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   Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief - Staff Review  

Strikes a Shocking Pose
by Mike Moehnke

Click here for game information
PLATFORM
DS
BATTLE SYSTEM
2
INTERACTION
3
ORIGINALITY
3
STORY
2
MUSIC & SOUND
2
VISUALS
2
CHALLENGE
Very Easy
COMPLETION TIME
Less than 20 Hours
OVERALL
1.5/5
+ Battles are kinda fun
- Plot is jerky and jumbled
- Severely limited number of skills in combat
- Short, but still feels padded with filler
Click here for scoring definitions 

   Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief appears to have more in common with its literary namesake than its concurrent cinematic release, judging by the pronounced lack of resemblance between characters in the game and their actors in the movie. The Lightning Thief's story is mostly the same no matter what means of media is used to deliver it, however, even though it is done no great favors in this DS presentation. Percy Jackson comes across as unremarkable in this RPG incarnation, though series fans can probably derive a measure of enjoyment anyway.

   Percy Jackson is a seemingly unimportant adolescent male who learns of his family heritage when one of his teachers turns into a Fury and attempts to kill him. Latent combat skills come to Percy's aid, which makes sense since he is Poseidon's son. His friend Grover turns out to be a Satyr, and the two of them set out to a training camp for the half-human spawn of gods that happens to be located in upstate New York. Inhuman adversaries continue seeking out Percy under the misapprehension that he stole Zeus's lightning bolt, however, and finding this mighty misplaced weapon to prevent a war of Olympian scale becomes a necessary endeavor. The problem with the story is how jerky its telling becomes, since it is constantly interrupted by fights and character motivations are obscured. Several of the companions who join Percy have no real reason to do so when they were equally unmotivated antagonists but a moment earlier, and a lot of padding is necessary to fill plot points out.

   The battles that litter locations around the map are turn-based, though with some twists. Instead of each character getting an action per turn, both sides have a ten level gauge that depletes by a certain amount depending on what is enacted by a combatant. To spice it up a bit, the touch screen is employed in several ways: enemy attacks are always accompanied by a shield icon that must be tapped at the proper moment to reduce damage, player attacks are sometimes preceded by strokes that must be made on the screen to increase their power, and the penultimate Team strikes have their power amplified by filling in a Greek letter onscreen. The timing for shield employment can be difficult to achieve, but overall this system is clear and simple, working well enough to make battles go by enjoyably.

Stupid shield timing, you were a washout again. Stupid shield timing, you were a washout again.

   Organization for battle is unnecessarily cramped by a strange decision of the developer, however. Percy has three slots for techniques in battle and all other characters have two. A technique does not have to be offensive in nature, and far more than two will be learned by every character as the game goes on. Being forced to choose the two techniques that can be used in battle when a character knows eight or nine is constraining and bizarre, though items do not count as techniques and thus are always available.

   The lack of concurrent techniques would be more problematic if the game was difficult, which it is not. The player will be fully healed after every unique battle, and even successive fights are no real risk when healing with items takes fewer notches on the fighting gauge than any enemy attack. Enemies can hit pretty hard, but defeating them will not be difficult, especially when the same ones will be fought repeatedly so the player is accustomed to the best tactics for their elimination. Items are readily dropped by enemies throughout the game, which makes their quickness for use even easier to exploit.

See those slots?  One extra for each character, and that See those slots? One extra for each character, and that's IT!

   The presentation in Percy Jackson is rather inoffensive. The battle graphics look fine for the combatants themselves, but the backgrounds are dull and need a lot more variety. Aside from battle graphics, still portraits of the characters and a world map that looks like an uninteresting board game is the sum total of things to see. The music is perfectly adequate, generic New Age fantasy stuff that will neither compel nor repel.

   There are a lot of optional battles to stretch out Percy Jackson's padded playing time some more, but additional story will not be found. There is a means of continuing the game after completion to fight powerful postgame adversaries, which does add a few lines of dialogue but is mostly an opportunity to just fight some more. Eight to ten hours will be sufficient for anyone to complete the game with ease, and it can probably be done in even less time by someone set on that course of action.

   Percy Jackson & the Olympians is not a particularly horrid game, just an undistinguished one that does little to inspire anyone unfamiliar with its source into playing it. The game entertains for short bursts and is an effective enough display of a licensed game that works on its chosen level. The level it chose to work at, alas, is not one that will draw RPGamers unfamiliar with the source to it en masse.

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