The transition to the Nintendo DS seems natural for any adventure game, given that all it needs is a simple point-and-click system. Adventure fans may remember Paradise for the PC, which was created by Benoit Sokal, who has worked on several adventure games since starting his own company called White Birds Productions. Paradise is back as Last King of Africa, a remake made specifically to use the DS's touch screen. Focus Home Interactive came by to give us a first look at the game, and from what we've seen, the game fits nicely into the palm of your hand.
The opening cutscene looks great on the DS, though to make sure that the game will fit on a DS cartridge, some cutscenes have been replaced with splendid-looking artwork that will come up and pan across the screen. The important elements of the story are all included, and we are told that the puzzles are indeed different and will involve more than just pointing and clicking to solve.
Last King of Africa is about a woman who ventures into the fictional country of Maurania, where her father is currently the king. Her plane crashes on her way to see him, and she finds herself trapped in the harem of a prince when she wakes up. The woman has also lost her memory at this point, so she takes on the name of Anne Smith for now. Throughout the story she will eventually discover who she is, but in our demo, we had to make our way out of the harem first. We were also given a walkthrough on how the game works.
The top screen of the DS displays a useful map, with a yellow dot to indicate where you are in the specific area. Conversations between characters are also carried out in the top screen, where you'll see Anne and the person you're talking to pop up along with their dialogue. When you're probing people for more answers, a box comes up on the bottom screen on which you can choose to ask about different topics. The entire game can be controlled with the stylus, and it still works like a traditional point-and-click game. Your inventory will appear when you click on a small icon on the bottom left of the touch screen. When an item is selected, it appears in a box and needs to be dragged to the area that you want it to interact with.
We first ran into Aicha, a servant who seemed fond of Anne. We gave her a nice scarf from our inventory and she handed over a key. The key let us explore the palace further, and to unlock doors, you use the stylus to draw a circle around the key. When we came across a dark room, we used our lighter, which required a few strokes with the stylus to light. We found out quickly that the prince was sick with butterfly fever and that there was only one girl, his favorite, who was allowed to visit him. So our next task was to find a way to look like her, and even smell like her, to get an audience with the prince. Normally we'd take our time to explore, pick up items along the way, and talk to everyone we meet, but in the interest of time, we went straight to the tower in the garden to find the recipe to make perfume. The room is set up like a laboratory with a boiler and mixer, and in the room we found a list of the items that we needed: almonds and a flower. Another example of how the stylus is used occurred when we needed to get almonds out of a tree. An arrow popped up to indicate that we needed to drag the stylus back and forth quickly to shake the tree.
Pixel hunting won't be that difficult because the screen is only so big, and objects that can be interacted with have a decent-sized area around them so that if you're close enough, the game will know that you've essentially clicked on them. We talked to a man in the garden who gave us some directions on how to find our ingredients, which helped us to not wander around as many screens while looking for almonds. We were told that the flower could be found in animal excrement, so we headed toward a panther's cage and got our flower. Once our items were collected, we went back to the tower to use the equipment to mix, boil, and extract our perfume.
From our first look at the game, the transition to the DS seemed seamless and natural. Navigating through menus seems easy, and a quick tap on the screen will move your character from one end of the room to the other. People who have already played Paradise will find the story unchanged but the puzzles different. Adventure fans who have been looking for games to play on the DS will be happy to know that Last King of Africa will be ready this October.