Review: Amida's Path (DSiWare)

The road less traveled

DSiWare releases are becoming fewer and far between, but there are still some interesting titles to be found for the service, and they're all accessible thanks to the 3DS eShop. Collavier Corporation's Amida's Path is a creative, fun game that combines strategy, action and light role-playing to create an experience that feels right at home on Nintendo's dual screens. While it's held back by some unfortunate design and presentation hiccups, Amida's Path is an intriguing late-in-life DSiWare release.

In Amida's Path, gamers will find familiar archetypal Japanese characters at every turn, from the headstrong, stubborn young ninja to the prodigal child who is wise beyond his years and – of course – extremely powerful. While it has the trappings of an old-school RPG, Collavier instead offers players an experience based on a Japanese lottery game. At the beginning of each stage, the protagonist prays to the god Amida for strength, and is presented with several horizontal lines which can be connected by drawing lines between them with the stylus. Players then shoot fireballs across the stage, and they change lines wherever vertical lines are drawn. Enemies, meanwhile, shoot at the player, so drawing lines and diverting the paths quickly is key to winning a stage.

The gameplay may sound a bit complicated, but the it's easy to learn and very addictive. There are power-ups and special attacks that are built up with each successful hit, and players can level up at the end of each stage and customise their characters' abilities and attributes. Amida's Path isn't very long, but there are multiple difficulty levels for each stage and some unlockable content, such as concept art.

The 16-bit sprites are colorful and fluid, while the hand-drawn backgrounds lend the game a hand-made feel. But while the gameplay and visuals are solid and inspired, Amida's Path stumbles in the rest of its presentation. The repetitive audio is grating and sharp, and hearing the same effect for fireballs every second will have players turning the volume down pretty quickly. Where Amida's Path really falters, though, is in its atrocious translation. Grammatical errors are present in nearly every line of dialogue, actually making it hard to follow the story. The story itself is steeped in Japanese lore, which is potentially fascinating, but it feels like it was run through a free web translator.

Conclusion

Amida's Path is not a bad game. The gameplay is novel and fun, but it's not quite enough to overcome the poor sound design and terrible translation. Collavier has shown potential with its DSiWare titles; now, it's a matter of lifting the presentation to a higher standard. Players looking for something a little different should enjoy Amida's Path.

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