DS Roundup • Page 4

An innovative Daffy Duck game (yes, really), Bomberman and others.

I-Spy Funhouse

  • Developer: Scholastic
  • Publisher: Transposia

James sat slumped at his desk. His head was in his hands.

"Oh, God," he groaned. "I've got a game to review for this DS roundup that nobody cares about one jot, and I've got to think up something clever and incisive to say about it. What am I going to do?"

In those small, night-time hours, he cast his bloodshot eyes towards the game card on the desk. There it was. A mockery of the mini-game format that had bolstered the DS's success before the ugly realities of saturation set in. Mini-games! Why was it always mini-games? [Does this improve? - Ed]

He hadn't even heard of the I-Spy books, but a quick browse of Wikipedia, the reviewer's friend, told him all he needed to know. They contained cluttered, whimsical pictures in which the reader had to find certain hidden objects. Surely... surely that couldn't be what the DS game was all about.

fun

Not quite a quiz, race, nor a real wacky place.

He sighed. It had been just that: six static images and a command to find things within, prodding at them with your stylus upon discovery. What witty insight could he give to that? He sighed once more, before a sudden thought occurred.

"Funhouse? Bumhouse, more like!" he typed, leaning back with a chortle. That should please that unkempt Eurogamer rabble.

He wondered if he should mention how there were a couple of other mini-games in there. There was a match-the-object game of minor interest, another boring block-matching game and a Simon-Says-style one. But what was the point? Nobody cared about yet another shovelware DS game like this cluttering up the shelves. "Why don't you all just buy the books instead if you're so interested?" he thought. But nobody was. His only concern right now was to think up some decisive way to conclude this review and get some sleep. After a long pause, it came to him at last.

"I spy with my little eye, something beginning with 'T O O T'."

3/10

My Animal Centre In Australia

  • Developer: Wizarbox
  • Publisher: BrainGame

Bright pink colours border the game's box. A pretty girl holding a happy, bandaged koala smiles out at us. A Joey peeks playfully from his mother's pouch. A dolphin and seal play in the background. Eyes track to the right side of the picture. Eyes do a double take. There lies the unsettling image of a blank-eyed kangaroo embracing an all-too ecstatic dolphin from behind.

Unless I've grossly misread the situation, I think the message here is that in the absence of stimulating activity, we have to make our own entertainment. Not that there's any inter-species loving in this game. There is, however, a lack of stimulating activity. By which, if I can successfully dig myself out this hole, I mean that as a vet tending to animals Down Under (and usually down under as far as medical examinations are concerned), there's not that much variety in My Animal Centre.

There are six different kinds of animals to attend to, each handled in almost exactly the same way. They come in for diagnosis in your outback surgery, which involves selecting an instrument and pressing circles on the touch-screen at random until the correct problem is found. The really sick animals stay and you tend to their 'need' bars, ala The Sims, in order to keep them happy and healthy. If you get them through the requisite rest period, you'll earn money to spend on new equipment and upgrades.

animal

Enjoy feeding the animals. You'll spend the rest of the game picking up their obscenely prolific poo shortly after.

Those koalas and wombats may look cute. Trouble is, instead of feeling like you're caring for the animals, it's the status bars that get all your attention. As long as they're filled, your day's work is done, so you find yourself mechanically topping them up as the game demands with the same monotonous but simple tasks of petting and feeding every time. They might as well have put lumps of rock in the cages such is the engagement felt. When that's done, tending to each sick animal takes such a short time out of your virtual day, you then spend the majority of it tucked in bed for hours on end, forcing time to pass quicker as there's literally nothing else to do.

Your progress is rewarded with upgrades to your home and surgery, but you don't get to choose where things go. Objects you purchase are placed where the game says so. A bit of choice in designing your own practice wouldn't have gone amiss.

It's less that the game needs more challenge given its intended audience of young girls; it just needs more to do. It takes no time at all to get bored of the same old thing and you'll have to make your own fun. Now, if there was a mini-game in which you had to try to avert your wombat's gaze from an alluring duck-billed platypus we might have been in a less indifferent mood about it all.

4/10

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