As a sequel to the 2009 DS title, Fossil Fighter, this year's Fossil Fighter: Champions feels relatively similar to its predeccesor. Though not deep or original enough to achieve true excellence, this new DS installment still has plenty of charm, and should provide loads of fun for any diehard dino fan.
The basic idea puts you in the shoes of a young, aspiring male or female Fossil Fighter. You, along with your eager friend of the opposite gender, are participating in a Fossil Fighting Championship, and to prepare you must resurrect a quality team of dinosaur-like Vivosaurs (read: dinosaurs). To do this you must first find a fossil, which are scattered throughout certain areas of the game, then carefully "clean" it using a drill, hammer, and X-ray tool.
Though it might sound questionable at first, the fossil cleaning mechanic is actually surprisngly addictive - you'll have more fun than you'd think digging through a sheet of rock to uncover the dino skull buried beneath, then watching that dino come to life before your eyes. It feels like a simple yet amusing mini-game that would be at home in an Animal Crossing title.
Once you've revived and named your new dino buddy, it's time to raise its rank by taking it into battle. The turn-based battles take place on a four-square grid, where the player places three of their Vivosaurs in various formations, taking into account what kind of range each Vivosaurs' attacks have. With the inclusion of type advantages to consider and some cool animations on the top screen of your Vivosaurs duking it out, the battle system has some meat to it and rewards players for experimentation. But though I had fun, it still felt something like a poor man's Pokemon or Dragon Quest - albeit, an amusing one.
The story itself is cute, with some funny characters here and there, though none that particularly stood out. Pleasant music sets the Fossil Fighting mood, but the lack of variety means you will likely tire of these tunes well before the adventue concludes. All in all the package is well put-together, with a great pace once you get past the long intro. The environments are fun to explore, but there could have been more to interact with and even more people to talk to and things to do.
The biggest downside of this otherwise delightful title is that none of it feels original - there's nothing here that hasn't been done before, and done better at that. The characters are carbon copies of Pokemon characters. One woman is the Professor Oak, while another is the Gary. These simple, memorable character types are used effectively, but are so reminiscent of their Pokemon counterparts personality-wise that it feels a little shameless.
Graphically the game is a mixed bag. Most of the character models shove too much detail into too small of a space, and come off really messy because of it. What you see on the bottom screen - where the gameplay takes place - is often pixelated, while the top screen is reserved for the nicer graphics (as seen in the dino battles). All in all the game still achieves an attractive look, though nothing too impressive overall. Closing Comments
Ultimately, Fossil Fighters: Champions succeeds where many Pokemon copies fail by providing a fun experience for the player. It may not feel unique, but the sum of its parts still creates a satisfying whole, which is more than most clones of successful franchises can claim. The fossil-cleaning mechanic is fun and the battles are decent enough, so if you love dinsoaurs - or just want more Fossil Fighting - this game will likely not dissappoint. Otherwise, you’d do well to save your money for an actual Pokemon or Dragon Quest game.