Game – Amoebattle
Developer/Publisher - Intrinsic Games /Grab Games
Version – DSiWare (eShop)
Time Spent Playing – 4 hours
Price - $4.99
Obtained – Review Copy courtesy of Intrinsic Games
When you hear/read the term real time strategy (RTS) game, what games come to mind; StarCraft, WarCraft, Command and Conquer perhaps. What do all of these games have in common? They are all on the PC, and have great controls via the keyboard and mouse and are played on fairly large monitors. So take the RTS concept and shrink it down, let's say to a DS, add in touch screen controls and what are you left with? You are left with Intrinsic Games fully fleshed out RTS game, Amoebattle and don't worry, it's the real deal with just a couple minor negatives.
Gameplay and Controls
Amoebattle is a real time strategy game (RTS) with a unique take on the formula. First off, the theme itself is a new take - you control those single cell organisms called amoebas, who have the ability to split themselves into new units and mutate into different types. Rather than collecting/mining materials and setting up base camps, players are tasked with wiping out the incoming infection by a simple war strategy, divide and conquer. Don't let the word "simple" dissuade you from clicking the purchase button, because simple this game is not. In fact, 2 or 3 chapters in and you'll see just how tough these microscopic organisms can be!
Now the gameplay itself is fairly standard, although it never gets repetitive. Players are guided by AMI, an AI robot who assigns you tasks to complete. You start off with a basic Locust amoeba and your mission is to find new amoeba species and drive off the incoming infection (which you'll learn about as you progress through the chapters.) In order to do this, you must be able to defend yourself against the 9 different enemy types you will encounter. Of course, the Locust is not powerful enough to do this on it's own, thankfully you can replicate and mutate. In order to replicate/mutate you must have enough energy and enough food points in order to initiate the change. To gain food points, you must either destroy enemy amoebas, eat algae, or a combination of both. Energy, on the other hand is gained slowly, but automatically. However, it really is too slow so you must take advantage of the Harvest Probe. The Harvest Probe can harvest energy from mitochondria found throughout the levels. This will increase your energy faster and by more points than the automatic process.
As you progress through the levels, AMI will collect DNA from enemy amoebas, thus enabling you to mutate into other amoebas. As you would expect, each amoeba has it's strengths and weaknesses and it's up to you to plan strategically in order to survive. Also at your disposal are other probes which assist you in battling the infection. A Cryo Probe slows down enemies with ice and a Poison Probe damages enemies in the probe's blast radius as well as a few more.
Now, before you go and replicate your units, be mindful that any amoeba that is well fed will deliver 20% more attack damage. So you have to choose wisely, how many units do you need to control in order to survive and how many do you need with an attack power up. I chose to replicate every chance I could, of course you are limited to controlling only 25 units at once.
Controlling your amoebas is incredibly easy and the game makes great use of the touchscreen controls. Selecting your units is as easy as double tapping on them, drawing a shape around the desired units or using the pulldown menu to select all and even assign specific units to 1 of 4 unit slots. You move the camera around using the face buttons and the circle pad. The pulldown menu is accessed by either double tapping or pressing and holding L or R. You can also save the game at any point and there are 3 save slots to use.
Unfortunately, what is missing is a map editor and multiplayer. However, for $5 and the length of the campaign, I don't really care about those two missing elements.
Visuals and Sound
The visuals are bright, colorful and fun. The art style reminds me of something I would expect to see on a Saturday morning cartoon. The levels all have a unique theme and vibrant colors. I think that most fans of RTS games would expect to see Fog of War and Shroud effects, and I want to assure you that Amoebattle makes good use of the effects. The sound is alright, but not great. Unfortunately, the tracks were compressed to cut down on the price of the game so you can expect to hear some crackling in the audio. However, I still enjoyed the audio, but not nearly as much as I had hoped.
Concluding Overall Impressions
At first glance, AmoeBattle looks to be this cute and simple RTS game. However, looks can be deceiving and you'll find that out by the 2nd or 3rd mission. AmoeBattle packs quite a punch for a little DSiWare game. Featuring 12 challenging (read as intense) missions, 9 different unit types, and over 600 pieces of art and animation you'll have plenty to keep you busy and entertained for several hours.
Final Score: 5 out of 5
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