by John Whitmer
This is a port I wanted to review for a while. Grab Games decided to bring their RTS “Amoebattle” from the iOS to DSi. Right off the bat I can say they did a really good job and a really bad job. This campaign-focused RTS feels fresh on the DSi and the strengths really show, but the weaknesses show just a bit more. When you play this game you will not be thinking that this is some small DSiware game on your handheld, you will be thinking you got a full game. That is because this game is quite the package with multiple unit types, a complex and easy-to-use HUD, and huge levels.
The controls really stuck out to me, this is how a DS/3DS RTS should play. All the action, if left to default settings, takes place on the bottom screen. The top screen shows your units and current mission and other important information. On the bottom you control amoebas with the stylus with a very smooth mechanic. Draw circles to select a group of ameba’s then tap or draw an attack formation. Holding R or L pulls up the command menu on the bottom screen where a bunch of important functions are done. It works well with multitasking. Scrolling with the circle pad also feels really good for screen scrolling- fast and responsive. Controls in a nutshell: perfect.
For me RTS games are about freedom of approach; taking a problem and solving it the way you want it to. This game gives you those options but the games difficulty makes it to where you are forced to do it one way. This doesn’t happen slowly either, it ramps up in difficulty fast. The game constantly makes you feel dumb by not only beating you but crushing you. Prepare to play the same long levels over and over because there are no checkpoints (although you can save at anytime.) This game is also missing multiplayer, which not a terrible omission but it would be fun to have a fair one-to-one battle with another real human being.
Visuals and Audio
Visuals are great, even stretched out by the 3DS screen. The environment might be barren but the spritework is smooth and colorful. The characters look unique to the genre. Plus the story in the game has very cute humor like “Installing shovelware……… ABORTED” and gives you decent incentive to keep playing. Music on the other hand sounds like a poorly compressed mess. I will not be too harsh on the music because if you just keep volume down a bit it is tolerable.
Grab Games did a great job at: 1) building a touch screen based RTS, 2) making a beautiful world, and 3) making a self-aware story. So many things are going for it… except for fun. A lot of the time it felt like trying to complete a puzzle that’s missing a piece. Die hard RTS fans will love this and hopefully are up for a challenge.
Length: Long, 8-12 hours depending on how many retries you will be doing. Which will be a lot.
Price/Value: 5$ is a good deal if you can play the game to the finish. If you don’t think you have the patience then it is probably just burning cash.
Gameplay: The shining example of RTS on touch screen based games.
Visuals: Great port, looks very similar to the HD port. Everything has bright colors and a soft brush look.
Play pace: Slow like a sloth. Enemies don’t die all that fast, travel takes time, and the difficulty doesn’t help.