Have you played… Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers?

I’ve spoken before about how much I adore what I tend to refer to as “B-tier Nippon Ichi Software” releases — they’re the non-Disgaea titles that this prolific software house puts out that are often a ton of fun in their own right. Great examples from the past few years include the spectacularly addictive Lapis x Labyrinth, the effortlessly stylish Poison Control, the infectiously catchy (and monstrously challenging) Mad Rat Dead — and Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers.

Destiny Connect (as we shall refer to it hereafter) stands out from much of Nippon Ichi’s other output by eschewing an anime style for its visuals. Instead, it adopts a visual aesthetic much more akin to a modern CG movie from Disney or Dreamworks — and it complements that with an absolutely astonishing soundtrack that is so good, it saddens me that so many people probably haven’t heard it.

Destiny Connect

In Destiny Connect, you take on the role of Sherry, a spunky nine year old girl who lives in the town of Clocknee. As the story opens, the town is about to celebrate the beginning of the new millennium as the year ticks over from 1999 to 2000 — but something strange happens on the stroke of midnight: time stops for nearly everyone, and the machines, with whom the people of Clocknee have lived in harmony up until now, appear to be going haywire.

Destiny Connect’s setting is an imaginative one. Clocknee, as the name suggests, is inspired by traditional (and somewhat stereotypical) views of the UK, but there are elements of steampunk here and there — and the presence of “the machines” is a significant one. In the world of Destiny Connect, machines have souls, and if you treat your hardware well, it will tend to treat you well in return. Unfortunately, as the people of Clocknee discover, this also means that if your hardware decides that it hasn’t been treated particularly well, you may well find your washing machine wanting to eat you or some other equally horrific fate awaiting.

Given the setup of Destiny Connect, it will not surprise you to hear that the majority of foes Sherry and the band of companions she gradually gathers over the course of her quest are based on machines — and someone’s has a field day with the terrible puns when naming them. You’ll face off against angry stoves hurling hot casserole dishes at you, pinball machines firing balls at you like a machine gun, hot irons slamming themselves down on your noggin and plenty more besides — but Sherry and company are, thankfully, more than capable of fighting back.

Destiny Connect

Sherry is armed with a modified hair dryer that is able to fire elemental blasts, but her main “secret weapon” is Isaac, a robot apparently constructed by her perpetually absent father. Isaac is damaged, so cannot remember a lot of the details of what he is capable of, but it transpires that at least part of his functionality involves travelling through time — so I’m sure you can see where this is going.

Yes, Destiny Connect involves plenty of time travel — including plenty of potentially paradox-inducing party member shenanigans — and, in each time period, plenty of interesting things to discover as you explore the Clocknee of the past, present and future.

Mechanically speaking, Destiny Connect is a fairly straightforward, simple and undemanding kind of RPG, but that’s honestly rather nice. Aside from the lovely, whimsical presentation, the game feels structurally and mechanically quite like a 16-bit RPG; it doesn’t try to overcomplicate things, but it has enough interesting and distinctive mechanics to allow itself to stand out and define itself as its own experience.

Destiny Connect

Chief among these is robot Isaac’s ability to transform between different forms, effectively making him multiple party members in one. There’s no penalty for changing Isaac’s form mid-battle, so you can transform as you see fit according to the flow of battle. And each form has its own distinct use; his default form is good for tanking and protecting the rest of the party from damage, for example, while others allow him to deal quick hits, heal the party or manipulate drop, gold and experience rates to your advantage.

Progression in Destiny Connect is fairly straightforward but has a certain amount of depth and customisation to it. As well as gaining conventional experience points and levels, characters acquire various “Wisdom” items as loot in combat, and these can be expended to upgrade each character’s skills to make them more effective. On top of that, Isaac’s various forms can be customised by crafting and installing metal gears into his frame to boost his stats and unlock new abilities.

Destiny Connect

There’s nothing overly complicated about Destiny Connect’s mechanics, but that just makes it an enjoyable, lightweight experience that is particularly suitable for newcomers to the role-playing game genre — or those who just want a game that is a pleasingly stress-free experience. This isn’t to say there’s no challenge in the game, mind — even regular enemies can put up a fairly decent fight, to say nothing of the bosses — but rather that Destiny Connect is a game you can easily sit down and engage with without having to remember tons of complicated strategies and mechanics in order to succeed.

And, as previously noted, that soundtrack. That soundtrack. It’s amazing. Absolutely amazing. Composed by Yukinari Irumagawa — who, if his woefully undersubscribed YouTube channel is anything to go by, is an underappreciated gem of the Japanese music biz — the soundtrack to Destiny Connect would not sound out of place in a big-budget animated movie. Beautifully composed, melodic, dramatic and often tear-jerking, it’s an integral part of the Destiny Connect experience — and, honestly, reason enough to play the game by itself.

Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers may not be the sort of RPG that many people find truly life-changing in the same way as some of the higher-profile games of this world. But it is a thoroughly lovely game that I suspect nowhere near enough people have played.

It’s never too late to try it for yourself, though — so if any of the above sounds like it might appeal, I encourage you to spend some time in the charming town of Clocknee and enjoy the company of Sherry and friends. The game as a whole is a pleasant reprieve from the noise of modern gaming and online life — just the ticket if you, like me, have been feeling particularly stressed out with the Internet of late!

Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers is available for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. NISA Europe has physical editions for both platforms.

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Pete Davison
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