Pet Alien (Nintendo DS) Review

By Adam Riley 27.07.2007 2

I suppose when you hear of yet another children's game or one based off a popular cartoon series, a major sense of scepticism suddenly washes over you since most Third Parties do not bother with 'quality'. However, following the excellent Miss Spider on DS, Shin'en is back with Pet Alien for Nintendo's portable. With Nanostray already proving popular and the game's sequel on the near horizon, does this stop-gap puzzle adventure fill the void nicely?

To say Shin'en has a good grasp of the Nintendo DS hardware would be somewhat of an understatement and what we have seen from the German outfit so far has been a darn sight better than what other Third Parties are still offering up today, nearly three years since the DS originally launched in Japan! So what we have on offer is solid 3D characters representing the five alien pets from the once popular Cartoon Network show, extremely rich and vibrant locations and cleverly designed stages full of action, depicted in a top-down view to show off more of the stages, and it all comes complete with a soundtrack that should be very familiar and pleasing to fans.

Screenshot for Pet Alien on Nintendo DS

The aim is to rescue Tommy by using the help of Dinko, Gumpers, Flip, Swanky and Scruffy, all of whom have had their respective personalities transferred to the game in tact, meaning, for example, Gumpers is big, fat and slow-but-extremely powerful and Swanky struts around stages at a leisurely pace, seemingly without a care in the world. Each alien has been put to good use throughout the game and you find their moves are introduced slowly so as to guide people and not drop them in the deep end, which considering the audience is the perfect way to deal with proceedings.

Scruffy is perfect for squeezing through tight spaces and grab distant things with his tongue, Swanky can move unbreakable boxes around a stage, Flip can float over obstacles, Gumpers can smash see-through boxes and Dinko can use his dash ability to shoot over moving ramps in the opposite direction to which they are travelling. The aim is to work your way around each stage, collecting the required amount of crystals set on each level. Once done, you can then exit the stage by heading through the special portal that opens.

Screenshot for Pet Alien on Nintendo DS

The thing is, trying to get hold of many of the last crystals is much harder than you might imagine due to the numerous obstacles in your way such as switches that you must find cards for to open them (and you must use each of the aliens' different skills to get through), as well as monsters that wander around and prove to be the main cause of death for you...well, those and the evil Robitix that captured them in the first place! There are eighty levels in total that are split into four different sectors, each one with a Robotix boss encounter at the end that uses the separate creatures' abilities very well indeed, such as moving crates over switches and standing on the last one at the right time to shoot a laser beam into the boss repeatedly.

As for the mini-games that are on offer, many are in the vein of brain games, with one particular example being where you must listen to the different notes played (varying 'burps and farts', which is the name of the game!) and then play them back in the same order. These really do add a nice angle to the game, giving younger gamers a pleasant break from the main adventure.

Screenshot for Pet Alien on Nintendo DS

As for how long the game lasts...well, let us just say it took a seasoned gamer it took me around four solid hours of playing to polish this one off, which is certainly no mean feat for such a game. So it is pretty safe to say that young children will get plenty of play time out of this, and may well get stuck on some of the more complex puzzles. At such a low price it certainly comes highly recommended.

Screenshot for Pet Alien on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

As far as games aimed at the younger audience are concerned, Pet Alien is by far one of the best titles on offer for the DS. It exudes charm, is never patronising, is certainly well-crafted and even puts up a decent challenge at the same time. The formula is definitely strong enough to be developed into a different, more fleshed-out game in the future! Looking for something the kids would love? Check out Pet Alien then...

Developer

Shin'en Multimedia

Publisher

The Game Factory

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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

Comments

I wonder how much of a "kids game" this really is. Some games in the past have been put off as kids games and turned out to be something completely different (The one that comes to mind is Super Magnetic Neo for the Sega Dreamcast, look it up!). I really enjoy well-crafted puzzle games (Meteos) and would like another one for my NDS. I'll have to look into this mroe.

I've been impressed with all the Shin'en games I've played so far, even the extremely child-oriented Miss Spider on DS, which I whizzed through in just a few hours. This seems to be aimed at a slightly older market, probably between 8 and 14 years, maybe...something like that.

On a separate point, can't wait for Shin'en's Nanostray 2 :-D

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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