|MtAMinutes to Action||5|
|Buy from Amazon|
Infinite Space is a DS game published by SEGA as a collaboration
between Platinum Games and Nude Maker. Platinum Games previously
developed Madworld and Bayonetta for SEGA, and Nude Maker comes from a
background making... well, let's just say their name isn't just a bad
translation. However, these two teams had previously worked together
on the XBox game Steel Battalion. Yes, the game that cost $200 and
came with a giant mech-dashboard controller.
While Steel Battalion went over the top with its controller, Infinite Space seeks to go where no anime character has gone before. The concept of the game is space exploration, and the building of a fleet to undertake said exploration. And because we all know space is a very dangerous place, there will be battles; many battles.
The producer of Infinite Space said this has been a long time dream of his, as he grew up inspired by science fiction. He mentioned several influences, but if I list them here you will get the wrong idea of the game. It's nothing like the influences he mentions.
What is it like? Well, I'll tell you, or at least what the first hour is like. Oh, and you're probably wondering why I'm doing a first-hour review for a DS game when I'm the big proponent of half-hour handhelds. Well, it's because I want to.
(minutes are in bold)
00 - I touch New Game and Infinite Space begins. It shows a picture on the top screen, while an enormous space ship passes by on the bottom screen. Then some dialog from ??? who turns out to be a big lion-looking guy.
01 - I get the option for a battle tutorial, I choose yes because I don't know what I'm doing. My ship is on the top screen and the UI is on the bottom. I can order the ship to move forward or backwards. There's a command gauge, which is a little like the Active time Battle gauges from Final Fantasy. The battles are in real time but it takes time for the Command Gauge to fill, and each command takes a certain amount of the gauge.
02 - There are three colors of the command gauge, certain commands require certain colors to perform. This basically just tells you how much of the gauge the command is going to take. I choose to fire a normal shot and a cutscene shows the view of the enemy ship from my bridge on the bottom screen, while a cinematic camera follows the gun blast and the enemy ship exploding. There's one more ship to defeat.
03 - Besides the normal attack, if the gauge fills all the way up you can fire a Barrage, which fires three normal shots in a row. There's also a Dodge command, which will get you out of a Barrage but make normal attacks do more damage. Not sure how that makes sense.
04 - Second battle, I move forward until the enemy ship is within range and fire a Barrage. There's a lot of voice for a DS game, any time you give a command you can hear commanders giving orders.
05 - I won the tutorial! I am so good. Now I'm in an actual, non-tutorial battle.
06 - The vocals you hear when giving orders is cool, it makes it seem like you're part of a complex operation. There are three enemy ships in this battle, and I fire fire a Barrage at the lead ship.
07 - The other two ships blew up for some reason. As best I can tell, I missed the lead ship but hit the two ships behind him. The enemy hits me, but only does 6 damage, whereas I was hurting them over 400. My ship fires missiles, bullets, and two different energy waves every time I attack.
08 - I destroyed two enemies with one shot and finished the battle. There's a lot of technobabble on the bridge.
09 - An unidentified ship appears, piloted by a woman named Nia. She flings a few double-entendres as she flies by, and the battle begins, only this time I'm playing as her ship.
10 - It doesn't look like she can stand up to the fleet she's fighting. Everytime I fire a voice reports things like gun elevation, range, targetting uplink, and things like that. It's cool, but it takes a long time and I can see it getting annoying.
11 - I destroy one ship, but four more drop in. Nia's ship is a light freighter, maybe a little bigger than the Millenium Falcon. Now we cut down to Yuri, who's on the planet Ropesk below. No one on Ropesk is allowed to leave the planet, but Yuri really wants to travel through space. There are people called Launchers who basically smuggle people off the planet.
12 - Yuri has contacted a Launcher and is waiting for them to appear. While he was outside, he sees Nia's ship crash. Then I get the title sequence.
13 - He finds Nia (the story is now being told through still images). Nia is surprised to find out that Yuri is her client; he's the one who hired her. Her fee is 1,000G.
14 - Yuri is a ship mechanic by trade, and he fixes Nia's crashed ship enough to take off.
15 - Now some vague images of what look like aliens attempt to add some mystery to the story.
16 - Nia says that people who live in space are called Zero-G Dogs. Yuri wants to go to Central Elgava to make some money and buy his own ship.
17 - Now I'm at a map, we start at Ropesk, and I can go to either Bagut or Hapsol. Because we're running from Ropesk security (No one is supposed to leave Ropesk) I choose to go to the smaller planet.
18 - My ship is flying toward the planet, I can fast-forward to so I don't have to sit there for so long. But before I get there, I get in a battle.
19 - Two Ropesk security ships, they followed me all the way out here?
21 - I destroy both ships, get my XP and G, and land on the planet.
22 - We're in the spaceport, which automatically fixes our ship. There's a little exposition about Demid, the fuedal lord of Ropesk, wanting to keep people from leaving his planet. I find the save function and options menu, looks like you can speed the game up a bit by choosing to skip a lot of the animations. (Note: I did not actually use the save function at this time.)
23 - There's a space elevator down to the surface, where a tavern resides. I enter and can talk to several people.
24 - Yuri has a conversation with Nia about a treasure he has called an Epitaph. It's apparently a pretty big deal, as Nia is really suprised he has one, and it catches the attention of some rough looking characters.
25 - I try to talk my way out, but a fight ensues and Nia watches as they begin beating Yuri into the floor, before finally pulling out a blaster and scaring them off.
26 - She gave Yuri a suit of armor and a plasmic blade to help defend myself. She said that's part of her service to her customers. I head back to the tavern, and the ruffians confront me again, but this time Yuri is prepared, and they sober up in a hurry at the sight of his weapon and armor.
28 - I head to Hapsol, as that's the next planet available. On the way I receive a communique from Demid, demanding that I return to Ropesk. Apparently he takes this pretty seriously.
29 - In fact, he has kidnapped Yuri's little sister and will only release her if Yuri returns. Yuri told Nia he didn't have any family! Lier.
30 - We're at Hapsol, I head down to the tavern. I give the gate guard "something like a 100G" to get him to open the gate for me (the gate apparently allows me out of the sector). Nia says that is we go to Toropets, we can buy a ship.
31 - The tavern owner asks me to deliver some goods to Bagut and offers me 300G. I accept, but I head to Toropets first. Yuri says he doesn't have the money to buy a ship, but Nia says she'll take care of it.
32 - She returns shortly with 10,000G. ("10,000?! We could almost buy our own ship for that!" -- Luke Skywalker) Turns out Nia pawned the Epitaph for the money, planning to come buy it back later when we earn the money. What could possibly go wrong?
33 - We buy a blueprint from the ship company. There are two different ship designs; I buy them both, they're only 60G apiece.
34 - Now to the shipyard to get one built. Their stats are similar, so I pick the one that looks cooler. I name it Kira, because that's the name of Yuri's sister, and it sounds like the Japanese transliteration of the English word "killer."
35 - Now I can remodel the ship. The ship has a grid, and different modules take up a certain number of blocks. I add a radar room that raise my attack range, a firecontrol room that adds firepower, and a hold that gives me income on port entry.
37 - Now I move to weapons. I pore over the stats for a couple of minutes, I won't bore you with those details.
39 - Nia tells me I'm captain since I paid for the ship. Not only that, but I'm still her client until we reach Central Elgava, so she serves under me on the ship.
40 - Now I'm going back to Bagut to drop off the cargo, and then on to Ropsek to see if we can't take some of the hot air out of Demid. Although it looks like I could go on through the gate without going back to Ropesk.
41 - I give the cargo to the bartender on Bagut, and he gives me 300G and some info about a new space lane. I head down that lane, and we see some transport ships bringing goods to Ropesk.
42 - Nia suggests we pirate the ship, and I take her up on the offer. I've always wanted to be a space pirate.
43 - It does nothing but run, and I can't get within range soon enough to destroy it. It manages to escape, and my first attempt at space piracy is a failure. Yuri reassures me that there are always transports going to Ropesk, so we can try again later.
44 - Back at Ropesk I encounter a large fleet. He thinks I'm coming home, and Yuri tells him he's here to rescue Kira.
45 - Turns out Demid used to be a Zero-G Dog, but is now jealous of those who still are and wants to keep everyone on the planet.
46 - My DS battery is dying, so I dig out my charger and plug it in. His ship is pretty powerful, I can't seem to hit it, although I do manage to dodge a barrage.
47 - I hit him, but it doesn't do much damage. My ship is much faster than his, but it doesn't seem to help much. I try to move out of range to let my command gauge fill up, but that also lets his gauge fill. It seems to be a matter of guessing what move he's going to use next.
48 - The trick is to use Dodge when he uses Barrage, Barrage when he uses Normal Attack, and Normal attack when he uses Dodge. How to know what he's using is what I don't understand.
49 - I also find that you can skip the long fire animations by tapping the touchscreen. If you tap once it skips you firing, but shows the impact and affects, but if you tap twice it skips the whole thing, making the turns really fast.
50 - I'm losing! I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong.
51 - I have 10 HP left.... and I miss! This is not looking good, folks!
52 - My ship is blowing up! I lost the battle! Game over. I wonder how far back I have to start.
53 - It drops me to the title screen and.... all I can do is start a new game. I never saved, so I have to start all the way over. Wow.
54-59 - Sitting in shock.
60 - I don't really feel like starting over right now. Let this be a lesson, to always save at the first available opportunity.
Minutes to Action: 5
Favorite Thing: I got to buy my own ship! It cost just over 10,000, which is a subtle reference to Star Wars. (Ok, I admit, I see most things as subtle references to Star Wars.)
Least Favorite Thing: The battles didn't seem to have any kind of strategy. It was mostly just luck and sheer firepower.
Design: The graphics aren't great, even for a DS game. The anime sequences are good, but the ships in battle are blocky and low-res. Also, a lot of the sequences just have a picture of Yuri on the top screen while something plays out on the bottom screen. This could have cool if it weren't always the same picture. The music is catchy, I found myself humming along at one point.
Story: The story seemed like standard JRPG fare. It's enough to keep you moving forward, and you'll probably end up either trying to resurrect a dead god or trying to stop someone else from resurrecting a dead god.
Fun: The battles were fun at first, the shining moment was that of buying my own ship!
Keep Playing: Yes, after I muster up the energy to restart the game. I don't for how long, but I want to see if the battles get any deeper (they have to, right?) and keep upgrading my ship!
Other Thoughts: The concept for this game is great. When I first heard about it, I fell in love. In fact, I haven't looked forward to a game that much in years. The only thing was, I knew there was so much that could go wrong, and I prayed that they'd make it good enough to be enjoyable.
How did it turn out? Well, it seems like they did go wrong in a lot of ways. The battles are cool, but the strategy really seems to be lacking, and unless something changes a lot and changes quickly, the battles are going to be a major turn-off.
The graphical presentation is also lacking. The ships are blocky and the textures are extremely low-res. On the tiny screen this isn't as big of a deal as it could, but it's enough to be noticable.
In spite of some of the games flaws, the concept is still great, and some of the elements are awesome. I mean, I bought a destroyer! I got to choose which one I wanted, and then I outfitted it with weapons and extra cargo bays and a module that extended the range of my weapons and.... you see what I mean.
One last thing is to mention the punishing difficulty. My ship was destroyed and had to restart the game because I hadn't saved yet. No checkpoint. No restarting the battle. Just straight up restart at the last save if you die. Oh, you didn't save? That's too bad. At least the game didn't erase itself from the cartridge. That's a plus I guess.