You can’t fault a game for trying new things. After all, with a system launch as full of retreads as the 3DS’, anything seems like a breath of fresh air. Enter Dream Trigger 3D, a game that is nothing but new things. Unfortunately, trying often leads to failing, and though there are some intriguing parts to the game, the way everything is tied together just feels a bit disjointed.
At first, it seems a bit like games such as Rez and Child of Eden. You’re a ship of a sort, shooting enemies in a 3D environment from a 2D plane. The visuals are trippy and artistic, which we guess makes sense from developer ART, and the whole thing is set to musical cues.
From there it gets a bit frazzled. You see, you can’t just shoot the enemies right away. First, you have to expose them by tapping on corresponding parts of the bottom screen, revealing them on the top screen and letting you take them out. Yes, this is tough, and it’s a big part of Dream Trigger. It seems like a mechanic that fans of dual-screen games like Henry Hatsworth will enjoy, as it makes for another one of those pat-head/rub-belly exercises that require a certain brand of mental acuity. (The game supports a left-handed mode, as well as a control setup that lets players use buttons instead of the touch screen. This makes things a bit less of a juggle, but the speed at which you can do things goes down a bit. You’ll want to invest the time to learn the intended controls.)
There are fifty stages to the main game, with boss fights where you take on baddies based on nightmare concepts: you’ll fight Fear, Desire, Rage and others on your way to the end.
Even when you learn the controls, though, Dream Trigger is hard. Unlike the almost-calming Child of Eden, Dream Trigger has some elements that feel almost reminiscent of bullet-hell games, and bosses take more hits than would seem reasonable. Ultimately, it’s a matter of pattern memorization, learning levels and knowing where enemies will be before they appear.
Besides the main game, there’s not too much to do. You can try for better scores on each level, take on a friend in a strange versus mode where you take on enemies and avoid opponent attacks simultaneously and replay campaign stages in Time Attack mode, where it’s speed rather than points that’s tracked.
There’s a very specific type of person who will want to play Dream Trigger 3D, and they already know who they are. This isn’t the game to ease people into the genre, and it’s not exactly a 3DS showpiece, but it has enough of its own hook to get those danmaku die-hards to plunk down their cash.
Pros: Interesting visual style, attempts at innovation
Cons: Steep learning curve, limited appeal