Monday, February 25, 2008

Did You Make Contact?

Contact is one of the most underrated games of this generation. For example, Nintendo Power gave it a 6.5, but can you really expect them to rank a unique title that wasn't published or developed by Nintendo? gave it a 6.7. gave it a B+ (that's their new rating system, I think they gave it around an "8" in the magazine... ) I'm not sure why most mainstream reviewers didn't appreciate this complex and enjoyable game.

The battle system is similar to World of Warcraft (which you probably don't play or you wouldn't have time to be reading this post) or Final Fantasy 12 minus the gambits and fancy colors. It has a subtle job system, with 8 or 9 jobs that do different things (magic, knife expert, strong attacker, etc).

A major problem with the game, however, is the MP system. You have 5 magic points, and they only refill after you kill monsters. Basically, you never have that much magic at your disposal. The gameplay is still solid, but this one major gripe can't be ignored.

There are plenty of secrets and sidequests, but the game won't tell you where they are. the player really has to just find them, but, nonetheless, the game combinds a unique linear quality with a haphazard openess that really works well. There are plenty of sidequests. The game boast a ridiculous amount of items, and collecting them all would be a major challenge (granted there is no reward for this task, but its nice to have the option of having all of those items). This makes the game seem very spacious and roomy while playing the game normally. This will also ensure that every game will be different.

This is further developed with a variety of stats. Every action alters your stats. Kill a shopkeeper, and you become a little more evil. Kill a monster, and you become more good. Sometimes, killing good enemies will be the easiest, and most direct, way to victory... This balance make the game very interesting to play. You can even get a girlfriend based on your alignment, items, and other stats.

The music is just as good as you might expect it to be. It's extremely catchy, and very well-composed. One song, in particular (the airbase) has one of (if not) the best song ever, in a video game.

The best part of the game is that you are not the boy on the bottom screne, but his puppetmaster. Using the Professor (usually on the top screen)'s help and the use of a device known as the Nintendo DS, you control Terry in order to recover power cells stolen from the Professor. The game brings you inside other video games, and games within those games as well. It will make you question the very nature of gaming itself with a brutal final monolouge that rivals the greatest writers in history, okay you're not buying it, and I got a little carried away, but Contact seriously has those things (sort of) and magic stickers, and a cow more powerful than the final boss (only after you beat the game), and tons of weapons and items, etc.

It's a shame Contact didn't get as much attention as it should have. Maybe gamers know, however, because on launch day I drove to 7 stores in town that had sold out in the last 30 minutes before final finding the last copy at an EBgames. I really think this will be the definitive cult classic of the DS, something of a Lufia II or Legacy of the Wizard for the DS.

So, I ask you: Did you make Contact? If so leave your Friend Code in reply section, I never got around to exploring the multiplayer aspect, and it looks interesting. You unlock a strange new island (WiFi Island) with NPCs of your friends. These automaton programs give you extra, powerful, items. It could have been better, but I was happy to see the inclusion of some multiplayer, and it even adds a decent degree of interest to the single player campaign. Hopefully, we'll be able to make Contact on the DS again, if they ever release a Contact 2.


Benjamin Fennell said...

Contact is great. I'm up to the castle at the end of the game, and have been for some time, I just haven't gotten around to beating it yet. I'll have to dig up my friend code soon so we can link up. I've only gotten one of the up-to-eight residents you can get in WiFIsland as is, which is a pretty nifty little feature anyway.

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