When this game was first announced there would have been some people that would have written it off right from the start. A dating simulation doesn't seem to evoke the appeal that other genres have. For months SEGA quietly worked away on its US launch title. With the knowledge that it was to be worked on by Yuji Naka, the father of Sonic, it was almost a guarantee that this game was going to use the system to the fullest and that has turned out to be true. Project Rub as it will be known in Europe/Australia shows the system off the best and when we went hands on with it, we saw the true potential of this game and why it will be one of the best Australian launch titles.
Project Rub's story is fairly cliche although it is something you don't normally see in a game this side of the ocean. One day the character you play as is walking down the street and happens to run into a member of the opposite sex he takes a liking to. The game revolves around getting her attention via a number of small games which seem to have absolutely nothing to do with the girl at all but somehow impress her. He is too scared to go up and ask her out so he employs some rub rabbits to help him and this is where the small games come in.
The great thing about this game is that because of the new control scheme for the system via the Stylus almost anyone can play it. You don't have to fiddle around with analogue sticks or buttons and anyone that can use a PDA can really jump onto the Nintendo DS straight away and play and that is a big plus. This game completely uses the stylus amongst other things for its controls, no buttons no DPAD so it is a completely new gaming experience which is what makes it such a new thing to play.
What truly makes this game is the small games which build the gameplay. You play through a number of games to win this girl's heart. All the small games actually do revolve around the story however strange they may get. Such mini games include saving parachutists by putting in a key code with the stylus, rescuing gold fish from a mans stomach after he swallows them when our character runs into him chasing the girl, rubbing scorpions off the girl (after a truck crashes near you and they fly onto her), stopping raging bulls running towards you, blowing out a candle and this particular game shows one of the unique features of the DS where you actually blow into the system, and many others.
This game really shows off what Nintendo DS philosophy is all about, expanding the gaming experience. This was also our first time with one of the systems and right from the outset we were very impressed. Perhaps the fact that the game uses everything the DS has to offer helped our positive impressions of the system itself. The stylus control really is fantastic and it's such a great pick up and play system that many more people will be able to use it quickly. We'll have a more in depth preview of the system soon.
The style used for the game also really helps with a art deco sixties feel used for the graphics. This takes away the feeling that the game is just a dating simulation and gives it a more romantic trend. It also really helps enhance the mini games as you're completely drawn to them rather than some graphics elsewhere distracting you. The soundtrack is fairly good from what we've heard, which admittedly is not much but seems to suit the game well.
Project Rub is no doubt going to be one of the better launch titles for Europe/Australia. Yuji Naka has used the system well and his team has crafted one of the most stylish games a launch system has ever had. If you plan to pick up a Nintendo DS day one, early impressions are showing that Project Rub should be along side it. We'll hopefully have a more in depth hands on preview with the game soon.