Touch Detective (NDS) – Review

Touch Detective CoverWith the success of adventure games such as Phoenix Wright on the DS, other titles were sure to follow. “Touch Detective”, developed by Beeworks and published by Altus, is another DS point-and-click adventure, and while the presentation of the game is stellar, seemingly making a game aimed at a young gamer work as an enjoyable game for older gamers, the gameplay and puzzles are lacking the spit and polish that most point-and-click adventure game players will have come to expect.

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Touch Detective (NDS) – Initial Impressions

This is pretty much (to some extent) like old style LucasArts games, save for using the touch screen to touch where you want to go, and what to interact with, which is all pretty straightforward.

The part I’m trying to deal with is that, I want to say it’s a game for yonger female gamers, but the writing is way too witty to be limited to just that.  You play as a young MacKenzie, a girl that’s got a detective agency, and you interact with other girls around town as well as other NPCs, solving mysteries for your friends.  However, besides having the touch screen to show the active area, the top screen shows a closeup of MacKenzie, with facial and body expressions matching her reactions and though bubbles that appear to comments made simultaneously to the conversion on the lower screen.  A character may be going off on a rant, with MacKenzie thinking “Here we go again…”, or MacKenzie may offer to take a case, but be thinking to herself “I have no idea what I’m doing…”.  It’s a very cute mechanic, and if you’re a speed reader (fortunately text speed is pretty good), you’ll possibly miss some of these.  The game itself isn’t hard – it’s just usually a matter of finding the right object to click to discover something new, but I’ve only done part of the first case so there may be more later.

Lunar Knights (NDS) – Initial Impressions

I’m one of those that listens to subtle internet rumors on games, particularly ones for portable systems, and heard that Lunar Knights might be one of the better RPGs for the system in a while (add to the fact that the Metal Gear Solid team is behind it), so I picked it up, and definitely not disappointed.

First, the game actually sounds like one of the best DS titles, effectively using the surround stereo mode for music and minimal, but sufficient, voice clips for the characters. That’s always something to appricate for a system where voicework tends to be ignored due to the medium limitations.

The game itself is an action-RPG, more comparible to western RPGs like Neverwinter Nights or even to Zelda only in the sense that you have no distinction between explore and battle mode. You can sword swing, block, enter a powerful Trance mode, and more. There’s still very standard jRPG elements, which include weapon synthesis, a magic system, effects of night and day AND weather, and more. There’s a good bit of subtle humor among the story too, though certainly it’s too early to determine how it will all work out.

Kirby Squeak Squad (NDS) – Review

Kirby Squeak Squad - CoverWhile the previous Kirby game for the DS was an excellent outing for the system, it did vary significantly from its predecessors in the gameplay style, relying more on the stylus than a standard platforming system. On the other hand, the latest reinvention of Kirby for the DS, Kirby Squeak Squad, produced by HAL Laboratories and distributed by Nintendo, is a return to a standard 2D platformer with a few tricks added in to use the DS touch screen effectively. While the game is very true to it’s roots, it unfortunately lacks a challenge for most experienced gamers and may be over with before the fun really sets in. Continue reading

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (NDS) – Review

Hotel Dusk Cover Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is another adventure game put out for the Nintendo DS by Cing, following on their early title “Trace Memory”. Hotel Dusk borrows much of the concepts from Trace Memory in a good way, and works in a rather great, multilayered, gritty story with additional good gameplay concepts for a text adventure game. Unfortunately, the game comes off a bit too linear and too easy for it’s target audience, though still is definitely a good “read” for the story it provides.

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Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (NDS) – Initial Impressions

I always though the two current portable systems would make for great point and click adventure games in the vein of the old LucasArts ones.  Phoenix Wright shows there’s definitely a market for story-driven games and the DS is a great platform for it.  “Trace Memory”, a game released earlier by Cing (who are being Hotel Dusk) shows elements that could work for an adventure game using the DS, though the game itself is rather easy and geared towards younger audiences.

Hotel Dusk takes what Cing did in Trace Memory and adds a gritty detective story on top of it, making it much more pleasing experience for older gamers looking for a good adventure game.  Most of the game is spent in conversation but there will be times that you can choose the path through a conversation, note when a NPC gives you a new line of questioning, and the like.  You interact with objects in various ways using the DS pad, and you move about the game world using the touchpad to guide yourself on a floorplan while the simple 3D representation of the world occurs on the other screen, allowing you to then inspect and manipulate objects as needed. (As noted by many, the game has you turn the DS sidewise like a book (similar to Brain Age), adaptable to left and right handedness as needed).

I’m already about 2 hrs into it (real time, I’m only into the 2nd half hour of game time) and I still don’t have a good clue as to what’s going on within the plot.  The art use is wonderful, using limited animated pencil/colored sketches to show the characters speaking and displaying emotions.   The difficulty isn’t too hard – yet, as most of my actions pretty much feel linear (eg I had to get money to pay for the room, but I needed to open the suitcase first, meaning I needed to find a way to open it up to start with), but it feels like the game can get divergent later.

Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (NDS) – Review

Portrait of Ruin CoverA continuation on the long-lasted Castlevania series from Komani, Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin keeps most of the same gameplay as it’s previous 2D side-scrolling predecessors, adding a partnering mode previously seen as an unlockable version from Dawn of Sorrow and the use of Quests to give bonuses to the players. The game comes off quite well polished and is definitely another hit for the DS. Continue reading