DS Roundup • Page 2

Prey the Stars, Subbuteo, Driving Theory Training, Bakushow, PictoImage.

Subbuteo

  • Developer: Artematica
  • Publisher: 505 Games

Now here's one we haven't heard from in a while. It's one of those real-life childhood games that, like Guess Who? and Mouse Trap, you'd think had been trampled underfoot by the might of the videogame already, but no, they're still cranking them out and you can buy them in your local toy shop (even though you wouldn't know where that was). Still, that hasn't stopped them trying to make some cash porting the football-flicking Subbuteo to DS, where it can try to avail itself to masses weaned on FIFA and PES.

In the spirit of the Subutteo itself, there's no real-time action here. Instead, it's a turn-based set-up tied into the original game's rule-set. Two players are allowed a set number of moves to knock the ball up the field and into the net by flicking players set onto plastic hemispheres around the pitch.

It's something you'd expect the DS to do well, letting the stylus and touch-screen simulate the experience of batting a player around with your index finger. Bizarrely, that's not an option. Instead you're forced to adjust the shot strength and angle by pressing a few arrows around a picture of a virtual hand before tapping on your player to take the shot. Where's the fun in that?

That detachment carries over to the graphics by way of a sole camera stuck in a bird's-eye viewpoint, which makes the players all look like indistinguishable dots on the pitch. The sound, too, is made up of awful samples that I can only guess are meant to be people cheering. At least they've drawn a few creases on the pitch, presumably to give it character.

Still, if you can get past the poor visuals and presentation, you could wring a few decent matches out of the two-player game, assuming you like your football a little slower-paced. Without the tactility of the original tabletop tile, though, it fails to capture much of what made its parent game popular in the first place. Flick off, basically.

4/10

PictoImage

  • Developer: SEGA
  • Publisher: SEGA
2

Why so sad, Mr Tiger?

PictoImage being a Pictionary (or Win, Lose or Draw, if you will) derivative, I really wanted to start this review with a mathematical step-by-step comparison of the costs and energy expended playing the game on DS as opposed to using a good old-fashioned pen and paper. It didn't take long to decide against it. Not only because it would lead me into a headache minefield of minutiae in trying to discover how many kilojoules of energy you expend doodling in the pages of a WH Smith spiral-bound notepad, but because the answer would inevitably lead to the self-righteous Daily Mail conclusion that the non-electronic method is far better and I'm turning into the kind of person who grumbles that the old days were far better when kids had to make up their own entertainment.

Is paper really better, though? In PictoImage's main multiplayer mode, you're given a word and have to use the stylus to draw as best an approximation of it as you can for the other person to guess. There's a big selection of easy and hard words here, the sketchpad interface is simple enough for your basic needs and there's a variety of different modes to satisfy a bored car journey. All you could ask for, really.

To make your money go further, they've even stuck a single-player mode in here as well, giving you around 300 ready-made images or so, all drawn by different age groups, to guess. Funnily enough, it's often the under-fives' scribblings that provide the most challenge in this game. You feel rather proud of yourself when you realise that the abstract series of squiggles in front of you is actually a pillow. Ah, bless, you virtual moppet.

It's a guess-the-drawing parlour game for all intents and purposes, though, and there's always a nagging feeling in the back of your mind that there's far better things to do on a DS than this. As long as the likes of Professor Layton or Picross exist, it's easily overlooked.

5/10

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