Sprung Hands-On

We try out Ubisoft's upcoming dating RPG for DS that's bound for the US. Yes, you read that correctly. A dating sim's coming out in an English-speaking country.

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SEATTLE--We tried out Sprung, Ubisoft's upcoming dating sim that puts you on the prowl for a sexy man or woman at a ski lodge. The unique game marks a first for Ubi and landmark in US game publishing. as it is the first modern console dating sim to hit the States. Heck, it may well be the first US published console dating sim ever. The game is currently due to hit at the DS launch this November. In order to satisfy our burning curiosity as to how one picks up a man or a woman at a ski lodge we tried out a work in progress version of the game.

The demo version let us try our hand at several different dating scenarios as both a man or woman (your gender is random in the demo on display, but you'll be able to choose in the final game). The gameplay is text-driven and puts you in a variety of situations that will require you to think fast on your feet in order to hook up. The core gameplay finds you selecting choices from a conversation tree that will ingratiate, infuriate, or offend your target. The big draw of the game appears to be its dialogue and situations, which can be saucy. If you play your cards right you may well find yourself with Ms. "Right Now" or, if you're a poor conversationalist, Ms. "Get Away From Me Before I Pepper Spray Your Ass." Sprung will also have a system for handling crushes that you'll likely have to deal with before the game is done, depending on if you chose the male or female role.

The graphics in the game are simple 2D backgrounds and animating 2D images of the people you interact with. The simple art style makes the cast easy to read, as they'll wear their hearts on their sleeve over the course of the conversations you'll have. If you're smart you'll gauge their reactions to ensure you're not maced, which, yes can happen if you aren't careful. The audio we heard in the early version of the game was low key and very ambient in nature but fit the action.

Ultimately, Sprung is an interesting DS game that's certainly something few people have played before, importers of the 20 billion dating sims that hit Japanese shelves each year notwithstanding. Whether or not this means it's going to be a hit with US audiences remains to be seen. The gameplay isn't groundbreaking and some of the dialogue veers from amusing to corny. We'll be curious to see how the final game shapes up. 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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