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Players definitely need the magic touch in this handheld role playing game from id software.

Nintendo DS Review: Orcs & Elves

This handheld role playing game from id software (Doom, Wolfenstein) has many quests and challenges through fortresses and dungeons. You definitely need the magic touch (potions, etc.) playing as a heroic elf battling orcs with help from a materialistic dragon, the wise elf Ellon, and a few other friends. Based on the original cell phone game developed by John Carmack, this 12-level Nintendo DS version expands several elements while featuring standard RPG elements like item collection, special portals, traps, and puzzles including color combinations to open locked doors.

Set at Mount Kharrkarag, the storyline unfolds as the action does. Ellon explains how the elves found defeat under orc leader Lord Bruul as you progress through passageways and underground areas. Players begin with a sword and wand. Predictably, timing is key with sword work and the wand is useful for distance attacks. After your initial adventures, players eventually get to barter for new items, including crossbows and war hammers, with the dragon.

The plentiful magical items offer tons of help, but since they’re not really integrated into the levels, players can get by without them in some situations. This setup presents an interesting condition, which probably helps the experience overall and creates a more open experience where players don’t feel limited. These magical items can help players while they replay levels (unless they read through the extensive manual before playing and understand all the power/abilities). The health repair magic items including the ale enhancement (thus, part of the reason for the T rating) help the most.

The grid-based spacing presents a few challenges in the movement/navigation department, as is the case with most handheld console games. Some of the tight passages can create challenges, though available maps can help. Thankfully, players can strafe, teleport and access helpful shortcuts/hidden spots where they can easily pick off the baddies before they move to the next area. Players won’t find many advantages in waiting for the enemies to make the first move. The real time combat still feels turn based because enemies often don’t make a move until you do.

The game makes some use of Nintendo DS capabilities using the touch screen when casting spells and for the menu system. The double screen includes a nice graphical format where players can see their item-filled belt then their inventory below on the touch screen. The sound effects are pretty basic and a driving music score is surprisingly absent. Extended voice work and expanded sound effects would be a definite improvement. Most players might need double digit hours to complete the game while finding most of the items, otherwise experienced players can whip through it fairly quickly. A solid title that’s reasonably priced. Look for Orcs & Elves II on mobile phone.

Orcs & Elves is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Fantasy Violence and Alcohol Use.


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