPG-ing? Ah, there's the rub.
As the story goes, the airwaves in our world are populated with strange little guys called "Denpa Men." Denpa Men come in many different colors, shapes, and sizes, with different skills available to them. Normal people can't see them, but if you so happen to use the "camera" feature on your 3DS, you can spot them and catch them! Denpa Men don't mind being caught. They kinda like meeting new people, actually. If you get enough of them, you can amass a party. And if you get together a strong enough party, you can enter the Tower of Evil to defeat the Evil King!
There may not be much story to speak of, but The Denpa Men
focuses more on mechanics than story. It incorporates augmented reality "hunting" mechanics with a streamlined RPG experience, full of party building, dungeon crawling, and battling lots of unique-looking enemies. The game's randomly generated party members means that there's a truly vast number of ways to go about building your party, and you'll need to balance your skills and abilities to make a team capable of taking down the Evil King!
In late September 2012, a sequel was released in Japan, titled Denpa Ningen no RPG 2
. It came to the West on May 30, 2013 as The Denpa Men 2: Beyond the Waves
. While the main objective isn't much different than it was before—"save Crystal and your children, Jasper and Amber
" instead of just "save Crystal", but many cool new features were added, such as an expansive overworld, all gear being visible
, and an interesting take on Player-versus-Player
. More on that later.
A third game came to Japan on August 8, 2013, predictably titled Denpa Ningen no RPG 3
. It is released in North America and Europe on May 8, 2014. This game seems to take place before the events of the first and second games
, as Digitoll is still bustling, and Crystal is referred to as the hero's "childhood friend" as opposed to his girlfriend or wife.
This game series contains examples of:
- Absurdly High Level Cap: Level 99. After the post-game, your Denpa Men will probably only be around Level 60.
- The third game takes it up a notch by bringing the level cap up to a whopping 199. However, this is balanced out by making level-ups happen faster and making enemies higher-leveled in the postgame: Master Squelch/Self-made King is Level 100, the three Guardians are around Level 120, Best Malignus is Level 150, and the Havoc Dragon is level 180.
- Action Girl: After you rescue the Crystal, she can join your party just like anyone else and go exploring with you.
- All the Denpa girls in the sequel.
- Actually Four Mooks
- All in a Row
- Ambiguously Gay: Some of the Denpa Men will ask you to catch more "attractive" Denpas. The same personality type will also occasionally flirt with the player, regardless of their gender.
- Animate Inanimate Object: The Corn Critter is a walking ear of corn.
- An Interior Designer Is You: In the third game, every single one of your Denpa Men has their own house, which you can decorate as you wish.
- Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You start the game with four party slots. Expands to six, then eight later on.
- Augmented Reality: Your 3DS camera superimposes the Denpa Men on the area around you, and it also generates them based on local Wi-Fi signals.
- Babies Ever After: In the sequel, you meet the children of the hero and Crystal. They're also on the 3DS' game boot screen.
- Barrier Change Boss: The Evil Witch/Demon Queen in Beyond the Waves. When she takes a set amount of damage, she will change color and element, making it harder to pinpoint a single weakness. Thankfully, what element she changes to and when she does it is constant.
- Bonus Boss: The True King is the only secret boss in the 1st game. In the second game, Master Oink, Divine Pawn, the final bosses from the first game and Octopaladin, these bosses appear after Demon Queen is defeated. The upgraded versions of Pawn can be fought before you beat the game.
- Bonus Dungeon: The first game doesn't have a "true" bonus dungeon; only a boss with a small lead-up area. Not counting the Inferno or Oblivion Isle, the bosses simply appear in dungeons you've already conquered
- Bonus Level Of Hell: The Inferno in the sequel.
- Boss Bonanza: The final dungeons in both games have a gauntlet of boss encounters before the end.
- Boss in Mook Clothing: Some of the enemies are very tough. Hydraplant enemies get multiple attacks each turn and can attack your whole party for merciless damage. Dragons have multiple damaging attacks. Ghosts are invincible to physical attacks. The list goes on..
- Can't Drop the Hero: Your first Denpa Man acts as your de facto hero, and must always stay in your party.
- The Catfish: The legendary Master Fish in the sequel.
- Childhood Friend Romance: The third game reveals that the hero and Crystal have this.
- Christmas Mode: If you talk to your Denpa Men on Christmas, they'll acknowledge it and make comments like "I'm surprised Santa hasn't been busted for breaking and entering yet."
- Color-Coded Elements: Nine out of the total 12 Denpa colors are associated with an element (or lack of one): red is Fire, blue is Water, yellow is Electricity, orange is Earth, green is Wind, light blue is Ice, white is Light, purple is Darkness, and black is Non-Elemental.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: A rare example in your favor, where when your party is set to auto-battle, it sometimes "knows" what the enemies are going to do and will act accordingly.
- Damsel in Distress: Crystal.
- Also Amber and Jasper in Beyond the Waves, although Jasper is male.
- Degraded Boss: A few of the first game's bosses became regular enemies in the sequel, in particular the Hydramelon, Ice Fly, and Aqua Mammoth (now Eleflow). Worth noting that while the Ice Fly remains rather difficult, the Hydramelon and the Eleflow were made significantly easier to deal with.
- Difficulty Spike: The game gets difficult once you get to Ice Island and stays that way until you get to Guardian Tower.
- Disc One Final Boss: The King of Evil and the Grand King. (The credits actually roll after the Grand King, but you're still not done.)
- Disconnected Side Area: Traditionally, the first dungeon of every game contains one of these that can only be accessed later.
- Early Game Hell: You can only carry a party of four Men with you at once, and since you likely won't have been on any real Men hunting sprees yet, you may not even have a healer yet. Even if you have access to a few different skills, there's no room on your party for them.
- Elemental Powers: The color of a Denpa Man indicates what element it resists/is weak to, while its antenna shows what powers it has. Some Denpa Men wear striped clothes that indicate multiple resistances.
- Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Tower of Evil and the Guardian Tower.
- Evolving Attack: Most antenna skills have two to three levels, which upgrade themselves as you level up.
- Fantastic Racism: In the sequel, the dwarves that eat grass (in Horti Kalcha) hate the dwarves that eat fish (in Port Town).
- Fight Woosh
- Fire, Ice, Lightning: The rare Rainbow Mist enemies in the first game, although they're actually Fire, Water, Lightning enemies, capable of using the breath attacks of all three Mist varieties.
- Form-Fitting Wardrobe: Denpa clothes fit the Men perfectly—regardless of their size. However, the Denpas' original colors are an aversion—according to Word of God, the colorful "suits" the Denpas wear are, in actuality, soft, thin fur.
- Frictionless Ice: You can actually control your direction somewhat on this ice, though not by an awful lot. Colliding with anything will also make it extremely difficult to correct your path.
- Friendly Enemy: The King of Evil in the second game. Not only did he not kidnap your wife, he actually spends most of the game giving you hints on how to beat the true Big Bad. Just before the final battle, the true Big Bad sends him to the Inferno, and the bonus dungeon consists of rescuing him. Even Crystal says he's become something of a family friend, bizarre as it sounds.
- Friend to All Children: General Squid, according to Amber, was always nice to her and kept her safe, despite the fact that she was technically his prisoner.
- Gameplay Automation: Auto-battle is generally a good way to save time and skip cumbersome stacks of menu boxes in battles. You can even choose to partially enter your commands, and set the rest of your team to auto-attack on a given turn.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: In the sequel, you can go fishing, but in order to catch fish you'll need Bait. Certain types of Bait can catch certain fish—Normal Bait catches normal fish, Goldfish Bait catches Goldfish, etc. As it happens, there are legendary fish called Masters, who can only be caught with... Master Bait.
- The NPCs hanging around outside The Inferno: "What? Me only date married man. Why that so bad?"
- The Ghost: The Funny Forest is supposedly home to a powerful wizard, but he is never seen.
- Healer Signs On Early: Your hero Denpa always has the "revive" ability. In the third game, you also receive a guaranteed party member in the form of Crystal's dad, who joins as soon as you defeat Squelch. He's always a healer.
- Hidden Fairy Village : There is one at the end of the Road to Oasis.
- Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Lots and lots of them. Sometimes there can be nearly a dozen crammed into one room!
- Infinity+1 Element: Light type, in the first game. Light-type Denpas have no weaknesses, only a resistance to Dark type (which only enemies use). Very few enemies resist Light, and many are weak to the element. In Beyond the Waves, Light-type Denpas gain a weakness to their own element, but the only enemies to use Light attacks outside of the Coliseum are the Knights (guardians of the Caves of Darkness) and the Evil Witch.
- The sequel also has silver, gold, and pink Denpas, most of whom can only be found by using paint to change a Denpa's color (though Silver Denpas appear very rarely in the wild). Silver Denpas have a slate of resistances and weaknesses, in addition to huge defensive stats. Gold Denpas resist every element except Fire, and boost the amount of gold you get from enemies. Pink Denpas are weak to all elements, but they naturally charm enemies, making it possible enemies will be "charmed and cannot move" for a whole turn.
- Informed Equipment: Done bizarrely in the first game—your Denpas' "accessory-type" equipment is invisible, but their "clothing-type" equipment isn't. So while you could equip them with a pair of Roller Skates and Bubble-pattern clothing, only the clothing will be visible. Averted in the second game, where all equipment is visible.
- Kid from the Future: It's possible to summon Amber and Jasper from The Denpa Men 2 into the third game, which is a prequel taking place when the hero and Crystal are still kids. The summoning process does explicitly reach across space-time.
- Knight Templar: The Squid Knight in the second game. He's working for the bad guys, but only because he believes you to be evil, and wants to use the powers granted to him by the society to bring about world peace.
- Kung-Fu Proof Mook: Ghosts and Mists almost literally so—they're invulnerable to physical attacks, unless your attacking Denpa has the "Ghostbuster" skill or is under the effects of Holy Water.
- Leaked Experience: Denpa Men who stay behind will gain experience and level up alongside your active party.
- Lost Woods: Road to Oasis
- Magic Is Rare; Health Is Cheap: In both games, health potions cost piddling amounts of money and drop from monsters frequently. AP-restoring items drop once in a blue moon and can't be bought at all until very late or post-game, when they cost surprising amounts of money.
- Marathon Level: The Guardian Tower in the original. With 10 floors, painfully difficult bosses every other floor, and no checkpoints until the very top of the tower, it fits this trope to a tee.
- In the second game, the Evil Cave is essentially this; ironically, the much shorter Palace Tower is the final dungeon and not the dungeon before.
- Metal Slime: The enemies that look like teeth have very little HP, sky-high defense, and tend to run away at the beginning of battles. If you manage to defeat one, you'll be awarded a sizable EXP bonus. The Gold Fangs, however, are a subversion as they take normal damage from attacks.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: The Oink Rabbit is a rabbit mixed with a pig, the Wolfbear is a wolf mixed with a bear, and the Octopider is an octopus mixed with a spider, to name a few.
- Mons: An unconventional take on this, as you catch the Denpa Men in real life using the 3DS's AR camera around radio waves. Though due to the way the Denpa Men are generated, and the limited storage space, you are not encouraged to—and it is impossible to—catch 'em all.
- Monster Compendium: Starting from Beyond the Waves, the Museum now allows you to see what monsters you have defeated, complete with a list of item drops, location, and a short description of each.
- Mook Maker: The "Ham" enemies summon monsters from the local area to fight alongside them in battle.
- Mook Promotion: The Demon was an (admittedly high-level) ordinary encounter in the first game. It's a late-game boss in the sequel.
- Nerf: Two-tone Denpas in the first game had no weaknesses, just a pair of resistances, with the drawback being that they weren't as good as the resistances of pure-colored Denpas. In the sequel, however, they have the associated weaknesses of their two elements—but aren't as weak to them as the pure-colors are.
- Light was also nerfed from being an Infinity+1 Element to an element weak to itself.
- Some of the enemies were also made significantly weaker. Hydraplants were practically a death sentence in the first game. In the sequel, they're only slightly stronger than normal mooks, and even a six-person Denpa party at fairly low levels can dispatch with them fairly quickly.
- Barriers/the Invincible skill. In the original game, they made your entire party fully invincible for several turns. In the sequel, however, Denpas have a slight natural resistance to being "barriered," meaning it may not affect your entire party (or even most of them), and it may not even be the "right" men who become invincible.
- Noob Cave: The Digitoll Cave.
- Nostalgia Level: Many of the levels from the first game reappear in the second: Digitoll Cave, Tower of Evil, Scorch Volcano, Ice Island, and Guardian Tower. Of those five, only Digitoll Cave and the Tower of Evil are remotely the same; the other three are completely different.
- Not Me This Time: Your fight with the King of Evil in the second game. He agrees to fight you, since he'll never turn down an opportunity to rough you up, but once you reveal that you're looking for Crystal, he has absolutely no idea who kidnapped her. He spends most of the rest of the game hanging out in his downstairs library and giving you advice about your quest, and the real villains you face.
- Old Save Bonus: Your hero and buddies from the first game carry over into the second. If you managed to get 100% Completion in the first game, it also gives you early access to a secret shop selling rare goodies.
- One Size Fits All: Denpa Men come in all shapes and sizes, but any sort of clothing you find will be a perfect, snug fit for any one of them.
- One Steve Limit: Averted. It's quite possible to obtain more than one Denpa Man with the same name.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Averted. Though the dwarves do like digging and are proud of their facial hair (mustaches, not beards), they're quiet, lovable, and actually rather small.
- Our Fairies Are Different: They have no wings or legs, are about the same size as your Denpa Men, and hover to move around.
- Our Goblins Are Different: They are Palette Swaps of the Oink Rabbits. They also have Ice powers.
- Palette Swap: Most of the enemies in the later dungeons. However, enemies with similar bases tend to have similar strategies, so you can know what you're in for by looking at their "species."
- Planet Heck: The Inferno in the sequel.
- Player Versus Player: An interesting take in the form of the Coliseum. Introduced in Beyond the Waves, it registers players and their teams on a database, assigns them a ranking based on how many medals they have, and gives them a choice of three similarly-ranked players to fight should they wish. No player directly faces off against another, and you can take as long as you like in each match without worrying about anything.
- Pre Existing Encounters
- Puzzle Boss: The True King is actually really easy if you know the right tactic.
- Rainbow Pimp Gear: The second game not only features visible accessories, it features way more accessory slots, leading to lots of ridiculous get-ups. Even the official art shows it off!◊
- Shout-Out: The Throne item which can be gotten as furniture in the third game has a description which says "Don't play games on this. They don't tend to end well."
- Stealth Pun: The Metal Slime enemies are animate teeth with big round eyes and lacy wings. They're tooth fairies.
- The Smurfette Principle: Your party in the first game is made up entirely of Denpa Men: the only female Denpa is the Distressed Damsel. Averted in later games, though.
- Squishy Wizard: Denpa Men with skills have lower physical stats than those without skills.
- Supporting Protagonist: Due to her being the only recurring playable character in the series, Crystal is seemingly considered the games' main character. This despite spending most of each game kidnapped.
- Stalker with a Crush: Squelch in the third game really likes Crystal, and is willing to follow her everywhere.
- Start of Darkness: In the third game, after he uses the Dark Orb to augment his power, Squelch starts metamorphosing into the familiar form of the King of Evil.
- Standard Status Effects: Poison, Paralysis, Burns, and Blindness to name a few.
- Takes One to Kill One: Starting in Beyond the Waves, Light (white) Denpas are weak to their own element.
- Teaser Equipment: Even before the Noob Cave in the sequel, there's a shop that sells some rare goods, including the valuable Mushroom Basket. It closes up as soon as you beat the first dungeon, and much of its equipment won't be available until much later. However, it would take extreme patience in order to actually acquire said goods when the game shows them off.
- Theme Naming: The hero's family are all named after precious stones: Wife Crystal, son Jasper, and daughter Amber.
- Took a Level in Badass: The King Of Evil is this if the pre-battle dialogue with the True King is any indication.
- Too Long; Didn't Dub: The English version title notably calls them "Denpa Men," instead of "Radio People." Presumably because "Denpa Men" sounds cooler if you speak English.
- Unusable Enemy Equipment: In the first game, enemies were the only users of the Dark type and the Reflect status attribute (which not only nullifies magic attacks, but reflects them back). In the second game, Dark Denpas (both in terms of color and in terms of having dark-type skills) became available, and the Reflect status attribute became its own skill.
- Useless Useful Spell: Averted, thanks to the random encounters being very tough. Anything to take the edge off the fights is useful, and status spells have the benefit of being cheaper and being lower maintenance.
- Among the most notable examples is the skill Breath Plug in the second game. It prevents enemies from using breath-based attacks. At first, that sounds extremely situational... until you realize that most breath attacks are a Total Party Kill, and nearly every Demonic Spider in the game uses at least one if not more. It then sounds like an extremely powerful silencing ability that can save you a lot of hassle and unnecessary deaths.
- White Mage: Your leader's girlfriend will always have the ability to heal the entire party. But since your hero Denpa is a healer too (a reviver), they actually make a set of healers together.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: When you beat the King of Evil the first time, he escapes with your girl, and after you beat him again, your Hero wants to marry the girl and has to find the three Oaths to do so.