Another Code: Two Memories
Platformer. Now that's a good name for a genre. Beat-'em-up. Yep, that sounds about right. Heck, we can even live with... urgh... Rhythm-Dance.
But 'touchable mystery novel'? Somebody, somewhere is taking the mick. Still, luckily it's the game that counts and in Another Code Nintendo has struck gaming gold.
Seemingly orphaned teenager Ashley Mizuki Robbins journeys to the ominously named Blood Edward Island after being sent a mysterious note supposedly written by her father. It's all mansions and medals from there on in, sort of like Resident Evil minus the menace.
DS's bottom screen is where you'll navigate Ashley through her birds-eye 3D world, while the top screen displays Myst-style 2D representations of her locale.
Use the stylus to click upon objects that interest you which may or then be magnified again for further inspection. It's absolute genius.
Another Code is a very Japanese affair. From the 'just where is this flaming thing going, and do we actually give a damn?' plot to its thick-as-two-short-planks heroine, the game shrieks niche appeal.
Casual gamers and the laydees will lap Another right up... but then that's no bad thing. Is it?
So, why else is Another Code so darn great? It's not really the puzzles themselves - they're staple point & click fare - it's the way you solve them. We don't want to spoil the surprise, but just get ready to re-evaluate the way you approach in-game puzzles!
All credit must also go to Ninty for somehow soaking Another with such an understated, yet scintillating, atmosphere. There's no death, zombies, guns or demons; it's all exploration, puzzling, conversation and... um... more puzzling.
But you'll melt the instant Ashley steps off the boat and on to terra firma.
We've also got to big-up Another's absolutely brilliant control scheme. We're talking BEST EVER here. Although you can control Ashley with the D-Pad and conventional buttons, why bother when the stylus cruises through the whole game with such magical aplomb?
Another's six chapters are reasonably comprehensive and they'll take you between five and a gazillion hours to finish - depending upon how many times you get stuck.
You see, Another falls foul of the adventure genre's two biggest bugbears: 1) Getting stuck is truly painful; 2) Once it's over, it really is over. Deal with this and you'll have a ball.
While the DS-specific puzzles are, without exception, uniformly fab - actually solving them can be a bind.
We refer you, dear readers, to Chapter 5's bird conundrum. We were convinced we knew what to do, but you apparently need to have better control than Ronaldinho for DS to recognise the correct solution. Sigh.
More action-oriented gamers could well find Another's puzzles linear and obscure, constant backtracking frustrating (Ashley will sometimes only pocket inventory items after she's discovered a use for them - argh!) and the guff-ridden plot nonsensical.
You can stick to GTA and TimeSplitters if you like, but you'll be missing out. Consider yourself warned.
Perhaps Another Code is most exciting for all that it promises - the belated revitalisation of the much-loved point & click adventure genre.
What price Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle or Broken Sword on DS? We can but dream, but for the mo we're more than happy beavering away on Another Code...
Another Code: Two Memories is out for DS now