Code Lyoko: Fall of X.A.N.A.
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-07-20 Nintendo DS Action/Adventure E (Everyone) The Game Factory

Released back in May of 2007, the first Code Lyoko game offered fans of the television series of the same name an opportunity to interact with their favorite characters from the franchise. Now, a bit more than a year later, a sequel has arrived on the Nintendo DS that allows fans to once again jump into the storyline as they fight the never-ending menace known as the X.A.N.A.

Code Lyoko: Fall of X.A.N.A. plays as an interactive version of the show's fourth season, with the main challenges being to find William, who is being held captive somewhere within the digital world of Lyoko, and to defeat the evil virus X.A.N.A. once and for all. Unfortunately, most of this information comes from my own research on the title, as the game itself offers no tutorials, and basically nothing in the way of back-story to help those who are unfamiliar with the show.

Like in the first title, gameplay is once again split between the 2D real world, where our five heroes, Odd, Ulrich, Aelita, Yumi and Jeremy go to school, and the 3D digital world of Lyoko. However, whereas in the first game the 2D school environment played an integral part in the overall gameplay, in Fall of X.A.N.A. it is, for the most part, completely pointless as you are not allowed to explore more than three or four screens, and even then, the only reason you would need to do so is to talk to some of the secondary characters from the franchise, who will chat with you about the school newspaper and other tidbits that would only be truly understood by hardcore fans of the show.

Back in the Lyoko world, those who played the first game will notice another striking difference. Where the first Code Lyoko title was essentially a platformer, this time around you are faced with a slow-moving RPG that tries its hardest to be addictive, but falls pretty short.

Movement is achieved solely via the touch screen. By dragging your stylus around the screen, your character will move in the appropriate direction. Not allowing players to use the directional pad to move is an interesting choice to say the least, as any sort of westward movement results in half of the screen being covered by your hand.

Another negative here is the waste of space on the top screen. Since each level in the game is pretty expansive, a map would have been a greatly appreciated addition, but instead, the top screen displays Jeremy (your real world liaison throughout your time in Lyoko) and small pictures of the members within your party.

Throughout each mission, you will run into various enemies which trigger battles that contain standard RPG elements. Battles are turned based, with each character having their own action bar, which must obviously fill before any action can take place. Each character has a different weapon and specialty (for instance, Ulrich is a swordsman, while Aelita fires powerful orbs from her hands), but your choices for each character are the same: Attack, Power, Function, and Item.

While Attack and Item are pretty self-explanatory, Function and Power deal with each character's specialty and allow you to choose from various special attacks. Function attacks can only be carried out with Jeremy's help, and require the use of FP points, while Power actions require DP (digital points) and can allow for attack boosts, the analysis of an enemy, and so on.

After winning a battle, your characters are awarded experience points, which eventually help them level up into stronger, better defended characters, with eventually being the key word in that statement. Each level may require upwards of 300 experience points to achieve, and with most battles giving out 20 exp or less, it's a task easier said than done.

Aside from battling, your time in the digital world will be spent looking for switches to remove barriers so that you can venture into previously blocked off territory, as well as looking for teleportation circles which achieve the same end. In addition, you can also spend some time finding Data Packs, the digital equivalent of treasure chests, which can contain healing or battle items. And that's essentially it in terms of the single player mode of the game: a very linear storyline that takes place through monotonous and repetitive gameplay.

In terms of multiplayer, there are three different battle modes to choose from, each containing different limits or specifications on battle, but even then, at its core, you're still left with the same, slow-paced, turn by turn action.

Unfortunately, the graphics do little to help the experience. While each character is represented in fair enough quality for a DS title, the environments are lackluster at best, containing, for the most part, a monochrome color pallete and very little in the way of details.

Likewise, the soundtrack within the game is comprised of a few techno tracks stuck on repeat, with the only positive here being the song that plays during battles, which does a fair job at creating tension throughout. Other sound effects are mainly reserved for the menu, filling the game with digital sounding bleeps as you enter commands or the shuffling of your character's feet, as they move throughout the environment. There are other sounds, of course, for example when your character becomes poisoned in battle, or for when an enemy is defeated, but they are all pretty forgettable.

In the end, Code Lyoko: Fall of X.A.N.A. takes a complete 180 degree turn from the first came, and comes out worse because of it. Where most sequels try to take the good things from the first titles and improve upon the complaints, Fall of X.A.N.A. instead throws everything good about the first game out the proverbial window. While some of the most diehard fans of the Code Lyoko television series might be able to stand the gameplay here, others should definitely look elsewhere for RPG action on the DS.

Special thanks to Damien Sarrazin and The Game Factory for providing a copy of this title.