Mania Grade: C-
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- Game: Again
- Platform: Nintendo DS
- Publisher: Tecmo
Again (Nintendo DS) Review
By Tim Janson
May 06, 2010
Tecmo's Nintendo DS title AGAIN(2010).
Again bills itself as an interactive crime novel but the emphasis is on the novel part more than the interactive part. Platformed on the Nintendo DS which has had a number of outstanding crime adventure games, Again starts with an interesting premise. As the player you take the role of Jonathan Weaver, a young FBI agent whose parents were murdered by a serial killer nineteen years earlier. The killer nicknamed ‘ Providence ” was never apprehended. But now it seems as if Providence is back. A murder in a local hotel seems to indicate the same MO as providence. Furthermore, Weaver finds a note addressed to him at the scene of the crime, toying with him.
As in most crime solving games you will be required to investigate the crime scene and interview witnesses and suspects. There’s little of the technical analysis that you’ve seen in games like CSI. You’re not dusting for prints or using UV lights to check for blood or doing any sort of lab work. Makes sense since you’re not technically a CSI investigator so you’ll find yourself interviewing those lab personnel who analyze evidence. But Weaver has one unique tool to use in his investigations…he is psychic. He has the ability to look into the past of a crime scene and see objects and events in the past. When this happens your DSI, which you hold open like a book, displays the past on the left side and the present on the right. Weaver basically examines those things which are different from the past to the present.
This is certainly the most fun and unique aspect to Again and gives it a bit of a leg up over similarly-themed games. It’s too bad that you don’t get to use the ability more and that the gameplay doesn’t focus on the psychic/supernatural element. Along with your partner Kate Hathawat, you will spend most of your time in prolonged conversations. Again is aptly named because you will use your stylus Again…and Again…and Again to go through the lines and lines of text that you have to sit through. And every time you read a line of text on the right, the picture on the left side of the DS screen changes to the person who spoke the line. The second time I played the game I literally spent an hour just reading text and not doing any actual investigation. If I’d wanted to read a book I would have bought a book!
Much of the dialog in Again is just inane filler. For example, Weaver will say to Hathaway, “Let’s go speak to so and so…” Hathaway will respond with something like “Sounds like a good idea” and Weaver will reply, “Ok let’s go” and on and on. The game designers seemed to feel a need for the characters to explain every move they make in the minutest detail. Pretty soon you’re just racing through the text hoping something of interest comes along. If this were a book you’d likely have put it down after a couple of chapters. Point: Spoken dialog doesn’t always translate well when written. We get all the pauses, “umms”, “hmms” etc…that are a chore to read through.
The graphics use photographs of live actors that are given a minimal amount of animation to change facial expressions or body movements. These can often be laughable, especially the police detective in charge of the case who constantly strikes one “look at how macho I am” pose after another. There are a lot of characters in the game but one is just as uninteresting as the next. The actors who play Jonathan and Kate look too young to be believable as FBI agents.
While on paper Again had a good concept and its introduction of psychic elements was unique, the bland and slow-moving gameplay keeps it from building any lasting suspense.