Conceptually innovative action-RPG immerses players in its fantasy world-literally

Games Features
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Platform: Nintendo DS

Role-playing games traditionally thrive on their utter separation from the real world, but Gameboy Advance title final Fantasy Tactics Advance broke down that wall with devilishly fun results. The premise was that a typical final Fantasy fan (e.g., a young social pariah) got magically transported into the world of his favorite video game, which made for good times and good fan outreach all at once.

A new action-RPG, Contact, ups the ante for meta games: instead of assuming the role of the main character, you play yourself, conspiring with a benevolently mad scientist to help a young man named Terry repair a wrecked spaceship on a strange planet. The mechanics of this transaction are inscrutable—the Professor has been sending signals out into the universe, which your DS has somehow received, and you become a silent Svengali, controlling Terry’s movements, making him fight, fish, cook and change costumes. The battle system, which makes you stand around getting pinched by crabs until your attack meter recharges, leaves much to be desired. But the game’s quirky sense of humor and fresh conceit are compelling reasons to make contact anyway.