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Not your father’s monster collecting game.
If you have played these games before, there is not much new for you here other than the Switch’s portability. The Complete Edition looks good, runs great, and feels really nice in handheld mode. If you’re looking for a new port of a game you already love, this should scratch that itch.
Now, let’s get down to business: this is not Pokémon. Even though you do collect monsters and evolve them, it is not Pokémon. Instead, I’d compare it more to a Shin Megami Tensei game. The focus is on storytelling and dungeon crawling more than anything else, and the combat feels more SMT-like in nature. Moreover, you’re not exploring a world Pokémon-style. Instead, you’re zipping around Tokyo and in-and-out of a virtual reality cyberspace (EDEN) via loading screens. Also, rather than being 20-ish hours long like the average Pokémon story, each game is dozens of hours long. Content fiends look no further.
The RPGs follow two stories that take place at the same time. In Cyber Sleuth, you play as a character who loses his body and then somehow becomes part-digital, and your goal is to go back to being fully physically human and not just virtually so. In its sequel, Hacker’s Memory, the protagonist gets his EDEN account stolen via phishing and is falsely accused of a crime. The game follows the protagonist solving the mystery of his identity theft.
Most of the gameplay in Tokyo revolves around progressing the story and completing sidequests that usually involve either fetching items or dungeon crawling, while most of the gameplay in EDEN involves dungeon crawling, though there is some nonviolent questing and mystery-solving in there, too. The locations used between the two games are mostly shared, though the second game does not feel like a retread of the first. That said, Cyber Sleuth does have a fresher feel to me as the first game I played, which might be why I prefer it to the sequel.
The combat consists of, as you might have guessed, turn-based battles where monsters fight other monsters. You obtain the monsters you fight (though you do so in a different way from Pokémon here), and these monsters evolve into stronger ones. That said, evolution is much different. You can evolve each monster into several other monsters that sometimes, but usually don’t, look like the monster you’re evolving from. You can also devolve your monsters, which I didn’t do much of but I imagine you can do some good strategizing if you are using a guide to get one specific, hard-to-get creature (out of the hundreds included in both games).
The writing and gameplay are both quite enjoyable, though I can’t shake the feeling that they both kind of seem like almost-as-good Shin Megami Tensei games that are a little more accessible and have a hint of Pokémon. If that sounds good to you, I recommend the collection wholeheartedly. If not, well, there you go.