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Dinosaur King

At the recent Sega gamer’s day, most of the titles enjoyed placement in their own rooms, replete with giant wide-screen TVs and distracting color-changing ambient lighting. A couple sad, wallflower DS titles got to hang out across from the hors d'oeuvre bar. One of these was the kid-friendly title Dinosaur King.

Like Pokemon, and just about every kid cartoon these days, Dino Kind involves children that capture/summon/train animals to fight against other animals. In this case, alien-mutant-ghost dinosaurs. Just kidding. They’re regular-old non-cyborg prehistoric beasties. Except they inexplicably can use elemental attacks. The story revolves around two kids named Max and Rex, who are trying to stop the evil Dr. Z from globetrotting and reviving all the dino fossils, thus creating for himself a toothed army for taking over the world.

You’ll explore the world, moving from location to location, and search for fossils using your dino-radar. Once discovered, dinos are added to your roster. There are 80+ dinos to find or unlock, and besides using them to kick Precambrian ass, they come as entries in a nifty encyclopedia that teaches the details of each creature and allows you to check them out in zoomed-in rotatable 3D snazziness. For the kids, it’s a nice learning-light feature, so parents can pretend their rug rats aren’t wasting their brain cells.

Aside from exploring the world in a top-down view, there are random battles where you’ll need to employ your dinos in combat. The battles are turn based, and use the Rock-Paper-Scissors mechanic. We don’t mean that in some analogy. We mean literally. There are three icons that pop up on screen, clearly depicting the hand gestures associated with each attack. So the simple basis should be easy for young ones to pick up, although for how long it will hold their attention isn’t certain. There’s more than just the 3-sided guessing involved, since each dino has unique strengths and weaknesses, including specialties connected to the terrain they are fighting on. Each dino has one attack that’s stronger than others, so tricking the opponent into choosing rock when your paper attack is your power move comes into play.

My new approach to play all games on Hard mode straight off the bat has proven satisfying. Sure there is some frustration, but I've decided it's the lesser of two evils when weighed against the boredom of easiness that Normal difficulty has become in the era of casual gaming.