Imagine going on a trip on your summer vacation, only to be thrown at the mercy of a horrible accident at sea. The next day you wake up on a beach, confused, wet, and starving. Wondering what happened, you start to explore your unknown surroundings and gather items you find along the way. You come across a cave, and, exhausted as you are, decide to rest there and try to make sense of it all in the morning. Sounds pretty surreal, right? Unfortunately for you, this is exactly what happens to the player in Konamiâ€™s RPG-adventure game Lost in Blue for the Nintendo DS.
In Lost in Blue, players take on the role of Keith, a senior high school student taking his first trip alone on summer vacation. The player takes control of the poor kid after he washed up on shore. The next day, Keith sets out to find food, supplies and hopefully other humans. He comes across a young girl called Skye who was apparently on the same ship and washed up on the island as well. Skye has lost her glasses, and Keith accidentally steps on them, leaving Skye vulnerable. Summarily, youâ€™ll have to help Skye through the game. The opening of the game poses quite a challenge to keep both Keith and Skye satisfied, especially with Skye not feeling well. But as players progress, it becomes easier to stay alive with new tools crafted from found materials and better meals as your culinary skills increase.
Players have to survive on the island by gathering food and water and building tools. A close eye has to be kept on both Keithâ€™s and Skyeâ€™s strength, hunger, thirst and overall health. Food and other supplies can be found lying around the island, but can also be grown or hunted. Whenever Keith walks around, players can tap the ground and Keith can dig to check if there are useable items beneath the surface. On the beach for example, there are sand piles aplenty, and when Keith stands near them, players can tap the ground and wipe away the sand with the touch screen to reveal an item. Apart from digging, branches, stones and other useful items can be collected to craft tools or use as is.
The DSâ€™s touch screen is put to use in quite a few innovative ways. For instance, players can go up to a tree and shake it to make coconuts drop or branches to fall out. Hunting and fishing is also done with the touch screen; as players shoot with a bow and arrow to hunt deer and catch fish. Another interesting way players interact with the game is by making a fire. First, you have to rub a stick against scraps of tree bark by pressing the L and R buttons alternatively, and once the bark is smoking, players blow into the microphone to get the fire going. Interacting with the game via the DSâ€™s various inputs is especially fun since Lost in Blue is a survival game, giving players the feeling that they are actually doing tasks instead of pushing a few buttons.
Although the touch screen is used in a number of ways, walking is still done with the D-Pad, and holding conversations is done with the conventional buttons. The alternation between buttons and touch screen can be a bit of a hassle, since youâ€™ll often perform a task with the touch screen only to press a button afterward. Context sensitivity of available actions is another issue in Lost in Blue, with the direction players are facing affecting the available options. If Skye is standing in front of Keith, but is too near to another item, players will more than often play out the wrong action rather than what they intended to do.
The biggest aspect of Lost in Blue is repeating daily tasks and trying to stay alive on the island. After a while this can get somewhat annoying when players want to go out and see whatâ€™s on the island, but canâ€™t because they still need to gather food or supplies. The fact that Skye canâ€™t do much by herself also adds to the repetitiveness of Lost in Blue, since Skye canâ€™t survive for long on her own. But Skye isnâ€™t just an obstacle to slows players down; she can cook up a great meal and help make tools like baskets and rope. Skye can be taken outside when necessary by holding her hand and manually guiding her through the island, but there are certain ledges only Keith can climb and certain areas Skye just canâ€™t get to. The survival aspect is slowed down a bit because of Skyeâ€™s inability to do tasks on her own, leaving players in the role of babysitter while trying to explore the island and find a way home.
Skyeâ€™s cooking depends on what players bring home to cook with. There are enough ingredients to be found for Skye to make various dishes, which in turn lead to more filling meals. Even though some of the names for the dishes can be questionable (like â€œfreaky clam bakeâ€), they increase Keith and Skyeâ€™s strength and their ability to explore further and go longer without eating. From time to time Skye will suggest furniture to decorate the otherwise boring cave, which triggers a mini-game where furniture is built by tracing lines on the touch screen with correct timing.
Graphically, Lost in Blue isnâ€™t that much different from Survival Kids on the Game Boy Color. Sure, Lost in Blue is in 3D, but the true 3D feel is lost in the isometric angle of the island and the inability to walk freely instead of just in eight directions. The models and textures are up to par for the Nintendo DS. The visual effects work well enough to keep an interesting look to the game, but wonâ€™t blow anyoneâ€™s mind.
The music in Lost in Blue is a bit dull but appropriateâ€”no overdramatic orchestral score should be expected on a deserted island. The sound effects of the water, wind and other elements come to life excellently and work well with the Nintendo DSâ€™s stereo speaker set up. The voice-overs, what little there are, are a bit mediocre and donâ€™t really add anything to the game.
A lot was expected from Lost in Blue, but is sadly disappoints because of the flaws in the overall game design. Lost in Blue is still a very good survival game, but the repetitiveness and sometimes annoying controls can make the game more of a chore. RPG fans should definitely try this game, but if you donâ€™t have a lot of patience, itâ€™s best to let Lost in Blue sail past.