DS Roundup • Page 2

Shiren the Wanderer, Draglade, Brain Benders, Zoo Hospital, Hurry Up Hedgehog!

Draglade

  • Developer: Dimps
  • Publisher: 505 Games

Despite the anime look of the box, I was a little surprised this wasn't a licensed tie-in, especially since it evokes memories of the similar-sounding Beyblade, a franchise that remarkably managed to bring the spinning top back into fashion. But, sadly, no. Draglade wasn't the hoop-and-stick or hopscotch game of the twenty-first century, filled with flaming power-ups and Alpha Zero subtitles I was expecting.

Proving, however, that some things never go out of fashion, it is instead another fighting game with your traditional histrionic anime story attached, and a set of bizarre terms to justify its premise. Draglade is about men who love to grap, the name given to those who fight with G-Con bracelets. It's these devices which convert matter into glades. Combatants aspire to fight in dedicated exams in order to become master grappers. Don't worry, it almost makes sense an hour or so in.

While Draglade's main selling point is its rhythm-based special moves, the feature isn't all that exciting in practice. Light and hard punches can be chained together in the form of high and low notes. By either purchasing pre-made ones or custom-building your own, you can knock people out to your preferred jingle. In reality this means tapping the Y button in time to the beat, something that's only as good as the tune you make. Really, it's more of a personal touch to your fighter than any tactical advantage.

2
Not many games let you knock someone out to the opening bars of Quincy.

Most of the strategy will be spent launching bullets instead. They're the name for the power-ups you spend most of the time collecting: elemental attack and defence moves that make up the crux of your tactics, thumbed on the touch-screen or fired with the A button. There's a large selection which, again, you can customise to your character to give some personality online or in single-player mode. They also provide an incentive for replay in your goal to collect the best ones and use them online.

The four different characters to choose from in singe-player mode each get their own story and goals to follow, each cribbing plot points from the other but being different enough to offer another play-through for those inclined. Nevertheless, a lot of tedium lies in the actual vanilla fighting stages and beyond. In the scrolling levels connecting cities and in dedicated quests, the mutant animals you confront take an age to kill, and the game doesn't let you go further until you've beaten them all. In addition, the towns you visit are your usual empty shells with a shop and a handful of citizens giving two-sentence opinions about the situation at hand.

For a special move-heavy beat-'em-up, though, once you get into a decent one-on-one fight it picks up. It may not have the depth of a grown-up beat-'em-up, or even other DS fighters out there, but to a hyperactive anime fan, its colourful energy won't offend your sensibilities too much.

6/10

Zoo Hospital

  • Developer: Torus
  • Publisher: Majesco

Spend any amount of time at the zoo and you'll observe a well-versed hierarchy in terms of who gets the most attention. The monkeys, elephants, and penguins pull the crowds, ogled like Daniel Craig in a pair of Speedos. Meanwhile the poor tapirs and red pandas can only muster a crowd of zoologists and grim grandparents, forcing the kids round every enclosure in a determined effort to get their money's worth.

Sickness knows no boundaries, however, and Zoo Hospital allows no favourites when it comes to treating the many different birds and animals afflicted by wounds and illnesses. Your life is in their hands and you're employed to treat the concerns that can sometimes threaten the very money lining the pockets of the zoo's bosses - sorry, I mean threaten the very life of those adorable sheltered species.

3
The rectal thermometer sub-game was mercifully taken out at the last minute.

As appointed vet, your task is to identify what's troubling the animal and then remedy it accordingly. The first process is done by selecting an examination tool from the list, then touching selected boxes on the animal's body until you find out what's wrong. Sometimes you have to check whether its readings match those of the average, but it's perfectly simple, unthinking pointing and clicking.

The actual treatment is a Trauma Centre-lite array of mini-games, mostly involving rubbing ointment or tapping at bugs on screen. Doing it quickly earns you a better rank, yet it contains none of the punishing difficulty of that hospital game, and you'll soon become adept. Both involve a nurse giving irritating instructions that you have to tap through, and can't turn off, even if you've heard them a hundred times.

And that's your lot. Being a zoo doctor has the potential for entertainment for those inclined, but what is perfectly enjoyable at first soon falls to repetition. There are only a few dozen maladies and symptoms reoccur far too often. The methods of searching for and treating them begin to overlap far sooner than you'd like. The ability to pick and choose or manage your workload is also non-existent. Once you treat one member, the game automatically forces you onto the next random one with no say in the matter. The only end in sight is the medals you get once the game decides you've performed well enough to earn them. In terms of extra content, the best you can hope for is a stale animation of your patient with a brief educational paragraph below.

Considering the Sisyphean nature of your never-ending task to heal the animals, it's a wonder this zoo wasn't closed down years ago. There's definitely something rum going on with the amount of bites, scratches and swallowed spoons this game throws at you. A more concerned person would start an inquiry. I'll just shut off my DS.

4/10

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James Lyon

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