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SEGA come up trumps with a game that fully leverages the uniqueness of the Nintendo DS...
Ahhhhhh.... Feel The Magic: XY/XX, or to give its more amusing final European name of Project Rub; a game so ingenious and perfectly suited to the DS format, that even Nintendo couldnâ??t come up with a better title around the launch of the new handheld format to demonstrate its unique talents.
Project Rub harks back to the good old days of SEGA, and whilst itâ??s true that the game does take a heavy influence from the Wario Ware series, Sonic Team have created a title so disturbingly quirky and â??Japanesyâ? that you have to sit up and take notice.
The game essentially takes on the same concept as the aforementioned Wario Ware series, pitting players in a variety of frenzied mini-games that grow increasingly more fiendish as you progress. The concept and storyline (if it can be described as that) are very simple; youâ??re a young man, smitten at first sight to the attractions of a â??jaw-dropping babeâ?. Too shy to simply ask her out, you must instead complete a variety of tasks that see the player prodding goldfish from a manâ??s stomach to navigating across narrow platforms on a unicycle, amongst many others â?“ yes this is the SEGA we all know and love!
As weâ??ve said before, currently there is nothing to touch Project Rub in demonstrating exactly what the Nintendo DS is all about and the future of the format. Those disappointed by the generic nature of other launch titles, will be pleased to note that Project Rub fully utilises everything that the Nintendo DS has to offer, whether it be using the stylus to defend yourself from a pack of rampant bulls or finally testing out the mic by blowing out candles â?“ you may look stupid to everybody else as you cough and splutter against your lovely new Nintendo DS, but I guarantee youâ??ll have a smile whilst youâ??re doing it.
The â??Storyâ? mode features 19 different scenes, each providing the player with a certain choice when it comes to which mini-game you wish to play. Successfully completing a mini-game will grant you love points, simply collect 100 of these to progress onto the next scene; however itâ??s not quite that simple, as defeat in a mini-game will deplete your score and ensure that its addictive nature rises to worrying dimensions as you progress to later stages â?“ the original GameBoy had Tetris, and we can think of no better game (to date) to have constantly stored in the DS for those long-trips.
In between certain scenes are boss-fights that ramp up the difficulty and take on almost endurance like proportions compared to the rest of the mini-games featured; ideal for exercising your stylus skills, although watch who you complain to about having wrist-ache!
Naturally the quality of the mini-games is the â??make-or-breakâ? factor when it comes to titles such as this, and thankfully Project Rub has more then itâ??s fair share of fun, frustration (in a good way) and damn-right deranged qualities â?“ one particular challenge has you performing CPR, tapping the stylus on your loved-ones heart and then breathing through the microphone. Thereâ??s a distinct level of skill needed with the challenges, such as one challenge that requires you to â??cleanâ? the girl after she slips in some mud. Simple enough this may seem, just wipe the dirty areas on her body (her elbows and legs!); however this didnâ??t seem to do the trick and wiped her up (literally) the wrong way as she shoed away my affection. Instead you must lovingly caress her with your stylus, make subtle movements and not scratch away as though it was a £1,000,000 lottery scratch-card!
Whilst the game feels fresh and different, the visual style is perhaps the most striking aspect, initially at least. The game mixes bright and bold colours in a vivid style; think Austin Powers meets Art Deco. Whilst itâ??s not the most technologically advanced title youâ??ll see on the system, the flat-shaded look and distinctive animation compliment each other and create something akin to the very first time you laid eyes upon Jet Set Radio.
In keeping with many SEGA classics the experience is over all too soon, however much like these, Project Rub features a level of replay just not found in other videogames. Although it wonâ??t take you long to work your way through the â??Storyâ? mode, doing so allows you to unlock the all-together more fiendish â??Hardâ? mode. Youâ??re also free to just pick a particular mini-game in the â??Memoriesâ? mode, which also grants you Starâ??s to unlock content within the bizarrely titled â??Maniacâ? mode.
The natural conclusion that â??Maniacâ? mode is just another higher difficulty level may seem entirely sane, however remember this probably isnâ??t the most rational game youâ??re likely to find yourself playing. Instead â??Maniacâ? mode allows you to unlock and dress the woman of your dreams in a variety of different clothes and accessories. Unlocking such items is handled in a variety of different ways, bunnies pop up occasionally throughout the â??Storyâ? mode and tapping them will unlock these; in a brilliant twist popping in previous Sonic Team GameBoy Advance titles such as Sonic Advance, Chu Chu Rocket and various others will also unlock hidden content.
The music throughout is certainly an acquired taste; if like me you appreciate J-Pop and other such kitsch-culture, youâ??ll probably end up just wanting to listen to it on its own, however on the other hand if you prefer your music to be a little more â??traditionalâ? then it could be enough to send you sliding the speakers down to mute. In a nice little touch that sums up the game perfectly, players can record 1.5 seconds of sound to loop into the music â?“ brilliant!
If little touches such as the GBA unlock and sound-looping disinterest you, then Project Rub probably isn’t your type of game; however for SEGA, Sonic Team and Nintendo DS fans, Project Rub represents a near-perfect vision of the future of the unique format.
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