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Platform

Nintendo DS

 

Genre

Adventure

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

Cing

 

ESRB

Teen

 

Released

January 22, 2007

 

 

 

- Visually appealing film noir style graphics
- Compelling story
- Effective use of the DS’s capabilities

 

 

- No ability to skip quickly through the sometimes cumbersome dialogue
- Rumble pak support is here, but is incredibly limited
- Music can get extremely repetitive

 

 

Review: Trace Memory (DS)

 

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Hotel Dusk: Room 215

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

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The DS is quickly becoming the platform to have for adventure games. If you have tried out Trace Memory  by Cing then you get the idea – only this one has a much more mature attitude and other improvements to the interface.

 

Hotel Dusk is basically an interactive novel which you read and play by holding your DS sideways (a la Brain Age) and you use the stylus to interact with the game much like you would use a mouse on a PC.

 

The story has you in the role of Kyle Hyde, a former police detective who resigned his job after shooting his partner after discovering he turned dirty. The problem is that his body never surfaced from the river, and you are convinced that he didn’t die that night. You’ve been on a quest to find your ex-partner to find out just why he betrayed your trust three years ago.

 

You have been working as a salesman for the Red Crown Corporation and your latest assignment has brought you to Hotel Dusk, a bit of a dump that experienced the height of its popularity around 10 years ago. As you meet and interact with the characters the story will unfold and you will understand more about Room 215 (the room you are staying in) which is also known as the ‘Wish Room’.

 

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The characters in the game are all well developed, and quite intertwined in some very unusual ways. The door man / bartender turns out to be an ex-convict you arrested several years ago (multiple times) and oddly enough turns into your closest ally during the course of the game. Those plot twists are just the beginning of what you’ll find at this two-floor hotel. Most of the entire game takes place there, so by the end you will know it very well.

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The graphics in this game are nice. The animation is limited, but what does exist has a great film noir style that is perfect for a mystery novel with cops and robbers. The music is decent and fits the moods appropriately, but I would have wished for a bit more variety. Some of the songs will get stuck in your head long after you’ve shut the DS off but it’s only because you’ve heard the same ditty so many times.

 

The gameplay is a mixture of reading, simple puzzles, and choosing the right path in discussions with characters. The game does a fair amount of hand holding though, so the challenge level is pretty low although it is possible to meet sudden death with a “Game Over” if you don’t make some of the right choices. In most cases, the sense of accomplishment after you’ve figured some things out is not exactly gratifying.

 

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The story is really what you are here for though, and that is something the game does very well. The mysteries start to unfold and you’ll find yourself thinking about the game even when you aren’t playing it. There are ten chapters in all, which each one requiring an hour or so to complete. Overall, you are looking at between 10 and 15 hours of gameplay.

 

There are some nice touches here as well; the game features a memo pad that you can “jot” things down to yourself to make them easier to recall later on, and you can save the game just about anywhere which is a must with portable gaming.

 

The game supports the Rumble Pak which came bundled with Metroid Prime Pinball, but the support is limited. Additionally, I found somewhat of a bug (or is it a feature?). When the battery of my DS was redlining, the rumble got turned off to conserve power. The problem is, after I recharged the option was not automatically turned back on and it took me awhile to realize it was no longer functioning. It’s a minor issue, but annoying none the less. I also found the inability to make the text display faster frustrating because I read fairly quickly.

 

Beyond these issues you’ll find a great adventure with an interesting story that will keep you wondering throughout just what will happen next. If adventure games are your style, you won’t be disappointed with this one.

 

Syd Bolton

February  19, 2007

 

Syd Bolton has been collecting game consoles for over 20 years and has dozens of systems and over 5,000 games. Do you agree or disagree with this review? Make sure you share with us here.

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