Guest Author - Lisa Shea
Age of Empires - Age of Kings for the Nintendo DS is not just a straight port of the fun real time strategy game. Instead, it's a turn based version based on the same missions.
Let me first say that several people have had issues of this gaming locking up on their DS. I haven't had this problem at all with mine. The creators of Age of Empires - Age of Kings say that this is a known problem if your profile name (i.e your DS name) is only 3 or less characters long. If you are running into crashing problems and you are sure your profile name is MORE than four characters long, please let me know so I can research further.
OK, on to gamplay. I really wish they could have done a straight port of the great real time strategy game to the DS, but I understand that this little unit just couldn't handle the graphics and speed necessary. They did a nice job of downgrading the game just enough to work on the DS while keeping a lot of what made it so fun.
The library has all sorts of great background information on the different cultures you meet, and you start out with a wonderfully done tutorial featuring Joan of Arc. You can learn about each stage of the game, or easily listen to some while skipping the others. They do a good job of ramping up the challenges slowly so that it's not a cake-walk at any stage, but you can achieve the objectives given.
You have standard unit and terrain issues to keep track of - horse units don't do well while mired in a swamp, and archers do best if they're up on high ground, shooting down at their helpless enemies.
The graphics are reasonably well done. The cut scenes and animations look really nice, but I found the actual in-game map to be a bit cluttered. Sometimes it was really challenging to pick out which specific unit I wanted to work with, and get it into the spot I needed. It would have been nice if there were more zoom / rotate / detail graphic options so that you could, for example, turn off the detailed graphics and just have letter representations of troops when you ran into that situation.
The sounds were reasonably well done, with music that tried to represent whatever culture and era you were working with.
Get Age of Empires - Age of Kings from Amazon.com