Apparently I played a completely different game than did the Gamespot reviewer...
Here's a breakdown of what I thought:
Graphics: The graphics in the game are great. Fighting Fantasy thrusts the player into a full, 3D environment with plenty of depth and detail. While NPCs and Monsters are rendered as 2D sprites, they fit in quite well with the environment. This game's graphics are easily within the top 10% of all DS games!
Sound/Music: Sound FXs were good but became a little repetitive during combat and spell casting. Otherwise, it was well done. Music on the other hand, is the games one true shortcoming. Aside from the title, character creation and ending themes, the game contains NO music whatsoever. Weak...
Story: The story isnt some world-saving epic tale, but it has an old-school D&D feel to it that makes me feel all nostalgic inside. You're a faceless adventurer who enters a monster-infested dungeon, you kill said monsters, you kill an evil wizard, aaaaand profit. Again, it's not a story that's going to blow your mind, but its good and it was good for what it was trying to do.
Gameplay: Playing Fighting Fantasy did take a little getting used to. There are several play style configurations, but the one I went with literally required me to use the DS's D-pad, A, B, X, Y, the shoulder buttons, the top screen AND the bottom screen and stylus. Fighting Fantasy wont win over any 10 year olds with its control set up, but if you want a game that makes full use of the DS and doesn't feel gimmicky, this is the one. Beyond that, controls perform well and after the initial learning curve, I had no problems interacting within the game-world and wrecking orcs' faces.
Difficuly-wise, the game has some challenging moments that require you to actually level up rather than simply steamroll the game. On my first play through, I logged somewhere around 10 hours of playtime. Afterwords, I started a New Game + and was able to blast through the game in about 5 hours. (But I knew exactly what to do and where to go) The only problem with New Game + was that the monsters were set at a ridiculously high difficulty rate, could often 1 shot me, and gave the same amount of exp as they did the first time through. I'm not usually a quitter, but I could NOT beat the final boss on New Game +. (Guess I'm not leet...)
Overall: Fighting Fantasy was a good game made by a small team. I doubt it had a huge budget, but they did a good job with what they had. The game takes advantage of almost everything the DS is capable of doing from a technical standpoint. From great 3D graphics to a fully featured control setup, this game pushes the limits of the DS like few others do. The solid story has a good deal of variance and there is a decent amount of character customization which adds to the game's replay value. Aside from a few shortcomings in the music department, this game is well done from start to finish.
It's not the best DS game ever made, but it has captivated me far more than many other DS games that have relieved far higher review scores. I feel embarrassed for whomever reviewed this game for Gamespot as they clearly did not go in-depth at all in their evaluation thereof.