Reviewed: July 31, 2008
Released: June 17, 2008
When it comes to animated CG cartoons I am pretty much addicted to them. Well some of them anyways. One of the many shows I like is called Code Lyoko, which is shown on Cartoon Network. In the show, four teens find a mysterious supercomputer hidden inside an old warehouse. Here they find the digital world of Lyoko and its guardian Aelita, who is in a battle to stop the X.A.N.A. virus from destroying the world.
However this review is not to talk about the show but rather Code Lyoko: Fall of X.A.N.A. for the Nintendo DS. It is the third Code Lyoko title to hit stores and the second to come to the DS.
Fall of X.A.N.A. takes place sometime after Season 3 of the show from what I can tell. You play as Ulrich, Yumi, Odd and Aelita as you must stop X.A.N.A, free William, and ultimately beat the mysterious Volcano Replika.
The interface of Fall of X.A.N.A. is fairly straightforward in pretty much every regard. Unlike the previous titles, Fall of X.A.N.A. is a turned based RPG so all the basic role-playing rules apply. Iíll touch over that a little later on, so onward to the finer points of this title.
Fall of X.A.N.A. utilizes both a 2D and 3D interface to allow players to traverse through this adventure. There a 4 main stages that the Lyoko Warriors will use to progress through the story. Two of the stages, Kadic School and The Factory, are shown in 2D animation while the other 2, Lyoko World and Combat, are done in 3D CG animation. The mix of these two animation types is crucial to this title due to the showís nature.
While at Kadic School you can speak to the different characters that you find. To keep things true to the show, all of the characters at the school are from the actual school, including the annoying Sisi. Here you will learn key information about Williamís disappearance and other gossip that is floating around the school.
The Factory is basically you hub for doing anything in the virtual world of Lyoko. Here you are briefed on the current mission by Jeremy. After that itís off to equip your character via the supercomputer.
By selecting The Lab with your stylus, you will now be able to improve your character with various items, functions and plug-ins. Functions are attacks or special actions that the Lyoko Warriors can perform via Jeremyís help. These functions are limited to combat and use up Function Points or FP for short.
Navigating the virtual world is as about as easy as it gets. By using the stylus on the touch screen you can navigate the lands of Lyoko. The Lyoko Warriors will traverse across deserts, mountains and even the digital sea. The digital sea is now somewhat easily traversed by the use of Navskids. I say somewhat because the pesky Replikas are always trying to interfere.
Combat in Fall of X.A.N.A as I mentioned above has went the RPG route over the simple run and gun the first Code Lyoko title did. This subtracts from the overall feel that you get from the show that it is based on, since the show is usually is always in constant motion. On the plus side it adds a bit of difficulty to the title.
One of the neat things however in the combat systems is that if you take enough damage your character will go into Tension mode periodically. You will then play little mini-games to determine how much damage that attack will do. Personally I thought that was a nice touch to mix things up.
Each character has their signature moves from the show recreated for your gaming pleasure. So if you are one of those people that actually watched the show then that is something to look forward too.
The one thing that I will comment on is the Lyoko Point system. Upon beating Replikas or picking up Data packs that are scattered across Lyoko you will or can accumulate Lyoko Points. These point are used to buy items that you can buy plug-ins or items that you will use in battle.
Plug-ins are stat altering items that will do various things depending on their type. These can range from increasing your attack power to giving you more defenses. You will collect plug-in points based on your characterís levels. So in a nutshell, the higher the level the, more you can improve them.
The items in Fall of X.A.N.A. are pretty much like every other RPG in existence. The only difference is the names attached to them. However the reason I bring them up is the fact that some of the names are pretty cool. For instance, the poison curing ďpotionsĒ are called Antivirus software.
The one thing that I felt was a little lacking or rather confusing was the storyline. Assuming that this title takes place somewhere in the vicinity of seasons 3 and 4 and after the previous title, it is rather hard to figure out just what is going on.
In the last code Lyoko title they rescued William and destroyed X.A.N.A, but somehow William is under X.A.N.Aís controlÖ Again! Again not exactly sure what happened after the last title? The other titles started the player off with a little prologue to get them on their way, but this one doesnít.
Graphically speaking Fall of X.A.N.A falls short of what I was expecting. Having played the first two titles I expected a bit more this time around. Sure the DS isnít exactly known for its graphics but this title took a step back into the past.
Upon watching the opening video I was kind of excited as it looked like it was pulled straight from the show and captured the essence of the it. What followed after was decent as I looked upon the still images of Kadic School and the various characters from the show. After that it was off to the Factory, again not to bad looking. I got to see some cool little virtualization clips and the inside of the factory.
But the graphics kind of dropped off the edge of a cliff as soon as I entered Lyoko. I will give the developers credit on making interesting levels and animations for the portals and things like that, but the character models took a nose dive.
By changing the gameplay to that of an RPG the characters are now nothing more than pixilated little midgets with oversized heads. I can tell which character is which, but considering that I am looking at 3D renders of the characters faces in the top screen I expected more on the touch screen. Had they put a little more detail into the characters I would have been much happier, but thatís the price you pay when changing the gameplay. On a positive not the characters do look fairly decent when in combat mode.
The sound section Code Lyoko: Fall of X.A.N.A, unlike the graphics gets fairly good marks from me. This is largely due to the cool intro song in the video before the menu screen and the music that plays during the battles. Even the menu screen has this creepy computer music that reminded me of the sounds the original Xbox dashboard made after you let it sit there for a while.
The little details like the sound of the portals warping you character from one place to another or the sound of you hitting a switch are all nicely done. I was also impressed with the battle sounds especially the sound that let you know that one or more of your characters were in Tension mode.
Value wise, you are looking at about 9 maybe 10 hours of gameplay from Fall of X.A.N.A. Switching the gameplay from what is was to that of an RPG may have not been the best move for the franchise, but it does offer a bit of a challenge as far as the story campaign goes.
The one thing that saves this title for me is the Multiplayer mode. Fall of X.A.N.A. offers three modes from which you and a friend can play against each as long as both players own a copy of the game. These modes are called, Classic, Bet and Challenge. Classic is your basic battle to see which player can take out all of their opponents Warriors first. The cool thing is that all of your plug-ins and items carry over to the multiplayer part of this title. If you or your friendís characters are under or overpowered, you can set restrictions on the match to level the playing field.
Bet and Challenge are my personal favorites when it comes to the Multiplayer aspect of this title. When playing the Bet mode you will bet one or more of your items before each battle. Whoever wins the match gets the loserís swag. Challenge Mode is similar to Classic Mode with the exception of match restriction chosen by the host player. So basic ally you can choose to fight the other player without digital powers, functions, use of objects and so on. This is neat as no matter how strong you characters are you are both limited to what you can do, making it an even more interesting fight.
At the end of my playing experience, Code Lyoko: Fall of X.A.N.A is decent title. I wasnít overly thrilled about the change in gameplay, but being an RPG fan, I canít complain too much there. The graphics took a nose dive due largely to the gameplay switch and the title suffers greatly from that. The somewhat saving grace of this title from me was the Multiplayer modes and the good animations scenes that are sprinkled throughout the title.
Code Lyoko: Fall of X.A.N.A. retails for $30 dollars at most retailers, however only the most hardcore of Code Lyoko fans should shell out that kind of money for this title. I happen to be a fan of the show and to me thatís a fairly reasonable price.
For those of you who have heard of the show, but never seen it then this title maybe worth the 30 bucks. For those that have placed the previous title or those not fans of RPGs you should hold off until this title drops $10 dollars or at least rent it first before you buy it.