If you thought a fighting game in which you play as mighty dinosaurs couldn't possibly be a tedious slog, brace yourself for bad news. Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D is a tedious slog padded out with recycled content. The fights are repetitive and unchallenging, linked by short jogs down corridors of jungle or rock. The visuals, at least, are appealing, enlivened by stereoscopic depth, and there's modest fun to be had in naming and customizing your chosen dinosaur, if a purple T. rex with stars on it gives you a giggle. But you won't be pitting Barney against your friend's creations; this is a multiplayer-free affair, with only item trading to show for the 3DS's wireless connectivity.
Set in an age when dinosaurs not only ruled the Earth, but also when Cretaceous and Jurassic creatures mingled and did battle (sorry, paleontologists), Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D has you pick a dinosaur from four types: predator, hunter, charger, or defender, then run it through a series of linear, walled-in levels, punctuated with fights against other terrible lizards. These guys are the henchmen of the evil Arkosaurus, toward whose destruction you are working. The fights aren't random battles but a clearly signposted sequence of brawls; while you stomp along on the top screen, there is a track along the lower screen with markers to indicate exactly when you'll encounter your next dino rumble.
Within each level, bouts occur against a single class of dinosaur, amounting to similar fights against similar foes. In these, you have few offensive options (an attack, a push) and fewer defensive ones (dodge). The closest thing to a combo is a multi-hit frenzy assault, in which you dodge your enemy's one attack and then hammer a button while he is confused by how you managed to dodge his one attack. He shouldn't be confused because his one attack--two, in the toughest cases--is telegraphed by his whole enormous dinosaur body flashing bright red. Sometimes, he'll flash bright blue--not to signal an attack, just for fun--and then you can thump him to gain dino strike power which, when activated, delivers an automatic flurry of blows. The end-of-level fights are only the most challenging because you might have to dodge left or right to avoid getting bashed.
Then, once you've ploughed through the campaign and your chosen dinosaur has become a champion, you can pick another dinosaur with which to repeat the process. You must do so four times in total, with one dinosaur from each class, because you need four champions to take on Arkosaurus. That's four near-identical grinds through a near-identical series of levels (jungle, canyon, volcano) before you can hit the endgame and take on the boss. The only significant difference in your second, third and fourth runs is the ability to summon the previous champion to temporarily take your place in a battle. It is small comfort that by the end of the fourth time around, you will have unlocked a lot of "fun facts" and funky alternative colors, as well as markings for your champion. These are earned by collecting bones, which are in turn acquired by breaking branches and smashing rocks in your path.
You will also have won a lot of loot from your adversaries, in the form of armour plates, horns, and claws that modify your prehistoric warrior's stats, though not its appearance. These give you more health or damaging power, for instance, or they improve your ability to push enemies back when you attack, which increases your chances of forcing your opponent out of the ring rather than draining its health bar outright. There are hundreds of such items to pick up, and you can trade them with another player over a local connection, but the items, with repeated item icons and lists of slightly varying stat boosts, are hard to care enough about to want to trade.
Though repetitive, the visuals are decent and amiably colourful. The dinosaur models look good. There are also neat unlockable "outfits," which turn your fighter into a museum-style skeleton. The 3D effect is pleasant enough, and it jazzes up the jungle corridors, ravines bridged by trees, and small meteors that whizz through the sky and smack into the ground, hinting at an incoming extinction event that could make all this conflict for naught.
The lower screen doesn't see a lot of action, given over to menu and inventory screens. The touchability of the touch screen doesn't even come into play, and it's a pain to type "BARNEY" in the dinosaur-naming screen, for instance, with a directional pad instead of a stylus. However, the power of StreetPass is not so completely wasted. If you pass by a player with a dinosaur of the same class, you get an item. If you pass a player with a dinosaur of a different class, they automatically battle. That is, they compare stat sheets--and if you win, you get an item. It's better than nothing, but it's a long way from a multiplayer versus mode in which your custom Tyrannosaurus Rex goes toe-to-toe with someone else's Triceratops.
There's little to recommend Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D, even to a player who is a die-hard dino fan. Only very young or inexperienced players will be challenged by the carefully telegraphed dodge-hit-dodge battles, and a pink Carcharodontosaurus can only amuse the rest of us for so long. It's a shame, when the concept "dinosaur fighting game" is so full of potential.