Top Trumps: Doctor Who (Nintendo DS) - Review by Andrew
Top Trumps is a game I was obsessed with when I was younger and, before the dawn of the video game, it was just about as much fun as you could have on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Back then it was about performance cars or commercial vehicles (the fastest, heaviest, and most expensive?), with anything to do with movies, TV or any popular culture some time away. The sheer simplicity of the format made it accessible to everyone and new releases were bought within days of hitting the shelves. This might seem a strange debut for the Dr. Who series but although the BBC has been very protective, this type of game has been widely seen as them 'testing the market'. What comes next is anyone's guess but does a classic card game make for an entertaining DS title?
For those who've never encountered Top Trumps before, the rules are simple enough. Each player begins with an equal number of cards with each card containing various data. The Dr. Who cards, for example, have things like height, intelligence, darkness, monster rating and even courage. These are given a value and using your skill and judgement you must predict whether your chosen category has a greater value than your opponent's. If it has, you win the card, if not you pass it on to them and so on, until one player has won all the cards. As with all Top Trump games, the numbers initially mean nothing and it starts as a bit of a guessing game, but you'll quickly work out that Emperor Dalek is much taller than anything else and that the Tardis has no courage (well why would it have?). To add a twist to the proceedings you can also utilise bonus cards to give you more power or even, clone cards. You can only select three of these but they can occasionally get you out of a tight spot especially when the opposition appears to have the upper hand.
Another addition is the inclusion of mini-games, so after each round you'll be forced to undertake an extra challenge where you must follow a card, play hi-lo or simply play a cut down version of the main game. Success here means more points as well as one of the aforementioned bonus cards. This refers to the Story Mode but you can also indulge in a Quick Play or even a Multiplayer, which requires only a single copy of the game to enjoy. Fans of Dr. Who are also likely to be happy because, in addition to unlocking extra abilities, you can collect virtual cards containing all manner of related Trivia.
Yes, it could work with the traditional controls but it's much simpler with the stylus and touch-screen.
The visuals are very functional with the Dr and his assistant's likeness taken from the comic books rather than the actual show and elsewhere, everything is based on ease of use and navigation rather than anything that pushes the DS technically. That's not to say that there aren't highlights and you do get small photos of all the show's main players featured on the cards themselves, just don't expect anything to rival the PSP.
The music is excellent and fans of the series will be delighted to hear a crisp and clear rendition of the original theme music on the game's start up. Elsewhere there is a library of incidental music and a full range of intergalactic sound effects. All very suitable stuff.
Top Trumps: Dr Who is all about selecting stuff so there's not an awful lot to go wrong. Do make sure you are using a stylus though, as the areas to be selected are a little too small for the average finger, or you'll just end up pressing on the wrong category.
Although it isn't the expected action game, if you manage to put your disappointment aside, Dr. Who version of Top Trumps is actually great fun to play. It all works because while there's enough of the original game in here, the DS allows for some extra elements that only serve to enhance the gameplay. In addition there are enough references to the Dr. Who TV series to please fans of the show so it does appear that Eidos are on to a winner. In short, recommended for (younger) fans of the show regardless of what your preconception may be.
Pro: Great Presentation, Fun to Play.
Con: Not the Expected Action Game.
Final score: 7.2