Code Lyoko: Quest for Infinity - NDS - Preview
A swordsman. A runner. A magician. A levitator. These are the characters of Code Lyoko, a new action game for the Nintendo DS. Based on the Cartoon Network series of the same name, Code Lyoko is an RPG-style adventure with hours of exploration, text box dialogue, and NPC interactions. These elements, though appealing to the show’s enthusiasts, may not have what it takes to entangle the average gamer. The combative excitement that follows each story sequence, however, most certainly does.
Four characters are under your control, giving players access to four distinct character types. These characters exist for more than variety. Each one has a specific purpose. The levels you’re about to visit are vast and varied. When an enemy approaches, the game locks you into a small portion of the stage. As you attempt to cross a bridge, you’re faced with a difficult scenario as it flips and/or collapses before you have a chance to think, let alone make it across. If you see an area that looks too large to be true, it just might be.
These conundrums and more are dealt with by using the appropriate character to solve the puzzle. As I’ve described, these are not your average mysteries. Items will need to be collected. That’s a part of gaming that won’t change anytime soon. But the quest is more sporadic and the outcome is more emphatic than the genre’s ancestors.
Ulrich, a master swordsman, has the ability to cut through his enemies with swift blade maneuvers. He has three separate strikes, two of which lead to a combo. The third is a downward assault that slams into the ground.
That’s great for combat, but when in a dangerous platform situation, Ulrich will need his Sonic-style super run to cross the path without failure.
A cat-like warrior named Odd has the ability to fire laser beams from his hands. He moves like a cat, running on all fours, and can climb walls like no other.
Trying to live up to Kitana’s Mortal Kombat legacy, Yumi wields two deadly fans. She has the gift of object levitation – large boulders are no match for her powers.
Aelita is another character with the power to levitate. Her powers allow her to levitate over lengthy (and dangerous) gaps.
These special abilities are activated by touching a special icon that appears on the bottom screen. For Ulrich, you see a foot; with Odd, you see a paw print. The icons only appear when the ability becomes active. Otherwise the characters may only use their basic moves.
In between battles the game feels like a point-and-click adventure for the PC. You move around the 2D environments in search of friends, comrades, and anyone else who can share a few words that’ll further your quest. The dialogue is coming along – I’m not a fan of the show but could appreciate the many different personalities of each character. But while exploring is great in 3D, it is a little confusing in the second dimension. The map isn’t very clear, and it’s often hard to tell which areas are pathways and which are not. This has been a very common problem with 2D RPGs (Ar Tonelico for PS2 is a good example of that). Hopefully the developers can work out a solution before the game ships.
Code Lyoko’s visuals appear to be a sign of things to come for the Nintendo DS. Disney recently released the wonderful 3D racer Herbie: Rally Rescue. It offers some of the best graphic effects seen on the DS. Likewise, Code Lyoko is a polygon-packed game that’s sure to turn heads – especially the heads of gamers expecting another sprite-based adventure.
Levels are interesting, well designed, and fun to investigate. They lean toward linearity, but with frequent obstacles that can only be solved with specific characters, this doesn’t raise much concern. Background textures are smooth and devoid of hugely noticeable pixelation. The characters move a little slowly, but that likely relates to the developer’s gameplay choices. Code Lyoko isn’t a Tomb Raider clone. It’s a slower action game. However, if players give it a chance, they will likely be consumed by the clever character switching, the attention to environmental detail, and the style of 3D combat.
Slated for release this May, Code Lyoko is an action game to watch for. The 3D gameplay is refreshing and unique for the DS, a handheld that’s usually bombarded with 2D titles.