Tech News on G4
New DS titles: One winner, one loser
Oct 14, 2011
By John Powell - G4 Canada
Looking to capitalize on the success the Pokémon franchise has had, would be copycats still surface from time to time. If you've played the best of the best, it is hard to accept any substitutes, particularly when they are just shadows of the original.
Last year's 'Invismals' on the PSP was an example of borrowing the Pokémon formula but spinning it in a decidedly different direction creating something that stood on its own. This year's entry - 'Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2' - is nothing more than an uninspired imitator.
As boring as watching a carpet being steam cleaned, DQM is an awful take-off of the awful 'Pokémon Ranger' series. Someone should tell developers that dungeon crawlers just don't cut it anymore. They went out with those flashy Miami Vice suits, the Walkman and PC gaming.
When choices were limited, people didn't mind spending hours and hours stumbling around unadorned caves, mazes fighting the same creatures over and over again. Nowadays, with all the wide-ranging titles and experiences to be had, dungeon crawlers are not high on anyone's list; except maybe junior gamers who just don't know any better.
In DQM, you are a monster "scout" trying to catch as many creatures as you can so you can successfully turn-base battle other creatures. Sound familiar? Heading to a tournament, you stowaway on a ship and upon being discovered, a slender storyline strand leads you from place to place, helping people, slaying monsters and gaining special items to assist you on your quest to be the greatest Pokémon Master…I mean…Dragon Quest Monsters Scout…in the world.
The cutscenes take full advantage of the DS screens but the production work on the settings and the monsters themselves is just dreadful. I was particularly stunned by the lack of detail in any of the creatures as they are the real selling points, the real stars of the game…or at least they should be if we have learned anything from the Pokémon or Yu-Gi-Oh franchises.
The big distinction between 'DQM' and Pokémon is that once your pets have reached a certain level, you can combine them with other pets in your roster creating whole new creatures. I must admit, that functionality is brilliant. It is about the only lesson the Pokémon developers can take from this series. Other than those monster makeovers, DQM just doesn't have a whole lot going for it. Adventuring around is plodding slow, so wearisome and thoroughly unrewarding. Even diehard Pokémon addicts will not be able to tolerate a game that has all the personality and excitement of a Magikarp.
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2
Me and those oddly shaped Tetris pieces, we have never gotten along. I particularly loathe those "L" shaped ones. They are the bane of my Tetris existence. No matter how they fall, I can never, ever fit them in properly. Not then and not now.
I confess. I am spatially challenged. I have never finished a Rubik's cube without using a screwdriver to pop the blocks off. I cannot see those hidden shapes in those 3D stereogram pictures. I always fell off the landing pads in Qbert.
That said, 'Tetris Axis' for the Nintendo 3DS is a puzzle fan's dream. Not only are the puzzles and the backgrounds in gorgeous 3D but there are a whole host of specialize modes that will have you shifting shapes for hours and hours.
Fever mode allows you to use unusual items which change the colours of the blocks, gives you more time or fills in open spaces between blocks.
In AR (Augmented Reality) mode, you use the AR cards included with your 3DS to play an AR Tetris with the matrix cascading off of a table or desktop in front of you. Pretty cool stuff.
In Versus Battle, you can take on an opponent and use special items like calling in a spaceship to remove four lines from their matrix to hinder them. Not only can you square off against other puzzle ninjas online but there are scores of other party and feature modes to keep you busy.
Hudson Soft had put everything and anything into 'Tetris Axis' giving puzzle fans true value for their money. There is so much to see and do that you won't be putting this title on a shelf any time soon.
While I still completely suck at Tetris, I learned one important thing playing 'Axis'. I suck even more when it is in 3D.
About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.