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Contact - Hands On

It's as radical a rationale for DS' twin screens as has been attempted yet but, once in control of Cherry, you'll start seeing some familiar ideas. Control works either with the D-pad or the stylus, and there are chests to find, bosses to defeat and shortcuts to uncover.

Combat is automatic, similar to how some MMOs work: approach an enemy, select your attack stance and watch while you trade blows. Your tactical input comes from selecting special attacks, deciding if it's time to run away and using the game's other big DS-inspired idea: seals.



Above: The lush, organic 'realistic' world view is inspired more by oil paintings than clinical pixel art

These are extra-special moves, perhaps allowing you to summon an ally, handle dangerous material or unleash a particularly powerful attack. The seals must be peeled like a sticker out of your seal book, then stuck down over the action where you need them - all with a swipe of the stylus. This feels a little clumsy in the preview version - as do a few other elements of the game - but there may be time to address this before its summer release. Still no word on the promised Wi-Fi Connection features, though.

Contact is looking like being a game of two halves. The set-up and presentation are as technically impressive and genuinely imaginative as can be. But the meat and potatoes of the gaming are just that. A longer test will be needed to see if the two balance each other out, or tear the game in two.

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