While the home console and PC versions of Arthur and the Invisibles are action adventures that closely follow the events of the movie, the Nintendo DS version is very different. In addition to no fewer than 90 different minigames that make use of the handheld's microphone and touch-screen capabilities, the game boasts a virtual pet simulator that tasks you with caring for your own "mul mul"--a cotton ball with arms and/or wings and a face, essentially. We got our first look at the DS game at Atari's recent Spotlight event in Las Vegas, and we can report that while some of the minigames had a pleasing WarioWare quality about them, the virtual pet appeared to be more Tamagotchi than Nintendog.
Most of the minigames that we saw during our demonstration were played either by blowing into the microphone or by using the stylus on the touch screen. We obviously haven't seen the Arthur and the Invisibles movie yet, but we're guessing that many of the minigames are based on key sequences from it. Memorable minigames that we noticed included pulling a sword from a stone King Arthur-style using the stylus, shaking mul muls to fluff up their fur, blowing into the microphone to keep a dandelion seed that Arthur was riding in the air, and tapping insects that were chasing Arthur up the touch screen with the stylus to kill them. Your rewards for beating the minigames will take the form of food items, pictures, and backgrounds that can be used to enrich the existence of your virtual pet.
Unlike other virtual pets, those in Arthur and the Invisibles all look identical right now, or at least very, very, similar. The two that we got to see floating around and not really do anything were different in only one way: One was a lot bigger than the other, because it was about a week older. How well you're caring for your mul mul can be determined by looking at its status screen, where you'll find ratings for its happiness, attention, cleanliness, comfort, hunger, and meetings--which presumably keeps track of how often it has been allowed to interact with other mul muls. Whereas most virtual pet simulators task you with looking in on your pets regularly, Arthur and the Invisibles appears to make taking responsibility for your mul mul optional. The attention and cleanliness ratings won't be very good if you're not spending time with and cleaning up after your pet, but if you choose to let your pet age in real time and then ignore it for a while, it'll take care of its own food needs.
If you don't want to miss a second of your mul mul's existence, you have the option to pause time, as well as to slow it down or fast forward. You'll also have the option to adopt up to three mul muls on a single DS, for three times as much fun...or something. We'll bring you more information on the DS version of Arthur and the Invisibles as soon as it becomes available.