Ankh DS: Curse of the Scarab King (Nintendo DS) Review

By Adam Riley 24.10.2008 5

Many may believe that point-and-click adventures have been on the wane in recent years, but on the PC scene that definitely is not the case, with a plentiful supply churned out by various companies each year. One particular adventure that stands out from the crowd is the rather enjoyable Ankh series, which is finally being translated for the Nintendo DS. Portable fans in Europe are now able to get their hands on a reworked edition of the very first PC Ankh, but has the transitional process been a smooth one?

Everything starts off in the Egyptian times with protagonist Assil sat around having a laugh with his friends one evening in a pyramid built by his father. But things go wrong whilst trying to look for a bottle opener (as they do…) and the Scarab King places a death curse on him due to the supposed desecration of his tomb. Getting no sympathy from his father, he decides to go it alone to break said hex. Honestly the tale is not exactly that absorbing, but there are several moderately amusing moments to be had along the way, which just about keep the game’s flaws from making you chuck your DS out of the window.

For those that played the original PC Ankh, this DS iteration is basically the game all the way through, despite its publisher hailing it as being a brand new entry into the franchise. The only difference is that the gameplay has been streamlined to suit the portable, first of all by implementing touch-screen usage and secondly by extracting some of the convoluted elements of the puzzles from the original (summoning the Pharaoh, for instance, cuts out a good quarter of the steps previously required). This certainly works in the DS version’s favour as what was an unnecessarily drawn out plight on PC it now condensed into a much more palatable format for those regularly on the go.

Screenshot for Ankh DS: Curse of the Scarab King on Nintendo DS

If you have yet to try out Ankh, it plays pretty much like any other standard point-and-click adventure in that touching certain objects on the screen either causes the lead character to mutter some witty retort about the objects, or adds them to your inventory, where they can then sometimes be combined to make other, more useful items, or merely used on their own to solve the variety of puzzles dotted around the gaming world (there are also smart two-person puzzles later on, when Assil gets a helping hand from a pretty young lady, that require quick thinking to position the two in the right place at precisely the correct time). Pointing towards where you want Assil to move is again done with a simple tap on the lower screen, as is talking to someone (at which point different conversation threads pop up and can be selected), whilst different forms of interaction can take place depending on what mode you are currently in (‘Look’, ‘Talk’, ‘Pick Up’ or ‘Use’).

Unfortunately, despite there being humour, several video clips and a decent amount of speech included, the game is let down by two main aspects. Sadly the developer has merely shrunk the PC’s graphics down onto the DS, not taking into consideration how awkward it would be to select particular items or even see some things at times as a result. Focus Home Interactive’s Runaway: Dream of the Turtle (which hit selected countries earlier this year, but will launch across the rest of Europe later this month) circumvented this issue by adopting a magnifying glass approach, whereby wherever the cursor was placed on the touch screen, a small circle appeared, showing off a zoomed-in version of the surroundings within a set radius. Despite this niggling fault, however, with a little perseverance fun can still be had throughout by fans of the genre. What may well be the ultimate killer, though, is that the game appears to have not been thoroughly checked for bugs and in one retail copy there was a game-breaking point just before the commencement of Chapter 4, with the cut-scene playing in its entirety, followed by the screen then being left in complete darkness. Reloading did not help, and neither did trying the game on two other DS systems. For this reason alone it would be wise to either rent this or buy and keep the receipt in case of a similar problem occurring, as it is a fun adventure to play through, but no doubt readers would not want to be left with an unplayable cartridge…You have been warned!

Screenshot for Ankh DS: Curse of the Scarab King on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Ankh definitely had the chance to prove itself as a stand-out adventure on DS thanks to the PC original being quite enjoyable. However, despite its partially humorous script and impressive inclusion of original cut-scene sequences, the weak implementation of touch-screen controls tarnishes what is otherwise a pleasant outing. Point-and-click fans should at least give this a whirl, but be very wary of the game-breaking bug that was found in the review copy – it may have been an isolated event, yet be sure to keep that receipt, just in case. Better safe than sorry!

Developer

bhv

Publisher

XIDER

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (1 Votes)

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

Comments

So...nobody interested in this game at all, or even played the PC original?

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

it doesnt look interesting enough for me to purchase it. ive never played the pc original either.

My Name Is Kizarny
hizave yizou sizeen thize hizuman bizlockhead

I think a lot of people will be like that, to be honest. Isn't the game coming out for just £19.99? Seems cheap compared to other DS software, but when you can buy the PC original for a few quid now the choice will be quite an obvious one for many.

We shall see, since there have been some sales successes in the adventure genre on DS so far.

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

Heard of it, never played it. Sounds so-so by the review, if I see it on the cheap then may just check it out.

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

It is quite funny, and in that respect it's better than Runaway, but the awkward controls let things down...plus it's very buggy, sadly.

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

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