Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Project Hacker: Awakening (Nintendo DS) Review

While the summer gaming drought here in the UK comes to an end, Japan have been getting several new top-notch titles, this being one of them. With successful adventure games such as Phoenix Wright being released for the DS in this country, will this new cyber-detective game be worthy of a western release? Read on to find out more...

You play as Satoru Amatsubo, a talented university student who specialises in computers - especially hacking. Although insisting that he only hacks computers for fun and never deletes or steals any information, he goes a step too far when he manages to break into a government server. They manage to track Satoru down, but instead of arresting him and sending him to jail, they offer him a job at GIS - the main headquarters for computer crime and cyber terrorism.

The game is split into five missions (known as 'Programs'), each covering a different investigation. The first mission also covers how Satoru gets the position at GIS, introduces you to the other main character, Rina, as well as investigating and solving your first act of cyber terrorism. The protagonist of our story comes home one evening to find that his apartment has been broken into and ransacked. Confronted by two governmental-looking men in black suits, our hero manages to escape, and asks Rina, his childhood friend, for help. They realise that they're caught up in a big scandal to bring down a major Japanese phone company, and must stop the rival company at all costs.

Screenshot for Project Hacker: Awakening on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

If you're played Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney before, then you'll feel right at home here. It plays like a traditional adventure game, choosing the right dialogue threads, examining items, and so forth. As far as the gameplay goes, it feels just like reading a story, or to be more precise, a detective-themed manga comic. Unfortunately, this means the game does not require that much interaction to play. Usually, you'll end up talking to the characters around you, an event happening, talking some more, and so forth, with no branching story. If there is a branch, then usually it will just take you to a dead end and a 'Game Over' screen, making the game very linear.

To break up all the adventuring and examining objects and such, there are several puzzle-solving elements, such as figuring out the passwords on a rival's computer. Most of the time, this can be figured out by just examining your surroundings (for example, if you see several chess-related items around the place, try passwords relating to the board game). But sometimes, you have to rely on the internet for information.

Screenshot for Project Hacker: Awakening on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

No, not the real internet, but one that is built into the game. From your laptop (or at the start of the game, an internet cafe), you can access a 'fake' internet, comprising of hundreds of pages and links about different companies, products, research articles, directions to key locations, and so forth. It's a great addition, and is integral to the game's progress. And if you're tempted to grab the nearest piece of paper and write down any information you find, you can use the PDA again. Much like the photography function of the DAS device in the DS adventure game 'Another Code', you can keep track of things in the game, by using a virtual notepad. Just scribble down any important names or dates on the touch screen, and you can then access them at any time.

The game also throws in several mini-games to break up the text adventuring even more, such as when you stop rival hackers from accessing a computer by tapping the coloured blocks flying on the screen towards you, or rearrange a scrambled map using the touch screen. These are a nice touch, and help the player to interact with the game, generally making the whole experience feel more immersive.

Screenshot for Project Hacker: Awakening on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The graphics of the game, as mentioned before, are manga styled and presented in a neat and colourful form. Even little things such as characters blinking randomly while talking to you is a nice touch, although the poses can be a little repetitive if you're picky, and after a while you wonder why most of the characters never change their clothes throughout a game... As the game is very text heavy, I wouldn't recommend importing this game though, unless you can find a translation guide on the internet, which will be a lifesaver.

If you're worried that the game will be over too quickly, then you'll be glad to hear that each of the five programs will take approximately two hours to complete, meaning plenty of mystery and detective work. Plus, each program is graded, giving you the opportunity to replay the missions if you so wish for a better score. Throw in some unlockable mini-games after completing the game, and you have quite a long game, but unfortunately little incentive to replay the main quest. But don't let this put you off, because this is a fantastic adventure and mystery game... now all we need is the confirmation of a western release!

Screenshot for Project Hacker: Awakening on Nintendo DS- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review


A game of this genre needs a good storyline - thankfully, Project Hacker delivers superbly with this cyber-detective plot.


The 'Phoenix Wright'-style manga graphics are detailed, and work well in keeping the audience interested and engaged in the game.


There's not that much in the way of sound, but when there is it's usually the right type of music for the story. Oh, and you'd better get used to the sound of scrolling text on the screen...


A good 10 hours or so on the main story, but little incentive to replay the main game.

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

Here at Cubed3, we've always said that the Nintendo DS would be the perfect console for adventure games. And we've had such good adventure games, such as Another Code and Phoenix Wright... We believe this game is up there with those two top-notch titles, providing a fantastic mystery adventure that will leave you wanting more!

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Also known as

Project Hacker: Kakusei









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (2 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   

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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Nice review Phil-san. Games like this work really well on the DS and I really like the sound of PH:A, I'll probably give it a look when it hits the mighty shores of Europe :-D

Trying to think of a witty signature after 'Hacker-gate'...

Value: A good 10 hours or so on the main story, but little incentive to replay the main game. 7/10

5 or 6/10 surely?

It's going to be shit and you jolly well know it.
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Another Code was probably the same length, maybe a bit shorter...for these sort of games that's the speed you can get through without reading the text properly.

Examining everything and taking your time to read things clearly extends the play and increases the value!

Good work Phil :Smilie I'll definitely be asking Nintendo about whether this will be translated when I head to London on 15th September Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Another code, however, is a heck of a lot more interactive then this looks :-/

Shame , I was hopeing for a full "proper" adventure not one of these semi-interactive story games.

Whether its good or not will very much depend on if the writting and the story is fun, imo.
(as with PW).


Uplink DS anyone? Please?

Please give our little random review show a try;
We have special effects and umm...stuff...

Good work Phil This is a smilie I'll definitely be asking Nintendo about whether this will be translated when I head to London on 15th September

I think you have now mastered the geeky-gaming-version of 'name dropping' now Adam Smilie

Trying to think of a witty signature after 'Hacker-gate'...

Wooh, finally mastered the tasks of staff! Uploading screenshots, watermarking, posting reviews, writing news articles, even my own staff area! :-D

Next up, FFIII import review (I hope)!

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Just in case people on here didn't know about it, James Smilie

And bravo Phil for settling in so damn quickly :-D

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Sounds alright...Not too sure if it's worth a purchase.

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