Pokemon Dash Hands-on

Pikachu races around like a champ in his DS debut.

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SEATTLE--Pokemon Dash is Nintendo's upcoming Pokemon racing game for the DS. The work-in-progress version of the game on display at Nintendo's Gamer's Summit today was in Japanese so we're don't have much to share on the game's story. Still, what we played was certainly an interesting marriage of the DS and Pokemon license.

Although the version of Pokemon Dash on display featured single-player and multiplayer modes, we were only able to try the single player mode. The game is essentially a race against other Pokemon across open areas. The game sends you on a tear to reach five checkpoints and get to the finish line before your opponent. The early races are simple competitions against a single opponent that are pretty easy to win. However the later races increase the number of opponents and difficulty of the courses. The early courses are just basic dashes to reach checkpoints, but later races will require you to use balloons to cross large bodies of water.

The control in the game requires you to rub the touchscreen and send Pikachu on his way. The direction you rub in along with the force you use determine his speed and direction. The other mechanic we saw on display came into play when you're using balloons to cross water. When you're descending to reach your check point you can speed up your landing by popping the balloons, which sends Pikachu hurtling down at a much faster speed. The downside to the rapid descent is that you won't be able to control your landing, so you might not land in the exact right spot.

The graphics in the game are simple. The action plays out from a top-down perspective that's solid but sparse. You'll see some nice scaling as Pikachu's distance from the camera changes when he uses the balloons and drops down to land. The audio in the game is low key and hits the important notes needed for a proper Pokemon experience. You'll hear Pikachu's varied cries as he goes about his business, as well as those of the other pokemon involved in the race.

While we didn't get to see much of it, Pokemon Dash seems like a solid kids title that will likely appeal to older Pokemon fans, especially if its multiplayer offers some interesting twists to it. The single player game is fine, albeit a little thin, but we expect that the game will grow in complexity as it gets closer and closer to release. For more updates on the Nintendo DS and other impressions and media, check out GameSpot's coverage of Nintendo's Gamer's Summit.

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