Feels like a short story when I was expecting a novel, and makes you want there to be more.

User Rating: 7.5 | Contact DS
Contact is short. Plain and simple. Many people are comparing this game to Earthbound, but it's not like that at all. Earthbound was a lengthy RPG that began to over stay its welcome the second it abruptly ended. Contact on the other hand, starts off beautifully and ends right when it was about to grow on you, sort of like Merry Poppins. If I had to compare this game to another one, it wouldn't be Earthbound, it would be something more like Live a Live.

Before I go into the actual body of this review, I would like to take this moment to rant about the length of the game to get that out of the way. If you say "I don't care about game length, it's about the content," I still encourage you to read on, as that's usually the sorts of things that I would say. If you've already read other reviews that rant about how short Contact is, then you probably already have the idea and then I encourage you to skip this little bit.

Okay, so Contact is SHORT. The game itself flows along nicely and gets an A+ on the storytelling scale. The atmosphere it presents is great, and it's an amazing game to pull out when you're just having one of those days. However, it's over way to quickly, when it easily could've been about three levels longer. Instead of rushing all the story information at the end, the developers could have drawn out the mystery element a little bit more, so that you didn't feel like you were on this constant wild goose chase at the mercy of the professor. Then, by the time the game throws everything at you, you finally realize that you're at the last level and the game ends. The game gives you a lot of content, but not enough time to do it all in. It makes this player wanna-be-designer certainly think of many ways that a sequel could be done that would make up for all of the negative things that Contact has.

Now, let's get into some other categories here!

Graphics and Visual design:

I cannot stress how gorgeous this game looks visually. The game takes the DS graphical hardware and polishes it to a glimmering shine. What makes Contact so gorgeous is that it doesn't try to do what FF3 did with it's attempt at pushing DS 3D graphics. The sad truth is that the DS doesn't have that sort of capability, and when a game comes out for the DS in 3D, it makes you feel automatically that it would've looked better on another medium.

Contact on the other hand, takes what the DS can do on the hand drawn 2D scale, and perfects it so that what you're playing feels like a PS1 quality SNES game. It works beautifully, especially with the different island settings that the game produces.

So, in terms of graphics and design, Contact gets a 9/10! (Only reason it's not a 10 is because unfortunately, as good as it looks, it's not groundbreaking, and the graphics of the professor versus everything else clashes something fierce.)

Sound FX: Okay, the SFX in contact are totally unrealistic. They're not bad, mind you, and they DO fit the overall tone that Contact provides which is a big thing, but in terms of what you'd expect things to sound like, it's not accurate at all. Terry squeal like a mouse when hit, enemies sorta just poof when you kill them, and weapon sound effects are totally over exaggerated or completely unrealistic. The only exceptions to this rule are the sounds of the sea, and the cat-dog...but the cat-dog doesn't even sound like a dog trying to be a cat...which leads me to believe that the dog is a REALLY good trans-species cat.


Music: Contact's music is great. It's not memorable really, but it's great. Every song fits the sci-fi fantasy mood so well that you really couldn't think of anything else to do to the songs instrumentation. Just next time, the songs could really do a lot to be a little more on the catchy side. 8/10


Okay, Contact has mechanics. It has a lot of mechanics...but the problem with Contact's mechanics is that they're rather pointless. This in partial has to do with the game's length, but honestly, why would anybody bother fishing so close to the end of the game when you can just kill some enemies and cook up something fierce in your chef outfit instead. There's no motivation for many of Contact's mechanics.

Aside from the fisherman's outfit, let's take the stats for example. Contact has many stats, and some of them are more relative than others. Strength, weapon proficiency, def, and HP. These are all relatively basic stats and the way that you level them up is via an Elder Scrolls method of "The more ya use it, the better you get at it." There's no direct EXP in the game, but there is a gradual leveling factor for all of your specific stats. The best stat that there is is probably the running one, as you can always feel the difference between the different movement paces and it's very noticeable and fun to run faster and faster as you wander around more and more.

However, besides the stats listed above and the profession stats, the rest of them are rather pointless. In the game, along with your normal defense, you're graced with different types of elemental defense; unfortunatly the game is too short and the enemies are hardly ever elemental in nature, that it renders these stats absolutly useless.

There's also my BIGGEST stat peeve which is the Karma stat. Karma is basically the game's sad attempt at open gameplay. The more Karma you have, the better people will treat you, and the less you have, the worse people will apparently treat you. I'm sorry, but I don't care HOW much karma I have, if I go through the town brutally murdering people I should have pitchforks and blow darts shoved up my butt. Instead in Contact, as long as I still have 10+ karma, nobody cares if I'm Charles Manson. I can even get special limited items for brutally murdering the populous.

That's the other thing in Contact, the items...you have so many item slots, but almost all of them are useless or have absolutly no relevance.

Also, the way that the Inn system sort of works in this game is cute, but random. I'm sorry, but if I'm in a military facilitiy, I think they'll notice if I'm sleeping in their bed and using their bath, which evidently looks like every other bath in the world.

Also, unfortunately, another one of combat's elements of "Open Gameplay" is the lack of information that it gives you. I'm sorry Mr. Professor, but you could've told me SOMEWHERE ahead of time that i needed to spend all my money on a piece of sheet music in order to get to the last boss, instead of spending it all on weapons for the last boss.

Finally though, there's the online mechanic, which if you put some time into it, is great. It's actually really fun to get some funny AI characters running around on an island who are based off of real people and their information, especially when they give you free abilities and items...then you can kill them brutally afterwards!

It's within these annoying mechanics that Contact looses a lot of its points. I give it a 4/10 in this area. I've listed all of the bad mechanics above, however there are still some minor good ones that make it relatively passable [like the online].

Combat: The combat in Contact is actually nice. You don't, unfortunately, have as much control as you would like to in it, but it plays out like a round of KOTOR combat would, so you're actively selecting targets and enemies and the like. Also, the summoning mechanic is a neat touch which allows you, the user, to interfere with Terry's combat and take some matters into your own hands. However, as good as the combat is, it can get a little stale like many other RPGs. Also, because of the odd stat effects, it's near impossible to get all of the desired stats within the game's time frame, but you get enough of them to do the desired damage without grinding like it's 1990. 6.5/10

Story, Content and Appeal: This is why I'm writing this review. Aside from its broken mechanics and short gameplay, Contact makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and really sympathies with the characters that you hardly know, but begin to love as you spend more and more time with them. Then it's all over too quickly and it leaves you rather sad at the end, but happy that you were able to experience such an adventure. The characters, jokes and animations are classic [you get to fight pilots that don't have airplanes, so they run around with their arms out yelling "Zoom!"] and actually makes you rather overlook the other broken aspects of the game, save for it's length. 9.5/10

So, averaging this all out, Contact gets a 7.5 on my list. It's totally worth the play, but damn you wish the developers spent more time working on it.