Of clones named Snake, healing tubs and Suda51: Contact (DS)

Just to be clear: this blog is separate from by BA research journal. I wanted to use that to finally get my blogging going and while the BA journal will be an on-going series of blog posts, I plan on writing about random stuff in between. So here we go...

Sometime last year, I was browsing to my multi-tab (read: friends list) on my backloggery page (backloggery is a place where you can keep track of your gaming collection and how many games you actually finish and how many end up on your pile of shame) and I came across an update about a DS game called Contact. I don't remember what it said that intrigued me, but I ... contacted (gosh, I'm hilarious...) the person who played it and asked what it was about. Turns out Contact is an RPG by Goichi "Suda51" Suda's studio Grasshopper Manufacture that came out on the Nintendo DS in 2007 and does not at all resemble your traditional Japanese RPG with spikey-haired protagonists who summon dragons to save the world from an regime of sorcerers or whatnot. Remember those? They made a few like that, I hear.

A spaceship hidden inside a ship. Pretty cunning, don't ya think?

So what is the game like? Actually, it is quite reminiscent of our beloved EarthBound! You play as a boy called Terry ... well, no - actually you play as yourself who controls/helps a boy called Terry according to the instructions from some old Einstein-looking professor on a spaceship. You think that's weird already? See, the game loves to break the Fourth Wall a lot. The professor who shall not be named or was named and I simply forgot his name ... contacts (ha, yea ...twice now - still funny, right? ...right?) you via the device he identifies as a DS and asks you to help Terry help him get some energy cells back so he can fly back home with his spaceship that he hid in an actual sailing ship. Just like in EarhBound, the professor asks you personal stuff (where you live, favorite food, your special secret) that may or may not be relevant later on in the game. Also, he has a cat. Suda apparently loves cats. You can even summon the cat called Moichi by applying a sticker onto the screen to help Terry when he's in trouble. Moichi gets stronger if you play with her while Terry sleeps in a bed (= saving the game). Really, can't they think of something new? All JPRGs are the same these days. *cough*

Making "contact" with Terry. Moichi chillin' in the cockpit.

Your journey starts on a deserted island and takes you to other islands with different vegetation and different types of civilized life on these islands. The lower screen is where all the action happens and the areas are all beautiful pre-rendered backdrops including some front layers. On the top screen, you'll always have a very graphically different looking view of the professor and Moichi in the cockpit. It actually looks more cartoony and provides a stark contrast to the more "real" looking action on the lower screen. I'm currently in the third major area, a forest area with a military base on it. All the soldiers look like chibi versions of Solid Snake for some reason and they even manage to throw in some more not-so-subtle MGS references. That same area also created a moment that made me laugh out loud due to its utter ridiculousness. See, the military spent all their budget building the runway for an airfield and they have no money left for actual planes or jets. What are the pilots supposed to do now? How are they supposed to hone their skills without aircrafts to fly in? I won't spoil that here but I guarantee it's hilarious.

Let's hope R. Kelly isn't trapped in that closet.

In the actual gameplay department, it's a bit more inside the box but still manages to throw in a few cool twists. You don't find armor pieces to equip but Terry can find a number of "suits" that enhance his elemental abilities and open up special moves to make combat a bit easier. There's a chef's suit that allows you to cook at fireplaces, for example. By cooking, you can basically prepare health items and depending on the recipe (which you can find or buy), they might also add various temporary status bonuses. There's also a thief's outfit that allows you to pick locks. Leveling works much like an Elder Scrolls game where you don't distribute attribute points but instead gain upgrades by using skills. Want to improve armor? Keep getting hit. To upgrade stamina - keep running, etc.

So far, I have only come across melee weapons like swords and clubs (and magic staffs?!) but there is a great amount of variety among them with some of them proving effective in different situations. Further customization and skill bonuses come with the decal system. Personal decals are applied to Terry himself and enhance certain stats. Trick decals transform enemies into harmless animals or transport you back to your ship or summon Moichi to help out. There are tons of things to collect, modify or cook that influence your game directly.

Contact is one of the most refreshing RPGs I have played. Not enough of them stray from the fantasy formula and branch out into completely different settings and scenarios like EarthBound, Alpha Protocol, the upcoming South Park RPG or the Persona games. Contact oozes with charm and weirdness and I'm excited to play more of it (I'm guessing I'm about somewhere close to the end of the first third of the game) and I highly recommend everyone who owns a DS and loves RPGs to check this out. It's dirt cheap on eBay so there's no excuse. Maybe I'll write more about it once I've finish the game.

14 Comments
15 Comments
Posted by DeF

Just to be clear: this blog is separate from by BA research journal. I wanted to use that to finally get my blogging going and while the BA journal will be an on-going series of blog posts, I plan on writing about random stuff in between. So here we go...

Sometime last year, I was browsing to my multi-tab (read: friends list) on my backloggery page (backloggery is a place where you can keep track of your gaming collection and how many games you actually finish and how many end up on your pile of shame) and I came across an update about a DS game called Contact. I don't remember what it said that intrigued me, but I ... contacted (gosh, I'm hilarious...) the person who played it and asked what it was about. Turns out Contact is an RPG by Goichi "Suda51" Suda's studio Grasshopper Manufacture that came out on the Nintendo DS in 2007 and does not at all resemble your traditional Japanese RPG with spikey-haired protagonists who summon dragons to save the world from an regime of sorcerers or whatnot. Remember those? They made a few like that, I hear.

A spaceship hidden inside a ship. Pretty cunning, don't ya think?

So what is the game like? Actually, it is quite reminiscent of our beloved EarthBound! You play as a boy called Terry ... well, no - actually you play as yourself who controls/helps a boy called Terry according to the instructions from some old Einstein-looking professor on a spaceship. You think that's weird already? See, the game loves to break the Fourth Wall a lot. The professor who shall not be named or was named and I simply forgot his name ... contacts (ha, yea ...twice now - still funny, right? ...right?) you via the device he identifies as a DS and asks you to help Terry help him get some energy cells back so he can fly back home with his spaceship that he hid in an actual sailing ship. Just like in EarhBound, the professor asks you personal stuff (where you live, favorite food, your special secret) that may or may not be relevant later on in the game. Also, he has a cat. Suda apparently loves cats. You can even summon the cat called Moichi by applying a sticker onto the screen to help Terry when he's in trouble. Moichi gets stronger if you play with her while Terry sleeps in a bed (= saving the game). Really, can't they think of something new? All JPRGs are the same these days. *cough*

Making "contact" with Terry. Moichi chillin' in the cockpit.

Your journey starts on a deserted island and takes you to other islands with different vegetation and different types of civilized life on these islands. The lower screen is where all the action happens and the areas are all beautiful pre-rendered backdrops including some front layers. On the top screen, you'll always have a very graphically different looking view of the professor and Moichi in the cockpit. It actually looks more cartoony and provides a stark contrast to the more "real" looking action on the lower screen. I'm currently in the third major area, a forest area with a military base on it. All the soldiers look like chibi versions of Solid Snake for some reason and they even manage to throw in some more not-so-subtle MGS references. That same area also created a moment that made me laugh out loud due to its utter ridiculousness. See, the military spent all their budget building the runway for an airfield and they have no money left for actual planes or jets. What are the pilots supposed to do now? How are they supposed to hone their skills without aircrafts to fly in? I won't spoil that here but I guarantee it's hilarious.

Let's hope R. Kelly isn't trapped in that closet.

In the actual gameplay department, it's a bit more inside the box but still manages to throw in a few cool twists. You don't find armor pieces to equip but Terry can find a number of "suits" that enhance his elemental abilities and open up special moves to make combat a bit easier. There's a chef's suit that allows you to cook at fireplaces, for example. By cooking, you can basically prepare health items and depending on the recipe (which you can find or buy), they might also add various temporary status bonuses. There's also a thief's outfit that allows you to pick locks. Leveling works much like an Elder Scrolls game where you don't distribute attribute points but instead gain upgrades by using skills. Want to improve armor? Keep getting hit. To upgrade stamina - keep running, etc.

So far, I have only come across melee weapons like swords and clubs (and magic staffs?!) but there is a great amount of variety among them with some of them proving effective in different situations. Further customization and skill bonuses come with the decal system. Personal decals are applied to Terry himself and enhance certain stats. Trick decals transform enemies into harmless animals or transport you back to your ship or summon Moichi to help out. There are tons of things to collect, modify or cook that influence your game directly.

Contact is one of the most refreshing RPGs I have played. Not enough of them stray from the fantasy formula and branch out into completely different settings and scenarios like EarthBound, Alpha Protocol, the upcoming South Park RPG or the Persona games. Contact oozes with charm and weirdness and I'm excited to play more of it (I'm guessing I'm about somewhere close to the end of the first third of the game) and I highly recommend everyone who owns a DS and loves RPGs to check this out. It's dirt cheap on eBay so there's no excuse. Maybe I'll write more about it once I've finish the game.

Posted by MooseyMcMan

Hm. I may have to try to find a copy of this some day.

Posted by pekoe212

Thanks for writing this! I remember considering Contact because it came out right after I got my DS, but after reading a lukewarm review I decided to hold off for a bit and forgot abut it. I want to pick it up now. Didn't realize it was a Suda51 work either. :-)

Posted by Contrarian

Had this game for a very long time now and never gone more than about into it. Must give it some proper time one day.

Posted by DeF

@pekoe212 said:

Thanks for writing this! I remember considering Contact because it came out right after I got my DS, but after reading a lukewarm review I decided to hold off for a bit and forgot abut it. I want to pick it up now. Didn't realize it was a Suda51 work either. :-)

Yea I didn't even know this game existed until I randomly saw someone playing it. It really surprised me. No idea how much Suda was actually involved though, I'll keep an eye out during the credits (must be soon). This game gets even wackier ... I'm probably going to do another blog about the second half of the game or write a full-on user review.

@MooseyMcMan said:

Hm. I may have to try to find a copy of this some day.

I highly recommend it. If you like weird stuff, this game is for you :)

@Contrarian said:

Had this game for a very long time now and never gone more than about into it. Must give it some proper time one day.

If you're gonna start playing let me know, I'm desperately looking to find someone with the game to trade Friend Codes with. I wanna go to Wi-Fi Island and meet your character there :)

Here's my FC in case you're interested: 0390 3433 7452

Edited by Contrarian

@DeF said:

@Contrarian said:

Had this game for a very long time now and never gone more than about into it. Must give it some proper time one day.

If you're gonna start playing let me know, I'm desperately looking to find someone with the game to trade Friend Codes with. I wanna go to Wi-Fi Island and meet your character there :)

Here's my FC in case you're interested: 0390 3433 7452

I am completely lost on how this Friend Code works - my incompetence knows no limits. I just don't do the online stuff. Where the hell is my friend code for the game and how do we interact? I have got to a save point and added your number and then my knowledge ends. Reading the manual did me no good. Explain it to me like I am 10 years old.

It is so frustrating. It tells me my security settings are incompatible, yet there is no security and even when there was, it still connects to the internet for browsing or the shop. I have no idea what is going on.

Posted by GunstarRed

I bought Contact last year and played it for two really long sessions, but couldn't really find much fun in it outside of the kinda nice music. I spent so long just standing there taking damage just to get my life up to beat the enemies in the area I was in and realized that the system while kinda cool made the game annoying.

Posted by DeF

@Contrarian said:

@DeF said:

@Contrarian said:

Had this game for a very long time now and never gone more than about into it. Must give it some proper time one day.

If you're gonna start playing let me know, I'm desperately looking to find someone with the game to trade Friend Codes with. I wanna go to Wi-Fi Island and meet your character there :)

Here's my FC in case you're interested: 0390 3433 7452

I am completely lost on how this Friend Code works - my incompetence knows no limits. I just don't do the online stuff. Where the hell is my friend code for the game and how do we interact? I have got to a save point and added your number and then my knowledge ends. Reading the manual did me no good. Explain it to me like I am 10 years old.

It is so frustrating. It tells me my security settings are incompatible, yet there is no security and even when there was, it still connects to the internet for browsing or the shop. I have no idea what is going on.

hmm so are you using a 3DS or DS/Lite/i? 'cause the DS only does WEP encryption and the 3DS finally supported WAP. If your router is using WAP then your 3DS has no problem connecting but the DS software still lives in 2004.

you can see your own friend code when you push F3 in the start menu and then go to setup wi-fi. from there you can also go to security settings for the DS wi-fi stuff but you're gonna need to make sure your router only uses WEP if you want that to work. I just gave up on encryption a while ago since I happen to live in a small town in a pretty low-tech neighborhood with mainly old people around...

@GunstarRed said:

I bought Contact last year and played it for two really long sessions, but couldn't really find much fun in it outside of the kinda nice music. I spent so long just standing there taking damage just to get my life up to beat the enemies in the area I was in and realized that the system while kinda cool made the game annoying.

it's weird because the music is the part I like least about the game. did you run past most enemies before you got stuck? because I found the game kinda wants you to fight them in order to be strong enough. you just have to stack up on healing items and use the appropriate weapon (i.e. the one sword from the first dude you fight that has +50% damage to humans) for the right enemy.

Posted by GunstarRed

@DeF: I just switched it on. I have a sword... Now that I have loaded it up it seems fine. Theres a high chance I got burned out on grinding my levels up because thats something I tend to do in RPG's. I might have a little mess with it again later, see how I feel.

Posted by Contrarian

@DeF said:

@Contrarian said:

@DeF said:

@Contrarian said:

Had this game for a very long time now and never gone more than about into it. Must give it some proper time one day.

If you're gonna start playing let me know, I'm desperately looking to find someone with the game to trade Friend Codes with. I wanna go to Wi-Fi Island and meet your character there :)

Here's my FC in case you're interested: 0390 3433 7452

I am completely lost on how this Friend Code works - my incompetence knows no limits. I just don't do the online stuff. Where the hell is my friend code for the game and how do we interact? I have got to a save point and added your number and then my knowledge ends. Reading the manual did me no good. Explain it to me like I am 10 years old.

It is so frustrating. It tells me my security settings are incompatible, yet there is no security and even when there was, it still connects to the internet for browsing or the shop. I have no idea what is going on.

hmm so are you using a 3DS or DS/Lite/i? 'cause the DS only does WEP encryption and the 3DS finally supported WAP. If your router is using WAP then your 3DS has no problem connecting but the DS software still lives in 2004.

you can see your own friend code when you push F3 in the start menu and then go to setup wi-fi. from there you can also go to security settings for the DS wi-fi stuff but you're gonna need to make sure your router only uses WEP if you want that to work. I just gave up on encryption a while ago since I happen to live in a small town in a pretty low-tech neighborhood with mainly old people around...

I have turned the security off. I have a DSiXL and that works for internet seurity or not. I also tried it on the 3DS and failed also. It has me stumped. When I go to wi-fi settings, it tells me there is no compatible access point in range. This makes no sense as I can connect the wi-fi outside of the game. Trying to connect the wi-fi ends up with access ponit security settings are not supported - there is no security. The 3DS does exactly the same thing. Where you told me to see my friend code (F3), there is no friend code anywhere. Do I need to be a certain point in the game perhaps?

Posted by DeF

@Contrarian said:

@DeF said:

@Contrarian said:

@DeF said:

@Contrarian said:

Had this game for a very long time now and never gone more than about into it. Must give it some proper time one day.

If you're gonna start playing let me know, I'm desperately looking to find someone with the game to trade Friend Codes with. I wanna go to Wi-Fi Island and meet your character there :)

Here's my FC in case you're interested: 0390 3433 7452

I am completely lost on how this Friend Code works - my incompetence knows no limits. I just don't do the online stuff. Where the hell is my friend code for the game and how do we interact? I have got to a save point and added your number and then my knowledge ends. Reading the manual did me no good. Explain it to me like I am 10 years old.

It is so frustrating. It tells me my security settings are incompatible, yet there is no security and even when there was, it still connects to the internet for browsing or the shop. I have no idea what is going on.

hmm so are you using a 3DS or DS/Lite/i? 'cause the DS only does WEP encryption and the 3DS finally supported WAP. If your router is using WAP then your 3DS has no problem connecting but the DS software still lives in 2004.

you can see your own friend code when you push F3 in the start menu and then go to setup wi-fi. from there you can also go to security settings for the DS wi-fi stuff but you're gonna need to make sure your router only uses WEP if you want that to work. I just gave up on encryption a while ago since I happen to live in a small town in a pretty low-tech neighborhood with mainly old people around...

I have turned the security off. I have a DSiXL and that works for internet seurity or not. I also tried it on the 3DS and failed also. It has me stumped. When I go to wi-fi settings, it tells me there is no compatible access point in range. This makes no sense as I can connect the wi-fi outside of the game. Trying to connect the wi-fi ends up with access ponit security settings are not supported - there is no security. The 3DS does exactly the same thing. Where you told me to see my friend code (F3), there is no friend code anywhere. Do I need to be a certain point in the game perhaps?

I have no clue what might be wrong with that whole security issue then, sorry.

I think you might have to complete the first Island (bring back the first cell) in order to be able to do that. If you hit F3 (contact wi-fi) on the start menu you then see your two save slots. mine is in F1 which I then press to enter the wi-fi connection menu. F1 says wi-fi connect, this connects to nintendo WFC and shows an empty friend roster, F2 brings up the standard DS wi-fi setup and F3 (friends) leads to another submenu. F1 brings yet another menu with F1 being "invite a friend", F2 "accept invitation" and F3 brings you back (this is for when you're in the same room). Back in the Friend Contact menu, you hit F2 for "view / add friends" which displays YOUR friend code at the bottom and allows you to add someone else's friend code by pressing F1 or viewing the friend roster with F2.

so basically you hit F3 (Wi-Fi Connect), then choose your save file, then F3 (Friends) again, then F2 to view your friend code and add other people from the internet.

@GunstarRed said:

@DeF: I just switched it on. I have a sword... Now that I have loaded it up it seems fine. Theres a high chance I got burned out on grinding my levels up because thats something I tend to do in RPG's. I might have a little mess with it again later, see how I feel.

there were two parts where I had to grind a bit because I just ran past a lot of enemies beforehand. I highly recommend you always have 10-15 potions with you (80 coins each, healing 80hp with only 10sec digestion time).

Posted by sungahymn

I would have gotten Contact if I didn't hear that it was a pretty hard game. I hate hard games.

Posted by DeF

@sungahymn said:

I would have gotten Contact if I didn't hear that it was a pretty hard game. I hate hard games.

who told you that? it's not hard at all. as I said, there have so far been two spots where I had to grind for 15-30 minutes MAX maybe to get enough money so I could buy more healing items (while getting stronger in the process). I'm now close to the end and there really is no reason to call this game hard.

Posted by Little_Socrates

I will see if my GameStop has a copy of this game for a reasonable price. If not, I will check Amazon. But I'm interested.

Edited by DeF

@Little_Socrates: $7.92 used on Amazon! Go for it :)

Since my last post, I've finished it and loved it! Not sure if I wanna post another blog about it since that would mean spoiling pretty much the rest of the game. But let me know if/when you get it so we can try the friend code exchange stuff! I wanna go to Wi-Fi Island :D