Curious about Nintendo’s official flashkart, the DS Vision for the Nintendo DS? Well, Nine Over Ten 9/10 has a treat for you today as the flashkart arrived in my mail box along with a Pokemon movie!
I made the order for the two items on the 10th of September and they arrived today (16th September) with the free shipping option from Play-Asia. That’s actually pretty fast as it normally takes 8-10 working days for an order to reach my place. Total cost of the order: USD 48.90.
Let’s start with the DSVision. This official Nintendo DS flashkart is made by AM3 and is designed to allow users to play movies, view comics, etc, on the Nintendo DS.
Like the R4, this flashkart is actually an adapter that reads off a microSD memory card which you can slot in via the side of the flashkart (notice the notice in the picture above?)
You can purchase the DSVision Starter Kit which comes with the adapter and a 512 mb microSD card (presumably filled with stuff), but in my case, I purchased only the adapter. So what content I’m going to run on this flashkart? That’s where the Pokemon movie comes into play.
Dad has been to Japan several times and has experienced a number of things over there, amongst them an earthquake and expensive sashimi. One thing that he always mentions (besides the earthquake) would be the speed limit on Japanese roads.
Unlike the speed limit on Malaysian roads which can range from 70km/h to 90 km/h, the Japanese would have to contend with a sedentary and sleep inducing range of 40km/h to 60km/h, with the exception of highways, of course.
Busses and Trains
Now, you can actually experience of driving within this kind of limits on your Nintendo DS with the release of Norimono Oukoku DS: You! Unten Shichai na You! The game takes a feature found in Grand Theft Auto games, which is making money by jacking a taxi, picking up passengers and dropping them at their desired location, to greater heights, minus the criminal aspect.
Norimono Oukoku will have you driving buses, trams, cranes, ambulances, police cars and even more. The objective of the game is pretty simple. The game provides you with a vehicle, you drive the vehicle around town in a GTA-III-ish fashion in a 3D town (complete with other vehicles on the road and sparse pedestrian population which you won’t be able to run over) and complete missions to gain points.
Have Points, Will Drive
There are a certain number of points to be fulfilled in each level, and once done, you get to drive another vehicle. Before I forget, points are deducted if you get into too many fender benders or by hitting the curb too hard. However, you don’t get the stick for traffic infractions such as driving against traffic, going pass the red light, etc etc (funny eh?).
As mentioned earlier, the entire game is in 3D, and even though the graphics are a little wash-out, the game handles itself admirably with decent draw distance and constant frame rate. The game features the touch screen as the main means of driving the vehicle. Accelerating and braking are controlled by the D-pad but the touchscreen has the steering wheel.
The touchscreen also plays host to a number of vehicle specific buttons. If you are driving the ambulance, there are buttons to turn on the siren and to open the vehicle’s back door so that the stretcher (and patient) can be taken out or placed in.
A mini-map and a pager round up the rest of the touch screen’s features. Aiding the mini-map in navigation is an on-screen arrow that points to your next objective, which is triggered by accepting your pager calls.
Driving Limits Revisited
Ah yes, regarding the speed limit. The vehicles in the game seem to have the same rev-limiter, in which they chug along at 71 km/h per hour. The horn is pretty useless in the game; and other vehicles on the road seem undeterred by an ambulance (or police car) with sirens blaring, and won’t move over. I don’t know whether the same thing happens in real life in Japan, but people can die because of that.
The gripe about speed and ignorant AI drivers aside, now I’m driving a police car and nabbing people driving slowly in their fancy sports cars. Hehe.
Lost in Translation?
Norimono Oukoku is pretty playable despite being a true-blue Japanese game. Don’t let the long (and rather talk-ie) intro deter you. I would pretty much like to drive a fire-truck next, if there’s one in the game.
Hijouguchi: Exit DS’ red cover would make a rather nice addition to my collection of Nintendo DS games, but the real clincher would be gameplay!
Exit DS puts you in the shoes of Mr. ESC, who with your help, will find the rescue any survivors from a dangerous situation and find the exit. The premise sounds like a puzzle game and indeed it is. In each level, Mr. ESC will have to make use of different types of NPCs he rescues (most of the time to push stuff, or to grab an item) and besides that, he is endowed with abilities such as being able to jump across longer obstacles.
Most of the time, Mr. ESC’s bane would be heights. He can come down from a high ledge only by hanging onto the ledge (Prince of Persia style) before dropping down, or otherwise, you’ll have to restart the level . There’s no in-level save and no complaints here as that serves to heighten the challenge.
Graphics wise, the game is cell-shaded with the characters in black and white. Kudos to the designers and artistes as the characters comes with really cool character animations, look out for how the fat guy walks about like Humpty Dumpty. The top screen is used as a map, and the touch screen is where all the action happens.
The sound however is a different beast altogether. Almost every level would have NPCs shouting “Help Me” and this gets annoying in after while. It’s best that the speakers and headphones sit this one out.
I’ve so far completed the levels in the first stage of the game, moving on to Stage 2. Don’t wait for me though, Exit DS is available at Play-Asia. Click here for details.
Are Saleen supercars that fragile? I remember reading an article in FHM regarding the Gumball 3000 and that the unreliable supercar used by the writers in the race was a Saleen. Or was it something else? Time plays tricks on memory.
One Shunt Too Many
Or maybe the car IS reliable, and it’s really because of the game I currently playing on the Nintendo DS, GRID. The damage modeling is so impressive that I’m left feeling like Kimi Raikonnen back in the 2005 European Grand Prix, in a case of so near, yet so far. My car stopped short of the finish line, unable to steer and having only minimal acceleration after numerous bumps and shunts with opponents and barriers.
I was in first place prior to the embarrasing halt.
It Has A Pretty Face Too
Impressive damage modelling goes hand in hand with impressive graphics. I’m liking what I’m seeing in GRID and although the cars and the environment don’t look as colourful as Speed Racer’s, they don’t look watered-down, a compromise normally found in other, lesser, Nintendo DS games.
More Options Than Your Car Insurance Policy
Race Driver is the main gameplay mode available in GRID. Basically you take part in race events held in various locales around the world. Finishing races and earning medals unlock other locales and cars that you can use in the events.
The game spoils the player with a plethora of cars to choose from. While events are normally tied to a single car type, the car types featured are pretty impressive; even the legendary AE86 is available.
The Track Designer is carried forward from GRID’s predecessor and budding race track designers will have a field day with this interesting tool. Just in case you didn’t notice, the Track Designer is accessible from the Race Driver mode when accessing the home base on the map.
From Near and Abroad
The game supports WFC connectivity so that you can pick a fight with friend all around the world. In a totally unrelated thing, the game supports the Nintendo DS Rumble Pak, so plug one in to get some good vibrations (that sounded a little weird).
GRID will be available at Play-Asia on August 11th. Click here to order your copy now.
CERO ratings, these are the Japanese equivalent of the US ESRB ratings that you can find on video games. Games are rated using letters, A for all ages, B for 12 and up, C for 15 and up, D for 17 and up, and Z, for an audience aged 18 and above only (Wikipedia article here).
Having gone through the list, I was pretty curious to see a game which looks like an English language learning aid for Japanese speakers, having a CERO C rating. Titled Moetan DS, it’s based on the language aid books published by Sansaibooks and the anime of the same name.
Not For Kids
Why the CERO C rating? Lets just say the game has its fair share of pantsu and other stuff that make my copy of Kanji Sonomama Rakubiki Jiten as sterile as industrial bleach.
You Can’t Read This
The game is not import-friendly as some parts of the game require you to choose the Japanese equivalent to an English phrase. You’ll be hard-pressed to do anything after the first set of questions but in any case, the game comes with a note-worthy dictionary mode.
This mode gives you everything from how to pronounce a particular English word (with voiceovers!) and also examples of use. Pretty cool eh?
Softcore and Hardcore at the Same Time
When compared to English of the Dead (another English language learning game set in the House of the Dead series) Moetan seems to be the more comprehensive game and is way harder to play. The lack of hints (intentional or otherwise) makes the game quite a challenge.
I’ve got a problem with Success’ newest 2D fighting game for the Nintendo DS, Windy X Windam. Having the need to unlock additional characters means that I can’t use Izuna (of the Unemployed Ninja fame) from the get-go.
Like a Bird
Windy X Windam features a small pool of fighters, 10 of them to be exact, with 7 being selectable from the start. The game plays like Street Fighter and while it’s quite easy to dismiss it as a SFII clone, anyone playing the game will notice a key difference: The fighters can actually soar very high.
Battles take place over in arenas that spans both screens and this allows players to soar above their opponents and avoid certain mega attacks that can cover most of the bottom screen. The game itself looks pretty (personally I prefer 2D fighters like this and SF2 to that of 3D ones), the attacks can be like fireworks.
After All That Hard Work..
My only problem is the one I’ve stated in the first paragraph. Finishing the Battle Mode only seems to unlock the big boss character in the Training Mode and nothing else. Maybe I should try again.
Do note that the AI is really brutal on the second bout.
Interested in getting Windy X Windam? It is available for purchase at Play-Asia. Click here for further details.
I’ve been playing Steal Princess, a Japanese import-title for the Nintendo DS and while I would really like to finish it, I’m stuck at a particular level.
A little bit of background for the game. From my understanding (and a total lack of Japanese language mastery), you play as a rather pretty thief. The game world is divided into several locales (ala Super Mario 3) and each locale has several levels (or areas).
Each level is a mini-dungeon of sorts which takes place in isometric 3D. The objective is simple, retrieve the key to unlock the door in each level (so that you can proceed with the next level), obtain precious stones along the way and try not to get killed.
The game does sound simple but it does throw a few curve balls at the player. Firstly, the key is not always visible and is sometimes being carried by an enemy. Killing an enemy sounds straightfoward by just grabbing a sword and slashing, but only some swords are effective against certain opponents!
Opponents are divided by colour and while blue coloured swords are effective against blue opponents, they are practically useless against red opponents. Like the key, some swords can only be retrieve by killing an opponent.
Princess does an Indy
Aiding the thief around a level is a handy whip. The whip can be used to grab hold and spin opponents around, leaving them in a daze, or to grab hold onto points to reach certain parts of a level unreachable by just jumping.
Graphics wise, the game borrows abit of a look from the Final Fantasy games, not that I’m complaining. Those games are some of the prettiest on the console. There are a number of static cut scenes to go through but even if you do not understand Japanese, you should be able to play the game with no too much trouble.
First it was English of the Dead, and now, Metal Slug 7 for the Nintendo DS; that’s two games finished in as many months. Both, by the way, are Japanese imports. Compared with the number of many games I’ve actually finished on my PS2 (1, to be exact after 4 years of ownership), this is nothing short of a breakthrough.
Of course it helps when I’m playing both games on their respective Easy modes. Anyways, more on Metal Slug 7. The 7 moniker indicates the 7th incarnation of the series but this is actually SNK’s first Metal Slug outing on the DS and I must confess that this is the first time I’m playing a MS game.
Anyways, Metal Slug 7 is basically a shmup presented in a cartoonish World War II/Vietnam War way. Instead of high-tech looking space ships, you get to choose from a bunch of Rambo-wannabes and from then on, it is 2D bullet porn all the way.
Shoot ‘Em Up
Each level is populated by a variety of enemies, ranging from soldiers, tanks, the occasional mutant Venus flytrap, planes and what not. At the same time, you get to rescue PoWs loitering around the levels and get rewarded with temporary power-ups for your trouble. These power-up serve to offer some variety to your standard issue firepower, which differs from character to character.
You’ll get into boss fights at the end of each level but there’s nothing continuously pressing the fire button and having a big number of continues can’t solve.
Looking For More Than Just Bullets?
Metal Slug is a little sparse on the gameplay side as aside from the 7-level Main Mission, there’s only the Combat School mode. Players can also check their rankings and the list of prisoners freed from each level.
Despite coming up short in terms of levels, I really like this game and it’s plenty of fun for casual players who would like short bursts of bullet mayhem on the daily commute. Hardcore gamers are not left out either as they can challenge themselves with the Hard difficulty level.
Where to Get?
The English version of Metal Slug 7 will be released this November but if you can’t wait, the Japanese version of Metal Slug 7 is now available from Play-Asia (and is perfectly playable even if you don’t know a smidgen of Japanese), with free international shipping to certain countries. Click here for the purchase details.
Gegege Kitaro, otherwise known as Spooky Kitaro, was a popular anime back in the late 60s. Featuring a one-eyed boy named Kitaro and his host of spooky friends (and a walking eye-ball of a dad), almost each episode sees him tackling rogue spooky fiends.
I used to watch this on Animax not too long ago but I don’t know whether they are still airing it.
In any case, a new game has been released for the Nintendo DS based on the anime and it’s surprisingly good. Think Castlevania Lite. Yup, Gegege no Kitaro: Youkai Daigekisen is a 2D platformer which borrows liberally from its more illustrious counterpart.
Each level will have Kitaro battling against a variety of ghoulish fiends, and despite the game retaining the anime’s cartoonish feel; these fiends and the end level bosses can look mighty scary. The touch screen serves like an encyclopedia of sorts, providing a description of the ghoul that you have just hit or beaten.
There’s a healthy amount of platforming involved in each level and like Castlevania, each level can be a sprawling mess divided into zones. If need be, Kitaro can use his jacket as a parachute to get extended air time (float) to reach certain parts of a level.
Some parts of a level are not really necessary to be entered but still require a certain amount of ingenuity to reach them. It is well worth the player’s time to explore every facet of a level as there is bonus content to be unlocked by collecting special items. Unlike Castlevania however, Kitaro doesn’t have an inventory or items to use during the game.
Attack, attack, attack
So how does he tackle all these ghoulish fiends? Kitaro is equipped with a variety of attacks. The first one being needles (I think) shot out from his hair and the second being kicking his wooden clogs (slippers if you may) like a boomerang towards his enemies. Defensively, he can deploy his jacket as a forward shield to counter enemy attacks like fireballs.
There’s also another reason why I’m calling this game a Castlevania Lite; I’ve beaten three bosses so far! This is a far cry from my last Castlevania attempt which saw my character constantly hitting a road block in the form of the first level boss.
My only gripe about Gegege no Kitaro is how inconsistent your life bar is at the beginning of each level. The first level had Kitaro in the full complement of health. Subsequent levels see Kitaro starting with less than half of that despite finishing the previous level with a full bar of health.
Gripe aside, being a Japanese game, Gegege no Kitaro is surprisingly import-friendly. Sure you’ll miss out on the cut-scene (told in stills) or whatever Kitaro is talking to you, but you won’t be missing out on the action.
Fans of the classic anime (who happen to own a NDS) and imported games aficionados would most certainly be interested in getting this game. Gegege no Kitaro is currently available at Play-Asia. Click here for further details.
When one would think about creating a jigsaw puzzle game for the Nintendo DS, one would probably place an empty board with pieces lying around, and have you, the player, move them into place with the stylus. Sounds boring doesn’t it? Trust the Japanese to come up with something more interesting.
Jigsaw World: Daigekitou! Jig-Battle Heroes is different than your run-of-the-mill jigsaw game by which it actually has a plot! Most anime series would feature an uber-bad guy who almost always will get beaten by the respective series’ protagonist at the end of the season.
It turns out that this uber-bad guy is the same regardless of the anime series and tired of getting defeated, he summons the respective heroes of each anime series to a jigsaw puzzle game!
Look, I’m an anime character
LOL. In Jigsaw World, you get to play as one of the anime heroes. The game features several and each comes with its own special attack on the jigsaw board. The premise is really simple, guide your character, grab a loose jigsaw piece appearing on top of the jigsaw board (or grab the piece currently being held by your opponent or your team mate) and place it on the jigsaw board.
Put in the pieces correctly and you’ll fill up your power bar. The power bar is essential to activate either one of your two special attacks or to activate the guide which will immediately mark out where you are supposed to put the piece you are currently holding.
Three’s a party…
Each level is divided into two boards and things can get pretty hairy when you are up against 5 opponents in the later levels. Good thing is that you’ll gain teammates (fellow anime heroes) on certain levels to help you out.
The puzzles featured are not too difficult. The ones I’ve done so far feature animals, both current and prehistoric. The final boss fight had me assembling a space station, but I’ve so far been unsuccessful versus the uber-bad guy.
Nevertheless, graphics wise, the puzzles are pretty to look at and the characters’ look and feel (and even the special attacks) are done in what else, 2D anime style. There’s also some voice acting work and during gameplay, you can hear the heroes spout their hero phrases (you know, similar to their tendency to announce their attacks in their respective anime).
More Fun Than A Barrel of Monkeys
The game modes on Jigsaw World are plentiful. There’s the story mode and a versus-AI mode. The game supports multi-cart and single cart play. There’s an additional trivia section, I suppose it provides all the nice information on the dinosaurs (Jigsaws) I assembled but everything is in Japanese.
Jigsaw World is entirely playable even if you don’t know Japanese. You might be missing out on the conversations between heroes (told in stills and before and after a level), but it won’t make you miss out on all the fun happening on the board.