Back in 2008, Ubisoft Quebec released Battle of Giants: Dinosaurs, a game aimed squarely at younger gamers in which you create your own dinosaur and use it to battle others. With the advent of the DSi and the popularity of smaller versions of retail titles on the DSi Shop, Ubisoft saw fit to release a stripped down version as DSiWare. Battle of Giants: Dinosaurs – Fight for Survival features only three different species for you to play as instead of the 25 featured in the retail version but manages to keep all three modes of play for variety, including Multiplayer. What was true at retail remains true via download, however; though your little ones may love this, it's too boring for adults.
The game starts with Adventure mode on Easy. Here, you'll create your first dinosaur, which will be geared for Attack power. There are two other unlockable levels of difficulty: Medium gives you a dinosaur geared for Speed, so it would be logical to assume the third difficulty level gives you a dinosaur geared toward the third attribute, Heal. Heal is a set of moves that take damage out of the enemy and heal you slightly during battle. Speed governs how many moves you can make during a given turn, and Attack naturally covers the infliction of pure damage. You'll be able to modify these attributes as you play through Adventure mode by trading the eggs you find for Evolutions, which also change the appearance of your dinosaur.
Each level will have you battling rival dinosaurs to win eggs and finding a complete set of fossil pieces in order to proceed to the next. Use the stylus to lead your dinosaur around its environment, avoiding obstacles and tapping fruit or carrion to eat and refill your health bar, which gradually drains as time passes. Drinking water will also refill your HP. Note that if your HP goes down due to lack of food or water, it will also be down when a fight begins – as long as you take a bite or a drink every time you pass an available source of food or water during your travels, you'll be fine. If your dinosaur needs one or the other, an icon will appear over its head telling you which will do it the most good.
The top screen displays a rather detailed map which is uncovered as you make your way around the field, showing you where to find fossil pieces and nearby enemies. As you progress through the Adventure levels, you'll learn to intimidate other dinosaurs if you'd rather not fight them by tapping an icon that pops up in the lower left-hand corner of the touchscreen. If you are unsuccessful, you'll enter battle as normal. As for the battle system, it's simple: tap the attack(s) you'd like to use, hit the check-mark, and then you'll be presented with a dinosaur-related line drawing to trace as quickly and closely as possible. How well you trace determines your attack power; if you don't trace it at all, you won't do any damage, but if you're able to successfully trace the entire line you may wind up with a damage boost or even doing double-damage against your enemy. The complexity of the line drawing you're presented with depends on which attacks you choose and will be shown via the 'difficulty' meter at the bottom of the screen. Overall, it's an incredibly easy system that young children will quickly pick up on.
Stomping around your environment and battling everything that moves gets old after a while, and apparently the developers felt the same. Therefore, special bosses sometimes appear while you're busy completing your level objectives. Anyone can stumble across a T-Rex to fight, but beating the (thankfully not literal!) crap out of a water tower or port-o-potty is a truly special event that must be seen to be believed. However, the amusement is all too fleeting, and you're left trudging around again afterward, looking for the next enemy to fight. There's also an issue of loading times – as you enter and exit a mode or a battle within your game, there's always a seven to ten-second gap where you'll sit there watching a loading screen. It's not really a good thing considering this game already suffers from not being able to hold your attention. Young kids probably won't mind, though – again, it's a game featuring dinosaurs, and didn't you just defeat a moving toilet?
If you're just in the mood for a quick fight, there's always Quick Match mode. Here you'll fight enemies you've unlocked by beating Adventure levels, so again, play Adventure first. There's no enemies here that you haven't already beaten, however, so this isn't likely to alleviate your boredom unless you're trying out a new profile or tweaking your Evolution upgrades. As for Multiplayer, you've got two options: Wireless or Download Play. Wireless allows two players with a copy of the game to go head-to-head using their own personal dinosaurs. Download Play has your opponent choosing a dinosaur from one of the available base types you've unlocked (if you've only unlocked Medium, they'll only be able to choose Easy or Medium), adding a couple of Evolutions, and then you'll enter battle against one another. You're also given the option to choose to use either your own dinosaur or one of the base models to even things up. Either way, multiplayer is fun to try, but with your options for attribute customisation so limited, it's nothing that will keep you coming back to this game.
The graphics are detailed, even if the game itself isn't. Though the scrolling of the screen is a bit choppy at times, the dinosaurs themselves are well-rendered and actually pretty cool, and the random bosses thrown in are hilariously animated. The environments you'll explore are full of trees, rocks, bushes and plateaus or valleys you can't quite reach but which look great, and there are rain and snow effects during certain Adventure levels that help to make your environments more interesting. However, the music (like your dinosaur) is slow, plodding and also somewhat repetitive. If nothing else, it matches the game to a T.
Battle of Giants: Dinosaurs – Fight for Survival will have you customising your own dinosaur, tromping through different environments to find fossil pieces, and battling other dinosaurs for eggs. You'll unlock enemies for Quick Match mode as you progress through the Adventure levels, including special bosses that would never in a million years have ever fought a dinosaur, which are good for a quick laugh, at least – who doesn't want to watch a dinosaur go head-to-head against a port-o-potty? Though there are both Wireless and Download Play options for Multiplayer, the loading times are long and the battles are just as monotonous and repetitive against a human player as the CPU. This game is fine for young children, but adults will want to skip it.