Review: Generic DS brawler (guest starring the Thundercats)
It's not a good sign when I'm struggling with things to say about a game in a review, and that's the problem I'm facing with Thundercats on the Nintendo DS. When I played it at the Namco Bandai Global Gamers Day back in April, I spent about 10 minutes with the game. My initial impression was that it was a decent beat 'em up-style platformer. Now that I've played the game extensively, I can easily say that there are no redeeming value in this game.
The one thing that Thundercats should have had going for it is nostalgia. Outside of the name, poor graphics and shoddy audio quality hardly helps this game resemble anything Thundercats. The first thing that'll hit you are the graphics — which are poor, at best. Launch window DS games look ten times better than this. It's more on par with Gameboy Advanced games than anything else. There's no clarity to the flat environments or the sub-standard characters models. It all ends up looking blurry. The environment lacks so much detail that you can't tell which platforms are able to be jumped on or not. It's all incredibly uneasy on the eyes.
The sound isn't any better. I've had wet farts that sound better. That may sound a little mean, but when you hear Lion-O yell "Thundercats HOOOOO" every minute (whenever you use your special "Sword of Omens") in the worst kind of low-fi audio, it tends to get on your nerves. I would avoid hitting my special just so I wouldn't have to hear it anymore.
For a game that touts intense and dynamic gameplay with exciting swordplay, I had a problem finding any of it. Like I said, you play as Lion-O in this, and you gain access to your Thundercat companions to aid you. Tygra, Cheetara and Panthro aid you with unleashing powerful attacks, while Wilykit and Wilykat drop healing items and power-ups. To use these companions, you simply tap their icon on the touchscreen of the DS, but you have to have tokens to use them, which you can only carry three of at a time. Other than those attacks, as well as the attack I avoid using, Lion-O is equipped with a jump and spamming the attack button to see the same animations over and over. There's no variety, so there sure as heck isn't any exciting swordplay. I guess Lion-O is holding something that resembles a sword. While simple, the action could be better if Lion-O controlled better. Jumping can feel like a chore, and with no block button — something I think the game sorely needed — basic ranged enemies will frustrate you.
One thing that really bothered me is the flow of the game. There's no rhyme or reason to why certain levels follow each other. Levels progress like this: kill bad guys in set area, arrow tells you to move forward, kill more bad guys in set area, rinse and repeat. Sometimes there's a boss at the end. Then other levels will just be a boss. Sometimes you will have two boss levels back to back. And the boss fights are just frustrating. There's no health bar for them, so you have no clue how close you are to defeating them. Numerous boss fights, there were no visual signs that my Sword of Omens was even damaging the boss. I would wail on the boss until time would run on for the fight or I'd die after four minutes.
Outside of the Story mode, there's a Stage Attack mode that lets your replay completed stages to improve your score, but if you actually have the patience to play through the entire game, I can't see why you'd like to subject yourself to more.
Thundercats for the DS should've been a nostalgic action platformer. What we got instead is a generic brawler with a Thundercats theme that fails to get even basic game mechanics right. I don't like being this hard on a game, and I normally find at least something to like about a game, so I'm a bit disappointed here. It's a misguided effort and cheap cash-in on nostalgia.