Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Let me show them to you...

I haven't had much of a chance for more Guild Wars shenanigans over the weekend, due to visiting friends, but on a shopping trip I (spent considerably more than I was planning to and) bought a couple of DS games. Specifically Sonic Rush and Pokemon Diamond. I also own Pokemon Mystery Dungeon.

When the DS and PSP first came out, being but a poor student, I didn't get either; and was thinking I'd get a PSP. At the time, all the DS games seemed to be incredibly gimmicky, usually about the touchscreen: Warioware Touched, I'm looking at you. Now, I'm sure that that kind of thing can be fun, but not (price of DS + price of game) ammount of fun, to be perfectly honest.

When I was in America earlier in the year, I decided to pick one up on the cheap. You may have noticed that I'm a sucker for pokemon from the openning paragraph (blue, ruby, leaf green, mystery dungeon and diamond), hence the DS vs PSP decision, especially since the games I wanted for the PSP were Wipeout and Mercury, the latter of which I'll pick up when I (eventually) get my Wii.

Now with three games, it occured to me that the gimmickiness of the touch screen and dual screen setup is still there to an extent, but not as horribly transparent as it used to be. Mystery Dungeon really utilises the touch screen well, but the other screen is kinda left in the lurch: I left the default top screen layout of my team's condition, but still spend time going through the menu to check on my team, because the top screen just doesn't get any focus. Sonic barely uses the touchiness, but uses the dual screen kinda as one big screen. The problem being that theres a great big black bar in the middle, so it can't actually emulate one big screen, so you just get moved between the two at specific points in the levels. The boss battles have the action on the top screen, and a hit counter on the bottom screen, which is pretty worthless, as I've been able to count to 8 ever since Sonic 2 on the Mega Drive (my first computer game!). Pokemon kinda delivers, in that it utilises both screens, but only some of the time. The battle menu is very good: the animations on the top screen, and the menu as touch options on the bottom. The pokedex has various features on the bottom screen that are nice and intuitive, while the actual information is on the top. Some other menus, for example the bag, can be manipulated with the bottom screen, but I mostly use the buttons as its got better fine control. And most of the game, the bottom screen has your 'Poketch' on it: basically a placeholder because there's nothing much to do with it (I could be being unfair about this last point, as I'm not that far into the game yet (but already looking up which pokemon are the best, go OCD!)).

Overall, I think that the new pokemon games are the best at utilising the dual real estate the DS gives - and for using the touch screen sensibly (although I believe there's a mini-game involving mixing berries that just abuses the touch screen for its purposes later on) - of the games I've both played, and thought about buying and looked into a bit, but I think there's room for improvement still.

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