Orcs & Elves First Look on the DS

Fountainhead and id Software's hit mobile role-playing game is on its way to the DS with a surprising number of improvements.

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Game-programming legend John Carmack helped to validate mobile phones as a gaming platform when he created an engine for cell phones, one which Fountainhead Entertainment subsequently used to craft the popular Doom RPG and its follow-up, Orcs & Elves. Now Fountainhead is working on a Nintendo DS version of the latter game, which is actually running on a brand-new DS engine coded by Carmack, rather than a simple port of the mobile engine. It also seems to have quite a bit of control refinement and additional content thrown into the mix.

Just like in the mobile game, you'll play as a half-elf adventurer who possesses a sentient wand that confers special magical powers, provides guidance, and occasionally ribs you if you play poorly. You'll be fighting against an orc menace after a surprise orcish attack on a dwarven fortress. The basic content--graphics, storyline, and gameplay--are preserved from the original cell-phone game. So you'll be moving through each level one square at a time, and when you enter into combat with a monster, it will proceed in a turn-based fashion. Anyone who played the game on a phone (or played Doom RPG, for that matter) should be well acquainted with the mechanics here.

However, the designers have done quite a bit to enhance the DS version of Orcs & Elves. The game will include three previously unseen levels that will be populated by four new monsters, which Fountainhead says it was unable to fit into the original release. There will be a few new potions and other peripheral items on offer as well. You'll move and handle combat with the D pad and buttons, but there will also be quite a bit of touch control. The touch screen will show graphical representations of your inventory that you can access directly with the stylus, and you can also switch this screen over to display the map while you're adventuring. Finally, when you cast one of the game's four magic spells, you'll see a wisp of light moving among the four spell icons on the touch screen, and you'll have to quickly trace the path of this light to successfully pull off the spell.

Orcs & Elves isn't reinventing the wheel in its transition to the DS, but it does have a significant amount of new content, and this looks like a good way to check out the game for those who have never played it. When asked about plans to bring other games, such as Doom RPG, to the DS, Fountainhead stated that the team is more interested in doing an original game in the same vein that can take full advantage of the DS's relatively beefier hardware.

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