NINTENDO DS REVIEW: SPRUNG
Ubisoft took a risk by releasing this title for the DS system here in North America. We have often talked about how gamers have never had the chance to play some of the games that are huge over in Japan. One of the biggest hits for the Japanese market is Dating Sims. When I wrote the preview for this game I applauded Ubisoft for taking the risk and letting the gamer decide for once rather than the big shots at the game companies. However, after playing Sprung I really have to wonder if they picked the right one to make as their first one to debut on the DS. Sprung has everything that all the other dating games have it just has a few problems. You need to do everything exactly right blow one answer and you will need to restart the scene and the biggest problem is the fact the story is pretty boring. Its also a long game and one you won't be able to sit through at one time and this can cause some problems later on in the other scenes.

Now I am not going to ruin the whole story for those who want to play the game. So here is just a little run down on the games story. You can play as Brett who is in dire need of a real social life. A nice guy who lacks confidence and really thinks he has the answers when it comes to picking up the ladies. Of course he really has no clue and winds up putting his foot in his mouth almost every time he gets the chance to meet a young lady. Becky on the other hand just went through a major breakup and is trying to get over it. Her thinking is to try and ignore her troubles and they will go away. If it sounds like a bad soap opera you nailed it. They both decide to take jobs at a major ski resort and try and hook up with their dream dates. If you play, as Brett Becky will help you out and if you play as Becky Brett will be your shoulder to cry on. It is not hard to see that through the thin storyline the two belong together. Do they hook up and live happily ever after? Will Brett ever get that goofy look off his face? Will Becky find her dream date? All these questions won't be answered in this review of Soap "err" Sprung.

The game is simple to play you read a ton of duologue between the two main characters. As well as others and this is the first problem with the game overall. You need to pay close attention to what is said and keep it in the back of your mind. Key clues are given out and at such a pace when you need to use the information you find it hard to remember.

The game is divided into scenes 50+ that could be called levels. Your goals are clearly stated at the beginning of each one. You will also find that by answering the right way or by looking at each emotion that the character shows when answering will cue a reaction. So you not only need to find the right response or opening you need to watch each emotion on the characters faces when the are talking. You can learn how to respond to the more simple questions fairly easily. You will also earn things to use and to give as presents. If having to remember each emotion and the questions and clues was not enough you also need to remember certain likes and dislikes. Then if you go to the inventory screen you can pick an item to use or give as a present to help smooth talk your way into someone's heart. I will say the characters are interesting enough and the game has some funny moments. However, the game is so slow paced that at times it was hard to really get into the story or even care about Brett and Becky and their problems and goals.

Sprung shows some promise for other titles. It also has dome nice use of the duel screen but mostly in the graphics area. Graphically the game is okay not great and not bad. The sound needed a lot more work now I know these types of games are about the story and not sound and graphics. Yet, the game could have benefited from more graphics and sound effects. There are a few neat things like the cell phone ringing and a few tricks they threw in. I found the best way to enjoy playing the game was to change my expectations. I had to take what the game had to offer and replay it. After doing so I found it to be better but still in need of a bit more meat so to speak. I would certainly say Sprung is one DS title you will want to rent first before buying. I could only recommend a purchase first if you already play imports and are a fan already of this type of game. I will still stand behind Ubisoft's decision to release Sprung and hopefully we will see more games that we have never gotten a chance to play. I just hope they are less frustrating and have a bit more to them in the way of a story, graphics and sound.

Preview By Chris

Vaughn and I have talked about the big differences in games that are released here and in Japan. We have even showed some of the stranger titles that really exist in Japan. You have also read comments from the both of us on how we wish the US market would allow some of these titles to see the light of day in the North American market instead of game companies deciding for us what we want or do not want to play. So imagine my surprise when I saw that Ubisoft is actually releasing a dating sim title and in fact it will be one of the launch titles for the DS system. In Japan Dating Sims and other Sims are huge and to actually see any company release one for the US market is certainly a first. The real question will be how the US market and gamers will react to the style and complex gameplay these games offer.

Sprung will allow you to pick your gender and put you in true-life romantic situations. The story will be set in and around a ski lounge. Gamers will have to react to crushes, advances and trying to put the right moves on the opposite sex. In a game that no one has seen here in the North American Market unless they have played an import which would mean the gamer also knows how to read Japanese since these games are loaded with text. My hat goes of to Ubisoft for having the guts to bring out something that has existed outside the U.S. for years. It is a risky move but one that may bring us other games we have wanted a chance to play.

Sprung is certainly different and will take gamers a little time to get the grasp of. You will set off and try and first get a conversation going with the person you're attracted to. You will have to pick up on hints that the give to know how hard to pursue the conversation or decide to stop wasting your time. Games like this are not for everyone. While it will certainly be toned down from other similar games in Japan, it will have adult themes and situations. Of course Japanese gamers have always had a huge dose of nudity. There does not appear to be any in this version. Of course our culture differences will reflect in the game. In Japan nudity is like beer or other common thing here in the US. Japan does not think nudity is wrong. In fact a game that has violence will cause more of a stir than a game that features naked people. It's just a culture thing.

Sprung will feature 2D graphics and players will have a ton of text to read and have to remember certain things. It will be interesting to see if the game takes off here in the US market. However, this is the first time that I know of that gamers will be introduced to a true dating Sim. It may seem strange to players at first but for others it is nice to see something new making its way to our systems. We will have more details as soon as we can. Different most certainly but it's about time! Sprung is scheduled to be one of the launch titles for the DS in November.

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System: DS
Dev: Ubisoft
Pub: Ubisoft
Release: Nov 2004
Players: 1
Review By Chris
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
2.5
GRAPHICS
3.0
CONTROL
4.0
MUSIC/FX
2.0
VALUE
1.5