NINTENDO DS REVIEW: POINT BLANK DS

Let's all go to the lobby....and get ourselves a treat! by Vaughn Smith

June 19, 2006 - If you're old enough to remember the animated sequence of dancing hotdogs, candy bars and soda which enticed hungry patrons at the movies or drive-in theaters to visit the snack bar many moons ago, you'll kind of understand why I opened with it for this review of Bandai Namco's Point Blank DS game. Seeing that incredibly corny sequence brings back fond memories anytime I hear that song or see that sashaying popcorn box waltz across the screen and playing Point Blank on the DS releases similar feelings of nostalgia.

Point Blank debuted on the PSone and was one of the only light gun games aimed at a younger audience. Namco kept the series under the umbrella of "light breezy entertainment" and as a parent I appreciated that. Not everyone wants their kids playing those gosh darn murder simulators that the other "evil" game publishers release on an unsuspecting public in an attempt to hornswaggle and taint their young impressionable minds. Okay, so I'm half-kidding. While the Point Blank series sounded like it featured murderous mayhem, nothing could have been further from the truth. The games were brimming with a variety of shooting gallery-type mini-games that have now been ported to the DS. Instead of a light gun, players take charge of the DS stylus and surprisingly the gameplay doesn't lose almost anything in the translation.

The main mode is Arcade and anyone who's played a Wario Ware game (and who hasn't?) will instantly be familiar with the rapid mini-game execution. This collection actually features about 40 games plucked from the various Point Blank games on the PSone / arcade and most last anywhere from 15-20 seconds or so. There are 4 difficulty modes to select which as you progress will require more rapid-fire reflexes combined with reasoning and judgement to ensure you aren't shooting anything that is not meant to be shot. Outside of the Arcade mode, players will be able to play a classic collection of 4 shooter games, that really aren't that much to get excited about and they can also play the mini-games of their choice in the Freeplay mode.

A unique mode entitled Brain Massage has been added which attempts to chart your particular progress in the areas of Accuracy, Judgment, Attention, and Reaction. This mode is certainly addicting as you'll always want to better your score. It's not quite Big Brain Academy or Brain Age, but it will make you feel like you're improving at least a small portion of your cerebral cortex while getting an extreme thumb workout. It's win win.

If you've got that competitive edge going, two players can go head-to-head with one Point Blank DS card which really helps to elongate the entertainment as the repetitive gameplay begins to show itself after hour #2.

Visually the game isn't going to win any awards as it's just a port of some games from days gone by, but they get the job done...and actually manage to look sharper on the DS small screen then they did on the TV. The music can grate but the sound effects are wacky and fun and totally suit the onscreen antics.

At $29.99, Point Blank is honestly a little steep simply because the game does lose its charm after the first couple of hours. Had Namco Bandai shipped this one out the door with a $19.99 price tag, I would have highly recommended it as it's a quality game aimed which all ages can (and will) enjoy. At full price, you'll really have to be in the mood for some oddball stylus target practice.

Features:

  • Classic Shooting Gameplay: Using the stylus as your weapon of choice, tap tap tap your way to testing your hand-eye coordination!
  • Multitude of Shooting Mini-Games: Play through 40 different mini-games including shooting clay pigeons, aliens, cardboard criminals, etc....All collected from the original Point Blank series.
  • 5 Different Modes:
    1. Arcade: Play through four different levels of difficulty with varying numbers of stages.
    2. Wirelss VS: Challenge your friends utilizing the wireless feature with only one game card and find out who's the quickest draw.
    3. Brain Massage: Play through various stages while the game analyzes your abilities and gives you feedback accordingly.
    4. Freeplay: Select any stage at any time to challenge your best score.
    5. Classic Coin-Op Games: New stages adapted from Namco's classic coin-op arcade series.

By Vaughn Smith
CCC Site Director

Rating out of 5
Point Blank DS (DS)
3.0
Graphics
Nothing to right home about, but the visuals look sharper and more defined on the DS than they did originally.
4.8
Control
The stylus control is different than a light gun, but definitely works extremely well. Expect to see Time Crisis shortly.
3.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Arcade lighthearted fun.
2.8
Play Value
The overall games are fun and the 2 player helps, but the whole experience wears thin fairly quickly. Great to go back to every couple of weeks.
3.6
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: DS
Dev: Namco
Pub: Bandai Namco
Released: June 2006
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Vaughn

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best