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Don't Cross the Line - DSiWare Review

Game Info
Don't Cross the Line

DSiWare | Aksys Games / Jupiter | 1 Player | Out Now (North America) | 200 Nintendo Points
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Review
24th December 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

We've seen a wide mix of games on DSiWare, with an equally wide amount of different game structures. Everything from the super-simple execution in games like 10 Second Run, and even strong construction as in the case of Aura-Aura Climber. Don't Cross the Line fits in more with 10 Second Run, because of its straight-forward, user-friendly approach towards both gameplay and presentation. Unfortunately, it doesn't work as successfully, with both of these elements coming across as lacking the extra step to be measurably enjoyable.

    In Don't Cross the Line, players are tasked with drawing lines to link matching shape icons together on a canvas. These lines act as solid walls, meaning that other lines aren't allowed to pass through them or overlap; the very principle that serves as the basis for this game's title. If that happens, the unlinked line will become like a fuse, slowly retracting back to the starting point. Off to the sides of the playing field are "Pound Buttons" that can be tapped repeatedly to speed up the retraction process. There's also an Eraser that immediately wipes out all of the lines you've created, useful for when you make mistakes. I thought this was a worthless option, but the Magnifying glass located at the top-right corner of the screen will pick out which shapes have yet to be connected. It's a simple premise to be sure, but its simplicity may be what ends up pulling you in. Plus, the fact that this game was developed by the same team responsible for Picross DS just adds to that.

    The game features more than 50 levels in total spread out over multiple leagues or classes. You'll begin in Practice Mode so you can get a good idea of what the game is all about before moving onto Beginner, Intermediate and so on. The last puzzle in each class is a Promotional Exam which must be completed to obtain access to the next skill level. Interestingly, you're not obliged to first clear all the levels that precede it. If you think you have a good grasp of things, you can head straight to the Promo Exam. The only exception to this rule is the Super-Special class where the Final Exam can only be accessed after certain conditions have been met.

    All of the puzzles that exist in the game are of a timed nature, with rewards to acquire if you manage to clear them with a suitable time. Rather than using a typical medal system, each puzzle you complete represents one of the leaves that make up a large tree. Consistently meeting the Gold leaf requirement will gradually enhance the appearance of the tree to a small degree. And I thought that was kind of interesting.

    
Strategy comes into play as you make your way into levels belonging to the higher-up classes. You'll need to contend with a growing number of shapes, and if you're not careful, you might accidentally block these out, forcing you to start over. Slowly but surely, you come to the realization that the best strategy is to begin with shapes along the outside and work your way inwards. This works almost universally, and once you figure this out, later puzzles become more manageable. Although there is a degree of challenge to be had here, it nearly gets thrown out the window once you make this discovery. 

    Before long, it becomes a matter of completing the game simply for the sake of saying you did, not because you're feeling motivated by how much fun you're having. The truth of the matter is that amidst the simplicity, the game just isn't that much fun; in fact, in some cases, it can be very boring to play. Unless you're of a really young age and don't give much thought to the situation, Don't Cross the Line quickly loses its luster after just one or two play sessions. I admit that going into this, one's expectations may (and should) be low, especially considering it's only $2. Still, as games like Aura-Aura Climber and Escapee Go! have shown, this doesn't mean that players should settle for a game of this nature.

    Playing Don't Cross the Line feels a lot like a pen-and-paper game, especially because of the way the presentation has been approached. Lines dominate as a background pattern of their own, as if the game were being played on lined paper. The small visuals and colours that do exist in the game are far from deep. Similarly, the game carries an insignificant audio presence, where sounds of flutes serve as music for this game. It's not long before this becomes annoying and tiresome. The whole thing feels very minimalistic, and the simplicity isn't used as effectively when compared with other DSiWare titles with a similar approach.

    Much like the effort put into the presentation, the amount of content in this game is also minimal. Fifty levels may sound like a lot, but because a good number of them can be cleared within about a minute on your first go, really the game won't last you very long. Not even the encouragement to aim for all the Gold leaves or set new records will serve as a means of getting you to play the game beyond what's necessary. To that end, it's likely that you'll lose interest in beating every last puzzle. 

    Don't Cross the Line does sound decent for what it is, but at the end of the day, it doesn't represent good value. It fails to instill a tangible amount of fun and enjoyment within the average player, making this a title that will be favoured more by children than any other audience. In short, you're not missing out on much if you do decide to skip it.


16/30 - Below Average

Gameplay 6/10 - Simple concept that works fairly well for what it is, carries an interesting structure with the Promo Exams and the large tree
Presentation 5/10 - Somewhat decent visuals with a minimalistic approach, simplicity doesn't work as well here, music becomes tiresome
Enjoyment 2/5 - After the first twenty levels or so, don't be surprised if you start to get bored, can be somewhat challenging
Extra Content 3/5 - Features a good number of levels with Gold rankings to aim for, not as strong of a purchase compared with other 200-Point titles

Equivalent to a score of 53% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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