Given the anaemic flow of 3DS games as of late, the mere fact that Dream Trigger 3D was a new release for the system after the initial launch caused a lot of gamers to sit up and take notice; toss in the fact that the game was a shooting title and things got even more interesting. While it looks like a wealth of unique ideas on paper, Dream Trigger ends up being a bit too frantic and confusing for its own good and ultimately brings down what could have been a rather unique experience with a bit more structure.
Unlike most shoot 'em ups, Dream Trigger doesn't just show you the enemies it tosses your way and allow you to take them on; rather it forces you to use the bottom screen as a sonar in order to make them visible. By tapping on the bottom screen, you send out a ping that will resonate a short distance and make any enemies it touches visible to you on the top screen — that's when you get to blast them to bits. Of course you'll have to avoid the enemies and the barrage of firepower and thankfully, firing your cannon makes you temporarily invincible, something you'll quickly find comes in handy if you hope to survive for very long at a time.
You'll soon find that moving your icon around in order to target and avoid enemies on the top screen can be a bit tricky since you'll also have to keep your eye and stylus on the bottom screen in order to expose them. In fact, players are likely to find this multi-tasking quite overwhelming at first, but it does become more intuitive as you get a handle on how the game works. The boss fights in the game can also be a tad frustrating at time and require a bit of patience to take down.
There are a number of modes to choose from including the main Map mode that lets you take on the stages and work your way through the game one stage at a time. It also provides a uniqe set of challenges for you to tackle as you progress through the various points on the map. There's also a mode for taking on a specific level that you've unlocked in the Map mode which can be good for honing your skills, and you can even take on another player with a 3DS and the game in multi-player mode.
The play controls in the game serve their purpose, but having to use the stylus in conjunction with the circle pad and button controls does make things a bit hectic. Of course given the fact that the game does require play controls for both screens, there wasn't much of a way around it. You'll just have to have faith that the whole process does become a bit more manageable once you gain a grasp of how the manage your time between the two screens.
The visual presentation is another aspect where Dream Trigger shows some flashes of brilliance, and even though the 3D depth is quite impressive, the visual touches themselves could have used a bit more flash. The individual enemies are a bit small and pixelated and even though the backdrops are extremely creative, they sometimes making keeping track of enemies and the bullets on the screen more difficult than it needs to be.
Not only are the majority of the tunes very catchy and melodic, but the way they're presented make them fit in perfectly with the rather trippy visual production taking place behind them. It would have been nice to have the sound effects themselves blended in a bit better with the great musical effort, but they still manage to get the job done just the same.
Unfortunately, the biggest problem with Dream Trigger is its continued crashing. We presumed our first review copy was faulty and requested another, which then produced identical results, and we're not alone: other publications and users have reported the same issues.
Dream Trigger features some really unique and original gameplay ideas — maybe a few too many for its own good — and ultimately tries to do too many things at once, overwhelming the player with its rather steep learning curve. Toss in the barrage of game crashes and you're left with a game that had a lot of potential that was never in the vicinity of being reached.