Point and click adventures, such as "Day of the Tentacle" and "Sam and Max", have become one of those genres left by the wayside in recent years. Which is a pity, as anyone who has played a Lucasarts adventure will testify, there's a lot of enjoyment to gain when done right.
Another Code is a tantalising glimpse of a game harking back to such wistful days that could have been great but doesn't quite reach the level set before. The plot focuses around Ashley Robins, a girl who has been living with her Aunt for the past eleven years under the presumption that both her parents were dead. On the day before her fourteenth birthday, she receives a package from her father telling her to come see him on Edward Island.
Cue start of the story and investigation into why he's been in hiding for so long. The game, to its immense credit, is actually quite serious in tone and not all laughter and fun in the twisting tale about to be unwoven; there's deceit, murder, kidnapping, and suicide all thrown into the mix. Not that there isn't any humour either to lighten the mood. The plot is engaging and gets built up along the way as Ashley attempts to discover what is going on, and what happened to the Edward family who used to live there.
The game, for the most part, is presented in top-down fashion within the lower screen. Here Ashley is guided about each location whilst a pictorial view of it is displayed in the upper screen. Several areas in each location have relevance to the plot; in these cases a new view is displayed on the top screen instead of the default picture. Hitting the search button transfers the picture to the bottom screen, where a pointer appears and can be directed over any object to examine it and search for clues, hints and solve puzzles.
The other major part of the game is conversation; the person in question is displayed on the upper screen whilst the topics to ask about appear on the lower. Everything is laid out plainly and clearly, and there are no problems navigating or using the interface to do everything required. This is partly down to the detail in the graphics; the still pictures have an almost Resident Evil like quality about them, and the polygon models used whilst walking around are colourful, concise and do their job.
The puzzles are a mixed bag of obvious, cunning and downright inventive. Some of them are straight out of the Resident Evil school of item placement. The cunning ones will perhaps have you scratching the head trying to figure them out, and a couple of them are just mind-bogglingly amazing. It is a shame there aren't more of that sort present. Without giving anything away, no other system could do it, and that is a testament to the people who have come up with them.
Where Another Code does stumble is on actual length. It also has a touch of the Metal Gear Solid about it; you will find yourself reading the story and plot-line developments almost as much as playing. Fortunately, said plot makes more sense and is founded in real life when compared to MGS (making it a lot more personal in the process), but it will not be surprising to start seeing the credits after as little as, say, six hours play. It really depends on how good you are at solving the problems posed.
This is a pity, because with more work, the game could have easily been extended another few hours to provide a longer lasting experience. What is present will engage the player, drawing them in, wanting to find out what is going on. Many of the puzzles, when finally solved, will either produce a very large grin in appreciation of their cleverness, or have the player slapping their forehead in abject oversightedness.
Another Code is not a classic game by any means, but it is yet another step in the right direction by Nintendo to give us something new and different. This, if you think about it, is probably what some of the intention of releasing the DS was all about. As with other games in the same bracket, Another Code is entertaining, fun and well worth playing, but is over far too quickly to consider a definite purchase.