I was surprised at just how bad the "pro" reviews were to describe such a good game... doesn't make any sense.

User Rating: 9 | Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain DS
There have been many times where I feel like there have been reviews for games that have been so wrong on so many levels that it is quite a paradox to understand how the reviewers got their jobs. However most of these reviews will have counter reviews that will even out the score for the games so you can get a good feeling for how a game measures up. When I found out about Fighting Fantasy I was, to be honest, a bit hesitant to get it. I decided I would throw down 5 bucks for the pre-order because it came with the book the game was based off of and then I could also take time to read the reviews and then return the game and get my money back.

A few days went by and 2 reviews made its way onto the web. D- and a 4/10. Gratz.... After reading the reviews I was wondering how the game was seemingly brought down by its difficulty, control scheme, and story. After all I played Demon's Souls and loved every minute I was dying so this couldn't be too bad right? Anyways long story short, there was nothing in the reviews that made this game seem bad to anyone that had any skill at video games in general. I said to hell with it and grabbed my copy and popped it open. Needless to say I was quite impressed with the game.

So after reading that amazing Wall-O-Text, I will now give the review that you actually clicked to read.

Story
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The story is fairly simple. You are a treasure hunter of sorts and you hear that there is a vast amount of booty to be had in this mountain that is owned by a warlock. You decide that you are the man to go in and get some for yourself. The characters that you meet throughout the game will expand on this premise and give you hints about what the warlock is like and how dangerous the trek is to the top and so on. The characters also have their own little problems that are displayed and you can decide to either help them out or not in order to complete the side-quests and main quest. Let's be frank here. How many times have you played a game that give you just a bare bone premise and sent you off on your way to complete the final goal? No, this game isn't a Final Fantasy game. Basically all-in-all the story is enough to make this game work. After all isn't that the point? I even liked the twist at the end to lead into the next play through.

Controls
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Here is where the biggest fault of the game resides. While not horrible, it is still a little bit frustrating. You control your character's movement by using the direction buttons while moving your aim with the stylus on the touch screen. The touch screen is used for basically everything in the game. Accessing menus, open doors/chests, talking to NPCs, selecting your spells, using food, you can even choose to attack by tapping the button on the screen. Most likely you will be using the L button to attack. This is basically the setup of Metroid which works for its purpose although it could be refined just a tad or at least allow re-mapping to fit the player. I did feel my hands cramp up a little but I think its just more due to the extensive play time I spent with it. I felt like the combat method seemed to allow for certain skills to be passed on because you manual control your movement during battle. So skills like Dodge seemed worthless. This will be touched upon more in the next section.

RPG Elements
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Everything that you want in an RPG is there except the compelling story which I already mentioned. Here are some things that are good notes for the game.

-Dialog options
-Decent sized inventory options
-Good character stat customization
-Nice weapon models
-Varied amounts of enemies to fight
-Re-playability (an un-named hardmode after you beat the game, and other class builds you can do)

I mean the game does a fairly well job at getting you involved with the game through these elements. I was constantly trying to upgrade my gear and refine my character in order to make the game easier which was fun. I never got bored with trying to level my character. The game flowed extremely well. I felt like my character was either the right level or very close to it every time I was playing. I never felt that I was way out matched by my enemies unless I got a random crazy spawn of mobs. Granted there are some mobs that could man-handle me but I held my own throughout the game.

As I was mentioning in the previous section, a lot of the skills seem to be kind of worthless or not nearly as important. I would say that most of the skills were only good if you wanted to really roleplay a certain character type. These skills include gambling luck increases, disarming, perception, veteran, and the like. Mainly all of these skills are useless for the perfectionist gamer that wants to be able to complete the game doing much damage as possible and taking the least damage. Enough about that.

I did enjoy how certain items required certain stats to use, however I felt that most of the time that armor such as plate didn't really carry a noticeable advantage over the leather pieces. I might have just not seen how much the difference was because I wasn't getting hit often enough due to learning the timing of combat movements in order to evade the attacks of the mobs. Either way though it is still fun trying to collect armor and getting the best possible pieces for your particular character.

Graphics
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I think this is perhaps one of the game's strongest points. The graphics are pretty much amazing for a DS. The developers were very smart in using the same type of graphics design of games like Doom and Hexen and evolving the details for use with the DS. This allowed for smooth gameplay, with minimal lag, and beautiful textures. The environments were very detailed and cool to look at while playing. I think that a lot of developers that make games for this genre should take some tips from this games design.

Sound
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This is another iffy topic of review for the game. There is literally no music what so ever in this game except in the beginning title screen and the ending credits. Supposedly this was done to allow for the least amount of lag possible in the game. I didn't really mind that there was no music actually but I could see this being a problem for some. Even though there was no music there were plenty of detailed sound effects for everything else. Monster shouts and grunts, weapons clashing, deflecting attacks of armor, bow swooshes, magic casting, footsteps, and ambiance of the environments. All of these factors were present and well done. I would suggest for those that like to have music to play some epic music in the background if need be. I still knocked some off the grade due to this factor.

Difficulty
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I noticed I died a lot, however your game is saved in every room you walk into. So basically every time you die you spawn right back in the room and with different monsters. This allows you to just turn around and walk out if it is too hard for you and also gives you a chance to get easier mobs to fight as well. I don't see how this game could be knocked for its difficulty when it makes so many strides for you to be able to get past the obstacles. This allows for you to have some type of challenge with the game while giving you the opportunity to be able to defend against the room that has these crazy powerful mobs that will own you in one hit. However near the end of the game if you aren't properly geared you can easily get wiped off the face of the planet by some of the bosses. This is all dependent on your skill level, character build, and gear.

Conclusion
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In conclusion, I hope that I can calm some of the storm that might have been caused for people that were interested in the game but were put off by the "professional" reviewers on the web. This game is not nearly as bad as they let on and is actually a lot of fun. For those that might be thinking that its weird that all the user reviews for this game are really good and might have suspicions that it is due to buyer's remorse... trust me it isn't. If you are a fan of dungeon crawlers, you definitely need to give this game a try at least and make the decision for yourself.

Summary
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Pros
-Strong RPG elements
-Very nice graphics
-Good gameplay mechanics
-Fun game

Cons
-Control scheme
-No music

9/10