|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Namco Bandai||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Namco Bandai||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan.27, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: E +10||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
InuYasha: Secret of the Divine Jewel is a one-player RPG for the Nintendo DS based on one of the most popular anime to be featured on the "Adult Swim" programming block. This is virtually the only selling point of this game. Even big fans of the anime will be disappointed at the seemingly decided lack of effort put into this game.
The game begins with a little character introduction for those who are unfamiliar with the series. I stress the word little, because the game very quickly moves on to the "original plotline." We soon meet Janis, a hapless American whose been forced to move to Japan because of her father's job. She becomes friends with our heroine, Kagome, and is mystically transported back to Japan's feudal era via a magical well and some of her own special powers. Upon arrival, Janis soon meets up with Kagome, Inuyasha, and the rest of their feudal-era friends. If this storyline sounds somewhat familiar, that's because it's nearly the same premise of 2004's Inuyasha: The Secret of the Cursed Mask for the PlayStation 2. Playing this game feels like playing the former in an alternate universe where the almost bad gets infinitely worse.
First there are the controls, which take the form of an extremely simplistic turn-based RPG. Users are able to select from a standard attack, a charge attack, a power-up, a defensive maneuver, an item, or a handful of special attacks. However, no matter which action the user chooses, the result is a sluggish, poorly executed, on-screen animation. The graphics are like kicking an old dog (no pun intended) on its last leg: cruel and difficult to watch. The sprites literally pixilate when put in battle, and the environment lacks both depth and diversity. Throughout the game, it looks like the user is walking on a flat surface where everything looks the same. Honestly, there's better graphics on most Game Boy Advance titles.
Because of the elementary-level controls and excruciatingly simplistic gameplay, the game is relatively quickly played. Of course, this does not account for user confusion caused by the horrifically two-dimensional graphics. There is almost no satisfaction from working through "dungeon" levels or beating final bosses. The game can almost be played without looking. The user just needs to know where the "attack" and "heal" commands are and, with a few taps of a stylus, they're good to go.
One of the biggest failings of this game where its PlayStation 2 counterpart succeeded was in the sound department. The same four 30-second tunes assault the user's ears during the entire game. And during extended dialogue scenes, the sound goes altogether. None of the characters have any audible voices, and there are many instances where the player will have to endure many minutes of scrolling dialogue in utter silence with no visual accompaniment save for a hand-drawn still of the speaking character.
When I picked up this game, I honestly didn't have any expectations. There are many good games out there based on anime. Just look at the Fullmetal Alchemist games for the PlayStation 2, or the Naruto games for the DS. However, this game is a shining example of what happens when a license is the only thing that sells a game.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer