While the 3DS is currently flying off the shop shelves, there's still life in the old DS yet, as proven by the 100 million or so of you who currently own one, and are looking for something new. However, with the sun slowly beginning to set on the best selling handheld, it seems a slightly odd time to be launching a hefty role playing game like this. In Solatorobo: Red The Hunter, there's no sign of any of the iconic mascots - there's no Mario, Sonic or Mama in sight. Instead, it features an anthropomorphic dog called Red Savarin, who's the hero of this new, unusually named game
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Set in the Shepard Republic - a series of floating islands inhabited by two races of people that look suspiciously like cats and dogs - you follow the story of Red, a happy-go-lucky, if somewhat unfortunate dog-person, who's initially tasked with obtaining an important file that's been stolen by some ne'er-do-well. Upon boarding an air ship in search of it, Red comes a strange medallion, when suddenly the ancient evil being Laress appears, making the ship burst into flames. As Red makes his escape, he runs into Elh Malizee, one of the cat people, and teams up with his younger sister, the bizarrely named Chocolat Gelato as they try to uncover the mystery the medallion holds, whilst saving the world from certain destruction at the hands of Laress.
OK, so while the story may seem a little, well, tricky to get the hang of, Solatorabo (we'll learn to spell that off by heart by the end of this article, with any luck) is an impressive looking role playing game nonetheless. Taking control of Red, you'll explore the Shepard Republic, talking to people, searching for clues, and taking on quests as you go.
As something of a lazy group of people, the dog and cat inhabitants of the Shepard Republic prefer not to do much work themselves, instead choosing to jump inside giant mechs to do their everyday jobs, whether they're doing heavy lifting, or even flying from island to island - and, as you may expect, Red is no exception.
Of course, far from simply being a useful tool for getting around the islands, the mechs serve an alternative purpose, too - they help out hugely when it comes to combat. With enemies galore roaming the more remote parts of the islands, from space pirates, to rogue "mechas", and even giant, er, air monsters, it can be a bit dangerous for a dog on his own - so it's lucky you've come with some robot back-up. Get into a battle, and simply jump into your mech, and you'll be a weak dog no more, as you smash your way through the enemy, gaining experience points as you go, which in turn increase Red's life meter.
Of course, there are some things Red can't do in a mech - for a start, those big robotic hands are too big and clumsy to pull switches, and Dahak (his mech's name - Red seems a bit odd like that) might short circuit if he went for a swim. In those cases, Red can just hop out of the mech, and continue on foot - but should he find himself under attack, he won't just be a weak and feeble dog. When in a battle, Red will transform himself into his human form, which makes him stronger, faster and able to withstand more hits, while Dahak turns into some swish new battle armour, instead.
With over 70 quests on offer, that'll see you doing everything from battling sky pirates, to defeating giant monsters, and a huge, beautifully drawn set of islands to explore, there's plenty to do in Solatorobo, too - over 20 hours of gameplay, say Nintendo - and the graphics are one of the most impressive parts. With a team of professional anime artists behind it, you can expect some stunning cutscenes to push the story along - and to back the point up, Nintendo are going to be releasing brand new, fully animated promotional videos every fortnight in the run up to the game's eventual launch on the 1st July - you can find them all here.
With the game already a smash hit in Japan, it's one that's been flying somewhat under the radar on these shores so far. With so little information available in a language we can actually read, we'll remain quietly excited about this one. Here's keeping our fingers crossed until the 1st July.