Hall of Shame Review – Touch the Dead (DS)

In the world of gaming, it’s not “unusual” to have a company sell out some of their rights to a franchise just to make a buck at the expense of another company’s reputation. It’s happened before… The main victims of this “crime” are the gamers and the gullible publishers. I will say that I am the epicurean casual gamer. I love to try all sorts of odd games just for fun because I can. At the same right, I can be a masochist for downright terrible games. Sometimes it’s a hidden gem in the rough that ends up getting publicized recognition (Cooking Mama) or ones that inspire so much rage that would almost inspire you to shatter your console in half. This review is more on the latter.

I love the “House of the Dead” franchise by Sega/AM2 team as it’s like a corny B-movie about zombies and monsters while having to shoot them dead. I have played most of the incarnations, including the infamous “Typing of the Dead” for PC with the Mavis Beacon zombie on the cover of the Japanese version game CD cover. On one of my trips to the local GameStop, I found the “Touch the Dead” DS card sitting in the “missing covers” drawer of games. Naturally, I figured “why the hell not?” and bought it.

The game was made by Eidos Games under their lower brand label “Secret Stash Games” as noted in the Wikipedia entry. The game has you playing what it seems like a mental asylum or prison inmate breaking out of their in a whirlwind of chaos. From there, you grab a gun and encounter the horde of zombies. It is close to the premise of “House of the Dead” but I’d place it more as a knock off if anything. The game play is pretty straight-forward. Use the stylus to “touch” the dead people and shoot them with whatever weapons you have. To reload, you drag a clip of bullets to your gun’s magazine. To switch weapons, you press the control pad up, down, left, or right to switch to the according weapon in your inventory cross on the top screen. To be fair to the left-handed people, the A, B, X, Y buttons also serve the same functions. The top screen also houses the player’s life meter as well as mentions if you have unlocked the secrets from the level.

The character models and movies are a little rough for what they are. It is a shame, because the game could have been cleaned up a bit make it a bit pretty rather than crappy. The zombies are rather fast on the “normal” mode and combine it with the clumsy reloading scheme. Combine the both and the experience can be frustrating if not maddening. It will almost seem like the game is making a cheap shot at you with the random zombie attacks. With all due respect the game makes for a mildly fun experience… but the worst part is… You don’t get continues. It’s just a paltry 5 “lives” with 5 hits each. The only chance to ensure longevity is to break open crates that may have more hearts or bullets for the extra guns or even power-ups to increase your weapon’s strength.

The game is so shameful that I barely can even finish the review… Just if you like niche games, save yourself the humanity and don’t ever play this game. Dream On Studios should have refined the experience before even releasing it as it’s pretty difficult as it is. It had a good idea, just one of the worst executions ever seen.

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