Saturday, March 05, 2011

Contact is the DS's Earthbound

Contact is a cute and hilarious stat-cruncher action-adventure game for the DS. The gameplay is fairly simple, but knowing how to exploit the experience system requires some sophistication; you get more experience for doing harder things, so dying usually means you just gained a lot of exp. I wish I had known how to make potions earlier though, it would have saved me some stat grinding (it's herbs + water!). A walkthrough is helpful for some of the weirder puzzles, and I really wish there had been a way to fill multiple bottles with water at the well (as it is, you have to do them one at a time). However, the storyline is unique in that "you" the player are not synonymous with the protagonist (very postmodern). Terry is explicitly controlled by you through the professor's computer. There are a few rare times when you lose control of Terry and it made me think about how difficult it is to develop the character of the player's character in a game. Hotel Dusk was able to create a sense of character through the actions of the protagonist you couldn't control (sometimes he would just say something or get angry without your permission), but those times were also somewhat frustrating. It's a weird problem.

Contact is not quite as epic as the SNES game Earthbound, but it has the same sense of humor. One island is a gigantic electronics store where you can kill zombie gamers to get weird games. On almost every island there is a girl who will like you (er... Terry) if you give her the right gift. Additionally, after you beat the game (which is admittedly a little short, but I am okay with that), there are still sidequests and skills to gain. One of my favorite aspects of the game is the cooking system. I don't know why, it's just so fun to try to put different ingredients together to see if they will make something new! The only drawback to the game is that you have to save a save points, so it's more of a "sit down and play it while you are in the car for 2 hours" rather than a "play while you wait for your husband to pick you up at school."

If you see the game at Gamestop or something, I recommend picking it up (it should be ~$8)! I regret that since I bought it used, I didn't get to read the manual (which I hear is also hilarious), but maybe the website has a similar feel.

On last note: the music is SO much better with headphones. Those little DS speakers just cannot get bass out.

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