Nintendo DS
Reviewed: 11/12/2006

There are many role-playing games on the market that attempt to evoke certain nostalgic feelings from gamers. There are also many RPGs that attempt to rework proven formulas in entirely new ways. Contact attempts to do both, and while it doesn’t do either perfectly, it largely succeeds.

The story in Contact is fairly simple. A professor is stranded in an archipelego and enlists the help of a boy, Terry, to help him collect various power cells so he can get up and running again. While the story itself is pretty straightforward, and rarely does anything too interesting, it is the writing and dialogue that makes the game shine. The professor is able to talk directly to the player, a barrier that is very rarely broken. It is in this dialogue from the professor that the game’s strenght shines. The quirky humor of the game is superbly pulled off. It is never dull, never boring. The craftily written text really makes the bland story shine in ways which aren’t normally seen.

Screen Shot
There are some pretty unique scenes.

The game also tries to innovate in the gameplay aspect. The player doesn’t directly take part in battle, rather he/she is an outside contributor, merely guiding Terry through the environments and letting him do the hard work of cutting down enemies. This detachment from the main gameplay can be annoying, but there are other ways to interact with the game itself. The professor gives players “decals,” which are special items that have various effects on enemies, items, and other things on the field.

Stats are a huge part of the combat in Contact. While players don’t have direct control over Terry, they can determine what weapons he uses, and therefore what stats get upped through the battles. The game does away with normal levelling, instead, it has stats increase based on how often they are needed. For example, if players continually get hit in batles, Terry’s HP will increase, as he needs more in order to survive. It’s an intuitive system that is quite interesting to watch unfold, but once again it is unfortunate that players don’t have more control over the game.

There are many different things to be found throughout the game. From new costumes for Terry that unlock new abilities, to new weapons and decals, there are a lot of things to discover in Contact. This is certainly a good thing as the main quest itself won’t take very long at all. Though the fact that the game doesn’t take very long is a good thing too, because the gameplay can get stale fairly quickly. It’s a game that is meant to be absorbed in small portions, which is suitable given its portable aspects.

Screen Shot
The stark contrast between visuals is readily apparent.

The music and sound effects in Contact are easily forgotten. Though nothing is really below average or bad, there is really nothing to take away from the game in the sound aspect.

The visuals of Contact are highly unique. Often one screen has beautiful landscapes and more modern sprite graphics, while the other screen has the professor and his dog in a style that is very similar to Earthbound. It is in the graphics that the nostalgic aspect of the game comes in, and it cashes in very heavily on this aspect.

Contact is a game that will likely polarize gamers. It’s hard to fault the game for trying new things, but it is also very hard to forgive it for not doing some things better. The characters are engaging, but overall the storyline falls flat. It’s a game that must be played to understand, but it’s only worth playing to gamers who will like the nostalgia and quirkiness of it. It’s interesting that a game named Contact wants to bridge the gap between players, yet it has so much less interaction than most RPGs have.

-Joseph Wartick

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Average
Story Good
Graphics Very Good
Sound/Music Average
Replay Value Average
The Verdict: Five