Reviewed: April 10, 2008
Released: March 4, 2008
Going green thatís the new catch phrase sweeping the planet and it's also the underlying them of Majesco's latest NDS release. Save the planet...save the Earth. This message brought to you in the form of Eco-Creatures: Save the Forest for the Nintendo DS; a place where fuzzy creatures can spend their time frolicking and dancing around trees to make them grow! This game is all about helping stop pollution and planting trees. Can fighting pollution and planting trees make a fun and entertaining game?
Welcome to the Mana Forest! Here you will meet your character Dorian and his mentor Master. Dorian will soon discover that the forest is being attacked by the polluting and anti-tree huggers the Kingdom. I know what youíre thinking who came up with these names. My guess is they were going for symbolism and basically attacking all of the non-recyclers and polluting companies through out the world. Anyway you will start out with Dorian and his Eco-creature friends. You will have to defeat the mean Mecha Bots in order to progress through the game.
While traveling through the Kingdom and the Mana Forest you will be able to learn new magic spells and increase the power of your Eco-creatures. The first Eco-creatures you will come across are your friends the Ecolis. These funny little squirrels can be used to plant trees that will give you Mana balls which enable you to use you Mana magic and call upon more Ecolis to help fight.
You will find that as you plant the trees you will be able to plant them in different places. Certain places will grow into an Ecolis tree; you will be able to tell this by its big pink leaves. You will also be able to grow heal trees; you will recognize these by their silver leaves. The heal trees will help heal your injured Ecolis, so you wonít have to use Mana power to call them out of the Mana House. Later in the game you will also be able to create smaller versions of the Mana house. These are helpful because Dorian is a very slow walker. They cut down on the distance you have to travel between the Mana house and the main battle.
As you progress further into the game you will acquire different forms of Eco-creatures. The second creature you will come across will be the Ecomon. These Eco-creatures look like flying squirrels and will help you do just that. They will obtain the ability to lift Dorian and other creatures and objects. They can carry Dorian across water and up tall cliffs through out the game. You will be able to use the Ecolis to grow Ecomon trees by planting trees where there is grass growing. The trees will look like tall pine trees.
The third Eco-creature you will come across is the Ecoby. The Ecoby resemble beavers, they also swim in the water and build dams and ramps, just like beavers do. Your Ecolis will be able to grow trees to create Ecoby by planting trees in swampy areas where you see water. Ecoby also have special abilities they can obtain the ability to help protect the other Eco-creatures by sacrificing themselves for them.
Once you have formed you Eco-creature army you will then be able to fight off the evil Mecha Bots and help stop the Mana Woods from being destroyed. Your main objectives are to grow trees and defeat the evil Mecha Bots. Dorian will also have to face large pollution bosses. You will basically only need the use of the D-pad and the stylus to play this game. You will use the stylus to direct your Eco-creatures into battle. Along the way you will have to destroy fences and find secret levers that will lower high metal walls that surround the Mecha Bots. Eco-Creatures is pretty simple with different bosses that you will be able to defeat along the way, but the main goal is to plant trees, obtain Mana balls and use the Eco-creatures to take out the Mecha Bots.
Dorian will also be able to learn magic however most of the time you will only use the Eco-creatures to defeat the enemies. Dorian does have some useful magic though. There is a magic that will make him move faster (Dorian walks at a snails pace) and there is magic that will take Dorian straight back to the Mana house. This is useful when the Mana House is under attack. But like I said you will basically only use the Eco-creatures to defeat the Mecha Dorian is basically just the leader not one of the warriors.
Eco-Creatures is based on the graph system. The whole world is blocky and has borders. I really didnít think the graphics was that bad? There was the occasional glitch that would occur while you were moving a lot of ecolis at one time. You would see a large blue line appear across the screen. However this glitch did not affect the gameplay; it would just slow it down as the game reconfigured.
The graphics seem pretty early to me. The game is in 3-D but Iíd say only on the Nintendo 64 level. Could they have improved on this game of course but they really didnít need too. When I was playing this game I thought that it was geared towards kids. With all the ďcartoonĒ mini scenes they really couldnít have been aiming for the mature gamer.
The sound in Eco-Creatures is just what you would expect, cute. There are all the little squeaks and chirps from the forest creature. You will also be able to here the funny laugh of the Minister and the cute grunt of Dorian. Altogether I really think this game did just about right when it comes to the sound. Is the sound amazing? Of course not but neither is the game. They could have improved the game and added more character voices or more realistic sound effects but while you play the game you can tell they cut corners. This game wasnít ever intended to be an A lister.
Eco-Creatures can be purchased in stores today for around $29.99. The game is pretty good, especially as a non-preachy environmental appreciation tool that would be a great childrenís game that puts across a good message. Do I think this game will inspire adults to go out and plant a tree? No, but Eco-Creatures influence just might plant the seed of environment responsibility in a childís head. This game is fun, there is no real violence, and itís pretty cute. Even the bad guys arenít all that bad. Is Eco-Creatures on the fast track to the bargain bin? Probably, but I do think this game offers some fun and entertainiment despite its simpleness.
Eco-Creatures puts across a good message and I really think it would be great for kids. It does have some glitches, but they are nothing terrible. Overall the game is fun and kid friendly and I think most parents would agree that any game that influences their children to do the right thing and help the environment is a good thing. Kids will find Eco-Creatures fun and interesting with all the cute animals and characters.
I know I really enjoyed Eco-Creatures. Sure, it's not AAA quality but you will be entertained for a long time and that's what it's all about. With all its battles and with the option of building you own levels and interacting through the DSís Wi-Fi, Eco-Creatures: Save the Forest will be a fun addition to any child's game collection