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Matchman

Matches, it would seem, aren’t just there for creaky old men in pubs to show off their cheap parlour tricks. Matches can be heroes too. Or at least according to Matchman. “Matchman is the Prince of the Kingdom of Match,” explains developer Steven Shao. “An invasion triggers an economic crisis and the people can’t afford paint to colour their world. The Kingdom of Match is fading to grey!” This certainly explains the striking art style, although it’s not exactly what the team originally envisioned. “The original graphic idea was to use a sketch drawing style, but due to the lack of DS graphic capability, we shifted it to line drawing,” says Shao. That said, he concedes that “we do believe the later idea is more suitable for the shooter genre.”

Ah, so this is how our phosphoric hero will save the day – a mix of shooting and platforming (think Gunstar Heroes, only a tad less hardcore). “Matchman abandons the tension normally found in a shooter, replacing it with more vivid ideas,” Shao explains. By “vivid”, we can only assume Shao’s referring to TF-H’s decision to add “factors of classical fairytale to the game, making a shooting game filled with humour.” So Metal Slug meets the Brothers Grimm? There’s certainly a terrific pick ‘n’ mix of villainy to choose from. “The bosses of every scenario [are] characters from fairytales: the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood, and the queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Shao describes one encounter that sees you lobbing apples into the belly of Russian folklore nasty Baba Yaga, in attempt to burst her open from the inside. Shrek it ain’t.

And DS is only the start of Matchman’s world conquest. Look ahead to mid 2009 and a Wii version is set to dazzle. “The Wii version is actually Matchman 2, continuing the story where the DS version left off,” says Shao. “But unlike the DS version it’ll be an action RPG and in full 3D. The Wii remote will be the major weapon controller, taking a similar idea of item emulation to manipulate.” Shao certainly paints an intriguing picture, and we can’t wait to see more. Whether stylus- or remote-led, it would seem evil has met its match.

Far from setting himself alight to burn ne’er-do-wells, combat in Matchman focuses on what Shao refers to as “emulation manipulation” – that is, the replicating of item actions on the touchpad. The obvious is pulling and aiming a bow. But some items are still a mystery. “Heavy machine guns, rocket launchers, magnetic cannons – every weapon has a unique operation and function,” says Shao. “And every weapon has various types of ammo, including ignited arrows and smoke grenades.” Add nunchucks to the mix and the Big Bad Wolf better crack out the Kevlar. My, what gaping wounds you have…

Aug 11, 2008

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