CES: Dark Void Zero preview
- January 08, 2010 08:57 AM PST
A $5 DSi title is one of the coolest games at CES.
The DSi store gets a bad rap. As the newest of the downloadable services, it's been held to the standards of more established marketplaces like Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. Those who have paid attention to the DSi have found that a few high-quality, low-priced games have landed on the service. Wario Ware: Snapped proved to be a very good demonstrator of the DSi's technology and an excellent casual-snaring title. The Art Style puzzle series has produced seven games which range from merely good (Aquia, Digidrive) to potential classics (Base 10, Pictobits). Outside of Nintendo, few companies have created killer apps for the burgeoning service. Capcom has a very good chance to do just that with its retro-styled Dark Void Zero-a 2D platformer set to launch this month for only $5.
Granted, CES isn't chock full of game demos and new trailers, but Dark Void Zero may be my favorite game at the show. By taking a dimension away from Dark Void, which has alternated between being innovative and overbearing during my preview sessions, the game has brought back the fun of flight. While level-based, the game does give off something of a Metroidvania vibe (like last year's critical darling Shadow Complex), as weapons and jetpack abilities are needed to access new areas. I'll also toss in Contra and the Rocketeer as influences, since the game's guns have the same pea-shooter feel of the former and the 8-bit sense of flight is very reminiscent of the latter. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there are force field-like areas that can actually de-activate the jetpack, forcing you to find a new one. What should have been a frustrating gameplay addition actually ended up making the levels even more varied and setting them apart from the expected Metroid blueprint. I came in not expecting much for a $5 DSi game, but I may have found a game that can stand among the best of any downloadable service.
As a curse of its long development cycle and innovative gameplay addition in the form of "vertical cover," I've come into my play sessions with the Xbox 360/PS3 versions of Dark Void as of late with increasingly high expectations, which are becoming harder and harder to meet each time. I expect the ground combat to match the thrill of picking off enemies while suspended below a platform, and the game to seamlessly thread floating, flying, and running together, but the game doesn't seem to be doing that lately. Dark Void Zero, on the other hand has impressed me because it's come out of nowhere and impressed me, reveling in old-school goodness where the gameplay mechanics may be simple, but the difficulty still remains high. It may not have first class looks, but it still feels like flying to me.
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