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Japanese DS Roundup

Taking a closer look at the games we never see here.

SuperLite 2500: Crimson Room

  • Success
  • 2762 Yen / GBP 13.14

I'd be really keen to recommend Crimson Room if it weren't for a couple of problems. The first is that while it's essentially a pictorial puzzle game, the story is completely lost on you if you don't speak Japanese. The second, rather more significantly, is that you can play it for free on the internet. In English.

There are four rooms, each of which needs to be explored by a combination of examining objects and randomly clicking in hope at the edges of the screen. You find objects, use them where they need to be used, and open the door. Where it becomes worthwhile is through the atmosphere it creates, and the accompanying confusion. Where it loses this is in the utter nonsense that's required to solve anything.

Admittedly this is the Flash version, but the DS looks much the same.

There are pros and cons to the free Flash version, or the DS port. The Flash game is incredibly frustrating on occasions, refusing to let you turn, or jumping back and forth when you least want to. On the DS this is all smoothed out with helpful movement arrows at the edge of the screen. However, the DS makes a real meal of the inventory, forcing you to juggle screens despite it being ever-present on the top. But in the end, whichever version you're playing you're either going to need some sort of super-human prescience, or a walkthrough. In Japanese - well, good luck to you.

All four games can be found elsewhere on the Internet, in what amounts to a much more manageable form than the Japanese DS version. And when you kick the wall in frustration, at least you won't have paid for them, even at the budget price.

4/10

Simple DS Series Vol. 28 - The Illust Puzzle & Suuji Puzzle 2

  • D3 Publisher
  • 3082 Yen / GBP 14.66

One Japanese puzzle game that has received a translation to English is the original Simple DS Series Vol. 6 - Illust Logic. Slightly more helpfully titled Essential Sudoku, it was a bemusing release. In fact seeming to prioritise its Picross puzzles above its Sudoku, it then didn't use either of these words, instead calling them "Picture Puzzles" and "Number Puzzles". Frenzied grandmothers desperate for more Sudoku must have been confused, or perhaps delighted, to find a whole other puzzle taking the front seat.

Aaaiiiieeeee! Why would you want to create that?

The reason I present this history lesson is as an introduction some 22 games later in the Simple DS series, with a sequel. Vol. 28 is the very same design, but with thousands of new puzzles of each type.

Essential Sudoku has its fans, but I cannot get along with it. The Sudoku is fine and dandy, and if that's your thing then you'll be happy to have another trillion of the bloody things. However, for Western significance, it has some English language Picross, and that should have been something to get excited about. Even more so, it had Colour Picross - something Nintendo's Picross DS didn't. The trouble is, it was all so clumsy. The much bigger trouble is, the sequel is identical, not a single improvement.

The Picross grids are so tiny that the head of the stylus is about as wide as the squares you're filling in, and there's no measures to compensate for this. Unwieldy, you'll accidentally fill in the wrong boxes all the time, and maddeningly, a second click does not cross out the square, or clear it. Instead you have to tap back and forth at the menu on the left. It's needlessly fussy. Button controls are in fact worse, with no option to cross out a square as default, and no ability to colour-switch with the shoulder buttons (as Hudson's Illust Logic + Colorful Logic so wonderfully executes). It becomes a painstaking to fill puzzles in, when some very simple design changes could have made the whole thing so much more friendly.

If you compare Hudson's previous Illust Logic game to its sequel, the difference is phenomenal. Here no progress whatsoever feels lazy and disappointing.

5/10

If there is a particular Japanese DS game you're curious about, let us know in the comments and we'll try to get to it in future instalments of John's Japanese Adventures (working title).

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