Fullmetal Alchemist: Dual Sympathy Preview

The quirky anime is coming to the DS next month with a new side-scrolling brawler, and we checked out a prerelease English version.

Anime is not a medium known for stories grounded in reality, and Fullmetal Alchemist stands even among its peers as a particularly bizarre series. For those not familiar with the core storyline, Fullmetal Alchemist revolves around the brothers Edward and Alphonse, who dabbled in some rather dark magic in an attempt to resurrect their dead mother. Instead, Alphonse's body was obliterated and Edward lost one of his legs. Ed then generously sacrificed his arm to bring his brother back, though Al returned not as flesh and blood, but instead as an empty, animated suit of armor. Ed replaced his missing limbs with mechanical versions, and the two set off in search of the Philosopher's Stone, which legend says will restore their bodies to their original states.

Luckily, Edward is an accomplished alchemist, which in the world of Fullmetal Alchemist means he can transmute matter into more useful sorts of objects. That ability comes in handy during the core side-scrolling action gameplay you'll find in the story mode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Dual Sympathy on the DS. You'll control Ed while Alphonse sometimes fights alongside you (though you'll be going it solo in some sections), and you've got a basic punch-and-kick combo and a jump kick to fight off a bunch of enemies, Final Fight-style. We haven't noticed any unlockable combat moves or useable weapons so far, but then, we haven't gotten too deep into the story mode yet.

The gameplay gets a little deeper with a number of abilities enabled by the touch screen. As mentioned, Edward's alchemical abilities play a key role at times. When you start out, Ed has the ability to summon a wall and a cannon from thin air. The items last for only a few seconds, but that's usually enough time for you to use them to get around whatever obstacle is blocking your progress. Early on, we had to create a series of walls to use as platforms to jump across a bed of spikes that was rising and lowering out of the floor.

You'll have to use the touch screen to solve certain puzzles, as well as alchemically produce useful items like barriers and cannons.

The cannon likewise came in handy when we had to blast a path through a barrier that wouldn't allow us to pass. Then the wall became especially useful when we hit the boss of the first area, who kept summoning rows of machine guns on either side of us that delivered a withering spread of crossfire. The solution here was to create walls on either side of us, which lasted just long enough to protect us from the gunfire.

Once in a while, you'll use the touch screen for other activities during the story mode. We reached an altar we needed to bypass to reach a staircase, for instance, and a spellcasting diagram popped up on the bottom screen that required us to tap a series of points quickly with the stylus, in the order indicated, to complete the spell and push the altar away. In a later level, we came upon and had to free a hostage tied up with a rope. The touch screen cut to a close-up view of the knotted rope, and we had to use the stylus to tug the loose ends through the knot (again with a time limit) to free the hostage.

That style of touch-screen gameplay is also available in a minigame collection accessible from the title screen. The seven games on offer here feature various characters and other elements from the series, and they all feature simplistic gameplay that's easy to get into and play quickly. There's an arm-wrestling game that makes you repeatedly swipe the stylus to pull your opponent's arm downward; trap, which makes you tap shoe icons on opposite sides of the screen as fast as you can to control Ed's running speed as he flees from a rolling boulder; scratch, which makes you literally scratch over an outline of a drawing to fill it in, all while trying to fend off cats running in from the sides of the screen to cover the drawing back up; and Fullmetal vs. Flame, which is a first-person game in which Ed is flinging various objects at you, and you have to tap them in midair to bring them down with fireballs. The problem here is that the objects fly at you in an arc and your fireballs take a second to get where they're going, so you really have to lead your targets intelligently to keep them from hitting you.

The quirky minigames will give you some light touch screen-oriented action outside of the main story mode.

The presentation of the game looks quite consistent with the art style seen in the Fullmetal Alchemist series, as you get a lot of nice-looking, full-screen character art during the dialogue scenes, complete with frequent voice acting. It's also nice to see pure 2D games coming out for the DS. All the characters in-game have a cel-animated look to them, and the backgrounds are all hand-rendered in 2D as well. Diehard fans of the series will love the bonus mode that contains viewers for cutscenes, sounds, and character artwork, a character clock, and a weird, Fullmetal Alchemist-themed fortune-telling application.

From what we've seen so far, Dual Sympathy is looking like a fairly entertaining little side-scrolling brawler, which you can never have enough of, and all the minigames and extra bits of fan service available outside the story mode are certainly nice touches for series fans of the Fullmetal Alchemist anime. Dual Sympathy is due to hit the DS around the middle of December, so look for more on the game closer to that time.

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Discussion

31 comments
dazzle999
dazzle999

after reading all the comments about this game i really think that most of you are wrong this is a pretty good game afterall look at all the nasty games nintento istrowing at us these days hamserz en ponyz too many zzz's i recon but the main thing that makes this game fun is that it uses the toutch screen for alchemy actions and the buttons for final fight tmnt beat em up kinda stuff after playing the import with all the original voices im really looking forward to this game and it will be a nice addition for everyone who liked the series it's a good game in it's genre and at the square enix comment made earlier here than i think thet that guy didnt play final fantasy or rocketslime....

grandwizard21
grandwizard21

This is another mistake on Square Enix's part. We all remember this game's predecessors, and we all know how unimpressive and boring they were. I really doubt this one is going to be any less lackluster than the others.

cooperthefool
cooperthefool

is this going to be anything like lost magic?

brandontek
brandontek

these games are good on the portable systems and maybe the PS2. its 3D, You can see the character all around and it has a better story line.

especensor
especensor

here here. anime games mainly suck. they are mediocre most of the time, (ie. naruto clash of the ninja) but they can be still pretty fun. they wear thin easily but are fun at the beginning. strategy: play at someone elses house, don't buy it yourself:D

EverAB
EverAB

"bleach is pretty cool." excuse me, what the hell does that have to do with anything? "anyone heard of a show called bleach?" Ever hear of an extremely popular channel watched by everyone called [Adult Swim]? Anyways, this is just like those games based on movies. "PLAY THE GAME, SEE THE MOVIE!" just trying to cash in on the animes popularity. Besides, anyone will tell you that anime based games pretty much suck.

MarcoSnow06
MarcoSnow06

Looks like a decent TMNT-style beat em up. Verdict's still out on this one (although if the import reviews are to be believed its nothing more than another shameless attempt to cash in on the hugely successful anime series).

PresidentK
PresidentK

This game looks pretty good. I'm planning on getting no matter waht.

rikjuh
rikjuh

the full metal anime series is defenitally worth watching, but after playing the import version for some time i can tell you that this game isnt even half as good as the series.

Platyphyllum
Platyphyllum

due to the import reviews I've been seeing, I don't think it's that good.

capital_rpg
capital_rpg

anyone heard of a show called bleach? my friend watches full metal alchy too? i thinlk they r both weird

fireemblems
fireemblems

I agree most of the people under me are geeks and it is a good anime there is no reality in it.....

edubuccaneer
edubuccaneer moderator

We need a localized version of the FMA RPGs for the GBA... beat 'em up doesn't seem to bond with this anime.

Cruxis27
Cruxis27

This is just an anime... It's not real... I like fma too, but honestly, you guys are geeks.

masterlink43
masterlink43

i dont think two parallel universes with the dead people in one giving alchemy powers to people in the other side is real. dont get me wrong though, i still love the anime

uberkakis
uberkakis

Wait a second. If anyone actually saw the end of the anime (and ignored the movie), everything in that story comes to bear. It's completely and totally grounded in realism, just not the scientific one.

noelveiga
noelveiga

Got it as an import and, frankly, it's not worth it. First of all, the core gameplay is too simple, you only have to punch people in the face, which is a) not consistent with the tone of the anime and b) horribly repetitive. But the real problem is there isn't even enough of that. There's so much story told via text and still frames from the anime that you'll find yourself reading for a long while, then playing for maybe half that. This is because of a), of course. Since they've attempted to reduce the whole FMA plot to a single game and make it a beat'em up, they have to explain too much to justify the next fist fight. So stay away from this one unles you're a rabid fan. I honestly don't know why they bothered to make a full fledged (albeit boring and simplistic) RPG for the GBA and they go with this one for the DS. The nature of the plot is so much more adequate for a JRPG's magic system. Mix that with a touchscreen and the idea of "transmutation circles" and you should have the basics for a good game. Hope this helps. See ya.

robotdeer
robotdeer

I don't think this looks all that interesting, I guess I will see when it comes out here. I can see a great game being made from this liscence however, I am not sure this is it.

Maleficus-lupus
Maleficus-lupus

*grumble* this will sound a bit anal, but it has to be said. It's Alchemy!!!! not spellcraft. Any alchemist in the series would be insulted to have it called spellcraft or magic.

sergioalb64
sergioalb64

A side-scrolling brawler, eh? Interesting. *adds to wishlist*

SUB-ZERO999
SUB-ZERO999

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SUB-ZERO999
SUB-ZERO999

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