Review: Antipole (DSiWare)

Rock you like a Hurricane

While it may be difficult to achieve the recognition and greatness of Shantae: Risky’s Revenge or Cave Story, platform adventure games are still very welcome on DSiWare. Antipole, the newest title from Saturnine Games, might not be the most original genre entry in the universe, it is still a very gravitating game with a few tricks up its sleeves.

Antipole tells the story of a man named Johnny Hurricane, a mercenary hired by the government to infiltrate the evil robot mothership and put an end to the robots’ reign of terror. If this plot sounds at all cheesy or trite to you, that’s because it absolutely is. The storyline, however, is of little to no concern — nearly no emphasis is put on the story in this game, but by no means is that a bad thing. What it all boils down to is that Johnny Hurricane is good, the robots are bad, and it is your job as the player to kill all of the robots. It’s simple, but it works well.

The entirety of this game is simple run-and-gun platforming action game with a slight twist. Rather than simply jump and shoot your way through each level, there's a dash of puzzle solving as well. While the puzzles never really get very deep, sticking mostly to things such as moving a box to a certain area or figuring out how to kill a boss in a special way, they do add a bit of much-appreciated variety to the gameplay. Though Antipole would probably have been just as fun without the puzzle solving, changing things up a bit isn’t a bad idea.

There is nothing particularly significant about Johnny Hurricane, with the exception of his Carmen Sandiego-esque fashion sense, but in the first level of Antipole you will pick up an item that allows you to temporarily reverse gravity in a fashion similar to indie PC game VVVVVV. This ability becomes pivotal both in solving puzzles and completing levels. Sometimes you will need to use this ability to move boxes while other times you will need it to reach a high platform. Either way, the gravity reversal quickly becomes essential.

To go along with the straight-forward gameplay is a very simple control scheme. While the menus can be navigated using the touch screen, the actually game is controlled entirely using the DSi’s hard buttons. The D-Pad controls your movement while B jumps, Y shoots and R activates gravity control. Despite the fact that these controls are incredibly simple and quickly become second nature, you are still given the opportunity to change them and customize whatever control scheme is most comfortable for you.

The main story contains 20 levels, four of which are boss fights. Though the story is not very long and can easily be completed in less than two hours, yet the variety of available play modes and challenge levels make this a game that you can spend quite a bit of time with. Hidden in each level of the story mode are three green coins, which unlock special challenge levels. These challenges give you a certain task, such as escorting an enemy to a certain point in the level or fighting a shadow of yourself, which must be completed within a time limit. Also included are achievement-like Awards; while there is no actual in-game bonus for receiving these awards, the extra challenges, again, increase the replayability. Finally, as an added bonus for players who have downloaded Saturnine Games’s other title, Cosmos X2, a third game mode can be unlocked called Triple Weapon. In this mode, rather than Johnny Hurricane’s standard gun, you will instead be given the weapons from Cosmos X2. All in all, regardless of a short story mode, Antipole has a lot to do and many reasons to be replayed.

Antipole has a very rich and robust soundtrack, wich you can find out for yourself without purchase by downloading it for free off of Saturnine's website. Every song in the game is a perfect fit for the dark and somewhat ominous mood of the robot invasion. Like the soundtrack, the visual style also fits the mood of the game quite well: though the character sprites are simple and the environments aren’t the most detailed places in the world, the robotic coldness is reflected in all of it.

Conclusion

With its twist on platformer gameplay and ridiculous amount of content, Antipole would make a great addition to anyone’s DSiWare collection, especially fans of the genre looking for something new. The main campaign is over quick, but the myriad of other challenges and play modes makes this a title worth visiting again and again. It’s fun, challenging and bears an attractive price; this is one game that shouldn’t be passed up.