Digimon World | The Game That Defines The Modern Gafa

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Enjoy some laid-back tracks from across the Digimon World Playstation games.

 

 

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Happy Friday! We’re over the hill for November — it’s Day 16 of The Games That Define Us! The next three days will all be devoted to titles from the Warcraft franchise, but first we’re finishing the veritable parade of Playstation 1 titles — there is so much love for that console in this group.

Today we’re joined by Victor from The Modern Gafa, whose overwhelming coolness is only matched by his clever wit. Reading his work will keep you entertained for hours, and he wrote a book, you know. For real, if you’re at all interested in getting review copies of stuff for you blog, this guidebook is for you. You will also love some of these pieces from his blog… if only we knew what a Gafa is.

Let’s boot up the next chapter of The Games That Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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starring

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Victor @ The Modern Gafa

Twitter: @TheModernGafa

For getting lost in the wilderness…

Game: Digimon World
System: Playstation 1
Release Date: January 28, 1999

1P Start

It’s one of the most beautiful worlds in any video game I have ever played. I’ve always wanted to see a manga or even an anime take place in this world. It’s one of my favorite fictional places of all time.

When toy stores in Japan opened their doors on June 26, 1997 a new and exciting item appeared on the shelves. It was part game, part toy. It was an attempt by Bandai to create something like Tamagotchi that would appeal to boys by replacing the cute and funny characters with strong and scary monsters. Additionally, this new Tamagotchi had the ability to fight. The first of its kind was known as the Digital Monster V-Pet Ver. 1, but the kids on the playground knew it by its short name: Digimon.

It was an instant hit, and the project quickly grew until it was a massive multimedia franchise that included a total of five versions of the original V-Pet design, a popular anime series, a manga, and of course: video games. The first attempt at bringing the handheld game to consoles was a straight adaptation of the V-Pets on the original Playstation. The follow-up would be a fully fledged video game adventure that took the simple idea of raising a battling monster out of the confines of it’s tiny LCD screen and into a massive universe that would become Digimon World.

Digimon World

While Digimon V-Pets were available in America, most first became aware of it when the anime series, titled Digimon: Digital Monsters, first premiered on Fox Kids in August of 1999. Since Digimon was a very loose concept with no established lore or rules, the writers of the first anime series were given free range to craft a story around the set of Digimon they had to include. They crafted an exciting adventure that followed seven young kids whisked away to a digital world where they are partnered with loyal Digimon of their own. At first, the kids are lost and explore the land on their quest to find a way home. As they begin to learn more about the world and how they got there, the children accept their calling and fight to protect both worlds from evil Digimon. Along the way, the kids learn a lot about each other and form an emotional connection with themselves, their Digimon, and the audience. One cannot put into words how much the first season of the digimon anime means to its fans.

While the story of Digimon’s first season, subtitled “Adventure” in Japan, was a fresh take on the “monster battle” genre, the world wasn’t exactly new to Digimon. The first story arc of the anime takes place on File Island. Japanese fans may have recognized it from its first appearance in Digimon’s first true video game experience. For American fans, we got the reverse experience.

Digimon World was released in Japan on January 28, 1999, a few months before Digimon Adventure would premiere. The game didn’t come to the west until May 23, 2000 after the franchise’s popularity was solidified. By that point, the first season was airing its final episodes on Fox Kids. V-Pets based on the show were released, multiple series of trading cards were available to collect, figures of all sizes allowed fans to play with their favorite Digimon. But it wasn’t until the release of Digimon World did we really know what it meant to be a Digimon Tamer.

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While a similarly named franchise’s anime series is a direct adaptation of its popular games, Digimon World offered its fans in the west something new and exciting. When players first begin, they are greeted with a series of cutscenes that depict a normal kid hanging out with his friends, playing with their Digimon V-Pets. When he returns home, his V-Pet opens up and the boy, as well as the player, are sucked into Digimon World.

The city at the heart of File Island was once a prosperous home to all kinds of Digimon. And then something happened that caused the Digimon to turn wild and savage. They abandoned the city and went off into the wilderness. Your task is to find the lost Digimon and convince them to return to the city while uncovering the origin of the problems on the island.

It’s a simple objective, far from the epic Final Fantasy games that had dominated the Playstation up until that point. However, the story is secondary to the experience of Digimon World. Almost twenty years later and I personally don’t understand the villain’s goals or how exactly he achieves them. I don’t even care. That’s not what the game is about.

There is truly no other game like Digimon World. One of its most well-known and well-loved features is its Digimon raising system. Just like in the V-Pet and in the anime, players are partnered with only one Digimon who follows them around on their adventure. Elements from the V-Pet are adapted into this 3D adventure. You can feed different kinds of food that can be bought or found around the world. Digimon can become sick and require medicine, injured and require bandages, and even become tired and require sleep.

Just like in the V-Pet, the different ways you raise your Digimon will determine how they Digivolve. For Japanese fans experiencing this game as an extension of the V-Pet, this is a no-brainer. To western fans more familiar with the anime, this concept was completely unknown and often a huge surprise to may players. Everyone knows that Agumon Digivolves into Greymon. Imagine my surprise when my first partner Agumon turned into a Meramon instead.

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This is the first of Digimon World’s profound demonstration of exploration. There are dozens of Digimon available for the player to attempt to Digivolve into and each one has its own special requirements. Some need lots of food, others need more experience fighting. One special form is acquired after sleeping in a special spot in the forest. The game keeps a chart of the Digimon you have Digivolved into, inspiring the player to explore different techniques in raising and training their Digimon unlock as many forms as they can.

For many fans in the west, the shock of seeing Gabumon Digivolve into anything that wasn’t a Garurumon never wore off. For many, it’s been accepted as the norm. In fact, it’s generally agreed upon that these multiple possible evolutions – which date back to the original V-Pet – represent the core theme of the franchise. How you grow when you are young affects what you will become when you are older. A symbol in the original anime is the butterfly, a symbol of evolution and change.

As much as I love the Digivolution system in Digimon World, I completely believe that the game would be just as good if you were stuck with just an Agumon for the entire adventure. Because this is Digimon World, and once you’ve discovered how you will change, it’s time to discover where you will go.

As stated above, Digimon World takes place on the same File Island as Digimon Adventure. So while western fans were introduced to unfamiliar concepts, they were shown to them in a familiar world. Several iconic and memorable locations and landmarks appear in both with the game allowing fans to fully explore the areas from the anime.

File Island is a circular land mass with a tall mountain, Mt. Infinity, sitting in the middle. Players are dropped in the middle of the island, in the empty ruins of the city, and can choose to work their way east or west. The areas loop around so players who head east may eventually return from the west. However, you can’t explore the entire world right away.

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I call this semi-open world because there is plenty of freedom and exploration, but there are still roadblocks that prevent you from going too far until certain story beats are hit first. A path up a mountain is not cleared until an earthquake from an underground tunnel causes a landslide. You’ll get lost in a misty forest until finding someone to life the curse on its woods. As the players fulfill their mission of recruiting Digimon to return to the city, more areas of the world will open up.

Many future Digimon game developers seem to think that the Digital World is like Tron or something because the areas are always overly Cyberpunk. Or they just take generic video game areas like “the desert” or “the forest” and slap computer parts haphazardly. The environments in Digimon World on the other hand each feel as if they were carefully handcrafted by an artist.

What gives Digimon World it’s unique and beautiful environments is the use of a technique called parallax mapping. Instead of the world being built on a grid with tiles individually drawn from a chipset, each background is designed first and then loaded into the game as a whole. Areas are blocked off as impassable and additional objects such as trees are laid overtop. This technique was popular in 3D games at the time for its ability to produce crisp worlds without having to rely on a grid-based tile system or having to load fully 3D environments.

This results in not only the most beautiful environment in a Digimon game, but one of the most beautiful worlds in any video game I have ever played. I’ve always wanted to see a manga or even an anime take place in this world. It’s one of my favorite fictional places of all time.

My earliest memory of playing Digimon World was at a friend’s house. He loaded up a new game for me – I had no idea what to expect. My gaming experience at that point was nothing more than my green Gameboy Color and a few bouts of Tekken II with my brothers. I played Digimon World until I had to go home. After a while, my friend let me borrow his copy and the strategy guide. When he wanted it back, I asked to keep the strategy guide just to flip through it and immerse myself in the world. Eventually I acquired my own copy, but had trouble finding time to play it on the Playstation that technically belonged to my brothers. But I savored every moment I could possibly spend exploring the vast island of Digimon World.

adventure map


WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 

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This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
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Published by

Matthew // Normal Happenings

Matthew Estes. STL-based Blogger. Graphic Designer. Happily Married. One day I'll actually complete a book I'm happy with. I love pizza, video games, and using way too many ellipses...

2 thoughts on “Digimon World | The Game That Defines The Modern Gafa

  1. The theme song from season one is gonna be stuck in my head for the rest of the day. And I consider that a good thing.
    I didn’t know most of the history behind the franchise, so this was a really interesting read!

    Liked by 1 person

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