TOKYO--Oh, good old Charlie Brown, our wishy-washy hero of the Peanuts comic strip. Whether he is visiting Lucy for psychiatric advice, falling victim to the pull-the-football-away trick for the hundredth time, or just sighing wistfully over that unnamed red-haired girl, we can all empathize with the underdog he represents. Of course, Charlie Brown's dog is equally famous, if not more so. Snoopy isn't just a canine, however: He's a World War I flying ace, Joe Cool, and a star of the disco floors. Square Enix's new kid-friendly Pure Dreams brand is also looking to make him the star of the Nintendo DS. We saw a trailer for this upcoming game at Square's open theater at the Tokyo Game Show and also got a few moments of hands-on time with Snoopy DS to see just what the beagle had in store for us.
The trailer showed Snoopy in his various guises: as Joe Cool, just looking smooth in his shades; as the World War I flying ace, piloting his Sopwith Camel; and dancing under a mirror ball in a discotheque. We also saw him in some minigame-type contexts, such as skiing, playing football, and riding a geyser from the bottom DS screen to the top screen. We didn't, however, see much in the way of actual gameplay and were curious to see just what it was like to play Snoopy DS.
Unfortunately, the demo on the floor didn't tell us much. The game's initial scene reintroduces all of your favorite Peanuts characters, such as Woodstock, Schroeder, Pigpen, Marcy, and Peppermint Patty while Vince Guaraldi's famous theme plays. Once the game starts, however, you find a surprise: You don't play as Snoopy or as any other famous character for that matter; instead, you choose an original character from a list of predetermined choices. There were a few different looks available, and we chose a blond-headed boy that looked a bit like Schroeder. While it's disappointing that you don't get to play as a known character, at least the choices have the right look and style to them.
From here, you begin the game in your character's room, where you can access the various gameplay modes. We tried testing our every menu option, but several of them didn't seem to be available in the demo version, while others were heavy on Japanese text and difficult to figure out. One of them was called Amusement Park, but no gameplay was available in it; another appeared to be a movie viewer of sorts that looked like it will let players relive either various in-game moments or perhaps play famous scenes from Peanuts comics or television cartoons. The one game mode that did usher us into some gameplay planted us into the town and let us wander about to speak with some of the other characters.
We started with Charlie Brown then eventually spoke to Violet, Sally, and Schroeder. In each case, we were presented with dialogue options, but because they were indecipherable, it wasn't clear what these choices were or what they were affecting. Eventually, we made our way back to Charlie Brown, but we were never able to move past that particular point, and alas, our time with Snoopy DS came to a crashing halt.
Snoopy DS was just released in Japan, but there is no word yet if it will make it to the US or when that may happen. However, if you're a Peanuts fan, you should keep an eye on this space because the psychiatrist is in, and she'll bring you updates as they occur.