|System: DSi (DSiWare)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Other Ocean Interactive||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Capcom||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 18, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
For many gamers out there, playing an 8-bit styled video game will cause a wave of nostalgia to wash over them. Remembering the good old days of gaming when 2D was king, crushingly difficult was the standard, and game music was frequently referred to by non-gamers as detestable compilations of bleeps and bloops. Ah, those truly were the days. Luckily, there are still plenty of companies out there that have realized that just because processing power and modern game design have made 8-bit gaming a thing of the past, it doesn't mean that there aren't still players out there craving these types of retro experiences.
One of the most prevalent of these companies, Capcom, has essentially turned into nostalgia evangelists, having titles such as Mega Man 9 and 10 going back to their classic 8-bit style. While Dark Void doesn't have a longstanding 8-bit history like the Mega Man franchise, it is nice to see an 8-bit styled game built around it coming out as DSiWare.
Going even further to evoke a sense of nostalgia, a history has been created to explain how Dark Void Zero came to be, which is likely at least equal parts fiction and fact. The story goes that the game, then called Dark Rift, had been developed to take advantage of the two screened PlayChoice-10 arcade cabinets. There was much deliberation as to whether to bring the game out for the NES since it would require a special chipset in every cartridge. Soon after the SNES was released, it made this decision for Capcom, having them ultimately shelve the project. And due to some tape-based archive issues, the company ended up losing the game forever. Now, nearly twenty years later, Capcom decided to have this lost title recreated to commemorate the release of its spiritual successor, Dark Void. Sure, this is likely a complete farce, but it's funny to see a company go as far as to create a slightly believable back-story for a game that is only a five dollar downloadable title.
Even without knowing this fictitious history going into the game, Dark Void Zero goes out of its way to let you know of its fabricated past. Right after you select this game to be played but before the opening game screen is shown, this title immediately evokes a plethora of nostalgia. It's at this point that both screens go blank except for what appears to be a faked image of a Dark Void Zero NES cartridge and a simple instruction that is instantly understood by anyone who played games on an NES. Here you must blow into your DSi's microphone in order to simulate blowing the dust off of the cartridge. This may seem like a small thing that may even sound annoying to some, but for anyone who has spent a good deal of time performing this same act countless times to help clean their games' contacts so that the often finicky NES would read them, it is absolutely brilliant and hilarious.
Dark Void Zero is a completely original game as far as its story goes; thankfully, it's not just a scaled down 8-bit version of the console Dark Void title. In this game, a stable portal has opened up near Earth, allowing the Watchers to leave the Void and attack the planet. Players get to take on the role of Rusty, the first human born in the Void, in order to help close the portal and save Earth. To accomplish this, Rusty must find three portal control codes so that he can destroy the portal and bring an end to the Watcher threat. While Rusty has to do much of the heavy lifting in order for this to happen, he does get some advice and help with traveling between levels from Nikola Tesla.
The design of this 2D side-scroller's levels should be pretty familiar to anyone who has played a Metroid or Castlevania game before. You'll start off every level with the most basic weapon and nothing else; Rusty's gun and basic ability to jump will get you around a small portion of the level. But along your travels, you'll need to find all sorts of better weapons, key cards, and jet packs in order to fully explore these environments. Some areas will be completely inaccessible unless you can find the correct key card, a bazooka-like weapon to destroy cracked obstacles, a jet pack in order to reach them, or sometimes a combination of the three.