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Digimon Data Squad - hands-on

Most of the world is fixated upon Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. Does anyone remember Digimon these days? Seven or eight years ago they were pretty cool. Remember that one that looked like a dinosaur with a metal head? Yeah that was neat. What's that? There's a new RPG on the way? And on PS2? Wow that's a whole load of information that totally surprises and confounds all who hear it.

So there's this new Digimon Data Squad. It's based on the upcoming Jetix cartoon that starts later this year and sports more than 140 different Digimon. The basic premise is uh, well, it's not that unique at all. Monsters are invading the world and it's up to a group of kids and their plucky Digimon to save the day. Battling and evolving your 'mon is the only way to achieve final victory over the evil Demon Kings!



Though the plot may be tired as a fat, old, lazy cat with NyQuil pumping through its system, the core game is an RPG intent on teaching youngsters the finer points of menu surfing. Battle options appear as hexagon thought bubbles for each different Digimon, with moves they want to perform appearing more often. If you choose an action they approve of, it'll deal a ton more damage. If all that sounds a little confusing, don't worry - it's just as weird seeing it in action. Each type of move (attack, defend, run away etc) appears as a differently colored hexagon, so instead of an easy to get system for kids, you get a weirdly undecipherable blast of info all at once.

But, it's not like you can't play it. The basics work, and being able to evolve your Digimon along a Final Fantasy X-style grid shows some real promise - unlike the Pokemon games, you can evolve and de-evolve your Digimon at will, provided they meet the necessary requirements. Once you've changed them to a new species, they can hop back and forth instantly. That sounds pretty sweet, if nothing else.

Look for Data Squad this fall, plus the DS versions Dawn and Dusk as well.

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