If there's one genre that handheld game systems haven't been able to pull off, it's the light gun shooter. It doesn't really make sense - how do you pack in a life-size gun and still make it portable? Well, in the case of Point Blank DS, the gun becomes a stylus and, shockingly, everything works like magic. This is nothing more than a collection of twitchy, arcade-style shooting galleries designed for quick gameplay sessions, and in that regard, it hits the target dead on.
The regular game tests your firing abilities through several skill levels (beginner, advanced and the like). Each one is timed and revolves around hitting specific targets while avoiding bombs, unarmed people and other unsightly things. What kinds of targets? In some you're gunning for flying birds, while others are loaded with ninja cutouts or leaping skeletons. Most of the time you've got unlimited ammo, but a few of the minigames place restrictions on just how much lead you can let fly before the task is failed.
For the most part, the stylus functions as a light gun just fine. It's unavoidable that sometimes your hand is going to end up covering the screen, obstructing other targets from view, so more than once our scores suffered from a simple design flaw. Odder still is when you clearly see the gunshot animation (which appears wherever you tap the screen) pops up over a target... and it's not destroyed. Nine times out of 10 the hit detection is microscopically accurate, but there's always going to be moment's of "What the hell? I shot that damn thing!"
For longevity's sake, there's a Brain Massage mode that randomly selects certain galleries from the main game and keeps track of your blasting results. The better you do, the more tests you unlock and the stranger your title and rank becomes. We acquired names like "Undefeated Lawyer" and "Pro Hide-n-Seeker," if that's any indication of how seriously you should take these test scores. It's like a slightly more violent version of Big Brain Academy, which is nothing but good news.
And what would an arcade game be without some multiplayer? Point Blank DS offers two-player, single-card play that does a decent job of emulating carnival-style, light gun face offs. Too bad the loading times for each match are about as long as each minigame - where's the justice in that?
If nothing else, this game proves that light gun games can be done right on the DS. Could it much longer until we see a new Virtua Cop or Time Crisis? Please, tell us we won't have to wait long.