TGS '07: Gabu Gabu Planet Hands-On

Dog sees, dog eats. We check out this humorous DS game from Koei.

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TOKYO--One part Katamari Damacy, one part Pac-Man, one part Nintendogs, and one part Hungry Hungry Hippos, Gabu Gabu Planet is at once familiar and crazily unique. We had a chance today to try out Koei's upcoming Nintendo DS game on the floor of the 2007 Tokyo Game show, and came away more than a little charmed with its manic art style and considerable humor.

In Gabu Gabu Planet, you'll play as one of four hungry-looking dogs… Okay, let's stop right there. We think they're dogs, but they could just as well be four-legged, floppy-eared demon sharks for all that we can tell. Regardless, the character designs find a humorous blend between over-the-top cartoon cuteness (big eyes, loping running animation, and floppy ears) with some serious-looking chompers. The result is surely worth a smile, especially once these goofy-looking creatures start sprinting across the environments while looking for new things to chew on.

And that really is the point here: eating anything that gets in the way of these dogs. As soon as a level begins, your little dog (along with the three other dogs you're competing with) will start out relatively small. To eat, you simply walk up to a piece of food and hit the B button; your dog's already big mouth will expand hilariously until you can fit whatever it is into its mouth. From there, you have to manually chew by repeatedly pressing the buttons. Although we couldn't figure out the exact details--the menus were all in Japanese, naturally--timing seems to play an important role in how quickly you can eat something. And because you're in a race to eat as much as you can during the level, you'll want to make sure you have your timing down.

Once your little monster dog starts chowing down on things such as fruits and vegetables, it'll quickly grow in size until it can take in larger items such as gloves, and desk fans, and the like. However, some items are tough, if not impossible to eat, such as a radio. When we put it in our dog's mouth, it got shocked with each successive bite. We're not sure whether we were doing it wrong or not, but there does seem to be a lesson there: When eating a radio, try to get it down without chewing.

Electric shocks won't be your only problem in Gabu Gabu Planet. Although some levels are nice and safe, others are placed high up in the air. Consequently, if you run too fast trying to get to the next item meant for consumption, you risk running off the edge of the map. In addition, your opponents will be able to attack you, which temporarily flips you on your back and shrinks you as well. Presumably you'll be able to fight back, but we couldn't figure out how to do it during our demo.

Whether there's more to Gabu Gabu Planet than ravenous dog creatures looking to devour you out of virtual house and home, we can't say. What we do know is that the game brought a big smile to our face when we played it, and we look forward to finding out more on the game in the near future.

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