After around just one year it’s clear to see that the initial promise for the Nintendo DSi hasn’t quite been met. Rather sadly almost no new games have taken advantage of the extra RAM and CPU power that the DSi features but instead we have seen one or two titles that do use the DSi cameras. At least the DSi Shop Channel which undoubtedly was reaction to the Apple App Store has actually seen some success. At the time of writing there are 180 software titles available that range in price from free to $12. Of course one great benefit to a digital download store is that it gives smaller video game studios a chance to get their games to a wide audience without needing millions of dollars beforehand.
Save the Turtles is a DSi download game coming in at 500 points (roughly $5). Now I’m a bit of a bunny hugger at heart when it comes down to it so when I got the chance to save some turtles from harm on my Nintendo DSi, how could I refuse? Coincidently saving turtles is actually quite topical at the moment with the recent oil rig disaster in the Gulf. Now whilst Save The Turtles for DSi does feature oil, it’s far from what some might call Greenpeace propaganda.
Save The Turtles is a cute game where you need to help Sea Turtles from all over the world get from Egg to the Sea against the clock. On the bottom screen of the DS you see a pretty beach covered in markings, scratching at these with your stylus literally digs the turtle eggs from the sand. Next you need to tap on the egg until it is fully cracked open revealing the turtle and more importantly, its coloured shell.
To save the turtles you’ll need to move them around the beach as if it were a grid, when three or more of the same shelled turtles are in a horizontal or vertical row a giant sea wave will be triggered. The wave will safely carry out all of the correctly matched turtles out to sea and therefore freedom. Sadly we know that freedom probably only lasts as far as until the nearest fishing ship sails by but alas, I suspect that discussion will have to wait until another time.
Every mission features a minimum of turtles that you need to save, if you fail then you’ll have to replay that level again – if you succeed then it’s onto the next. The quickest and easiest way to clear a beach of turtles is to match three in a row but that won’t see you get a terrific score. If high scoring is important to you then you’ll want to work tactically to get rows of 4, 5 or even 6 turtles, perhaps multiple rows at once for bonus combo points. As with almost every other video game you could mention, things start off easy and become more difficult as you progress and Save The Turtles is no different. At the beginning you’ll only have one or two differently coloured shelled turtles to worry about but things will certainly get trickier. At first you’ll encounter obstacles on the beach that take up valuable grid space and make it harder to organise the turtles into matching rows. If that wasn’t enough, you’ll also have to contend with hungry crabs that pull the turtles down into the sand as well as seagulls that swoop to snatch a turtle for supper.
More environmental challenges await the turtles on the beaches; sometimes a nasty oil slick will cover a turtle or two and they will be immobile until you either wash it off with some sea water. It also appears the hot weather is no fun for turtles either, on the top screen of your DS you have a graphic representation of the sun, if he’s looking very bright there is a good chance that your turtles will start to bake and actually catch alight, once again you’ll need to cool them down with sea water if you want them to survive. Of course you’ll get a bit of assistance along the way in the form of pickups. You can collect a mallet that allows you to hit that nasty seagull around the face to protect your turtles. There is also a rain cloud which when collected creates a little rainstorm that cools down all of the turtles, handy on those very hot beaches. There are even various seaweeds that can be eaten which have a number of different effects such as speeding up how quickly a turtle moves around the grid to actually changing its shell colour.
As well as the main story mode (Save The World) that flies you around the world saving turtles from almost every continent, you can also partake in turtle saving in a couple of other fun ways. Other game modes to unlock are:
- Quick Game which as the name suggests is just an easy way to dive into some random turtle saving action.
- Tidal Wave spices things up by removing the wave spawning, in this mode the wave does not come as soon as you match 3 shells.
- Turtle Forever is your typical never ending mode. How long can you last in a single level of Save The Turtles with no timer as the difficulty increases substantially very quickly.
At 500 Nintendo points Save The Turtles for DS is worthy of consideration. Ok so the game is just a basic little arcade puzzler when push comes to shove but sometimes that’s the sort of thing you fancy when you don’t have time for a massive session in your favourite hand-held RPG. The gameplay is addictive and the never ending highscore mode that is Turtle Forever will last you as long as you want it to. Graphically Save the Turtles is just a cutsey sprite based affair and looks like a 16bit Game Boy Advance title, but when you think about it so does Nintendo’s Super Mario World and that has sold 21 million copies worldwide.
So are there any downsides? Yes but only one. The presence of a nasty little freezing bug does spoil the atmosphere somewhat. At the end of each level in Save The World mode the game should move on from the ‘Congratulations’ banner to the high score screen. Unfortunately on several occasions the game froze at this point losing one levels worth of progress. Not exactly a game breaker but does result in a point deduction and a final score of 6 out of 10.
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New: Buy Save The Turtles from Amazon.com