Stranded on a desert island, you fall off of a ship after some shady-doings transpire; now you must take control of either Sam or Claire and survive on this island as best you can. Things like amnesia, pop-idols, monkeys and exotic fruit can all be found in Konami's latest installment of their Lost in Blue series, Lost in Blue 3.
You begin the game by selecting which character, either the boy, Sam, or the girl, Claire, you want to be in control of. Then you are whisked away to a desert island with only foggy memories to go on in regards to what exactly happened, and how exactly you got there. Luckily enough, it turns out Sam and Claire are old flames; unluckily enough, Sam can't remember a thing about that, or even about who he is. Get ready to make tools, cook, explore and scavenge to survive as you try to unravel the mystery and help Sam get his memories back.
Controls within the game have not changed very much at all from previous installments in the series. Use the D-pad to walk (hold B to run), and press A to interact with whatever is close (climbing, shaking trees, etc) or to dig around in the dirt for spices. The touch screen is used for things like cooking (chopping or grilling food), spearing fish, and digging through the dirt and sand for foodstuffs. The game also makes clever use of the DS microphone when you are forced to do things like blow into it to start a fire, or make monkey noises in order to talk to a monkey.
Gameplay allows the player to take his or her own sweet time progressing through the story; the game is fairly open-ended in that respect. If players just want to chill out, gather food and survive from day to day, then that's fine. Otherwise the game's main course is the exploration of the island itself, which also subsequently progresses the story as you trigger events.
Visuals in the game are pretty nice looking, but really have not changed from the previous two games. The weather effects are rather well done, especially noticeable when it is a foggy day; the haze hanging over the island during those times makes it hard to see things clearly. Cinematics basically take the form of still photos with written dialogue to explain them; the artwork in the game is done well enough for these times. The character art has gotten slightly more "cartoony" (anime-ish) from the first game, but there is nothing particularly wrong with that.
The soundtrack within the game is nothing amazing, but it gets the job done. When you're wandering through the different areas (jungle, etc), the music easily sets the mood. Sound effects are also well done: when wandering through tall grass, players will hear things like the sound of a rattlesnake. Chances are if you touch the ground near the character's feet at this point, a snake will be on the screen. If one does not exit out of that screen fast enough, the snake will attack, and poison the character for a period of time. Just like eating strange mushrooms though, the effects never last that long, and nothing life threatening happens.
The game is easy to interact with, and flows rather well most of the time. It can be rather trying at times, especially while playing as Claire. She has to go back and ask the boy for every little thing: if she finds a vine she states that it could be useful, but she can not actually make it useful (into rope or something) until she asks Sam about it. The boy on the other hand does not appear to have this problem: when he finds something useful the ability to make the tool appears in your menu after he talks to himself about it. Other things, like cooking, were meant to take advantage of the touch screen, but players can choose if they want to cook themselves, or cook with their partner. Cooking together always turns out excellent dishes, but forgoes the use of the touch screen; whereas cooking with only one character with the touch screen can produce awful and wasteful results. This makes the use of the touch screen during this part easily useless.
The game is not very difficult, and as soon as players grasp the standard controls they should have no problem progressing through the game. Lost in Blue 3 does not deviate much from experience of the first two games. The game still provides a relatively fun experience, but nothing we haven't seen before.
Final Verdict - 6/10
Overall, the game, like its predecessors, manages to provide several hours of fun, but sometimes it can be slightly tedious. The game almost felt like it took a slight step backwards, especially in terms of the characters. The girl, more so, I found myself overly frustrated with at times (perhaps because I am a girl), but she was almost too ditzy for my tastes; and appeared almost incapable of rational thought without Sam to tell her what to do. Another annoying thing was that in the jungle, the palm trees tend to block out the characters more than half the time, which constantly caused me to run past items that I could not even see until I came back that way, and suddenly I was close enough for the speech-bubble to tell me something was there. All in all, if you're looking for the experience of being stranded on an island after a shipwreck, I'd suggest the original Lost in Blue before I'd recommend this one. If you liked the first two though, Lost in Blue 3 is sure to provide you with the same experience as its predecessors.