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Skankin' Garbage's Contact Review

Oh, what a game Contact was. The makers of Killer 7 (a notoriously bad adventure game, although I enjoyed it) decided to make a little RPG called Contact. It's sort of hard to segue into talking about a game like this, because it's not really like any game you've ever played. Is that a good thing? In some ways, I suppose it is.

Allow me to try and explain the premise of the game: You (as in, literally YOU) have just made 'contact' with a mysterious old man named Professor through your Nintendo DS. Just as it happens, Professor's spaceship falls under attack from an enemy spaceship (which, funny enough, is the reason why he'd been trying to make contact with someone in the first place - he's being followed by terrorists). As Professor quickly lands to retrieve something - a 'cell' - that fell out of his ship, a young boy named Terry, who happened to unfortunately be at the scene, was picked up and taken away by Professor as he made his getaway. Professor asks Terry to help him retrieve the cells that power his ship before the hostiles that attacked his ship can retrieve them. All the while, you (remember, you're a character in this game, too), are told to watch over Terry without letting him know you're there. "We can even just pretend it's a game!" And with that, Terry is off to help Professor look for the Cells, and you are there to help him along the way.

The distinction between Yourself as a character and Terry is further emphasized by the way the game works - if you indicate a certain spot with the stylus, Terry moves to that place. When fighting, When Terry engages in battle, he will do as he pleases until you indicate which monster to attack. Since Terry is just a normal boy who can't cast magic, all the abilities (inventions that Professor makes) are given to you to use instead of Terry. Contact does a good job of making it feel like you're Terry's shadow, subtly guiding him; rather than just being Terry.

Sound cool? This idea could alienate some, while draw others in. While it drew me in at first, I began to grow disillusioned with the game. The game catches your attention very quickly (or pushes you away just as fast) with its unique execution and humour (which largely pokes fun at video games and nerdy internet phenomenons - everything from "All your base" to MySpace to Kazuo Hirai's outrageous PS3 demo at E3); however, none of that stuff actually takes it anywhere. After a while, it's just a bunch of jokes and no substance. You're left in the dark entirely about Professor's intentions AND the villains' intentions until the very end of the game. When you find out WHY you've been left uninformed, it doesn't come off as some sort of dramatic revelation; but rather, it just seems annoying and unnecesary in relation to the main theme of the game.

Speaking of main themes, the main theme of Contact is hardly ever presented for you to consider until the very end. Since it's not very well-emphasized in the game, it isn't very thought-provoking, although it could have possibly been if they had done more to bring it to your attention. Instead, it just seems like they tacked on some very random musings and thoughts to the end of a random game, both of which seemed to have nothing to do with each other.

Other than that, the graphics are pretty cool, though I don't think there was any good reason to give the professor and his ship drastically different graphics from the rest of the game. I've heard arguments that it was to emphasize the difference between Professor's world and Terry's...but then, the game takes place on a different planet from Terry's home planet where the graphics are the same? Or are we even on a different planet? The game can't seem to make up its mind about that, either. The music was definitely good, and very funny in the context of the game.

In any case, Contact was a decent game, but sort of a letdown, considering the potential it had. Unfortunately, it merely alluded to that potential at best. I enjoyed it while it lasted, but I find it hard to reccomend it to anyone, espcially considering that it's very short (about 10-12 hours), carries a 40 dollar pricetag, and will probably wind up costing more and more as it fades into obscurity as a cult classic. I guess if you're looking for a simply unique experience (likely the first and last time you'll ever experience anything quite like it), then try out Contact. However, if you want a challenging game, or a story with some substance, you might want to look elsewhere.