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Review – Lost in Blue 3

posted on July 21st, 2008 by derek
Now Playing: Hail to the Chimp

Hey guys, there’s a island survival game with the word “lost” in it. It has flashbacks, a secret lab, mysterious blah blahs, and blah blah blah. Sound familiar? Surprisingly, Lost in Blue 3 is the first of the series that grossly appropriates themes from the um… “popular” TV series Lost, and it makes the game a whole lot more fun!!! Just kidding.

Dolphin sing along!

I remember the first time I played The Sims. There I was, in an apartment full of moldy food, girlfriendless, and soaking in a pool of my own urine, gleefully being much more tidy and put-together in the virtual world than I ever could be in the real one. I didn’t get it. Why was picking up virtual trash actual fun when I hated doing it in the supposedly more interesting 3 dimensional world?

Lost in Blue 3 has a lot of similarities to The Sims – one has to manage status bars by eating food and what-not – but still manages to be quite a bit less fun. But why? I mean, I don’t think picking up trash in the real world is fun, but spear-fishing? That actually seems like a lot of fun, once you get past the frustration and actually become good at it. So it stands to reason that the spear-fishing in LiB should also be quite a bit more fun than picking up trash in The Sims.

And well… actually the spear fishing is kind of fun (was I trying to make a point?). But all the other inappropriately named “mini-games” in LiB are pretty boring. Let’s return to The Sims analogy. The reason (I know I was confused before) that washing dishes is less fun in the real world is that you actually have to scrub all that encrusted ramen out of the bowl with your filthy hands, whereas in the The Sims you just click on the filth, and your hands stay (as) clean (as they were before).

LiB 3, unfortunately, makes you do all these boring tasks yourself, or as close as your DS + stylus can bring you. Boring tasks include: rubbing the ground (with a stylus) over a potato to remove said potato, rubbing the sand over a shell to remove said shell, shaking a tree from left to right, hitting the left and right screen consecutively to start a fire, and some other boring stuff.

The only reason I can think of as to why the designers would leave this stuff in is to make the game as long as possible. It is already too long. Either that, or they like giving reviewers their comeuppance by including the very things that we said made LiB 1 & 2 sub-par.

D20 in hand, I am ready to roll against any enemy.

That said, in general I like the series. Because I am a lazy and unprofessional video game reviewer (either that, or I have a real job and a social life), I haven’t actually played the second installment, but from what I can tell it’s the same as the first: namely, waaaay too much of the same routine day after day – getting water, spearing fish, getting frustrated by puzzles, and going to sleep. The 3rd one is an improvement over the 1st, in that there are fewer (if any) frustrating puzzles, and one doesn’t have to go on the same super-long journey through the same jungle mazes to advance through the game.

Instead, LiB 3 has a reasonably sized map that allows moderate exploration at your own pace. While the discoveries one makes are largely boring and unnecessary, the ability to discover new things at all is what gives the series its uniqueness and “fun,” and so it’s nice Konami was able to find a way to let you explore without having to spend an hour filling your character’s bellies with fish (as in LiB 1). Also, many of the obnoxious tasks (such as building unnecessary improvements to your cave-home) are optional.

Unfortunately, the “plot” element introduced in this installment is lazy and derivative, and largely unnecessary. I would have much rather seen some real improvements in gameplay, such as NPC’s who can figure out how to walk to the river a few yards outside your cave in order to keep themselves hydrated. Really I’d like to see more independence by the NPC’s in general, kinda like in the Sims. In fact, I’d like to see the LiB series incorporate even more Sims elements. Maybe all of them. I think I’d rather just be playing The Sims.

4 Comments

  1. TrueTallus said on July 22, 2008:

    I’ve always thought one of the unique and appreciable qualities Lost in Blue brought to the table WAS the immersive atmosphere fostered by actually having to do things yourself. I’ve sort of been wishing for a while now that Konami would go all the way with the series by releasing some kind of Trespasser/Harvest Moon hybrid on the Wii. It might sound like I’m kidding, but I’d actually be really excited at the idea of physically walking around a big island via a balance board or dance mat and digging through the sand for bottles with a wii-mote.

    I do have a question for you, though, Derek. Does the hideous art style used for the character portraits ooze from the rest of the game as well? I’ve played a good deal of the first game and I always liked how (outside of the overhead view used for exploring) the game tried to convey a more serious tone by staying away from a crappy super deformed style. What screenshots I’ve seen make the art assets in LiB:3 look like they go far beyond simple lame sd into embarrassingly bad middle-schooler pokemon fanart territory.

  2. Derek said on July 22, 2008:

    I actually don’t think it’s that bad, but then I don’t really mind the character portraits that much. Honestly I think it’s kinda cute when that blonde girl who follows me around gets all squinty/happy when she excitedly agrees to the suggestion that she cook me stuff… So I probably don’t have the same hatred of that “art-style” as you do.

    Also I don’t own the original LiB so I can’t really compare. In my opinion the overhead graphics art for the new one aren’t that bad, but like I said I don’t think I have the same standards as you.

  3. TrueTallus said on July 22, 2008:

    Fair, Derek. I probably wouldn’t find the way things look so irritating if I hadn’t already set in my mind how the series was “supposed” to be represented with a more serious approach after hours of puzzling through Keith and Skye’s adventures in the original game. Looking at the cover for the second title confirms the shift in aesthetic started to get underway long before the third game ever came out, though I still maintain the people look entirely too goofy. How am I supposed to take secret labs and the struggle to find the 80 daily coconuts necessary for survival seriously with all those bad haircuts and googly eyes distracting me? :)

  4. Elijah said on August 18, 2008:

    How do i make a spear??i have a stick and a stone what do i do and were do i do it

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