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Fullmetal Alchemist: Dual Symphony (DS) artwork

Fullmetal Alchemist: Dual Symphony (DS) review


"Fullmetal Alchemist has become a somewhat popular anime and manga series on American soil lately. However, it is far more popular in Japan, as is obvious by the movie released that has yet to obtain an American release date, as well as the various Fullmetal Alchemist games released for previous handhelds, that will never make it here. The latest game in the series, Dual Sympathy for the Nintendo DS looks to be sealed with the same fate. Considering that the Nintendo DS has no region block, impor..."



Fullmetal Alchemist has become a somewhat popular anime and manga series on American soil lately. However, it is far more popular in Japan, as is obvious by the movie released that has yet to obtain an American release date, as well as the various Fullmetal Alchemist games released for previous handhelds, that will never make it here. The latest game in the series, Dual Sympathy for the Nintendo DS looks to be sealed with the same fate. Considering that the Nintendo DS has no region block, importing Fullmetal Alchemist DS may prove to be a very worthwhile -- and cheap -- endeavor.

The game follows the series rather closely, and is complete with images from the show being flipped through on the top screen, while dialogue is shown on the bottom screen. Of course the text is in Japanese, as are the voice overs, anyone who has watched the show will fully understand what is happening; And as the game is a scrolling beat 'em up, paying homage to classics such as Final Fight or Streets of Rage, it is very import friendly. In such a view point, the game can be enjoyed by everyone. However, those who have not finished watching the series may want to hold out on the game, as the cutscenes that occur late in the game, will spoil major plot twists from the series.

When cutscenes are not being shown, you'll be taking control of Ed on his journey to find the Philosopher's Stone. You'll explore such areas as the city of Lior, and the 5th Laboratory, as you fight military officers and chimeras. In these battles, you can use basic punches and kicks, as well as alchemy. The melee attacks are simple; combos can be performed by using the face buttons on the DS. Alchemy is done by pressing icons shown on the touch screen. You can select different sets of alchemy by pressing the center of the screen, and selecting a name. For example, one set gives you control of Roy Mustang's flame alchemy, while another gives you control of Ed's ability to create cannons. After selecting a type, you can tap the icon to use it immediately, or hold the icon down to power it up, before releasing a monster attack. You'll find yourself quickly growing used to this, and soon it will become second nature to you in battles.

The game is not entirely fight-based, though. There are simple puzzles thrown in to break up the scenes of action. Some of these are as simple as drawing a transmutation circle on the touch screen. Other puzzles involve you having to find the proper tactic needed to destroy a particular obstacle. Other interesting pauses in the action include mini-games where you must place wooden logs in front of Major Armstrong to help him chop them up, or where you must rapidly tap feet icons on the screen to help Ed escape a boulder that is rolling on him. These aren't the most exciting parts of the game, but they occur sparingly enough to keep things interesting. From the main menu, you can even access a few more of these, including a rather fun mini-game where you have to arm wrestle a man with an automail arm.

While not solving puzzles and defeating enemies, or participating in mini-games, you'll probably find yourself taking on one of the bosses found in the game. There is a good collection of bosses ranging from Father cornello, to many of the Homunculi such as Greed and Sloth. These boss fights are very fun; they all have completely different attacks and strategies, and they all have different weaknesses. There are a few that you can sneak through, even if you go Rambo on them, most of them are not like that, however. In some of the fights, you'll have to make use of your environment, and activate specific transmutation circles. In others, you'll simply have to wait until the opportune moment to make your attack. With such a large variety of different bosses -- with one being at the end of almost every level -- you shouldn't find yourself getting bored quickly.

The drawback is that the game is not particularly long. Even with the cutscenes taken into account, the game probably isn't longer than five hours or so. There are some really enjoyable unlockables, such as the ability to use characters like Roy Mustang, Ed's brother Al, or even Scar. Besides the new characters, you'll also unlock hard mode, which makes the game more difficult, as well as all of the mini-games that you've beaten during your first play through the game. There are also some more unique extras in the game. Among these, an interactive fortunate cookie "game", and a series of alarm clocks decorated with characters from the series. Personally, I wake up to an actual alarm clock, rather then leave my DS open next to my bed. On the other hand, it's not like including these bonuses on the game's cart took away from the rest of the game.

Overall, the game is an extremely enjoyable experience, albeit a short one. Depending on what kind of a gamer you are, you may play through it twenty times, or play it once and throw it up on eBay. Despite what type of gamer you are, though, this is a solid DS game that everyone should try out, especially if they are Fullmetal Alchemist fans. Unfortunately, the fifty dollar price tag may turn off potential players. I recommend this game to anyone who is capable of obtaining it, though.

Rating: 8/10

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Community review by sayainprince (January 16, 2006)

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