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Lock's Quest

By Zeus | 2009-08-18

Lock's Quest is a combination Tower Defense and Action RPG developed by 5th Cell for the Nintendo DS. Lock, a young Archineer, must fight to save kin and kingdom from an invading army of clockwork soldiers. Instead of simply building automated defenses and hoping they hold up, Lock runs around making repairs and whacking clockwork warriors.

1# - It's a PC-Style Game on DS

Image swiped from Panther Red
There's something special about picking up a Nintendo handheld and playing the kind of game usually found only on computer. It's like looking through a View-Master. Sure, it's no 3D IMAX theater, but you basically get the same effect, and it's hard to carry around an IMAX theater in your pocket unless your're named Andre the Giant.

Short of a $500 iPhone, the Nintendo DS is the best way to get a handheld PC-gaming experience. You can play Lock's Quest, Civilization: Revolution, oldschool hack-and-slash dungeon crawlers, all without having to sign a crappy AT&T service contract.

#2 - It's a Tower Defense Game

Remember when I said I likes me some PC-style games? Well it doesn't get more PC than Tower Defense.

For the uninitiated (how pretentious can I get?) Tower Defense is a type of real-time strategy game, tightly focused on building stationary defenses which automatically attack wave after wave of enemy monsters. Offensive "towers" are the key to these games: since you don't control a mess of troops, you must ensure your defenses will hold and funnel enemies into overlapping kill zones.

Play Magazine recently called Tower Defense, "the single fastest growing genre since the First Person Shooter," but console publishers are wary of them. Maybe it's because Tower Defense is relatively new and freely available on sites like Kongregate (which happens to have my personal favorite, Bloons Tower Defense 3). Whatever the reason, you won't find a single Tower Defense game pressed to DVD or Blu-ray. The most you could ask for was a few downloadable titles on PSN and XBLA... at least until THQ had the Chicken McNuggets to publish Lock's Quest, that is.

#3 - The Free Flash Demo

Yep, there's a flash demo on the official website. How awesome is that? I'll wait while you play it. Go on, don't worry about hurting my feelings. I'll still be here when you hit the back button.

Fun, eh? The actual DS game is much more complex. You can't just sit back pointing-and-clicking cannonballs like a shooter. Most of the time, Lock has to run around like a waitress at lunch hour; repairing damaged walls, attacking enemies. Even something as simple as swinging a sword puts pressure on the player: for a very limited time, you can sequentally tap spheres randomly numbered from 1-5 for a critical hit. There are also special attacks to consider, scrap to pick up to build new towers, and so on. The flash game just gives you the basic idea.

#4 - It's a hand-drawn 2D RPG

Yes, Nintendo DS Final Fantasy remakes with N64 graphics are nice. But wouldn't it be better to give the old guard of RPG art and character design another shot? Let's reunite Hironobu Sakaguchi and Yoshitaka Amano for "one last mission." (Even though FF6's FMV was nifty, I still think translating Amano's artwork to 3D is hazardous to your game's health.)

Hand-drawn RPGs arguably peaked with the Sega Saturn, but that was fifteen years ago. Imagine what they could do on today's consoles. If the HD Street Fighter remake and Odin Sphere are any indication, it'd be a sight to see.

The visuals in Lock's Quest are simple, but the clean anime look reminds me a good deal of Final Fantasy IV for SNES. It warms my heart to see little 2D pixelated sprites running around gaining levels.

#5 - The Hero is Paris Hilton.

I've long-discussed Japan's penchant for casting smooth skinned petite young blondes as their leading men. But Lock's Quest doesn't just take the cake, it throws the cake away, because cake would totally make its hips look fat.

- Zeus (zeus [at sign] bucketbros [period] com)

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