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Jul 6, 2008

Review: Myst DS

Empire Interactive, Hoplite Research
Available for the Nintendo DS

As a child, my Dad and I would go to computer shows, so he could buy computer parts at bargain prices, and at this time, CD Rom discs were just getting popular as the new media for gaming software, so every vendor at the show had tons of CD Rom game titles to sell. One popular title that every vendor had was Myst and though I begged and pleaded with my Dad to buy me a copy, he wouldn’t and I forced to continue playing the shareware titles I had at home.

It wasn’t until a year later when a friend lent me a copy of the game that I finally got to play one of the best gaming titles ever made for the PC market. Of course, I fell instantly in love with the game and its beautiful graphics, brilliant puzzles, and enchanting storyline, and when found out that Empire Interactive was porting Myst for its PC format over to the Nintendo DS for sale in 2008; I couldn’t help but let out a fan girl squeal of joy.

For newbies to the world of Myst, the game starts when you as the players finds a book that teleports you into a magical, yet deserted world that contains strange books and puzzles. You must solve the puzzles in this strange world and other worlds you find connected through a series of teleportation books, in order to discover what happened to the previous inhabitants and hopefully find a way home.

Originally I thought the Nintendo DS would be the perfect system to port a game like Myst over to but after struggle with some poorly programmed touch controls for several hours, I think I want to take that statement back now. While trying to navigate the world of Myst in the original PC game, players were given a hand cursor that changed its image to indicate a movement or an object, but the DS port has no such cursor, so you have no idea what will happen when you touch the screen with the stylus and thus spend a lot of time moving unwillingly between screens.

I also found that when you do find an object you can interact with, your stylus doesn’t seem to match up with the object on the screen and you have to click randomly around the object to get it to react to your stylus touch. This, in combination with the lack of the indicator, made finding objects or clues in the game really difficult.

New features were added to the DS version to help aid players in their quest. These features were a typewriter system for note keeping, a screenshot capture to save one screen for reference later on and a magnifying tool to allow you to magnify screen to read text or see puzzle pieces better. The magnifying tool definitely came in handy to deal with the shrunken PC graphics, but the screen shot capture and typewriter system were more annoying than helpful. For games like this though, pen and paper are just as good for writing your clue down.

For old school Myst fans like me, Empire Interactive did add a bonus world called the Rime Age which never made it into the original game, and thought it was nice to check out this missing piece of Myst culture, the extra world was short and not that interesting.

Probably the best part of playing Myst, even on a tiny screen, was watching the Myst world come to live again and still feeling like the game was full of magic from every building to every book. Even audio in the game still manages to send shivers up my spine from each character’s voice echoing from inside their book, or from music that looms through the empty rooms on each world. Some things I guess just never get old.

Though I was really disappointed in the poor programming of the touch control system and the useless help features, I couldn’t help but love everything else about Empire’s port of the Myst game to the Nintendo DS. Fans of the old Myst series should give this port a shot, though for any one who is new to the Myst franchise, I suggest picking up the original PC version of the game instead of starting with the DS version, as this game can truly only be fully appreciated in its original form.

Rating: 6 out of 10
Rent it!

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