For those that don't know, Namco's Point Blank series originated as an arcade title back in 1994 along with its partner in crime, Time Crisis. Both games were ported over to the PlayStation using the fashionable G-Con 45 light gun. Point Blank was followed by two excellent sequels on the PSone but never surfaced on PS2.
The concept here is extremely simple, Point Blank is a collection of trigger-happy arcade-style mini-games. The idea was to beat your opponent by scoring higher than them. Players would progress through 8 mini games in a session, with the player at the end with the most points crowned the winner.
Hours upon hours were spent battling against my friend with our G-Con's, happy days. Sadly it seems Namco forgot about this franchise for a little while, but now its back.
Of course there is no light gun accessory for your DS, so the stylus becomes your gun. Tapping the screen to shoot is an extremely simple and effective way to bring shooting games to the DS, I'm actually surprised its taken this long to surface.
The DS version of Point Blank is much the same as its predecessors. Each mini game is given a task and a time limit. For example you might be asked to shoot 25 cardboard ninjas in 10 seconds or sheer 8 sheep in 15 seconds. These tasks also include, shooting coloured targets, shooting chickens, wiping out a warm of bees, blasting away criminals and killing aliens. After you complete each game you are awarded points based on hits, accuracy and speed of shot.
In addition each mini game has 4 difficulty levels, Practise, Beginner, Advanced and Insane. Each of which get progressively harder by expecting you to hit more items or complete the task in a quicker time frame.
The game contains four main modes of play: "Arcade" which restores the classic format of 4 mini games, followed by a bonus round, 4 more mini games and then a finale, "VS Play" which allows you to complete with a friend via single card Wi-Fi, "Freeplay" that gives you the freedom to choose any level at any time and finally "Brain Massage" the only new mode.
Brain Massage mode tries to jump on the "Brain Training" band wagon, your asked to complete 4 similar themed mini games and then receive a rating on Accuracy, Judgement, Reaction, Precision and Attention. Then your rating will be given a title such as "sniper-in-training" or "beatnik cop". Although this is a new mode of play, it fails to actually introduce anything significant into the mix. Continuing to play this mode will eventually unlock a few more mini game themes, so it will keep you interested for a little while.
Graphically nothing much has changed since the PlayStation incarnations, but anyone who played them would know graphics really aren't important here. The sound is excellent with over the top music and frantic sound effects.
The one thing I feel lets down this edition of Point Blank is the number of mini-games. There are around 40 of them, which might sound a lot at first, but given most of them last only 20 seconds you'll find you've played through them all relatively quickly. In addition to that, a lot of the mini-games are ones that have appeared in previous versions of the game.
Point Blank DS is great fun. It's also a pretty well rounded title and will suit gamers who enjoy a quick 5 minute blast of entertainment, this game also poses as a great time filler. You'll find it hard to play this game for extended periods of time unless you have someone to play against. Fans of the original series on PlayStation should certainly consider picking up this game, its just as much fun as it ever was. Hopefully Namco will make another with more original mini games.