While the battle rages between next-gen consoles, sales figures show us that the DS is still high in the popularity stakes. So we take a look at Fantastic Four designed specifically for the Nintendo DS.
While we recently talked about how games can be short and sweet, there is a certain limit to how short you can go and still get your money’s worth. Let’s do some maths here – a movie averages at 15 bucks for 90 minutes. The DS version of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer costs 30 bucks and lasts about an hour. Okay, maybe someone might want to play it twice in order to unlock some stuff.
The length could be entirely forgivable if it had some hefty replay value, but alas, you can guess the answer to that question. FF4: RotSS involves three main elements: 2D side-scrolling brawling, top-down Raiden-style shooting, and a few stylus-centric boss battles.
First the brawling: you play one member of the quartet at a time, jumping on platforms, throwing switches, and occasionally beating up indeterminate foes (are they robots or mutants?). The Thing and Mr. Fantastic are basically the same. They can walk slowly, jump in awkward high arcs, and do a one, two, or even THREE button combo by pressing Y repeatedly. There’s a charge-up dash attack that contributes nothing. There are numerous slow-moving elevators that require a precisely-timed jumps, and if you miss you have to stand there for 30 seconds waiting for it to come back. Sue’s levels are slightly different because instead of jumping she hovers on a disc of force. It creates a brawler/side-shooter hybrid that has some interesting moments because you can so fluidly transition from flying to running.
There isn’t any noticeable challenge during these levels, except you might accidentally fall down an insta-death pit. With the Human Torch levels, though, it might be challenging for some. His levels are all top-down arcade shooter. Unfortunately, there aren’t any power-ups or weapons to be acquired, no special abilities like bombs. Just move side-to-side and shoot. The designers do deserve credit for doing their homework when it comes to hardcore shooters, because the bullet patterns get pretty crazy and are fun to navigate. Although if the audience is young kids, these sequences may be too tough for them.
The boss battle mechanics seem pretty cool at first. All four heroes are on the bottom screen, and the boss is up top. You’re supposed to be combining their powers and working together, but really you do a series of random stylus tests that don’t have any relevance to the characters. The boss throws objects which you must tap to send them back at him. Or he tosses objects that must be tapped multiple times before flying back into his face. Each instance uses either the Thing or the Torch, but really it could have been either of them. You also have to quickly circle objects before they explode. This mechanic has problems working properly, as sometimes one quick circle will kill the object, and at other times you can frantically circle 20 times and accomplish nothing. Finally with Sue you get to scribble sideways on the screen to create a barrier. It’s fun at first, but then you realise it can’t be failed.
The music is pretty cool, and the graphics are spotty. Most environments are uncreative or just plain ugly, but there are occasional cool pieces of art to admire. Galactus makes a particularly grand entrance, although he ends up being a pushover.
Over the course of playing, we weren’t thinking “God this is terrible.” We actually weren’t thinking much at all because the game flowed along at an unnoticeable level of entertainment delivery. It was just sort of “there” and then it was “gone.”