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Scurge: Hive Review

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Developer: Orbital Media Publisher: SouthPeak Interactive
Release Date: October 18, 2006 Also On: GBA

After playing Southpeak’s Juka and the Monophonic Menace, I was very interested to find out what they would be able to do on the DS. Luckily, at the same time that they sent me Juka, they also sent me a DS game called Scurge: Hive. Although this game might not be as creative as Juka proved to be, it did prove that Southpeak is just as capable on the DS as they are on the GBA.

Graphically, Scurge: Hive is very well-detailed for a DS game, but, at the same time, it probably is not quite up there with the best graphics on the DS. Still, everything looks as it should, and everything seems to be designed both well and appropriately for the environments that the game takes place in. Overall, there is absolutely nothing in this game’s graphics that is worth complaining about.

The sound is handled nearly as well. Granted, the sound effects sound like your typical platformer rather than the sounds of powerful weapons going off and enemies going through much agony, but this isn’t a pure shooter where such sound effects would be expected either. The music is very appropriate to the environments and sounds quite foreboding, but the number of different melodies that you’ll hear throughout the course of the game is not very high, and you might get tired of some of the music after a while. Still, the music is composed in such a way that it’ll be a long time before that happens. Overall, the lack of any form of voice acting is the only thing that could really be complained about, but I’ve seen voice acting of any kind in so few third-party DS games that I can’t penalize this game too much for not having any, using text boxes instead.

The gameplay in this game is very easy to describe. Picture a Metroid game in an isometric view and you won’t be too far off. Indeed, this game borrows so heavily from the Metroid series that you could probably substitute Samus for the protagonist and the only complaint that would result would be the lack of Metroids or Space Pirates. But, does borrowing heavily from an excellent series make this a bad game? Not by a long shot. Scurge: Hive comes across as a very good Metroid clone, one certainly worth the time of any Metroid fan.

All of the necessary elements of Metroid are here. The bounty hunter protagonist is wearing an upgradeable suit, to which projectile weapon systems and other upgrades can be added. There is a good balance between combat and puzzles also. There is even the element of exploration, and occasionally a bit of collecting. There are, however, a few changes to the formula.

First of all, there is less backtracking in this game than what would be found in the Metroid series. This serves to make the game less discouraging, however, as you’ll never have to look around everywhere for where you’re supposed to go next. Also, instead of finding items to upgrade your health meter, you upgrade it by a level-up system based on defeating enemies.

One thing that makes this different from the Metroid games I’ve played, although I think Metroid Fusion might have such a thing in it, is the fact that the protagonist gets infected by the virus that took over the facility early on in the game, meaning that the player needs to watch not only health, but also infection level, because if the latter reaches 100%, you’re as good as dead since your health will start to decrease rapidly. Luckily, there are plenty of decontamination platforms, which serve both to reduce your infection level back to 1% and to save your game.

As I said, there is a lot of exploration to be done in this game. However, with a map in the lower screen, you will almost always know where you are supposed to be going since your current objective will be shown somehow on that map. It isn’t a big deal that this reduces the use of touch-screen elements in this game since some of the best games on the system, such as Mario Kart DS, don’t use the touchscreen much either.

Obviously, a game that borrows so heavily from another series isn’t the most creative game in the world, but the elements are incorporated so well that I cannot in good conscience penalize the game’s creativity score too much on account of that. The game is quite lengthy too. Any Metroid fan would be very wise to give this game a try, as it might be able to fill some of those long days between now and the time when Metroid Prime 3 comes out.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 7.5
Written by Martin Review Guide