previews\ Sep 19, 2006 at 8:00 pm

Contact - NDS - Preview

Love it or hate it (and honestly, you can really only do one or the other), Killer 7 was one of the strangest games to hit the PS2 to date. The game’s sociopolitical themes and bizarre art direction makes it a stand-out title if only for its eccentricity. Now, from the mind of the creator of Killer 7 comes Contact, a new RPG for the Nintendo DS. While Contact does take more of a conservative approach than Killer 7, the game is certainly anything but. Featuring an intriguing concept and unique graphical scheme, Contact is already shaping up to be one of the more unusual titles on the DS.

Contact begins with you (as in you personally, not an avatar or anything) meeting a professor who is typing away diligently on a computer. You poke him with the stylus to get his attention him (and the game won’t begin until you do), and he informs you that you are communicating to him through your DS through some special means, and that someone is after him. Who they are exactly he won’t elaborate on, but it is then shown through a cutscene that the professor’s traveling space lab is shot at by his enemy, and he lands on a strange planet and meets a young man named Terry. After a failed attempt to take off from the planet, the Professor and Terry get separated, requiring you to intervene and help Terry out, beginning your role in the adventure.

While the professor knows about you, Terry is actually unaware of your presence, which seems odd considering that you are the one controlling him. However, this comes across as Terry feeling an “unknown force” guiding his progress.

The gameplay is pretty easy to get a grip on, feeling like a cross between an RTS and an RPG (think of the “Hero” elements from Warcraft III). You simply need to tap the DS screen to have Terry walk to the specified location, and tap on Terry himself to enter his battle stance. Once in the battle stance you only need to put Terry in close enough proximity to an enemy to get him to attack. You can also use items and special attacks, but the overall feel of the game’s mechanics is very streamlined and simplified.

Contact’s unique graphical style doesn’t go for impressive polygon models or ‘wow’ factor, though it does make great use of the dual-screen format. Not only does the game present two different worlds on each screen, but each world has its own set of graphics. The one screen (the Professor’s world) has an isometric top-down view that looks like it was pulled out of a late-generation NES game and an art style similar to Earthbound. The other screen has a bit more of a traditional 16-bit look to it, like an RPG from the Super Nintendo days, and features some special effects and detailed backgrounds and that type of thing. As control switches from the Professor to Terry and vice versa, they'll rotate between the top and bottom screens (with the bottom touch screen being the controlled one).

Contact is a quirky RPG with an intriguing storyline and theme that could make waves on the DS when it’s released next month. Look for a full review soon.

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