|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: RED Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 8, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
The Pokémon series of games have been an immense success for Nintendo since their initial introduction back on the spinach-green screen of the Game Boy. These titles' mix of strategy, collection, and RPG elements were a big hit with gamers young and old, helping the franchise to become the second most lucrative game-based property in history, falling only behind Nintendo's other powerhouse franchise the Mario series.
With all of the success Nintendo has found with Pokémon titles, I suppose it should come as little surprise that they'd try to capitalize by making other games with similar gameplay and themes in an attempt to perhaps create another major franchise. Their most recent attempt is Fossil Fighters, and despite it being a decent game I really don't think it'll wind up having the same mass appeal or success as Pokémon.
Fossil Fighters definitely has an interesting concept behind it, mixing equal parts Pokémon, Spectrobes, and Jurassic Park into a single package. Instead of just collecting Pokémon knock-offs, players are tasked with unearthing vivosaur (this game's name for dinosaur) fossils in order to revive the creatures and use them to combat other Fossil Fighters. The only major problem with this is that while dinosaurs are great and loved especially by children, they lack much of the charm and visual diversity that is inherent in their Pokémon counterparts. Many of the vivosaurs can have similar shapes and forms, leaving only slight differences in color and details to visually differentiate themselves from one another. This certainly leads to not really caring at all about your vivosaurs beyond their different abilities and fighting stats. However, the game does attempt to inject some personality with the characters you'll meet along your adventure such as your spoiled companion Rosie, the forgetful Dr. Diggins, and your constant adversaries the BB Bandits.
Fossil Fighters starts off as one would expect from a game of this type, with a gradual introduction to the title's gameplay mechanics. The meat of this game's experience can be boiled down to three main aspects: digging, cleaning, and fighting. For the digging, players are given fossil sonar located on the top screen that allows them to scan beneath the ground's surface in order to find hidden fossils. Pressing the left or right shoulder buttons activates the sonar, with diggable items appearing as blips on the screen. Then it's just a matter of correctly positioning yourself in front of the blip and using you trusty pickaxe to uncover your find. However, not every blip will net you a fossil, as some can turn out to be gems or even useless rocks. This aspect of the game is rather fun: constantly being on the lookout for hidden blips to aid you in your travels.
Cleaning can also be a fairly enjoyable experience, and is necessary to gain more vivosaurs to help you in combat. You can only hold eight fossil rocks at a time, which is pretty lame, but once your pockets are full, you can head back to the fossil center in order to discover what you've found. Fossils are cleaned by destroying the rock in which they are encased, but it is rather important to be careful because sloppy cleaning can lead to underpowered vivosaurs or even broken fossils. Players are given a hammer to smash away the larger, thicker rock encasings, while the drill is more precise but takes much longer to chip away stone. You'll need to find a good balance between using the two, as cleaning fossils is done with a ninety second time limit so speed and accuracy are very important.
As you are cleaning your fossils there is a meter on the top screen that displays your progress, although it is hard to look at while trying to quickly uncover your fossil. Damaging the fossil will cause the top of the meter to begin to fill with red, and successfully clearing rock will fill the meter with blue from the bottom. The amount of damage done to the fossil will ultimately drive down the power of the piece by not allowing the blue bar to fill the entire meter, resulting in a lower cleaning score. The better you do at cleaning these fossils, the more powerful the piece will be. This works pretty well, making each fossil cleaning fairly tense but enjoyable. If you happen to do poorly, it isn't necessarily the end of the world either since you can always try again later if you find another of the same fossil. The game will also allow you to have a cleaning robot perform these tasks for you if you find them getting tedious, or if you just want to take a break from the stresses of cleaning.