Wizard fight, rarrrrgh! Flaming incantations of doom! Planets realigned for arcane rites! Gnarled staves spitting magma death! Exciting stuff. Unless you%26rsquo;re Doodle Hex, which re-imagines warlock battles as a cross between a calligraphy lesson and a sushi bar. Imagine a sushi conveyor belt with two rival wizards perched at each end. Instead of snarling out an alakazam they politely lay spells onto the belt, patiently waiting for them to circulate and detonate in their opponent%26rsquo;s face. It%26rsquo;s a game of strategy and timing. Strategy, in that for optimal damage an attack spell should arrive after a shield stunner, and timing, in that each spell travels at its own speed, so they won%26rsquo;t necessarily reach the target in the order they%26rsquo;re unleashed.
Sounds confusing (though we%26rsquo;d put some of that down to the rubbish sushi analogy) - and this is just the basics. It%26rsquo;s structured like a beat-%26rsquo;em-up, and you vie for best out of three rounds against each contestant, each victory bringing a new rune or mechanic to the arena. Your basic weak, strong and stun attacks are soon joined by moves that plug your foe%26rsquo;s flow of runes or wipe all runes in circulation at the expense of some health.
It reminds us of the excellent Zendoku, the sudoku-based brawler. It has all the ferocity of a back and forth fight, with the novel twist of mental patience needed for a victory. As with Zendoku, the single-player mode is little more than a training ground for DS-to-DS hexing, although each new contestant does an excellent job of introducing you to fighting approaches. Unlike straight beat-%26rsquo;em-ups where each character brings signature moves to the table, this shows that one versatile system can equally impress. The big question is whether or not you%26rsquo;ve got a chum willing to put in the time to learn it all: dip-in fun, it ain%26rsquo;t. That some dumb, rune-lobbing galoot can%26rsquo;t goose their way to victory is a huge plus; that some dumb, rune-lobbing galoot can%26rsquo;t really have any fun, slightly less so. A refreshing system sure, but these doodles ain%26rsquo;t no doddle.
Jun 6, 2008