That’s right! This is not a Persona rip-off! Don’t play dumb by saying Persona is “super original and stuff”. It’s almost entirely a rip-off of “Diamond is Unbreakable”. Stand powers; Tarot cards; big onomatopoeias sticking out of nowhere; the serial killer plot; Character design styles (not so much nowadays, but the first two games in the series were probably trying to emulate Araki’s style during part 4); and a lot more. I really don’t know how nobody notices that! The first time I had contact with the Persona series was through a friend who called it “that Jojo RPG”.
For MIND Zero to be considered a Persona rip-off it would need: 1- A silent protagonist (thank god it’s not here!). 2- Social Links (I actually miss those…). 3- Pop music with Japanese women singing in decent English (didn’t hear any of those here). 4- Very colorful HUDs looking like mobile devices (nope). 5- A hard-boiled detective and his incompetent young partner (…Okey…it’s here…). 5- A big-nosed old-man named Igor who lives in a weird room and take care of your Stands (…Guilty again…).
Okey! It’s not completely innocent of the accusations, but it’s still a pretty solid game on it’s own. By playing it, it will never feel like Persona. The gameplay & storyline style are vastly different from Atlus famous series, a lot weaker, but different nonetheless.Yeah…Mind Zero is not as good of a game as Persona. It’s a mid-level game, but it’s not bad! It’s just not high level.The game is by Acquire, more famous for the “Tenchu” and “Way of the Samurai” games. However, the team behind this title is ZeroDiv, which is responsible for the “Class of Heroes” series, and this is a big step forward for them! For those who played CoH will know that it was a very simple game that targeted a very specific audience that likes retro games and “kawaii” stuff. The graphics were as simple as possible; plot was almost non-existing; voice overs were rare and voice actors were mostly amateurs. Furthermore, the game system was a very standard Final Fantasy style of jobs. A very simple game overall. But not this one here!For their first game on a new generation portable, ZeroDiv decided to spend a lot of money! The game is almost full voiced (most side-quests get only those half-assed “a-word-per-line” voices tough). There are many big names behind the character voices like Koyasu Takehito and Sugita Tomokazu. Character designs are pretty good and have a “shonen battle manga” vibe to it. And the plot…it exists!
Everything start with Takanashi Kei getting involved in a case of a mysterious drug called “MIND” when he gets attacked by a junkie who was acting like a wild animal. He suddenly gets dragged into a mysterious store where he makes a contract with his other-self from another world.Turns out the true identity behind the MINDs are actually those who failed to control the same kind of power Kei acquired. However, there is more to it! A group of MIND users is responsible for the sudden increase of portals leading for this other world. Thanks to this, many innocent people fall victim to the MINDs powers and become monsters. Kei and his classmates decide to form an alliance with a private detective to learn more about the case and stop the villains. Actually, this plot is just standard stuff: Teenagers get special powers and use it to help people, until bad guys appear doing bad stuff. They fight the bad guys and win. The end. I know I am being very stupid talking like this, but it’s not that the story sucks, it’s just “so normal”. The setting is a bunch of things that we already saw on many other games/mangas/animes with no twists or weirdness to it. Even so, I must praise then for the main character! Kei had everything to be an EMO-Git like Squall or Sasuke. They sure do share a similar personality, but, unlike those annoying bitches, Kei is a nice guy! He cares for his friends and is not afraid to admit it. He doesn’t need to act like an ignorant to look “cool”. I like this! I thought it was impossible to create such a good protagonist with this kind of personality. Nice work!The system is nothing brilliant and it can get very repetitive sometimes, but it has some interesting ideas. For example: I feel much more like a “Stand user” in this game than in Persona because I get to use my MINDs with more emphasis than Personas. During battles you can press the L button to activate your MIND, during this state you can’t lose health (known as LP here), but your MIND power gauge (MP) will start to decrease with each turn and enemies attacks. If it reaches zero you will lose your MIND (no pun intended) for one turn until your gauge starts to fill again, if your character loses it’s MIND by an enemy attack, he will also lose a turn and be open for attacks, something very dangerous!
A regular enemy can deal 25% of damage per-turn, while bosses can easily one-hit kill you! So it’s extremely important to keep your MIND always charged and use your best attacks against the right foes to conserve your resources. It’s very fun while you’re fighting to do this, but it gets a bit boring once you get the gist of it. The game loses almost all of it’s challenge. Therefore, I recommend playing at least in Normal difficulty and never grinding so to make the most of the game.
The Dungeons layouts are very creative, taking advantage of the game being set in nowadays. The Dungeon in a train station is full of long corridors because you walk inside trains, while the dungeon inside a mansion is full of big open rooms. There is even a dungeon in the middle of the city that combines the two. The craziest of the bunch has to be a labyrinth that looks like a picture book. Pretty cool!
Graphics are weird! They use the same engine used in the New Class of Heroes (Shin Ken to Mahou to Gakuenmono), problem is: That engine is horrible! 3D models were really shitty in many ways. Well, even if it’s WAY BETTER in this game, it’s still pretty damn weird! They do the important job of making in-game character looking like the official art-works…most of times. There are some WTF moments where the characters make strange faces during inappropriate times.This is because the face is not molded into the 3D model and it’s all actually just textures, a very poorly animated texture, that is! Resulting in the characters looking always too happy when attacking or being attacked, too depressed during victories and becoming ventriloquists during dialogs. It gets very awkward sometimes!
Voices are GREAT! I love the work they did for all the character (okey, maybe not so much for Shizuku, but it could be because I am not particular very fond of this kind of character). The characters are normally okey, but they got more charismatic thanks to those Awesome Seiyuu!
Musics are OK. There is not even one track that got me all fired up or made me feel anxious or anything, but at least there is nothing that made me puke blood. Most tracks have a mysterious theme, some use hip hop samples, there is less guitar than I expected but a lot of saxophone and piano for the songs used in city scenes, looking more like Jazz than Pop. The intention was to look more “dark”. The result is a soundtrack with a bit of “Noir” flavor in it.
I like this game! It’s nothing to compete against big names in the RPG world but does a decent work. At least I considered it to be way better than any Class of Heroes. I would love to play a sequel if there is ever one.