DS Demoman: Bird’s the Word

2 Jun

Demolicious!

(Each week, I’ll be taking a look at the DS demos offered through the Wii’s Nintendo Channel and giving my thoughts on the good, the bad, and the buyable.)

THE GOOD

Crosswords DS & My Word Coach

I can see Crosswords DS selling the Nintendo DS to the older, non-traditional crowd. The interface is great, as any crossword game’s interface should be if it wants to replace good ole’ pen and paper. You can choose between easy, medium, and hard difficulties which increase both the size of the puzzle and the difficulty of the words. I think if the game offered new puzzles for download each week, Crosswords DS would be really tempting. As it is, though, I wouldn’t bother shelling out the cash for the real deal.

My Word Coach surprised me with it’s Tetris influence. Basically, you’re given some words to spell on the left, while letter blocks drop and collect on the right. Spelling one of the words gets rid of the blocks you selected and earns you points. Of course, the game gives you the letters you need, just not always in the order they’re in on the left. As time progresses, the letters fall faster and things start to get hectic, just like regular Tetris. The queue of words on the left is updated after you spell one, but eventually the list runs out. When it does, the round ends and seamlessly goes onto the next with two lines of letter blocks to start you off again.

I’m not so sure My Word Coach is the best way to assist students in their spelling, but it is pretty fun, at least for a while. I think a mode where you spell words off the top of your head, the more complex the better, would be pretty neat, but for all I know, such a mode might already be in the final version. Of course, I won’t actually buy the game when are plenty of decent word games for free across the internet.

The Spiderwick Chronicles

I didn’t see the movie, which looks like a Narnia ripoff to begin with, but from the commercials I’ve seen, I wasn’t expecting much from the Spiderwick Chronicles game. The demo started off lame enough, but once I was introduced to the turned-based battle system, I was pleasantly surprised.

It’s not quite an RPG since there’s no experience points or stats (at least not that I noticed), but the battles play out like one nonetheless. In battle, each command requires some stylus input to determine the effect. For spells, you collect different sprites that you find in bushes or sunlight. When you use them, you choose how much power you want, but you can’t ask for too much without first earning their trust (not sure how that develops in the full game.)

I doubt the full game will blow anyone’s mind, but as a demo, The Spiderwick Chronicles had me entertained for ten minutes or so.


THE BAD

Iron Man

Unlike The Spiderwick Chronicles, this game perfectly meets the expectations most people have of movie games. In Iron Man, you’ll pretty much spend your entire time holding the stylus to the screen to fire lasers in that direction. I suppose it’s kind of neat that you can fly around freely while firing in any direction you choose, but it doesn’t matter much since the gameplay pretty much consists of you searching out one stationary target after the next.

You have access to missiles, EMP blasts, and a laser beam in addition to your regular lasers, but they’re nothing we haven’t seen before, and none really use the touch screen very effectively. Pass on this one.

BUY ME

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney

I’m currently on the last case of the third Phoenix Wright game, and I already own Apollo Justice so there’s not much this demo can do for me. Still, as a demo, Apollo Justice does a pretty good job of selling the gameplay and hooking the player by ending on a cliff hanger. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s the only demo of the lot that is of an actual game (not some non-game like Brain Age) that looks professionally done.

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