Contact Review (DS)

If a game can make you believe for just a second that you matter; that there’s more to life than pressing B and making your character attack, should we call it art? When we picked up Contact, we were told that it wasn’t strictly an RPG, but very similar in form to one. We were also told that the game was quirky and different somehow; that Rising Star and Grasshopper manufacture Inc. had pulled out something quite unusual. We weren’t lied to.

The worlds are varied, scenery is lush and dense Indoor and outdoor action; Terry sleeps when he’s dead

From the off set, you find yourself in communication with an off world, manic Professor in his space ship. In control of Terry, you actually play yourself in this game but spend your time steering Terry around in order to help him collect power cells to fuel the Professor’s crashed space ship. The strange sensation that your DS is somehow an intergalactic communication device is certainly quirky as we were promised! Reminding us rather in fact, of the first Command and Conquer game during which the full motion video sequences are filmed in such as way as to make you believe you, the player, quite literally are a battle commander and are watching mission tapes.

From then on in, you explore levels in a roaming sense. You’ll meet monsters that you have to attack, but don’t take on too much in one go. Fights are overly simple – perhaps too much for some. You’ll have to use trial and error to discover where you have to go next and what you have to do, since the Professor babbles on randomly the whole time. It feels very real and gripping in one sense, but also somewhat disjointed. RPG veterans will manage fine to press on, whereas we recommend newbies to RPG gaming steer their fancies somewhere more straight forward and obvious.

The backbone of almost every RPG is levelling your character. Levelling up is what you’d expect in Contact and with plenty to improve on. There are many abilities to increase and the way you get better is simply practice – using them. In this sense, it’s simple. The downside is that combat is auto attack driven, you simply select an enemy and using the sword attack icon, watch Terry assault the monster and hope you‘ll win. The game is strangely mixed up in these competing two sensations the whole time; quirky goodness and a strange feeling that it all matters somehow, along with boredom and repetitiveness. The stylus is used, though not taken full advantage of. The controls are easy to understand and the learning curve is gradual and not demanding. In terms of physical ability to play, the box reads about right. We reckon a child could control this game; whether or not they’d have a clue what was going on is another matter though.

It’s rare to say but this really is a game that some are going to love and others loath, with neither being insane. The game is quirky and different, it offers a lot to do and if RPGs are your thing then you might be one of these people who fall in love with it. But for everything Contact innovates, it also sometimes frustrates. We’d say it’s unlikely that a gamer new to RPG titles would fall in love with this, instead finding it confusing and a bit too ‘out there’.

In short, it’s a lot of innovation and quirkiness packed into a strange little game. Some of you will like it and some of you won’t. It’s impossible to tell from reading someone else’s opinion, so the best thing to do is rent it out or ask to try it before you buy it. There are a lot of other Japanese-influenced DS games out there, and other RPGs to choose from. Contact doesn’t have to be the one for you – but it could be. It’s very deep, complicated and there are plenty of lovely looking things to do.

As with every great RPG, you gotta’ level up! Absolutely beautiful scenes await you using double screen

Our thoughts? Nice idea, executed well in spots but not in others. Contact packs flair and innovation, unique quirks and it’s interesting. Downsides though, even it out; sometimes repetitive, strange and a bit hit-and-miss. The meat of the game is often dull but the quirks are a lot of fun. A definite try before you buy.

Top Game Moment:
I’m an RPG head. Levelling up, of course!