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Pop Island - DSiWare Review

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Pop Island

DSiWare | Odenis Studios | 1 Player / 2-8 Players (local multiplayer/co-operative play) | Out Now | 500 Nintendo Points
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25th March 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

Pop Island is a party game inspired by a capture-the-flag style of gameplay. Although it's been out for some time in North America, Europe just recently had the privilege of seeing this added to their catalogue. The DSiWare service may not have too many multiplayer games at the moment but Odenis Studio sure has set the bar high with this release. Make no mistake that this is one fantastic game that you simply must have on your system.

    The object of the game is to be the team who collects the most flags at the end of 2 rounds. Each stage features a given number of designated flag hubs, which will respawn anew once they've been transported to a base. To get moving, you simply use the D-Pad, and press the A Button to jump. The longer you hold the button, the greater distance your jump will have. Once a flag is collected, it's a real battle to try and hold onto it long enough to bring it back to your home base. When you're not holding a flag, you're can shoot off firecrackers at nearby opponents using the B Button. The resulting "Pop!" will send them flying across the map, causing them to lose whatever flag they may have had in their possession. In addition to these explosive items, the game also features a good number of power-ups you can take advantage of. With the press of the L or R trigger, you can use these items to fly great distances, activate shields, or fire homing missiles. Right from the start, Pop Island pulls you in, thanks to its charming gameplay and instantly-lovable elements.

The number of party members per team depends entirely on the skill level you choose. On the "Crazy" difficulty, you can have up to 16 different players on each team for a truly hectic match! There are multiple characters to choose from each with their own style and skillsets. Some characters ride on motorized vehicles, soar through the air, and some creatures even excel in water areas. In addition to a great variety of fun characters, Pop Island also features a great selection of maps for you to play on. The top screen will show a detailed map of all of the action taking place on-screen, and you'll have to develop strategies on the fly to either take advantage of open fields or stop an opponent from getting a point. Depending on the planet you choose, not only will the character selection differ, but certain stage elements will have a greater impact on gameplay. For example, some will feature more water-covered areas, making it less convenient for land animals. No matter which stage you play on, you're bound to have a good time.

    At the conclusion of both rounds, your points will be tallied to see how your scores stack up against the other team. Your final score might even go into the Hall of Fame if you do well enough so you can brag about your accomplishments later on. Naturally, this gives plays something secondary to strive for beyond the heat of the moment (if you will), and that's always great to see. The amount of points you attain at the end of each 2-round bout are deposited into a reserve of Solar Points which can go towards unlocking new characters, new planets, and even the locked 'Playful Mode'. Overall, the game has a significant of replay value hidden away that will get you to play it regularly, even when you may not have friends nearby.

Despite what the cutesy art style may hint at, Pop Island is one crazy game. With the right mood, it becomes such a great social experience amongst friends, resulting in many instances of tense action and hiliarity. Best of all, the game uses Download Play, so anyone with a DS system can try the game in the "Share Demo" mode! Even on your own, the game is still great as a solo experience since the computers put up a good fight. But obviously, there's nothing more enjoyable than participating in frantic battles with your nearby buddies.

    The nature of the frenetic gameplay is well-complemented by the game's great focus towards presentation. Pop Island features some of the best, most dynamic visuals on the platform. Although the music does get a bit repetitive after a while, it's still very catchy, and it suits the nature of the gameplay superbly. Top it all off with cheery sound effects, and great level designs, and you've got one impressive game!

    Odenis Studio did a spectacular job with this release. The game is just plain addicting to play and as such, don't be too surprised if your thumb gets sore after a while from playing so much. If you've got someone to play with (or even if you don't for that matter), don't even think about skipping this over. This memorable game is such a steal for only $5, and it's definitely one of the best DSiWare games to date.

28/30 - Excellent

Gameplay 9/10 - Takes inspirations from a great concept and develops it into something compelling, lots of variety
Presentation 9/10 - Excellent visuals especially for a DSiWare game, music is pretty good but can get repetitive after a while, great art style
Enjoyment 5/5 - An absolute blast with friends (especially in large numbers), something you can always come back to, challenging CPU's
Extra Content 5/5 - Motivating high-score system, CPU's are fun to play with, quite a bit to unlock, Download Play support!

Equivalent to a score of 93% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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