Game – Antipole (Rated E for Everyone)
Version – Nintendo DSiWare
Obtained – Review copy from Saturnine Games
Reviewer – Steve
Have you been looking for a challenging side-scroller to take on the go? If you are a fan of Mega Man, then you may want to look into Antipole for DSiWare.
Story & Plot
You are Johnny Hurricane, a guy that looks quite a bit similar to Carmen Sandiego from the back. The government has charge you, their lone mercenary, to take down the mothership. Honestly, that is all there is to the story, and that is a good thing. In a world where story often clouds the gameplay, Antipole keeps it simple.
The thing that makes it different than other games is the ability to control gravity. Soon after you begin, you will get a Gravity Manipulator, which allows you to walk on the ceiling or jump further, but only for a short period of time.
Progress through each stage, leveling up after each boss fight, and you eventually save the day. Each level has a target time, and you can eventually go back and try to beat that time. This is not a requirement, but mainly for replayablity.
Gameplay & Controls
Antipole does a good job of keeping many things simple, except for the gameplay. This is anything but easy. There are two difficulty modes, but most players will find a descent amount of difficulty in “normal” without moving over to “hard.” The two modes are essentially the same, “hard” gives you less hearts in your life meter, and you begin with less energy in your Gravity Manipulator.
In many ways, it is similar to Mega Man. However, you have no lives. Instead, you will start back at your last checkpoint each time you die, which usually involves moving into another room. Even with this, it still makes for a difficult romp through space. Usually, though, if you keep your patience, you can make it. The only problem is that the clock is ticking the entire time, which makes you rush. This usually ends with you taking leaps of faith onto enemies or spikes.Challenges can be unlocked after collecting Challenge Coins throughout the levels. These are extra levels where you can try for a fast time under specific conditions. After you complete all the normal levels in their target times (not an easy task), you can unlock Infinite Gravity mode, which allows you to have unlimited energy in your Gravity Manipulator. As a bonus, if you also have Cosmos X2 on your DSi, you can unlock the Power, Attraction, and Repulsion weapons from that game, after completing another mode in Antipole. Packed on top of all this is an Awards (achievement) system.
The controls go back to the simplicity side. You control Johnny with the control pad (or circle pad on 3DS). All other movements are mapped to three buttons, which are fully customizable. One jumps, the other shoots, and the last one controls your Gravity Manipulator.
Graphics & Sound
Antipole has a space-like feel, which is perfect for its story. The graphics are not going to blow you away, as it looks like a cross between an 8-bit and 16-bit style. Only occasionally does the background and foreground get confusing, but it is never a problem.
One of the best things about the game are the boss fights. They often involve enemies that take up more than your entire screen. This makes for fun but difficult rounds with the baddies. It will have you jumping and manipulating gravity in order to even get a descent shot.
The music, which gives the feeling of a 16-bit orchestra, definitely brings out the lonely feeling of the game. It is not quite as lonely feeling as Metroid, but you can tell that is the direction they were going. The sound effects are few, but they all sound good; nothing was out of place.
Antipole packs quite a punch for such a low price. At 500 Points on the DSiWare Shop ($4.99 on 3DS eShop), it is quite the deal. It is challenging, however, which may frustrate the casual gamers. In the end, if you have been looking for a challenging side-scroller on DSiWare, look no further than Antipole.
FINAL SCORE: 4.5 out of 5
For more on Saturnine Games, visit their website at http://www.saturninegames.com.