Wednesday, June 24, 2015

#ADecadeofDS: Contact

Amount of time devoted to this game since I started playing it just over a month ago--Eleven hours, 31 minutes.

Most recent boss toppled, location reached or milestone achieved--I can't believe I'm making this comparison, but the last boss I remember conquering (there are surprisingly few in Contact) actually reminded me of that pink whale that sits in wait at the end of The New Zealand Story's first stage. Here, however, the entity that you're sucked into and forced to battle from within is an Egyptian pyramid.

The most recent location I encountered, though, clearly was a take on Tokyo's famous Akihabara district. A particular highlight of this area: some of the "enemies" found on its upper reaches included refrigerators and vacuum cleaners that had been imbued with life.

Overall comments on the experience so far--I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found it “interesting”—and I don’t necessarily mean that in a good way--to finally play through a game I’ve had my eye on for ages.

There are all sorts of reasons for that, of course, but a big one for me is that it’s far too common for my curiosity in long-ignored titles to grow to such an extent that I wind up considering them at least a bit of a letdown after I start playing them.

Has that been the case with my maiden voyage through Grasshopper Manufacture’s Contact so far? At risk of sounding wishy-washy, I have to sheepishly admit that the answer is: in some ways, yes, and in some ways, no. That said, I’ve found the 11 or so hours I've spent with this dual-screened adventure up to this point to be more positive than negative, which is all most folks are going to want to know (especially if they're trying to figure out if they should follow in my footsteps and play it or not).

Some of the things that have made it a satisfying experience: its dual art styles (one of which harkens back to games like EarthBound, while the other recalls more lushly illustrated 16- and 32-bit titles), its eclectic and appealingly video-game-y soundtrack, its rather cryptic story and its overall "feel." (In regard to that last bit, I simply have a blast moving the protagonist around Contact's many gorgeous environments.)

As for the few aspects that have had me, at times, wanting to hurl my 3DS against the nearest wall in anger, they would be Contact's fairly hands-off battle engine (although if you're like me at all, it'll grow on you over time), its stiff challenge and its stubborn dedication to being head-scratchingly obtuse. (Let's just say I've had to turn to GameFAQs on more the one occasion to figure out what I was supposed to do next or how I was supposed to defeat a boss.)

Do I wish some of the above-mentioned pitfalls had been fixed, or at least partially smoothed over, before this intriguing DS title was plopped onto store shelves? I guess you could say that. Still, I've enjoyed this undertaking quite a bit despite its sometimes-off-putting quirks, so it's hard to rail against them too mightily.

Will I continue to play this game in the coming days, weeks and maybe even months?--I sure hope so. Normally I'd offer up a solid "yes," and without hesitation, especially since I seem to be fairly close to the finale, but that's just what I said about My World, My Way--a game I liked more than I've liked Contact so far--as well as a few of the other DS titles I've recently played, so I know it's far from out of the question that I'll continue the trend (of not living up to these predictions) with this Rising Star Games-published effort.

Do I recommend it to others?--Oh, boy, this is a tough one. If you're the kind of person who generally gets a kick out of playing RPGs that attempt to do things differently, I think you'll at least find this adventure to be interesting--especially if you can nab a rather inexpensive copy of it. If you're not the genre's  biggest fan, though, or if the only Contact carts you come across cost more than $30 or so, I'd probably recommend spending your hard-earned cash elsewhere.

Next up--Bokujou Monogatari: Youkoso! Kaze no Bazaar e (known in other regions as Harvest Moon DS: Grand Bazaar) and Penguin no Mondai: Saikyou Penguin Densetsu!

See also: previous #ADecadeofDS posts


Justin Difazzio said...

I've been eagerly awaiting this post. It's nice to hear your impressions and mine are fairly similar. Someday, maybe, I'll go back with an Action Replay or something and finish the game. The battle system coupled with a difficulty spike was what finally put me off of this one. It was a fine system when things were relatively uncomplicated, but at a certain point it was just holding me back. said...

I wish I knew which section of Contact turned you and others off so much, Justin. I have a feeling it was a boss fight I encountered a couple of hours ago, as I had absolutely no idea what to do there until I checked out a GameFAQs walkthrough. Another possibility, I guess, would be what I imagine is the final “setting,” Akumojo Castle, as the enemies there are quite a bit tougher than any that have been encountered so far, and it’s taken me some time to get my character to a level where he isn’t trounced—or nearly so—by them before I can make it very far. At any rate, I can see why this game’s battle system, coupled with some of its difficulty spikes, eventually turned you off of the whole affair, as I’ve definitely found playing through it to be a chore at times myself. Thankfully, there’s been enough thrilling elements to it that I’ve persevered … so far ;)