Last year's Digimon World games for the Nintendo DS, Dawn and Dusk, were retreads of Digimon World DS that failed to improve upon the formula. Namco Bandai decided to shake things up with Digimon World Championship by revamping the battle system, introducing more involved Digimon hunting mechanics, and--strangely enough--reaching into the past by including the pet-raising mechanics of the original Digimon World for the PlayStation. Unfortunately, Digimon World Championship also completely eschews any storytelling and takes away some hands-on control from Digimon battles, resulting in a disappointingly tepid game.
Digimon World Championship puts you in the role of a tamer whose purpose is simply to hunt, train, and take care of multiple digimon for entry into a world championship tournament. There are no dungeons to crawl around in or plot twists to discover. As you win battles, you increase your tamer rank, as well as the level to which your digimon can evolve. Every day, you increase your digimon's abilities and stats by dragging them into different cages using your stylus. As the game progresses, you'll be able to purchase more cages that have unique effects on your digimon's development. You're given limited space with which to work, so you'll also have to manage the way your cages are laid out. Your critters will get hungry, tired, sick, and even cranky as they train. As such, you'll have to feed and medicate them appropriately. You'll even have to undertake the embarrassing task of cleaning up their digital "leavings."
At first, managing your cage layout and caring for digimon as pets are refreshing gameplay mechanics--at least in relation to recent games in the franchise. But as the population of digimon increases, all of that cleaning, dragging, and feeding becomes extremely repetitive and dull. With this in mind, trying to juggle around all the different cages also becomes somewhat frustrating as you try to mix up training regimens for the various monsters. Furthermore, it's hard to figure out how to evolve your digimon, and the game is no help. You will eventually discover that in order to advance your monsters, you have to repeatedly de-evolve them. This isn't just counterintuitive, it's also frustratingly repetitive.
You'll need to take some time out of your pet-care schedule to hunt for new creatures. At its core, this involves drawing a lasso around your prey with the stylus and then dragging it in the opposite direction from which it's running. This is perhaps the most enjoyable part of the game for two reasons. You won't be hunting often because you don't have that much room to keep digimon, so it doesn't get overly repetitive. It's also the only portion that really requires dexterity on your part because battling is an entirely hands-off affair.
During most days of the in-game calendar, events called "Title Battles" are available for you to partake in--provided that you register for them between 7:00 and 15:00 on the day of a given match. You can also participate in "Free Battles" on the side to further develop your digimon. These battles can be one-on-one, three-on-one, three-on-three, and one-on-three. Fights play out in real time, with participants running around an arena and wailing away on each other. Once you assemble your team, you're able to set one of three general strategies for each team member--but that's really it. You don't control any of your team members directly, you can't select which attacks to use, and you can't even switch up general tactics during the battle. This auto-battle system carries over to the multiplayer modes as well. Digimon World Championship provides DS wireless and Wi-Fi Connection multiplayer modes, but leaving your success to the whimsy of artificial intelligence just isn't as exciting as making the correct strategic decisions yourself.
The game's presentation is none too thrilling either, though it manages to stay inoffensive...mostly. Everything is presented in 2D, with some zooming effects taking place during battle. Almost all of the digimon are colorful, detailed, and easy to tell apart. However, there's some noticeable slowdown that occurs while training your digimon in their cages--something that shouldn't be an issue in a game with such simple visuals.
Digimon World Championship presents an interesting combination of gameplay mechanics, but it just doesn't take them as far as they could go. There are some nice little touches, such as when the game looks up your birthday on your DS and gives you a gift or how your digimon's hunting habits will have to change as the seasons do. In the end, though, the auto-battle system and repetitive virtual pet mode drain much of the life out of this game, leaving behind a tedious and detached experience.