Review: Treasure Hunter X (DSiWare)

Between a rock and a hard place

We've seen a rash of games on the various download services take a page or two from the games of years gone by, some better than others. Treasure Hunter X attempts to capture a bit of the magic of some of the classic computer games like Boulder Dash and Lode Runner and build a unique gaming experience around it. But while there are plenty of familiar gameplay elements strung throughout the game, there's really not anything new to make the experience interesting.

The basic goal of Treasure Hunter X is quite simple: grab the key, pick up as much treasure as you can and head for the exit door. Of course there are certain obstacles that stand in your way ranging from floors that must be dug through with your pickaxe to spike pits and even hungry enemies bent on stopping you.

You begin each cavern with a set number of pickaxes and balloons. You'll have to make use of these wisely as if you run out and become stuck you'll have to start the cavern over again. You'll also find that locating the right ground to dig into is equally important as many areas feature indestructible floors that can cause you to get trapped. Your quest soon becomes a careful balance between grabbing the necessary key and trying to pick up as much treasure as possible without using up all of your equipment needed to reach the exit.

The controls are fairly intuitive, but the execution can be a tad streaky at times. You have to be lined up just right in order to hit the section of ground you're aiming at, as being just a bit off can cause you to break through the wrong area and basically waste a valuable pickaxe. It's also sometimes confusing as to what the area on the bottom screen looks like given the break between the top and bottom DSi screens. The lack of touchscreen functionality is a bit disappointing as well, although given the fact that the game uses both the top and bottom screens for play, it's understandable why it was not ultimately used.

It's understandable that the developers decided to go for an old-school visual display, but the areas in the game are even bland by 8-bit standards at times. Most of the floors are very basic blocks that lack any type of real detail. Even the enemies and characters are so basic in design that they too forgo any type of distinctive construction and are often difficult to even tell what they actually are.

If there's one high point to the package it would have to be the musical score. There might not be a whole lot of tunes to be heard, but the ones that are there are certainly entertaining, so much so that they almost feel out of place being surrounded by the other mediocre aspects of the game. So while you might not have much in the way of scenery to enjoy, your ears are certainly in for a nice treat.

Conclusion

Treasure Hunter X is certainly not a horrible game by any stretch, but it's not exactly that good either. The game relies too heavily on gameplay touches that have already been done many times before, and in some cases far better. The puzzle elements provide some decent challenge, but the somewhat sloppy controls and lacklustre visuals end up overshadowing what few interesting moments the game offers up. That being said, the meagre 200 Nintendo Point price tag might end up making it at least worth a shot for gamers intrigued by this style of gameplay.

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