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Fossil Fighters (DS) artwork

Fossil Fighters (DS) review

"The hammer chips and softens the tough outer layer of the fossil rock while the drill carefully cleans away the remaining sediment without obliterating the delicate skeleton underneath. Upgrades give you stronger versions of these tools, but because of their strength, your chances of breaking certain bones are much greater. "

Likely inspired by Jurassic Park, Fossil Fighters re-imagines the concept of dinosaurs in the modern age, though in a much more cartoony manner. On the fictional Vivosaur Island, crazy technological advances have made it possible to revive dinosaur fossils and modify their DNA. With these genetically altered vivosaurs, kids and adults alike battle each other in three-on-three battles most often for kicks, but also with the hopes of eventually obtaining Master rank.

Sadly, its plot isn't anything to write home about. Initially, you're charged with investigating the infamous BB Gang's criminal activity. This later evolves to include the cunning plans of a dinosaur-esque alien race and its search to find a suitable home after the destruction of their planet.

This is not to imply the game is entirely uninspired. The story itself is really the most forgettable, but thankfully least important, feature. What really makes Fossil Fighters shine is its relevant and entertaining use of the touch screen.

As a young, up-and-coming fighter, your main goal is to collect and revive as many fossils as you possibly can. By visiting numerous dig sites and using your sonar, you can quickly expand your collection. You can only find heads (critical to revival) and legs at first, but with the proper upgrades, you'll find arms and bodies as well. With more parts comes more skills with which to annihilate your enemies.

Once you find a fossil, you have to clean it, which activates a mini-game somewhat similar to Pokemon Diamond/Pearl's Underground, only much better. Instead of just smashing rocks blindly in the hope of finding something, here each of your three (later five) tools serves a specific function. The hammer chips and softens the tough outer layer of the fossil rock while the drill carefully cleans away the remaining sediment without obliterating the delicate skeleton underneath. Upgrades give you stronger versions of these tools, but because of their strength, your chances of breaking certain bones are much greater. Therefore, you need to calculate the kind of damage you do with each, and switch to weaker versions when necessary. The X-ray makes this easier, as it momentarily displays the underlying fossil. Oh, and all of this must be completed within 90 seconds or else you fail.

At least, if you want to be a perfectionist. You'll always clear a fossil as long as you reveal more than 50%. However, the better you do, the more health, attack, defense and other stats your fearsome team will have.

Of course, even if you were skilled and lucky enough to clean each fossil 125% (rare red fossils add 25 points to your score), you'd have to rely on battling to maximize your vivosaur's potential. Fortunately, there is enough diversity there to keep things from becoming too tedious.

Battles are fairly straightforward. Those in the single attack zone can strike anything on the opposite side of the field while those in the support zones can only hit the enemy's AZ beast. To make up for this, though, SZ vivosaurs throw up stat bonuses that greatly increase your shot at winning.

Status effects can make setting up the perfect strategy extremely difficult, or a cakewalk. A favorite trick is combining poison and excite, which prevents your opponent from switching to the Escape Zone (where no damage at all is taken). Confusion exists in a somewhat limited way – your vivosaur will just act on its own until it decides to switch or the effect wears off. One of my favorite tactics is to set up Counter Blow on as many vivosaurs that have it, and then hope probability favors me that day. When it does, the results are rewarding. I receive no damage whatsoever; instead, it all bounces back on my foe.

These essential elements barely even scratch the surface of the strategic possibilities. Healing abilities prolong battles greatly, while stat boosters like Harden make already durable beasts even tougher. Team Skills enable you to launch devastating attacks on all members of the opponent's team at once, but only if the vivosaurs on your team are compatible. Figuring out which ones work well together and which don't, however, is entirely up to you to figure out, as the game itself only gives subtle hints on the matter.

The variety of strategic options keeps battling interesting, but even so, the slow animations between attacks and the general lengthiness of the fights may grow tiresome. Fortunately, pressing the stylus against the touchscreen during these animations fast forwards them so rapidly that slowness no longer becomes an issue.

Fossil Fighters may not have an overly inspiring story, but it doesn't need one. With 100 different vivosaurs to discover (all based on real dinosaurs – and in some cases, post-Triassic mammalians), you literally have infinite strategies to deploy in battle. Even just cleaning the fossils provides a fun challenge of its own.


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Community review by wolfqueen001 (June 30, 2011)

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CoarseDragon posted July 01, 2011:

Good description of the game in particular the fossil cleaning tools.

If you have not seen the commercial yet...

Fossil Fighters Commercial
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fleinn posted July 03, 2011: stop me when I'm just talking crazy here. You.. unearth fossils and play an archaeologist. Except you need to unearth the fossils in a hurry to get the biggest bonuses. Then you somehow grow flesh and scales on the things, and send them out to fight in prize-matches. In the down-time you run around with it in the park, letting it eat other peoples pets and drink the fountains dry. Everyone admires your largely paleontologically correct creature - in fact, you can change it's colour and shape to make it go better with the curtains.

And it's a great insurance against burglars, too.
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wolfqueen001 posted July 04, 2011:

Thanks, guys.

CD: I haven't seen that commercial yet, but I'll check it out when I'm able.

fleinn: Haha. Something like that. Actually you carry the revived dinosaurs in medals around your neck that only activate in battle, but imagining them that way is a lot more amusing.
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Masters posted July 04, 2011:

Good work, Leslie. But man, does this game sound dumb.
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wolfqueen001 posted July 04, 2011:

Haha. Thanks. It's a little less dumb when you're playing it, but as a concept that you're just reading about, I can totally understand the sentiment.

I actually did think it was kind of cool that all the vivosaurs are based on real dinosaurs, though... And they even have a museum type thing where you can see just which ones were based off which. =/
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fleinn posted July 05, 2011:

"Actually you carry the revived dinosaurs in medals around your neck that only activate in battle,"

Hmmh. Well, that's extremely convenient.

By the way, I really like the way you describe the battle-system. Detailed, but without ending up in some completely personal explanation that doesn't tell you anything except that the author liked it, etc. That was really neat. I haven't played much pokemon, but I understood how it worked, and what you're doing in the game.

Oh, and this sentence:
"As a young, up-and-coming fighter". That needs to be up-and-coming /fossil/ fighter (for completely non-grammatical reasons) :D
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wolfqueen001 posted July 06, 2011:

Thanks. Frankly, I thought the way I described that part was a bit choppy and jarring (not surprising since I wrote it late at night), but I'm glad you found it effective nonetheless.
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fleinn posted July 07, 2011:

Well, the beginning of that segment comes a bit quick. ..but honestly, I prefer that to some sort of huge literal bloom of words.

I don't know (and just a thought for another review) - but since it's a DS game with that weird upbeat aura around it :p - you could maybe even get away with opening new parts of the review with exaggerated barking statements, like "But how does it work?", or "What do you do?". That kind of thing - an explanation to children/fossils who haven't played many games before..

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