A couple of vocal folks are all atwitter over the upcoming RPG for the Nintendo DS from Atlus called Contact. Apparently it's quirky and fun and we should all go buy it, end of story. The problem is that for all the praising previews I've read, none of them have actually pointed out just why the game is supposed to be so great. Just telling me that Contact is a quirky adventure isn't enough. I need examples of quirkiness. It's hard to build a buzz without evidence of awesomeness. Fortunately, the folks at N-Sider have put together a preview of the game that actually gives some gameplay examples of why Contact could become the next Earthbound (you know, a quirky and fun RPG that goes ignored by the general gaming community).
The game plays a little differently from traditional turn-based RPGs or even real-time-combat-based RPGs like the Mana series. The game does progress in real time but does not give you direct control over Terry's attacks. Instead, you can toggle Terry between normal movement and an attack stance. In the stance, he will automatically attack any creature within range, cycling through targets either as he defeats them or if you manually cycle his target cursor. "Any creature" is not limited to those you're supposed to defeat to progress, either: Terry can attack any creature or NPC in the game, friendly or no. It's not wise to go around picking fights, though: other characters in the game look down on beating up on the innocent and will treat Terry accordingly.
It looks like Contact is the latest game to go on my DS shopping list. Even if the game can live up to its reputation and draw major interest, it may still have a problem competing in the marketplace this holiday season. After all, it'll be up against powerhouse titles such as Yoshi's Island 2, Final Fantasy III, and other big budget franchises. Contact hits stores in late September.