By gorkamorkaorka 9 Comments
Growth and advancement are one of the main attractions to RPGs. Every time something in a game gets bigger, or more advanced, or more complex, you get a little bit of satisfaction. It must be some deep rooted human nature thing related to growing crops, hoarding, or raising children/animals. This RPG element is done very will in Digimon World for these reasons: Growth is significant, visible, and common.
Most of this relates to the growth of File City. The story of Digimon World is that for some reason, the city in the middle of File Island, lost all of its Digimon inhabitants. It's only left with a handful when the game starts. The player's quest is to find everyone who left and recruit them. This is why growth is significant, visible, and common. Each Digimon you find is significant. Think of this growth as a little "packet". You get a small amount, all at once. Compare this to stat growth. When a character in an RPG gains a level, it's usually so small, that it is completely insignificant. More on that subject in another blog post. When the Digimon is recruited, it moves into town and (usually) adds something useful or makes the game easier. The first Digimon usually recruited is Agumon. He opens up the item shop and will hold excess items for you. Some of the other earlier Digimon are Palmon who expands the cities meat farm (more food for your Digimon), and Betamon who opens up an item shop.
These tie into the visibility of growth. Each Digimon recruited is visible inside the city. Each one distinct. The shape of the city changes too. The city starts off empty and lonely but as more Digimon come in, they also build new buildings, and the pre-existing ones are fixed up. Like my last example, Betamon comes in and puts out a tarp and sells items. Unimon comes in later and builds a building for the shop. File City acts as a central hub to the rest of File Island. You always come back to it after an adventure so you always see it grow.
There are 50 or so Digimon that you can recruit to File City (and a few more outside that you make friends with) so advancement is rather common. Most quests (totally informal) involve finding someone anyway. These three principles aren't just related to city building though. You have one Digimon companion that follows you around and fights for you. These grow, die, and are reborn to repeat the cycle. Stat growth is a little different in this game than other RPGs. Battles are really only good for money and for learning new attacks. Stat growth is neglible. Training is the only good way to raise stats and it accomplishes that rather quick. There is a short turn around for improving your Digimon that is offset by their short lifespan. Learning new moves is much more satisfying than just having a stronger main attack. Different attacks fill up a grid in your status screen for a sense of completion. Visiblity is a given becuase of Digivolution. All of this is common because you're going to end up with a lot of dead Digimon from old age. This is either a pro or a con. It's bad if you don't like having to retrain a new Digimon, but good if you like seeing all of the possible Digimon you can have. Really, having one Digimon the entire game isn't preferrable. It's too long of a game to only have one of them as a partner.