Pop Island (Hands-On) (Nintendo DS) Preview

By Mike Mason 21.09.2009 1

Review for Pop Island (Hands-On) on Nintendo DS

Odenis Studio have been quiet for a while; since DS war game Glory Days 2, in fact. In a turn for the completely different, though, rather than continue with that series they have decided to take advantage of Nintendo's less risky avenue by putting their latest title, Pop Island, on DSiWare.

Pop Island is best described as a game of capture the flag. Dispel any thoughts of war, though, as this one is played out in glorious, vibrant colour with a variety of creatures from the animal kingdom. From the soft to the scaly, you're able to select from the likes of lions, crocodiles and elephants in an attempt to conquer a number of planets by grabbing flags. Match size can range from a measly four members per team to the all-out insanity of 32 battling animals. Green flags will turn up on the terrain (a map of which is displayed on the bottom screen) and it's your job to get as many of them back to your base as possible, all the while preventing your opponents from doing the same by throwing firecrackers at them to make them drop their prize. Power ups dotted around can also be collected and activated with the shoulder button to 'pop' and relieve everybody of the flags they're currently holding.

Each of the pleasingly blocky characters has its own speciality. The lion is the all-rounder of the game, able to bound swiftly across land, while the penguin comes equipped with a surfboard and means he can zoom around the outside on the sea, leap onto land to seize a flag and then leave opponents dazzled behind him in the spray. It was with the penguin that I scored my greatest victory; Olivier Denis, demonstrating his studio's game, quickly switched me over to the more difficult to handle bird character, which has the obvious advantage of flight but adjusts its speed by flying upwards and downwards to alter momentum.

Screenshot for Pop Island (Hands-On) on Nintendo DS

Things seemed a bit quiet in a single player match with four animals a side, but Pop Island really opened up when Adam and myself played against each other in a full match; each of us controlling one creature, but each also assisted by 15 AI beasts. When you've got that many characters on the field you're really fighting for the points, and it becomes necessary to learn your chosen animal's skills so that you can dodge and keep your flag intact while being chased by three or four foes. It's clearly a multiplayer game at heart, which makes it a shame that there is no online play mode included. Olivier claims this is so that you can "share joy" with those close to you. No love for Internet friends, unfortunately.

Local multiplayer thankfully supports up to eight players, and from the sounds of it as long as one person has Pop Island in a group everybody else can get a go of it to an extent, too. Owners can send out a demo of the game to be picked up through the DS Download Play option on the handheld's menu and test out the solo and multiplayer through it. The great thing about this, too, is that you apparently don't even have to have a DSi to play it; the demo can be shared to a standard DS as well, as the only functionality of DSi that Pop Island uses is the very fact that it is a downloadable title.

Screenshot for Pop Island (Hands-On) on Nintendo DS

Final Thoughts

Pop Island is a strong addition to the DSiWare line up. It's uncertain how much it will sustain people in single player, but as a multiplayer title it's a lot of fun. The variety in characters means that anybody can pick it up, no matter their skill level, and it's sure to lead to a lot of interesting matches.

Developer

odenis

Publisher

ODenis

Genre

Party

Players

8

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date TBA   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

This game drove me round the bend as I couldn't win! I was hopeless at it Smilie But it was still lots of fun Smilie

The great thing about this, too, is that you apparently don't even have to have a DSi to play it; the demo can be shared to a standard DS as well

I've found this to be the case with other multiplayer DSiWare titles so far, which is a great thing indeed! Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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