It is always nice to find a game that takes simple, common ideas and creates a unique experience. There is certainly no better platform for this type of experimentation than Nintendo’s touch-happy handheld. The Chase: Felix Meets Felicity combines the simple platforming found in countless other titles with the environment manipulation of titles like Line Rider and Kirby: Canvas Curse. This melting of two genres creates one of the most original titles for the DS in quite some time, but it doesn’t come without some setbacks. Brutal difficulty and a frustrating continue system make this an experience that doles out more punishment than it should.
You begin the game with one simple goal in mind; to make it across town for a late night rendezvous. You can opt to choose either Felix or Felicity and then attempt to traverse your way across the city in what can be best described as Mirror’s Edge in two dimensions. You have no direct control over your character’s movement in the fact that once you start running the perpetual motion keeps you going leaving you with the ability to only jump, grind and dodge incoming obstacles.
You can use your momentum to tackle certain obtrusions by using the grind mechanic. Simply tap down on the d-pad and you will grind into the pavement allowing you to mow down enemies impeding your progress. As mentioned you can also jump over enemies by simply tapping up on the d-pad once for a regular hop and twice for the quintessential double jump.
In addition to these traditional methods of progression you can also utilize the DS’ stylus and touch screen to draw Rush Lines, which are essentially new ways to avoid the obstacles. You can opt to draw things such as new paths, ramps and even platforms to aid in your journey, but there is a limit to how much you can use this unique feature. There is an ink meter that dictates how much you can draw on any one screen. You can refill this meter by collecting flowers scattered throughout the levels or by simply grinding down enemies in your path.
All of these ideas really set Chase apart from the pack when it comes to DS titles, but that doesn’t mean it is without its own faults. The level of tedium and frustration are at the top of the list, and really hold back the game’s potential. When you do happen to make a mistake and it is time to continue, the game forces you to use one of the coins you have collected during the game. Run out of these coins and it is back to square one for you. That’s right if you somehow manage to make it all the way to the end of the game and run out of coins you have to start all over. This is nothing new for hardcore gamers that cut their teeth on the likes of Contra, but for today’s market it is a questionable decision that really bogs down the game’s uniqueness.
This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if the game also didn’t have so many “what just killed me moments” that force you to use unwanted continues. There are often times where you will end up face first into the concrete without knowing exactly what error you made on your part. Oh I also forgot to mention that the entire time you are being chased by an ominous cloud that is destroying the level behind you so there is no time to slow down and make decisions. When combined all of these elements create a frustrating experience that will likely deter casual players from ever making it to their rendezvous.
As far as presentation is concerned Chase is one of the more intriguing DS titles I have seen this year. The focus on bright colors really makes the idiosyncratic visuals stand out against the unsophisticated backgrounds. There is a certain level of charm poured into the character models and you can’t help but be enthralled at their over-exaggerated appearance. The music is suiting delivering a typical score that sets the mood well enough and the dialogue is amusing enough to keep you interested granted you can sift through the frustrating deaths to see it all.
The Nintendo DS is a melting pot of fantastic ides and Chase: Felix Meets Felicity is certainly not guilty of being run-of-the-mill. However, the exasperating continue system and abundance of cheap deaths will siphon most of the enjoyment away from casual players who; let’s be honest, seem like the target audience. If you can look past these glaring flaws you will find a unique experience that earns plenty of kudos for its inventiveness, but fails to deliver without inducing aggravation.