I’ve been playing a lot of DS games lately, partly because there have been a lot of really great things coming out for it over the past few months (and some really great stuff on the way, too). Here are some reviews!
Disgaea DS is kind of incredible–it’s the kind of game that you can play forever. Like, literally, as there is so much content to this game (the lengthy story mode, the near-infinite item world, and the caves of trials, to name a few) that it literally would take months, if not years, to play through it all. Unfortunately, there’s no reason to do this. Outside of the humorous story mode driven by the well-written characters (fully voiced during major cutscenes, no less!), the other aspects of Disgaea DS are the epitome of grinding. No strategy is really present in this so-called “strategy RPG”, unless you count leveling your characters up into the hundreds or thousands and then reincarnating them back to level one with higher stats. You can then proceed to re-level these characters back up into the thousands, and then reincarnate them again, yea, unto seven generations, until you’ve created some kind of god penguin. Why would anyone be interested in this? The game promotes this technique, as actual strategy is abandoned in favor of a “who can hit for the most numbers?” game. The Dark Senate, in which you can manipulate game rules during battle, is the best example of this. I suppose if you’re willing to forgive the grind or, if you are some kind of super freak that enjoys this shit, then the game has a lot to offer. To me and Mr. Face, well…
[!/mrface4.jpg "Mr. Face say this game OKAY. Mr. Face never wrong!")
*Mr. Face say this game OKAY.
Mr. Face never wrong!*
Having never played Dementium: The Ward or Metroid Prime: Hunters, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Moon not only controlled well, but it was actually fun to play. It’s not without problems: health/ammo pickups are too small to know what they are from a distance; some of the enemy designs are, for lack of a better word, retarded; the combat rarely feels visceral unless you are trapped in some hallway, and even then it’s just a couple of shitty space balls shooting space balls at you; and the levels are usually the same green-brown throughout the entire thing, ensuring that you will be lost at some point. Even with all this going against it, Moon doesn’t disappoint. The story is engaging and even creepy at points, making your exploration of this derelict moon ruin feel tense. And when the combat does click, the DS provides enough control to make you feel like a badass as you shoot aliens and their shitty robot orbs. My only huge complaint is that the game is on the DS: while it works (and works well multiple times throughout), I can’t help but wonder how the game would have played on the Wii or the 360.
[!/mrface4.jpg "Mr. Face say this game GOOD. Mr. Face never wrong!")
*Mr. Face say this game GOOD.
Mr. Face never wrong!*
Retro Game Challenge
When the worst thing you can say about a game is that it takes to long to move through the menus, you’ve got a good game on your hands. Each of the games presented to you by Arino, the evil digital head who lives in a DS, taps the nostalgia keg and keeps it flowing until the last dregs are gone. Some games, like Star Prince and Robot Ninja Haggle Man 3, are better than 80% of the shit clogging the virtual console; others, like the Rally King games, are literally shit-from-a-butt bad. During the campaign, you are presented with bite-sized challenges to complete like “Get 20,000 points!” or “Beat the end boss without using cheats!” that feel like achievements or trophies and keep the flow the game going. Once all of the challenges for a game have been beaten, you can go back and play through them at your leisure–many of them are good enough to spend a lot of time with. Outside of the games, instruction manuals (“…but in doing so I would be an idiot, as I never opened the instructions.”), magazines, and even a new controller add depth to the game world. Where Retro Game Challenge succeeds so well is in recreating those lazy Saturday afternoons where you and a buddy would play Mega Man 3 all day. While there are better DS games out there, none of them provide the kind of satisfaction you’ll find here.
[!/mrface5.jpg "Mr. Face say this game AWESOME. Mr. Face never wrong!")
*Mr. Face say this game AWESOME.
Mr. Face never wrong!*