DS Review: Dungeon Maker

November 13, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

Want to make your own dungeon? If not then why are you reading this?

Dungeon Maker offers the opportunity to create unique dungeons by giving the player total control over where they choose to place tunnels and chambers. Having created a maze, traps can then be set in order to entice monsters to enter. The more desirable the dungeons are, the more colourful monsters that can be attracted, resulting in catching rarer and larger beasts. Having lured a monster into the dungeon, defeating them and taking their treasures boost strength and gives access to new skills.

Dungeon Maker for Nintendo DS Features:

Design your own battleground

Choose where distinct monsters spawn

Set traps and attract rare beasts

Kill monsters in order to create recipes with their meat

Gain strength from recipes derived from fallen foes

Different meals have different effects on your strength

Innovation and originality can be either good or bad, depending on how you perceive them and how games make good use of them. Dungeon Maker mixes in RPG combat with the chance for you to design your own dungeon for beasts to be attracted to. Think of it like Viva Piñata where you need to meet a certain criteria for a Piñata to venture into your garden, the same rules apply to Dungeon Maker.

The problem is that the game becomes very shallow and dull quickly. Instead of being a touch-screen affair where you design it with a simple interface, it’s all handled with the d-pad and buttons. You approach sides of the area and dig further to create the layout you want. It’s really minimal and very monotonous after a while, it becomes routine and routine just isn’t fun.

What’s worse is that you can’t make the layout in one go, you only get a limited amount of magic energy to create holes in the walls and when you run out, you have to go all the way back to the exit, sleep and then get up and go back to the very same place you left the night before. It’s just ridiculous, plus I don’t really see the point of a Dungeon Maker if you can’t share it with people online. It could have become something like LittleBigPlanet where everyone shares their designs, but you can only do this with one person locally. It’s a missed opportunity.

The visuals are also very basic for a DS game, it seems that it would have fared better on the old GBA or even the PSP since the DS’ touch screen is more or less made redundant. The soundtrack is average as are the sounds that you’ll hear during combat and so on.

The Verdict

Dungeon Maker had potential but it fails to deliver a fun experience for which you make dungeons. It shows its limitations early on and it becomes worse as time progresses, the lack of online also hurts it incredibly. I would recommend avoiding this one.

DS Review: Unsolved Crimes

November 5, 2008 by · Comments Off on DS Review: Unsolved Crimes 

Should you solve this case or leave it alone?

You’re a rookie detective – part of the Homicide Division. An aspiring model, Betsy Blake – the sister of your new partner – disappears. A loner is the prime suspect. But this case is a whole lot deeper than it first appears. Can you crack the cases the regular cops can’t? And can you get to the bottom of the kidnapping that’s all over the news?

Solve a series of 8 independent cases

Fully explore 3D crime scenes

On-going Kidnapping storyline

Five separate action games relating to the kidnapping story

Integrates 3D crime investigation, action and quizzes in a revolutionary way not seen on the DS

Innovative use of the Nintendo DS stylus

The DS has had a good history with mystery/detective type games like Phoenix Wright, but how does it stand when compared to a real detective and not a lawyer? Well, the game does have its share of issues but at the end is a compelling game that’s worthy of any DS owner’s collection.

Unsolved Crimes begins with a tutorial case which shows you the basics of the gameplay while keeping the game going. What makes it different is that you can walk around in impressive 3D and interact with objects, finding clues and the like. When you get a piece of evidence, you can also examine it in 3D so you can touch specific parts to get the clue, like touching the word of a spray can to know what colour it is, things like that. It sounds simple, but it gets a bit more complicated as the game progresses.

As you find clues, you’ll be asked to work out parts for your case. So you can be asked who smashed a window or who sprayed the graffiti, and only you can work it out from the clues you have. If you get it wrong, you get a badge taken away and when they are all gone, you must start from the closest checkpoint, so you need to be careful and don’t make hasty decisions. It’s a game of patience as the clues don’t always reveal themselves straight away, you need to look at each bit of evidence and try and work it out.

There is of course, more than one case. The whole game takes about 10-15 hours to do, so it’s not a huge, length one and it’s pretty good to do when travelling. It’s a pick-up-and-play type of game, you wouldn’t think it…but it’s quite addictive, trying to work out who did the crime and finding ways to prove it. For those outside of law enforcement, it’s a good way to play detective. The game does have its problems such as being very text heavy and difficulties moving around using the stylus and d-pad in conjunction whilst in 3D space. Visually though, it makes good use of the hardware. The screenshots don’t do it justice as it looks much better in motion. Trying to get clues, using the stylus can be tough as sometimes they aren’t always recognised. It works for the most part, but not always.

The Verdict

Unsolved Crimes is one of those great DS games that probably won’t do as well as say, Phoenix Wright…but I believe it should. It has some great cases to solve and some clever ways to do it, using the stylus in the best possible way. It can be tricky and awkward with moving around and perhaps too text-heavy, but it’s a game that any detective fan should get their teeth into.

Nintendo DS Review: Littlest Pet Shop – Winter

October 23, 2008 by · Comments Off on Nintendo DS Review: Littlest Pet Shop – Winter 

Can a man find fun in a girly world full of pets? Not quite.

From Electronic Arts Inc.’s Casual Entertainment label, LITTLEST PET SHOP™ brings the magic of owning your own pet shop to your home.

LITTLEST PET SHOP is a game targeted at girls of age 6 – 12. Available on Nintendo DS™ (3 versions).The player will spend most of her time exploring her Pet Shop and earning Kibble Coins as she plays in either the free play mode or in mini-games. Kibble Coins will buy her over 100 accessories for her pets as well as tons of playsets for the 2008 toy-line. The LITTLEST PET SHOP video game is the newest addition to her growing LITTLEST PET SHOP collection.

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EndWar Coming To Handhelds

October 20, 2008 by · Comments Off on EndWar Coming To Handhelds 

Today Ubisoft announced that Tom Clancy’s EndWar™ will be released for the Nintendo DS™ system and the PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system. Developed by Funatics Software and optimized for the handheld platforms, Tom Clancy’s EndWar for handhelds allows players to command an elite military force on the ground, in the air and on the seas during World War III. Take control of the elite U.S. Joint Strike Force, European Enforcers Corps or Russian Spetsnaz Guards Brigade and lead your faction to victory in three separate yet interwoven single-player campaigns. Each campaign includes over 30 battle scenarios taking place on real-world battlefields including Paris and London, and features increasingly challenging missions and objectives. Fight against a friend in tense two-player battles in any of the 100 ready-to-play scenarios or in your own custom-created missions.

Key Features:

• Turn-based strategy with a twist: Simultaneous move and attack phases make the experience as intense and authentic as real-time strategy.

• Three campaigns, one for each faction, with increasingly challenging battle scenarios and objectives.

• Over 20 units and vehicles per faction including ground, air and naval units. Units gain experience in combat, dramatically improving their combat performance.

• Two-player versus multiplayer mode, including additional missions specifically designed for multiplayer battles.

• Easy-to-pick-up mission editor: Create and share your custom battlefields and battle scenarios to play solo or against another player.

• Full stylus control on Nintendo DS.

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon comes to Nintendo DS this Christmas!

October 8, 2008 by · Comments Off on Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon comes to Nintendo DS this Christmas! 

Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection action introduced to classic RPG for first time

8th October 2008 – Find a sacred sword and use it to save a kingdom as Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon heads to Nintendo DS! For the first time in the classic Fire Emblem RPG series, there is the option of multiplayer action over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, adding a whole new dimension of gameplay and strategic planning that can be shared with friends and fans of the series.

Using skill, tactical battle-planning and no small amount of magic, players must embark on a quest to destroy the resurrected dark dragon Medeus, who seeks to conquer the entire world. Charging into battle in Europe on 5 December, 2008, the game is based on Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, which was created in 1990 for the NES console but never released in Europe, despite becoming the most popular in the series in Japan. Now the remake of this NES classic has the popular weapon triangle system integrated for strategic enhancement.

One hundred years since Medeus was slain and the Kingdom Altea founded on the continent of Akaneia, Medeus is back and it falls to exiled prince, Marth, to save the kingdom from ruination. Success for Marth and his comrades rests on finding his father’s sacred sword, Falchion and the Fire Emblem. Only when these are united in Marth’s hands will he be able to confront the dark pontifex Gharnef, avenge the murder of his father and kidnap of his sister, destroy Medeus once and for all and win back the kingdom of Altea.

Turn-based gameplay challenges the player’s strategic thinking, with the nature of the terrain, the strength of enemy forces and the positioning of your own units all needing careful consideration. The Nintendo DS’s Touch Screen enables quick placement of units and the game boasts polished graphics that make the best use of the Nintendo DS system.

A wide range of characters, with unique powers and integrated storylines, adds depth to the game, which features a range of new side stories and several difficulty levels to suit newcomers and seasoned strategists. Using the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, players can battle over the internet or against one another in the same room, using their own characters – with their own special skills and experience. These battles can be enjoyed even more by using the Mic Chat feature during battle. Playing over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection also offers access to a special armoury shop where players can buy special items that allow them to gain a new class of character and also sell weapons to make money. Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection also enables players to loan their battle-seasoned units to other players in order to provide a boost to that player’s forces. Additional units can be uploaded to a server and also borrowed from the server or from a friend by exchanging friend codes.

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon makes its way to Europe on 5th December 2008

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