|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Griptonite Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 13, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tony Capri
When it comes to licensed games on Nintendo DS, Griptonite Games is fast becoming the go-to guys for solid action adventure. Spider-man: Web of Shadows was a terrific Metroidvania-inspired romp, and to a lesser extent, X-Men Origins: Wolverine also offered an exciting bit of fun on the go. The developers have now given the Griptonite treatment to the Daniel X franchise, but tired mechanics and repetition make this one of the developer's least impressive efforts to date.
Daniel X is a character created by best-selling author Michael Ledwidge. There's a good bit of background surrounding Daniel's parents and origin, but to make a long story short, the kid's got amazing, God-like powers. Following in the footsteps of the Metroid series, Daniel loses most of his abilities early on in the game, and you'll slowly regain access to his arsenal as you progress through the story. It's certainly not a new formula, but Griptonite Games does a decent enough job parceling out powers at an even pace.
After battling the evil Elios, Daniel finds himself stranded on a space-faring research facility called Silerius V. The station has been overrun by an alien menace known as the Exers, and it's your job to get the systems back up and running in order to make escape possible.
Daniel X: The Ultimate Power is set up almost exactly like Spider-man: Web of Shadows (DS). It's a side-scrolling adventure with four main areas to explore. As you make your way through environments, you'll discover Silex, which is the energy that allows you to regain your special powers. As you regain abilities, you'll also gain access to new areas of the research facility. There's plenty of satisfaction in exploring previously closed-off portions of the game world, and for the most part, Daniel's powers are well implemented.
At its core, Daniel X is a beat'em-up, but the developer has done a better job this time around balancing brawling with other activities. You'll solve intricate, stylus-based puzzles in order to shut down electrical barriers, explore various nooks and crannies using Daniel's special abilities, and the bosses are inspired and challenging.
To our disappointment, however, the entire package feels very formulaic. Similar to past games from the developer, there are only a handful of gameplay devices, which are greatly overused in what appears to be an attempt to pad the game's overall length.
In terms of the action, Daniel X is almost a complete cut-and-paste of Web of Shadows. Most moves are exactly the same, as are the animations. Rather than slinging webs, this time around, you've got telekinesis at your disposal; the mechanics, though, are no different.
Enemies, too, have been pretty much lifted right out of the now-weather-worn Griptonite bag of tricks - re-skinned and then dropped into Daniel X. You've got your tank enemies, bomb lobbers, fliers, so on and so forth. Worst of all, you'll still often find yourself surrounded by mobs of enemies, adding an arbitrary level of difficulty to the adventure. As someone who's still thoroughly enjoying Demon's Souls for the PS3, I don't find anything wrong with a healthy challenge. But, the number of enemies and the way in which they cluster throughout much of this adventure only serve to make the brawling feel clumsy and button-mashy.
That's not to take anything away from the combat mechanics themselves. Like Web of Shadows and X-Men Origins, the controls here are tight, responsive, and fluid. The animations are excellent, and the platforming offers just the right kind of challenge. The collision detection is spot-on, though wall jumping feels a little sluggish at times.