Battle of Giants: Dinosaurs is one of those few DS games that feels like it should be available as part of a Flash site to market a show on Animal Planet, yet it costs thirty (not even twenty) dollars. Clueless grandparents and extended relatives will look at this game and a few might think, “Boys love dinosaurs, don’t they?” Unfortunately, the child who receives this game as a gift will bemoan his fate. You get a boy this game, you may as well be getting him dinosaur underwear.
The single player adventure mode requires you to move a dinosaur around a map to collect fossils and eggs so that you can unlock other skins and upgrade your dinosaur. You get the fossils by visiting points around the map and the eggs mostly from fighting other dinosaurs. There are dinosaurs that do not drop eggs, and do not reward you for anything. There is a fossil on each level that has an enemy attached to it, such as a phone booth or a tractor. The only reason I can think of for putting modern objects as opponents in a dinosaur game that has only six dinosaur skins and three scenery skins is that the developers must have known what a joke Battle of Giants would be. Impressively, the door of the booth and the hood of the tractor had some smooth animation as they thwapped my triceratops across and upside the face (respectively). They were, of course, no match for the horns, which tore them to shreds. Okay, okay, it just made them unconscious whilst stars swirled in a clockwise halo.
The other modes are versus modes; “quick match”, where you can face another dinosaur in a best of 1-5 rounds, is basically a testing scenario. One interesting feature Battle of Giants boasts is “6-player action.” Wow! All six of you can get together and…have a tournament, where everyone plays each other in a one-on-one scenario.
Battle of Giants features dinosaur fights that use rock-paper-scissors, rock-paper-scissors, and tracing an outline as the gameplay mechanics. Battles are influenced by dino stats and picking which moves the dinosaur will do for a moment, and then it’s a battle of skill as you trace the outline of part of a dinosaur. Difficulty is based on how many and which kinds of moves you use. The triceratops face is an easier one, but the dinosaur foot, complete with little U’s for toes, can be beastly. You then watch some somewhat impressive animations as you watch the dinosaurs fight like insects you threw in a jar.
So adventure mode is just for leveling up your dinosaur and versus mode is for throwing your dinosaur in a jar. Both involve stylus-tracing. There is a lot of leeway given so that it’s easy to beat the computer, but the tracing on some of the figures for the little children are difficult. Even on the easy ones, it’s impossible to get a 100%, and even if you were, I’m still persuaded that the fire-station alarm that sets off at the end of every trace as time runs out would not shut up.
It’s quite an achievement: it takes literally one minute of playing this game without reading anything about it to figure out what the entire game will play like. The attempts to keep it appealing and easy enough for kids in the midst of taking away their candy is noble, but Battle of Giants remains one-hundredth the game of any edition of Pokemon it imitates.
ESRB: E for dinosaurs hitting each other
Plays like: A really bad Pokemon-imitator with races to trace influencing the results of moves
Pros: Some highly professional animation and sound
Cons: Too many to list. Seriously, the game is a mini self-evident game-design doc on how not to imitate a game and sell it to kids