Friday, March 13, 2009

Nintendo DS = Goodness

Haven't really posted anything in a little bit, mainly due to lack of anything interesting coming along. Other than... I've rediscovered my DS due to my R4 cart and a plethora of titles that would've otherwise cost me well over $500 if I had acquired them through "non-R4 means". *ニコ* I've been alternating between ぼくらの検定 (Bokura no Terebi Geemu Kentei) or loosely translated, something like: Our Videogame Certification, and Puzzle Quest. The latter of which is super addicting, my friend's girlfriend did a lot of the art for it, and I like it all the more because of that.

I'm sure everyone's heard of Puzzle Quest by this point in time. After all it is available for nearly every platform including the iPod Touch. Game Kentei, however, I'm sure not a great many people know about. This game is produced by Namco and features a number of canonical Namco titles, as well as some weird obscure ones that I've never run into before. Games like Dragon Spirit, Sky Kid, Galaga, Galaxian, Dig Dug and Mappy appear in 10 to 90 second minigames where you have to accomplish various tasks to succeed. It's sorta like a totally Namco, totally 8-bit Warioware. Other titles pop up too, I've encountered the Famicom SD version of Splatterhouse, Wagyan (a game with a little green dinosaur that seems strangely familiar for some reason), Family Stadium and more.

The presentation and layout are fairly outstanding. The interface and menus have that distinctly Japanese feel to them, complete with 8-bit sound effects and soft, lush visuals. The top screen allows you to take control of Picotto, your navigator that looks like a yellow arcade machine with a cute smiley face on it. ^^; You can walk through the city Picotto lives in and as you progress in the challenges you can talk to the various Namco characters that show up. My favorite is the "foreign" tennis player that speaks broken Japanese (mainly all katakana) like "Mai neemu izu".

You engage in "challenges" that consist of five-event gamuts, for each one you get a rank from S to C depending on if you're successful or you fubar it or you fall somewhere between the two. You have three hearts, if you really suck and manage to deplete all 3 before you finish the five events for that part, then it's game over. If you (more than likely) finish all five in a group, depending on how your ranks tally up, you get a Bronze, Silver or Gold medal. This works two-fold: you need a certain number of points to get the "certification test" for that rank and Bronze awards 5, Silver 10 and Gold 20, also, accumulating Gold medals gives you access to an Endless Challenge Mode, game-specific Challenge Modes, "Melody Badges" that play music from the various games (not a bad idea for a shokugan or gashapon toy, imo, like Soundrops) and more.

The challenges themselves range from insipid or easy to frustratingly idiotic. I'd say that if you want to save yourself frustration, you wouldn't buy this game unless you had some decent command of the Japanese language, or at least someone nearby that can read for you on the fly. There are a few games I don't recognize that require reading within the challenge, and much to my pleasant surprise I understand things second nature now that a few years ago I would've struggled with. One is a game where you have to get information about a crime and then accuse the right person (or anthropomorphic animal as the situation dictates), another where you have to identify the character in the picture, a dating sim where you have to "capture the girl's heart!" by reading what she likes and responding correctly, a word game where they give you a hiragana character and number of characters in the word and then you have to pick the picture that matches that, a game where you have to mix items to create a new one, and a game where you have to search a room for clues and find a ring based on those clues. So yeah, not really for non-readers so much. Not to mention having to read the objectives of the challenges themselves.

All in all it's a really fun, really addictive game. It's really redundant at points, as the endless mode, the game-specific challenges mode, the categorical challenge mode and the online rnaking mode are all pretty much the same thing just packaged differently. But trying to get Gold on every challenge is fun and not a short or easy task, believe me.

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