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Lost in Blue 2 (DS) artwork

Lost in Blue 2 (DS) review

"When you encounter a wild wolf, alligator or tiger, you can dance around attacks and retaliate with quick thrusts from a spear. You can also build furniture, cook mushrooms and go fishing. Really, there’s no shortage of ways to pass the time. The problem is that you mostly don’t have time for them."

Imagine for a second that your name is Jack and you’re a high school senior enjoying a beautiful ocean cruise. One evening while you’re resting in your bunk, a fierce storm starts tossing your ship all over the place. As you flee your chambers, water rushes in. It stays just behind you as you dash up stairs to the deck. There, massive waves swallow you alive. Blackness settles in and the next thing you know, you’re waking up hungry, thirsty and tired on a beach you’ve never seen before.

From that moment on, Lost in Blue 2 never lets you forget about the three necessities: food, water and rest. Not only that, but it soon places you in charge of a second person, a sad girl named Amy who also is about your age (note that if the player wishes, he can choose instead to play as the female). Your objective is uncomplicated: keep the protagonists healthy while exploring the island.

Lost in Blue 2 could have been a fantastic game, and almost was. As you work your way through the tropical island paradise, you’ll engage in all sorts of cool mini-games. When you find a tree, for example, you can shake it to knock loose fruit, sticks, twigs or leaves. When you encounter a wild wolf, alligator or tiger, you can dance around attacks and retaliate with quick thrusts from a spear. You can also build furniture, cook mushrooms and go fishing. Really, there’s no shortage of ways to pass the time. The problem is that you mostly don’t have time for them.

The minute you wake in the morning, your character’s three gauges start draining. If you’re lucky, they start at 100% and go down from there. The three contribute to your overall satisfaction with life. When that overarching meter reaches 0, you’re dead. It doesn’t matter whether Jack or Amy is the unhealthy one. The minute either hero collapses, you have to return to your last save point. With that in mind, you’ll spend much of your time foraging for food, stopping by the few freshwater streams on the island and trying to catch a nap in between it all.

It sounds exciting, and at first you’ll be so busy running around like a chicken with your head cut off that you might even enjoy it. The ever-present sense of urgency nicely matches the panic I’m sure I’d feel if trapped on an island with only one other person for company and support. Unfortunately, the developers were too good at their job. Surviving on a deserted island would be tough, but it’s even tougher when you’re a complete wimp. Enter Jack and Amy.

Suppose you’re lucky and you wake up in your little cave in the morning with all of your energy restored, 40% satisfaction with your hunger and 50% satisfaction with the amount of water you’ve recently had. That’s pretty much a best-case scenario, but whatever. As your character stands, the gauges begin to drop. Amy comments that it would be a nice day for a walk. In short, this is as perfect as things get. Since thirst is going to be an issue soon and that’s the easiest problem to remedy, you start toward the exit. Only then, you realize that Amy isn’t going to follow.

Amy doesn’t do anything unless you tell her to. She could be dying of thirst and sitting next to a stream, and still she wouldn’t stoop to take a sip. So you walk over to her and press the ‘Y’ button, which causes you to grab her hand. She comes along with you then as you head out of the cave and to the right, along the bank of a stream. Now, normally this would lead you to believe that you can bend over the edge and take a drink. Nope. You have to keep walking right--while all three gauges slowly drop, no less--until you find a place where the earth drops to the water’s level. Then you bend and take your drink (and Amy too).

Okay, so your energy is still reasonably full, but your hunger has now dropped to a lower level and is marked in red. “I’m starving,” Jack remarks to no one in particular. Well, it’s time to get something to eat. At this point, you can run all over the place, grabbing pineapples and mushrooms, or you can go fishing. The latter is typically the best choice if it’s an available option, since you lose energy almost as quickly as simple food replenishes it.

So let’s say you want to start fishing. You get near the bank and realize you’re not holding your homemade spear, which you sharpened out of a stick (those sticks are pretty rare, by the way, and your homemade spears break after a certain number of uses even if you fashion them out of the ultra-rare iron rods that sometimes wash up on the beach). Well, there’s no point fishing without the spear, so you access your menu to equip it. That takes a few button presses, and then you get a message that you can’t equip it because you’re holding Amy’s hand. Oops. You back out of the menu and press ‘Y’ to let go of her hand, then press a few more buttons and equip your spear. Thus equipped, you press ‘Y’ again and are treated to a view of the water. You spear a fish because you’re good like that, but you know it won’t do much to satisfy your hunger. It’ll refill your meter by about 5% and you’ve already drained it that much just getting the drink of water. So you try to spear another fish, only you get a message that your item bag is full. You can’t carry anything more.

At this point, you can give some stuff to Amy (if you feel like diving through more menus and if her bag isn’t already full) or you can say “Screw it” and head back to the cave. If you choose the second option, don’t forget to press a few buttons to unequip the spear, then grab Amy’s hand and drag her along to the cave. There, you press a few more buttons and tell her that you want her to cook, and then tell her what food to use. Once that’s done, you get to wait about 15 seconds while she cooks and you sit there like a dufus, then you mash buttons to skip through the animations of the characters eating.

Congratulations. After about two minutes of hassle, you’re pretty much right where you started. The whole game goes like that, too. And if you manage to conquer the odds--something that is very doable, just tedious--you can sometimes head deeper into the island for new adventures. Maybe you’ll find a wolf to kill. Maybe you’ll build a tree house (something that takes several hours of dedicated game time, thanks to your constantly draining life, water and food meters). You might do any number of things, but you’re forgetting something: Amy.

If you leave Amy back in the cave, you’ll get constant notices that she’s getting hungry or thirsty or tired. There’s even an option to say “Hey, I’m going out for a few days.” You’d think the programmers would set her AI so that she would take care of herself in your absence, but they didn’t. No, if you really want to explore anything, it means you have to drag her along with you the whole time. That also entails foraging for roots and feeding them to her all the way, with each effort taking something like six or seven button presses. Are you starting to get a sense for how tedious things can get?

That’s Lost in Blue 2 the whole way through. Just when it has a neat idea like hunting animals or building a tree fort, the developers ruin it with tedium in the form of awful inventory management, a constant need to eat and drink, or any other number of factors that will have you pulling your hair out long before the adventure is over. In the end, Lost in Blue 2 is too brutal and irritating for its own good. Try it if you want something different--it gets that right, at least--but don’t say I didn’t warn you.


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Staff review by Jason Venter (March 29, 2007)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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