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, thereís no shortage of ways to pass the time. The problem is that you mostly donít have time for them."
Imagine for a second that your name is Jack and youíre a high school senior enjoying a beautiful ocean cruise. One evening while youíre 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, youíre waking up hungry, thirsty and tired on a beach youíve 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, youíll 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, thereís no shortage of ways to pass the time. The problem is that you mostly donít have time for them.
The minute you wake in the morning, your characterís three gauges start draining. If youíre 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, youíre dead. It doesnít 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, youíll 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 youíll 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 Iím sure Iíd 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 itís even tougher when youíre a complete wimp. Enter Jack and Amy.
Suppose youíre 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 youíve recently had. Thatís 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 thatís the easiest problem to remedy, you start toward the exit. Only then, you realize that Amy isnít going to follow.
Amy doesnít do anything unless you tell her to. She could be dying of thirst and sitting next to a stream, and still she wouldnít stoop to take a sip. So you walk over to her and press the ĎYí 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 waterís 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. ďIím starving,Ē Jack remarks to no one in particular. Well, itís 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 itís an available option, since you lose energy almost as quickly as simple food replenishes it.
So letís say you want to start fishing. You get near the bank and realize youíre 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, thereís 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 canít equip it because youíre holding Amyís hand. Oops. You back out of the menu and press ĎYí to let go of her hand, then press a few more buttons and equip your spear. Thus equipped, you press ĎYí again and are treated to a view of the water. You spear a fish because youíre good like that, but you know it wonít do much to satisfy your hunger. Itíll refill your meter by about 5% and youíve 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 canít 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 isnít already full) or you can say ďScrew itĒ and head back to the cave. If you choose the second option, donít forget to press a few buttons to unequip the spear, then grab Amyís 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 thatís 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, youíre 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 youíll find a wolf to kill. Maybe youíll 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 youíre forgetting something: Amy.
If you leave Amy back in the cave, youíll get constant notices that sheís getting hungry or thirsty or tired. Thereís even an option to say ďHey, Iím going out for a few days.Ē Youíd think the programmers would set her AI so that she would take care of herself in your absence, but they didnít. 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?
Thatís 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 donít say I didnít warn you.
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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