(Sega for Nintendo DS)
By Mike Delano
A buzz topic in the games world as of late is the quirkiness of new games from Japanese developers that don’t seem to be following the new design guidelines set by recent, much more critically and commercially successful Western-developed games. Whether it’s frustrating, punishing difficulty (Demons Souls) or pacing issues (many of have said that Final Fantasy XIII doesn’t hit its stride until 20 hours in), these Japanese games are sometimes byproducts of a bygone era in gaming, other times the awkward result of developers compromising their own design philosophies to cater to Western tastes. Infinite Space has its own kinks, including its first several hours wherein you’re thrust into a complex game world with a paucity of guidance. It’s maddening for someone now accustomed to hand-holding tutorials, but I suppose it’s only fair that a game about a young space explorer bursting with enthusiasm would require a little adventuring on the part of the player: Namely, scouring the instruction manual and enduring a few galactic battle beatdowns. This hard birth, of course, makes future gains all the sweeter, and Infinite Space has a lot to give those who are patient enough to hop in the spaceship commander’s chair. Give it a chance and you’ll be surprised how engrossing a tale can be told through just some clever writing, a Spartan interface, and a desire to get you hooked on the joy of exploration.