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Nintendo DS Review: Playmobil: Knights

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Basic medieval adventure elements like a princess rescue, flying dragons, magic swords, and sorcerers are all present as a red haired farmer plays the hero in the affordable and entertaining Playmobil: Knights. As the farmer battles rival knights at the request of an embattled king, players focus on unlockables, item collection, and battles both on the ground and in the air with various types of dragons.

There is a lot do here with more than 90 quests and missions to complete. Three save files and automatic saves keeps players progress intact. Auto saves occur when switching settings, collecting key objects, or completing missions. Players can eventually unlock as many as eight replayable minigames which are accessible through Nestor the Jester and include treasure hunting, floods, castle defense, potion making, and visual memory. Players can also replay the basic conquest minigame in two player single card or multi-card play. This minigame features rock-paper-scissors like battle where players choose among bombs (removed after use), spears, swords, or axes. Players protect their crown and attackers get the tiebreaker when players choose the same weapon. Developers should have expanded the castle defense game while adding it to the multiplayer conquest game.

In the game, players collect weapons, defense items, dragons, and powerful magic among 16 different villages and markets with purchases from the grocer, blacksmith, and herbalist. Players should upgrade their dragon through Donald the Dragon Whisperer as soon as possible for a fighting chance, especially because the aerial gameplay requires lots of  defense and speed. Players can temporarily avoid aerial attackers within nine areas, but eventually risk all their progress, supplies, and even the dragon itself in close encounters with stronger antagonists. The aerial gameplay needs more intuitive controls and an expanded tutorial/training section, though the manual provides helpful information.

This all-ages game has a basic interface with jumps, attacks, item collection, and special interactions with purchased dragons. The controls and actions are simple though an expanded training mode for aerial settings would have been very helpful. The control scheme mainly involves the traditional control pad and button combinations in the main areas, which include basic explorations and during competitions like jousts. Players mainly use the stylus in the accessible mini games. Developers also use the NDS touch capabilities for menu/item selections while players can blow into the microphone to make the dragon fly faster.

The cut scenes concentrate on music and sound effects with text dialogue. Developers include a surprisingly high amount of animation with 3D environments. A solid recommendation for this $19.99 suggested retail priced game. Available languages include English, German, French, Spanish and Dutch. Playmobil: Pirates is also available on the Nintendo DS system.

Playmobil: Knights is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for crude humor and mild cartoon violence.


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