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Despite its name, Line Rider 2: Unbound is the first time the popular web game has come to the DS. Like N+ DS this game looks to repeat the success of the PC on Nintendo's handheld machine.
Puzzle games pose the player a problem to solve, and then provided a limited set of tools with which to solve it. This can be as simple as arranging 2D blocks on top of each other, or as complex as balancing objects in a 3D environment.
The initial interaction is what usually hooks players in for the first few hours, but it is the game's ability to scale both the size and complexity of each puzzle that distinguishes the truly excellent experiences.
Line Rider is original because it tasks the player with drawing the mountain-scape through which the skier then descends. Lines are drawn with the stylus to define each slope, which can be select from a pallet of different materials. Each material has a different quality - some boost the skier forward as they pass over it, while others slow them down, bounce them off or even break.
The main puzzle aspect of the game (40 story based levels) is based around getting from point A to point B by some particular route. This is then complicated by various hazards and jumps which are enforced by limiting the areas in which the slope can be drawn.
The bottom screen is used for the drawing whilst the top provides information on the current pallet. In this way the game functions much like a drawing package you may have used on the PC. Once the drawing is finished you watch to see if your skier makes it through the level.
The limited screen size is the biggest challenge here as the player has to visualise the whole mountainside they are drawing. The zoom feature does help this somewhat, but there is a sense of viewing the action through a pinhole camera at times.
Players come to Line Rider because of its novel play mechanic and the freedom granted to do what you like in the environment. 'You mean I can just draw anywhere?' is a common response upon the first encounter. Players thrill at being able to setup complex scenarios, loops, slopes and jumps for their skier to traverse. Playing Line Rider is akin to setting up the marble runs of old.
The level based section of the game can easily be played in short fifteen minute bursts. The freeplay mode where you can construct your magnificent ski-runs can keep the player tinkering for many hours. The open nature of the game means that even after the levels are completed (and you have beaten Chaz to win Bailey's heart) there is still plenty to keep the player entertained.
Super young players will find the drawing mechanic relatively easy to pickup, although the execution of different lines will need some guidance for an adult. The level based game with its very particular requirements is likely to be a bit too hard for them to grasp.
Those a little older (school age) should start to get more out of the game as they plan and execute their own unique solutions to each puzzle.
Expert players may find the diminutive screen on the DS version a little hard to grapple with - particularly if they have played the more expansive browser version. Line Rider 2: Unbound Wii will provide them a better match.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: