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The DS, with its touch screen interface, seems to be a good match for point and click adventures. After some early original titles such as Touch Detective DS and the book oriented Hotel Dusk DS, we are now seeing a range of PC to DS conversions. Ankh: Curse of the Scarab King is a strong example of the later, and one that has made the transition sooner rather than later.
Point and click adventures involve the player navigating a graphical adventure with the use of a pointing device. Historically this has been a PC genre using the mouse interface, but recent years has seen these games coming to the Gameboy Advance (using buttons) and the DS (using the stylus).
Players progress by uncovering clues by searching the environment and by talking to the characters they encounter. This information needs to be combined with the collected items to solve puzzles and navigate through each level. Often quite book like in form, these experiences live or die by the quality of the writing and intrigue of the various puzzles.
The novelty of Ankh: Curse of the Scarab King is the ability to play the full PC adventure game on a device that is a tenth the size. The touch screen interface even manages to make the experience a little more tactile that the once-removed clicking on the PC. The rest of the interface matches the other functions well. A tap of the stylus in the top-left of the screen accesses the inventory, and you can easily use the menu to look, pick up, grab, or talk.
The biggest technical challenge of the game is the reduced screen size. It does a valiant job of scaling the high resolution artwork to fit on the DS's diminutive screens. But there are times when it is hard to tap accurately on the required item, and other times when you struggle to identify the available item in a room. Runaway: The Dream of the Turtle DS is a PC adventure conversation that has the edge here with its intelligent decision to provide click-map that identifies objects.
Players will be drawn to Ankh: Curse of the Scarab King because of its high gloss look-and-feel and genuine PC experience. They will enjoy the ability to be involved in an unfolding story that is both engaging and well written. There are real similarities between this and a good detective novel. There is nothing better than taking stock of events in the game and considering what options and equipment you have available, to finally twig what it is to do next.
Like any good adventure game (or book for that matter) time is needed to be invested before you have a sense of connection to the on screen action. Once you have worked through the introductions, sessions of half an hour or so suffice. As the story picks up players will find they may want to extend this to an hour.
Younger players may find both the complexity of the puzzles and accuracy of the interface leave them a little cold. The story itself includes mild references to alcohol and the odd risky joke. Although nothing likely to alarm, parents may want to get a feel for the tone of the game theme selves before handing it on to their offspring.
Intermediate players are probably best served here. The combination of the well written adventure and portability of the DS make for an enjoyable experience. Experts may demand the higher resolution and accuracy of the PC version, and be willing to sacrifice the ability to play on the way to work.
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