Hands on: Full Metal Alchemist: Dual Sympathy

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Being a fan of the anime, I admit, I did soil my pants when I first heard about Full Metal Alchemist: Dual Sympathy for the DS about one and half years ago. The information available on the game at the time, although scant, was promising. I believe the DS is a device with layers upon layers of (yet) untapped potential, and a game based on a franchise that relies so heavily on drawing (alchemy circles) sounded like something that would benefit from the DS’s unique capabilities. Bold statements were made in regard to the game’s “open ended” gameplay.

“Use the stylus to draw your own alchemy circles!”, they said.”Hell yeah!”, I exclaimed.

Alas, as we all know, promises are more often than not, meant to be broken.The game is, at best, a disappointment for those of us who were hoping for something that would take advantage of the DS. They may as well have made it for the GBA, considering that the most use the stylus is put to is to select the transmutations you wish to perform by tapping the appropriate icon on the selection screen. Occassionally, there are a few “connect the dots” games that require you to “complete” an alchemy array with the help of the stylus.The transmutations themselves all seem to be predetermined … there’s no option to “mix and match” different kinds of transmutations by modifying alchemy arrays, or even a “crafting” option where you can atleast design your own weapons as is the case with so many other RPG titles. Alchemy is of two kinds: offensive and defensive. Offensive spells range from popular transmutations from the anime such as Edward’s giant cannon or Mustang’s flaming explosions. Defensive spells are nothing one wouldn’t expect either … raising walls from the ground to take cover behind. Aside from this, there are regular attacks one can perform using the A/Y buttons and the B (Jump) button. The title seems to stick to the general storyline of the anime and pits you against several familiar bosses throughout the course of the game.00002711.jpgAs a fan of the series, I have to say I am quite disappointed by how uninnovative this game turned out. FMA is the one series that had the highest potential to utilize the DS hardware extensively in creative ways, but it looks like Bandai and Engineer weren’t quite ready to be truly experimental.Fullmetal Alchemist: Dual Sympathy hits American shores on Dec. 15. You can click here for a trailer recently posted by Gamespot.

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