E3 2008: Legacy Interactive

An after-hours trip to Legacy Interactive's office in Los Angeles proved to be a fairly entertaining one. We had a look at four upcoming titles, one of them being something we lacked the time to check out at SouthPeak's exhibition booth. With their recently formed partnership with Nintendo, some of Legacy's games will be making their debut on the Wii and DS.

Pet Pals (Wii)

One of Legacy Interactive's trademarks is their line of popular veterinarian games, the Pet Pals and Zoo Vet franchises. Pet Pal now makes the jump to a console, with the Wii being the platform of choice.

Primarily aimed at boys and girls in their tweens or anyone who just likes to play animal doctor, Pet Pals is separated into six rounds, each containing 5 or 6 cases each. You get an overview of your office's waiting room, all rendered in 3D, with your patients and their owners waiting their turn on the couch.

Once you accept a case, a 3D cutscene will play, which basically gives you an overview of the pet's symptoms. You are then transported to the treatment room, where you have full control of the camera to look around the room and the animals, which are very nicely rendered.

The tools are accessible via a pie menu separated into four categories: examination, surgery, preparation and medication. Each expands to show the tools for each category. While playing on Easy, you can press 1 to get a hint, while on Normal there are no hints. Pressing the question mark in the tool menu will tell you how to use a particular tool you have selected.

Each tool offers a mini-game, making the examination and treatment processes much more interactive than those played on the PC. You are scored according to how well you do, but this time thre is no Q&A session with relevant questions prior to examination. There are also cutscenes for the diagnostic and another for the ending of each case.

Back to the waiting room, you will have access to a few different areas. The computer on your desk has the same functions as in any of the other games: you can check the library, game help, play memory, trivia and jigsaw games. The trivia game is a bit different though, and is played as if playing catch with a dog. You pick your answer by flicking the ball towards the answer you think is right; if it is right, the dog will fetch the ball for you.

From the waiting room you can move on to the recovery room, where you can play some other mini-games. There is a simple feeding game where you just tilt and shake the Wii-mote to fill a bowl with food. There is a cleaning game where you use the Wii-mote as a vaccum. There is another where you play with a cat and a ball of yarn, or tug-of-war with a dog, and you can also bathe and groom pets, Nintendogs style.

Pet Pals is a more interactive vet game than that on the PC, and is expected to be released this Fall.

Zoo Vet: Endangered Animals (DS)

Zoo Vet: Endangered Animals is the second PC vet game gone handheld by Legacy (the other being Pet Pals). While here we don't see the fancy 3D FMVs to tell us the story, there are high-res illustrations that do the job. So while Pet Pals on the Wii might be more accessible for younger gamers, Zoo Vet will require quite a bit of reading, which is something to consider regarding the target age group.

As in previous Zoo Vet games, you have the zoo map where you can see the different habitats (savannah, ice, plains, jungle) and icons for each animal. A blinking icon means a particular animal needs attention, and depending on the color (legend will show on the top screen) the animal will need feeding or treatment, more or less urgently.

Story, hints and the animals' stats are presented on the top screen. On the touch screen, you will have access to the tools menu and do all the examination, diagnosis and treatment phases. The game is controlled entirely with the stylus in all sorts of different activities. For example, when using the magnifying glass you will play connect-the-dots. When taking an X-ray, you will have to adjust sliding bars to get a good image. To do bloodwork, you will use the stylus to insert the syringe in the animal's leg, move it out as if drawing blood, drag it to the test tube, then place the tube in the centrifuge unit and spin it around a bunch of times.

You also have your office, with your computer and the usual activities (library, memory, trivia and jigsaw puzzle) and a series of outdoors cases. Outdoor cases have some pretty funny mini-games, like throwing the right food to the penguins by flicking them from the touch screen upwards, blow on the microphone to move the hair on an animal so you can check for fleas, or brush an animal's teeth while little bacteria insist on invading.

The game features six rounds with a total of 30 cases, an average of 5 treatments and 3 feeding tasks per round. Several game save slots will be available so that more than one user can play on the same DS without overriding another person's game. Zoo Vet: Endangered Animals will be arriving this Fall.

Igor The Game (Wii)

Igor is a bit like Death Jr. meets Psychonauts meets Kingdom Hearts. The game follows the movie storyline, uses the same artwork from the movie but the characters are voiced by sound-alikes (and nicely too, since that non-Steve Buscemi was pretty believable).

In this action/adventure/platform game you play as all four characters, switching between them as necessary throughout the adventure since each of them has its own unique ability. Brain has a ranged attack, Scampers jumps higher than everyone else and can do electrical damage, Eva is very strong and can charge enemies, while Igor has an all-around attack.

If something needs to be interacted with, the characters who can't do anything will have red question marks above them, while the right character will show a green exclamation mark above its head.

The levels are fairly large, there are plenty of collectible items all around, such as gears which replenish your health when you get knocked out. Since it's a child-friendly game, there is no dying. Instead, characters will get knocked out and return shortly after, at the cost of some gears.

It is a very linear story and the progression is straightforward, with a free saving system (no checkpoints) and auto-save feature. There is also a local co-op mode for up to four players, and the entire adventure should last you about 12 hours of gameplay.

Igor The Game will be released at the same time as the movie, on September 19.

Igor The Game (DS)

Unlike Igor for the Wii, the DS game doesn't follow the movie's plot, but instead offers a new storyline, and the artwork and drawings have been recreated for this DS version. Eva - Igor's creation - runs off with a mad scientist who assures her that Igor is the bad guy. You play as Igor on a quest to get Eva back in an adventure/puzzle game.

You move around the world map while chasing the mad scientist and fighting the monsters at his service. Every time you enter a fight, the game switcher to a Super Puzzle Fighter type of battle, with a few differences.

You have six move meters that gradually fill up as you make color combos on the puzzle field. The fuller the move meters are, the more powerful your attack will be. So the meters don't have to be full to perform an attack, you will just do less damage. On the top screen you can switch between aview of your opponent's puzzle or a view of the actual monsters fighting each other.

Much like an RPG, your character can become stronger. The world map is fairly big, there are plenty of tournaments pertaining to the main storyline, power-ups to find, random battles, boss battles and optional side-quests and jobs for rewards.

Igor for Nintendo DS is also expected at the same time as the movie release.