previews\ Mar 30, 2008 at 8:00 pm

Code Lyoko: Fall of X.A.N.A - NDS - Preview

Over the past year, Code Lyoko has gone through some changes. Its 2007 video game debut was a third-person action title for Nintendo DS. All four of the show’s leading characters (Ulrich, Yumi, Odd, and Aelita) were playable. In between action stages, players could chat with the cast from a point-and-click environment.

When brought to Nintendo Wii, most of the first game’s traits were carried over: four playable characters, point-and-click interface. Those aspects remain in the Nintendo DS sequel, Fall of X.A.N.A, but it’s no longer an action game. This time around players will be using their characters simultaneously in a turn-based RPG.

Fall of X.A.N.A starts off looking the same as the first game. You can click any character to interact, but there’s a new addition you may not have expected: arrows and icons. The arrows let you jump seamlessly from one location to the next. This is a huge improvement over the previous system, which forced you to control a 2D character in a pseudo-3D environment, oftentimes without any guidance. The icons appear to be the outline of someone running – tap it to begin a mission.

Code Lyoko: Fall of X.A.N.A Nintendo DS screenshots

In this first scenario, Jeremy receives a strange e-mail. He doesn’t know what it means or if it’s legit (Odd believes it’s a trap), but they won’t know for sure if they don’t investigate. The supercomputer is soon fired up, and from there you can select the Holomap (level selection) or Laboratory. This early in the game, the Laboratory options don’t have much relevance. Plugins, for example, likely refers to an upgrade system of some kind. But no upgrades are available at the start.

Once a destination has been selected on the Holomap, the game loads some of its trademark animation. The picture quality is as crystal clear as ever, putting other DS games to shame.

Inevitably, you will be surprised by the first sight of gameplay: the 3D backgrounds are similar but the characters are no longer made of polygons. They are now super-deformed sprites that roam the land from an isometric view. Character movement is no longer executed with the D-pad; that function is now tied to the stylus, just like The Legend of Zelda. But you can’t attack from this perspective. When an enemy is encountered, the game shifts to a 3D battlefield that resembles Final Fantasy.

Upon entering battle, four character screens appear: one for Ulrich, Yumi, Odd, and Aelita. Their attacks are selected from the touch screen, and you’ll have two options to choose from – standard attack and power attack. The latter eats your DP but is worth more damage.

Code Lyoko: Fall of X.A.N.A Nintendo DS screenshots

These attacks also create better visual effects. Though your eyes may be too occupied with managing the battle (located on the bottom screen) to watch the attacks unfold on the top screen, the camera is pretty cool with its fast changes and Final Fantasy-style angles. The animations are a little stiff, and I haven’t seen any camera pans or swoops that show all of the action. But the included views look good on the DS’s small screens.

Also like Final Fantasy is the timing mechanism used for each character. When you make an attack selection, the timer immediately starts counting down as soon as that attack ends. The next character’s move will be a few seconds behind that, even if his or her move was performed immediately after the first. This staggers your moves, just like the Square Enix series once did.

Musically, the game doesn’t seem that different from the first. And while the story is new, the text presentation is the same. You’ll have an easier time navigating the school this time around, and with a mission icon apparently available at all times, you won’t have to waste time looking for the next thing to accomplish.

Ready to get your hands on the latest Code Lyoko game? You won’t have to wait until fall – Fall of X.A.N.A is due for release this summer.

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