Paperfield is the Place to Be
Pop Island was a budget-priced DSiWare title that was released last year to some pretty good reviews. The game featured a fun style and played like a mix between Mario Kart and capture the flag. It featured plenty of fun modes, characters, and a unique visual style. Recently, a mini-sequel was released for Pop Island. Pop Island: Paperfield features nearly identical gameplay to Pop Island, but with new tracks, vehicles, and some great multiplayer options, it is definitely a DSIWare title that can’t be missed!
With only a 200 point price tag, I was immediately surprised by how much content was in Pop Island: Paperfield. The game’s predecessor is still available for 500 points, but you get at least as much content in Paperfield, plus a few cool extras. As with the original, the gameplay involves taking a vehicle out for a spin and capturing flags that randomly appear on a colorful map. After you grab a flag, a member of the opposing team may try to steal it from you using a pre-loaded weapon, or a special weapon that you can equip after driving over a mystery box. The mystery weapons include heat-seeking missiles, lightning bolts, and speed bursts.
The game is played in two three-minute rounds, and the team with the most flags at the end is declared victorious. The premise is deceptively simple, as the game’s creative use of different types of vehicles makes it easy to change tactics. Pop Island: Paperfield has three different vehicle types you can use to race, surf, or fly around the terrain. Each vehicle has its own strengths and weaknesses, and as you unlock new characters, you’ll be able to try them out to create your own unique strategy. For instance, while surf-style vehicles are basically useless on land, you can use them to cut through each map’s many waterways at twice the speed of any land vehicle.
However, there is more to the game than just racing around capturing flags with seven A.I. opponents. One of the coolest features in Pop Island: Paperfield is the game’s multiplayer support. Though there is no online gameplay (it is only a DSiWare title, after all) the game features local download multiplayer for up to seven other players. The download play is especially noteworthy because the other parties do not have to own the game, which means that you can play with people who might not even have a DSi. The download function works on all versions of the Nintendo DS, so if you have some friends who have the original DS or DS Lite models, they can get in on the fun with no problem.
The only issue I had with this game was the amount of time it took to unlock all of the game’s content. The game starts you off with one mode, one map, and one character to play with. While this might be standard operating procedure in a regular game, DSiWare titles should be quick games that you can play on the fly. Having to play for several hours just to unlock all of the different tracks did strike me as a little weird, and I could see it as being an annoyance for those expecting to jump right into this mini-sequel (especially if they enjoyed the first game). This can also be a pain if you purchase the game expressly for the multiplayer component, as you will only have one mode, one track, and one vehicle if you don’t play through the single-player mode first.
Still, if you do pour the time into unlocking all of the game’s content (most players should have everything unlocked in 2-3 hours), you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the replayability of this title. For 200 points, you get eight vehicles, three tracks, and two different modes. Although the modes are quite similar (one is straight-up capture the flag and the other is a race for flags), returning to this game feels natural. Pop Island: Paperfield is a great choice for someone who likes to play games in quick bursts. I never found the gameplay dull, and even if you do decide to play with the A.I., there are four different difficulty levels (ranging from “Easy” to “Crazy”), each with their own unique challenges.
Pop Island: Paperfield features some pretty basic environments, but the game is stylized in a way that makes it feel unique among other kart-based racers. Your vehicle has basic looks but is giant-sized in the environments. You can easily hop over mountains, volcanoes, and other objects in the environment, and the whole thing almost looks like a board game. Another plus here is that the game’s framerate is very quick, so you never have to worry about going too fast.
Although the visuals are good, the audio here is great. Pop Island: Paperfield is the only DSiWare title that I have come across that uses the DSi’s stereo speakers to create a surround sound effect. While the game’s music is a little generic, the way it comes at you from the speakers (coupled with the sound effects, which also come from different sides depending on the action) is a neat feature, and one that makes this title all the more memorable.
Pop Island: Paperfield is a title that surprised me. It feels like a complete game, and for only 200 points it is a steal. With a unique premise, cute visual style, and a killer multiplayer mode that functions with all DS handhelds, Pop Island: Paperfield is a great game for those who want a light, fun experience that they can share with friends.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.6 Graphics
The visuals are very colorful and cheery with lightning-fast animation. 3.9 Control
The simple controls use the D-pad to steer and two of the face buttons to jump and fire your weapon. 4.1 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The stereo sound scheme is used to great effect here. 4.4
The single-player modes are fun, but the local multiplayer download play clinches the deal.
4.1 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.