Futari wa Precure Max Heart: Danzen! DS de Precure o Awasete Dai Battle
The reason I decided to pick this game up is due to the fact that there is a severe shortage of 2D beat-em-ups available on the Nintendo DS, in fact, Iím not sure that there are ANY other beat-em-ups available on the platform. Since I tend to be a casual fan of the genre, I decided to take a chance on this game, especially since it is based off of an anime, and I knew that if nothing else, at least it would probably hold some appeal for me in that regard.
Precure Max Heart is pretty strong in this department. The top screen of the DS displays anime sequences and cut-scenes, as well as a member of your three-girl team that is currently not being played. During game play the third character is the focus of the top screen, along with a couple of cute mascot-ish characters that seem to be the source of the team attacks used during the game. Iím sure if I were familiar with the anime I could confirm this suspicion, but since I have never seen it, this may or may not be accurate information. When there are cut-scenes or fully animated sequences, they are displayed on the top screen as well, which is a wise decision, because if you are like me, the bottom screen of your DS is pretty torn up! The anime scenes appear to be taken right from the shows/movies, and there are LOTS of them.
The bottom screen is where the action takes place, and everything is done pretty standard-fare for this genre of game. The backgrounds tend to be pretty static, and include non-destructible items as well as simple background settings that give the player an idea of where the action takes place. Street scenes, temples, subways and the like are par for the course here in PMH. Circular 2D style shadowing is used for all items and characters (players and enemies), and colors abound. Being that this game is based off of an anime, and apparently a Shoujo one at that, the colors are vibrant, and there are tons of them. There are very few parts of this game where the color does not explode off of the screen. If you have an aversion to the color pink, I suggest you pass on this game, Image 1 of 5. Click to enlarge
Image 1 of 5. Click to enlarge
The game never takes place in 3D, but there are a few parts in the game where your characters move into a pseudo-third dimension while running around corners. While this is not done during actual game play, the computer takes control of your characters intermittently, it is a nice little effect to give the game a change of pace. Just kind of an afterthought bonus from the programmers I guess.
Lots of voice acting in this game, lots. Once again, I am not familiar with the anime, but I would assume that these are the same seiyuu (voice actors) that do the voices in the anime. Iím sure I would appreciate all of the voice acting in the game more if I could understand it, but I did not mark down on score because of that at all.
The music in the game is actually pretty decent overall. Cute, appropriate tunes are employed throughout the game, and some of it is kind of catchy. From what little information I have found online in regards to this series, at least the opening theme is taken from the anime, a version of the song called Danzen: Futari wa Precure!
The sound effects are what really stand out to me in this game aurally. They are not only fitting for the game, but they suit the genre as well. Hits resound with depth and impact, and accompanying sound effects always seem to fit the situation in which they are used. This would have been an easy facet of the title to skimp on or overlook, but it appears that the development team did no such thing. Itís always nice to play a game where the sound effects are fitting, and PMH delivers in this department.
As far as handheld systems go, I have always thought that the Nintendo DS has some of the best sound available from any portable, and this game plays to that strength admirably. While some of the voices sound a bit tinny because of the actressís high-pitched voices, the music and sound effects come through amazingly well.
Game play: 5.0
Have you ever played Final Fight, Alien Vs. Predator, The Simpsons, or any other side scrolling 2D beat-em-up? If your answer to this question is yes, then you have a decent working knowledge of what this game is all about.
At the onset of each stage, of which there are seven total, your characters start out at the beginning of the stage. As you move your characters to the right, the background scrolls left, thus marking your progression through the stage. Before the start of the game you choose a character, there are two initially selectable and a third is unlocked after you finish the game once, and a partner. You control one character directly and the other is controlled by the computer, the third member of your team is Image 2 of 5. Click to enlarge
Image 2 of 5. Click to enlarge
During game play the A button is jump, the X and B buttons are for attacks, and the Y button activates your team power up. Kicks and punches are the normal attacks, and can also be employed while jumping. If you hold forward on the D-pad while hitting the attack button your character will do a dash attack that can be comboed into like a normal standing attack. Jumping, and then holding down while pressing the attack button executes a special attack from your character. While all three characters attacks look different, they pretty much do the same things. At the top of the screen between your charactersí life bars there are three small heart containers and one larger one. As you receive and give damage to and from enemies, and pick up power ups on screen these containers fill up. If you hit the Y button while one or more of the containers are full, your characters will execute a team attack upon all on-screen foes. The attack differs depending on how many heart containers are full at the time you use it, obviously, the damage dealt is greater depending on how many containers are full.
If your character is knocked down by an enemy, you can press B or X and A simultaneously, and your computer controlled partner will come over to assist you as your character does a quick-recover type maneuver.
Each stage consists of battling your way through the stage to meet up with an eventual end-boss. You pick up power-ups as you go, build your team-attack heart meter, and hopefully defeat the boss at the end of the level. Thatís pretty much it in a nutshell.
A strong showing here, and a nice way to recover some of the luster lost in the game play department. After finishing the game once, not only is a photo album unlocked, but an extra playable character becomes available, and three addictive mini-games also appear!
The photo album is set up so that you ďflipĒ through the virtual pages, each containing a screen shot of a different animation sequence that takes place during the main game. By choosing a page, you can view the corresponding animated scene from the game, of which there are plenty.
The bread and butter of the extras, however, are the three mini-games that are unlocked after completing the story mode. Unlike the main game where you are required to use the D-pad and buttons, all three mini-games require the player to utilize the stylus on the bottom touch-screen. This is also a nice bonus since it provides special content that could not be duplicated on any other system available on the market at this point in time.
The first game is my personal favorite of the offerings. It Image 3 of 5. Click to enlarge
Image 3 of 5. Click to enlarge
The second game is a color matching game. On the top screen there is a chart that serves as a key to combining colors into new colors, for example: to make green, you must first combine blue, and then yellow. To the right of the key there is a beaker filled with a colored liquid, the colors are either red, blue, yellow, green, purple, orange, or black. At the beginning of the 60-second time limit, you must use the stylus to drag small beakers of colored liquids into a larger empty beaker, matching them up with the colored liquid in the beaker on the top screen. The small beakers on the bottom screen contain the colors red, yellow, and blue; these three colors can be used by themselves, or combined to create other colors. After the beaker is filled, it is emptied and you must match the new color that has appeared in the beaker on the top screen.
The final game is a mini-lacrosse style game. You use the stylus to avoid defenders on the field, and try to shoot the ball into the net behind a computer-controlled goalie. There is a power meter on the left of the bottom screen that helps you to control the power of your shot. Avoid the defenders and score as many goals as you can before getting three outs (misses)! This game is not timed.
For someone with absolutely no knowledge of Japanese, like myself, this game is easily playable. While you wonít be able understand the story or character interaction, you will be able to easily navigate the menus and memorize where everything is. Since the game auto-saves, you donít even have to worry about saving your progress manually.
A bit above average, but certainly nothing special. Keeping in mind that there are no other beat-em-ups on the DS, as far as I know, this is a worthy putchase if you are just itching for something in the genre on the system. If these are not really your type of games, or you are not a fan of the anime, then I would probably recommend passing on this one, especially since it carries a hefty import price tag. The mini-games are definitely a plus, but the length and depth of the main game hurt the overall package. I finished the story mode in about an hour and a half, and donít forsee much replay in it.
Futari wa Precure Max Heart: Danzen! DS de Precure o Awasete Dai Battle
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