TGS 06: Gunpey-R Hands-On

We check out Q Entertainment's upcoming DS game that marries an old-school puzzler with a funky new style. Sure enough, it's quite different from other versions.


TOKYO--One of the gems on the TGS show floor that may be overshadowed by all the crazy next-gen madness is Q Entertainment's Gunpey for the Nintendo DS. The title is a reimagination of the Wonderswan puzzle game released in 1999 and named after the late, great Gunpei Yokoi. Though the Wonderswan handheld never enjoyed massive success in Japan, Gunpey was a huge hit for it. The simple and addictive puzzle game made quite an impact on Reo Yonaga, who went on to work at Q Entertainment as a game designer. In the wake of Q's success with funky titles that fuse music and puzzles, Yonaga opted to take the classic game and give it a modern update. The result is a slick mix of style and substance that marries the simple gameplay with a funky new retro look. We had the chance to try out the game and are very pleased by what Yonaga has done with the classic puzzler for the DS, which is very different from the PlayStation Portable version of the game from Q.

At the heart of Gunpey is a simple puzzler in the vein of Tetris. Your goal is to create a solid line that runs the length of the screen by manipulating panels that are scrolling upward from the bottom of the screen. The panels will either be empty or contain lines that face any number of directions. You'll move around a square that highlights two panels horizontally and move the lines either up or down with your stylus or the press of a button. The goal is to align the various panels to form a solid line that then clears the screen of those panels. As with any puzzler, there's an element of danger, as the game ends if any panel containing a line goes past the top of the screen. Gunpey takes this concept and makes it a smart fit for the DS.

You'll find a number of different modes in the game. So far, we've seen original, frontier, endless, and versus, all of which stay true to the core mechanics. The versus mode is similar to Puyo Puyo's in that you'll perform special attacks based on the amount of panels you clear. You'll have the option to fight human opponents or CPU-controlled characters. The attack levels are based on the number of panels you clear. The more you clear, the greater the power level of the attack.

Rather than give the game the Lumines-inspired makeover its PSP cousin has, Q has opted to go with a more classic look that's more of a refinement of the old Wonderswan game's visuals and similar in spirit to Meteos. The game has a cartoonish look and a space theme that sends you to different planets, which serve as the different themed boards.

The music in the game is getting special attention from Q, and though it doesn't feature the same club-tune approach as the PSP game, it offers a slick new feature. The game will contain a music mixer that you'll be able to use to create your own tunes out of samples you'll earn by playing. The game will feature a "music box" feature that contains all the samples you've earned so far and a drag-and-drop interface that lets you stitch them together and adjust tone and melody. When you're satisfied with your tinkering, you can save your tune to one of four save slots and then use it while you play.

Based on what we played, Gunpey is shaping up to be another great puzzler from Q for the DS. The system-specific approach and features are very cool, and the gameplay is rock solid. DS owners hankering for some coolness should keep an eye out for the game when it ships later this year for the DS. Look for more on the title in the coming weeks.

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