by Mike Shea on 22 June 2008
I just finished Orcs and Elves for the Nintendo DS, a turn-based roleplaying game originally built by Id Software for cellphones. A port of a cellphone game doesn't sound very appealing but I gave it a shot thanks to the generosity of my brother-in-law.
The game was surprisingly good. I found myself hammering down orc after orc all week this week, picking up my DS and cutting a few things down every moment I had. While I was waiting for my Griffin to go from Shadowmoon Valley to Nagrand in WoW I'd be fighting a few dark elves in Orcs and Elves.
The graphics aren't anything to write about (although here I am) but as a turn-based RPG Orcs and Elves is a perfect balance of simplicity and fun. It reminded me a lot of Eye of the Beholder though it is a single character instead of four. For a pure dungeon delver, the plot is pretty interesting with little side quests and funny interactions with mischievous NPCs all throughout.
Orcs and Elves is clearly based around traditional D&D games, making me really hope Wizards licenses out a whole pile of 4th edition based RPGs for the Nintendo DS. I'd buy every one of them.
We're surrounded by huge games these days. Games like Halo 3 and Metal Gear Solid 4 have budgets similar to blockbuster movies. Sure, they pull in huge profits, but they're getting closer and closer to something other than a game. We're seeing a return to small-budget arcade games in recent days. Xbox Live Arcade games often mingle in with the high scores of the top Xbox 360 games. The Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii have built their entire successes on arcade games.
Who needs a big budget RPG when you can have a hell of a lot of fun playing Orcs and Elves? I had a lot more fun with Orcs and Elves than I did with Oblivion or Final Fantasy XI. Gamer designers need to step back for a moment, break away from the pressure of the publisher to build behemoth games that suck like Grand Theft Auto IV and Metal Gear Solid IV and dare to make some small fun arcade games that bring us back to the reason we love games in the first place.
Game politics aside, for a fun quick RPG that you can play with just a couple of minutes at a sitting, look no further than Orcs and Elves. It's great.