The PAX 2008 show floor was full of DS titles from many different developers. Some were simple ports or games tied in to console releases. Others were games made to stand on their own for Nintendo’s handheld console. While a good majority of these games were at Nintendo’s own booth, there were a few other notable titles scattered around the show:
Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ (Release date: Oct. 28, 2008)
Don’t ignore this game because of it’s long, silly-sounding name or the fact that Destineer is publishing it: Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ is a game that’s hard to hate if you’re a fan of retro gaming.
Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ might just be PAX’s greatest hidden gem. Developed by Enjoy Up and Gammick Entertainment, the game’s story centers around Little Red Riding Hood and her friend Momotaro saving the world of fairy tales from a zombie invasion. Why Little Red Riding Hood is friends with a character out of Japanese mythology, I’ll probably never know. But beyond the seemingly silly story is a game with pretty solid game play.
Zombie BBQ is a rail shooter on the DS set in a third-person view from up above your main characters. While forward movement is controlled automatically, you can move side-to-side and will have to do so to dodge enemies and their attacks. The enemies are a bit comically oversized and come at you in wave after wave, giving it a definite retro feel. As you progress through each level, you can pick up power-ups fro your weapons that will fire faster and/or do more damage. It’s like Destineer, Gammick and Enjoy Up have just backed a dump truck full of fun up to your house and are ready to unload it.
While Zombie BBQ isn’t perfect – the fact that it’s on rails is a small let-down, but far from a game killer – the story and actual game play aren’t too bad. This is definitely a DS title where you can let your mind go for a bit and just have a great time. Here’s hoping the game will be solid fun all the way through.
Bangai-O Spirits (Currently available)
The latest creation of legendary developer Treasure, Bangai-O Spirits is a very hard game to describe. There’s action, puzzles and plenty of shoot ‘em up action , all in one cartridge. It’s hard to describe unless you play it for yourself.
Based on the original Dreamcast title, Bangai-O Spirits has a ton to do. There are over 160 levels, plenty of weapons that can be mixed and combined, replays and most of all, customizable maps. If you can dream it, you can probably do it in Bangai-O Spirits’ customization mode. The only bad part is that you can customize some of the levels as you play them, making them harder or easier at your choosing. This huge difference in difficulty is a sticking point throughout the whole game, as it never really gets progressively harder: it just jumps around all over the place in terms of difficulty. The action is a bit microsized, too, meaning it can sometimes be hard to see where things are, leading you to a quick death.
For what it’s worth, the game plays pretty well and it’s a fun adventure, but it is certainly not for everyone, namely a large swath of the DS’ audience. If you love old-school titles or shoot em’ ups, you may be tempted to pick up Bangai-O Spirits.
Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood (Release date: Sept. 30, 2008)
While console Sonic titles have been called into question over the past few years, the DS has been home to some of the best Sonic titles in recent memory. Sega hopes to continue that trend by taking Sonic somewhere he has never been before – the world of RPGs.
Development for Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood was entrusted to noted RPG developer BioWare, now a subsidiary of Electronic Arts. What came out of BioWare’s development is not just a Sonic RPG title, but a game with an artistic and story direction that differs greatly from Sega. The story starts off with Sonic and his friends after a recent defeat of Dr. Eggman. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, Knuckles has been kidnapped and the Chaos Emeralds stolen by an unknown force. It’s up to Sonic and Co. to free Knuckles, find the Emeralds and save the world.
BioWare’s hands are clearly all over this game – trademarks like their multiple-choice dialogue system are clearly in place here. However, since Sonic Chronicles doesn’t have character relationships that are affected by dialogue, these sequences are used to uncover new missions in the game. You will be able to customize your party as you unlock more playable characters as well. Each character features unique abilities that will help you explore the island if they are your lead character. Switching lead characters is accomplished pretty simply from the menu screen with a few taps of the stylus. The stylus is also used with the touch screen to control character movement and in some cases, combat itself.
In turn-based combat, there are several different kinds of actions that can be taken. Besides the default attack and defend choices, there are also special attacks that can be used. There are both individual and team special attacks, with the latter requiring certain party combinations. The special attacks are the areas of combat that use the stylus, requiring a rhythmic based mini-game to be played, similar to Elite Beat Agents/Ouendan. These parts do take some getting used to, but after a while, they become pretty easy to master.
Overall, the game is a fantastic experience and a great first foray of Sonic into the RPG genre. BioWare has hinted that they may produce a sequel if this game sells well enough, and I expect the game to do just that.
Ninjatown (Release date: October 2008)
Based on the popular lines of toys created by Shawnimals (a.k.a. former EGM editor Shawn Smith), Ninjatown tells the story of a peaceful place where ninjas roam free. That is, until one day, the nearby volcano erupts and the town is attacked by Mr. Demon. It’s up to players to save Ninjatown and put an end to Mr. Demon’s plans … whatever they are.
The game is part-action, part-strategy. The strategy part comes from the fact that you’ll be tasked with building ninja houses. Each house provides two of a certain type of ninja, with each of the 12 ninja types having unique attributes. These houses, and subsequently the ninjas themselves, can be upgraded based on the points you have accumulated during game play. Once you’ve decided what ninjas to place, it will be up to you to command them as you fight off waves of enemy demons. A counter at the bottom of the screen not only tells you what wave you’re on, but shows you what kinds of demons are on the way, letting you figure out who to send into action. On top of that, the art style is very colorful and extremely cute, yet the game offers plenty of value through 35 single-player levels and multiplayer action over WiFi.Powered by Sidelines