Friday, September 29, 2006

Lost in Blue

Speaking of Nintendo DS rarities, here's another standout title that's become impossible to find - Lost in Blue. It came out around the same time as Phoenix Wright and Trauma Center and Trace Memory; strangely enough, Trace Memory is the only game that you can actually find anywhere. The others have become cult classics, or sorts.

Lost in Blue was a game that went over the heads of most of the prozines and professional game websites. I've become suspicious of the supposed gaming skills of these reviewers. I don't think many of them are very good at videogames, having become spoiled by years of bad console copycats of the same three genres over and over. This game is a bit of a throwback to the classic era of Commodore 64 and Amiga, games that are remarkably deep and complex, and almost always too much for arcade kids to handle.

Big freakin' deal. If you have the patience and imagination, you'll really understand just what it is that makes a game like this click. I don't think Lost in Blue would be a success without the stylus and touch-screen, which is used to deliver a sense of immersion that otherwise wouldn't be possible. And I think that's the thing that makes this game a success.

Basically, you are shipwrecked on a tropical island, and are left to fend for yourself. Using the stylus, you can sift and dig through the sand or grass in order to find food. You can shake palm trees in order to score some cocoanuts. Later on, you'll find some wood and a cave, and start to make simple tools.

Here is one of my favorite moments so far - making a fire. You combine tree bark with twigs to build a fire. Then you use the shoulder buttons to move the twig and build some friction. Eventually, you'll build up a spark. Then, you must blow into the microphone until that small spark builds into a flame. That's pretty bloody cool. I was having flashbacks to the fire-building competition on Caveman Ugh-Lympics.

Pretty soon, you've found another survivor, a pretty girl, and you'll both have to struggle to survive, keeping a constant eye on your stamina, hunger and thirst. You can forage for vegetables, crabs, clams, cocoanuts and spices (!), and then the girl will cook them together into a variety of recipes. Joy - it's the Giligan's Island version of Cooking Mama.

Oh, and there are mushrooms all over the place, although only one kind is beneficial. The rest make you sick. The correct color mushroom changes with every game, so you pretty much have to experiment to see which kind doesn't make you sick. Nice.

I'm still farily early in the game. Eventually, you're able to make spears and start fishing, which makes survival much easier. Then you start exploring the island, making many discoveries and uncovering more of the story. Apparantly, there are five different endings, as well as the ability to play again as the girl, so there' s quite a lot of life in this beast.

I was able to score a copy of Lost in Blue almost by chance. It's become very rare, so unless Konami issues another print run (as they've done with Phoenix Wright), you'll have to do some searching around to find one. How appropriate.

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