Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs

I'll be honest, when Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs first came onto the radar there was more than a little bit of eye rolling. Like a crufts judge getting a handful of the testes to check pedigree lets quickly metaphorically check the nads of CoG:D. This is a quietly released, Ubisoft DS game. Chances are it isn't going to be picking up GOTY awards. Even the front cover doesn't really give anything away. I was expecting something between the awful awful 101 Dino Pets and the pokemon-alike-games like Dinosaur King. Unfortunately, critical damage to the touch screen of my original DS meant that even though I had CoG:D I couldn't play it. The lovely DSiXL changed all that....

Well reader, much like the newly diagnosed hermaphrodite teen I was pleasantly surprised by this game! You get to choose a dinosaur (you have to start with the sauropod and unlock others later) to take through various arenas with the objective of collecting 100 gold eggs and completing a five part fossil skeleton. Some of the eggs are rewarded for unsurprisingly, beating other dinosaurs in combat and the fossil bits are hidden in uninspiring looking domes of mud that you have to visit on your way around the arena. The arenas are also filled with non egg-rewarding dinosaurs which you may wish to avoid or combat. The combat itself requires choosing and attack and then having to accurately draw a line shape. The stronger the attack the more complicated the line in the shape of a dinosaur head, arms, leg or whole body. The better and quicker you fill in the line, the better your attack. So far, so what right? But the brilliant bit comes later. When you earn enough eggs you can buy various upgrades for your dinosaur allowing a surprising amount of customisation. After the first couple of arenas you unlock the ability to change the colour of your dinosaur but also you can buy 'evolutions' for a number of slots on the body. These take three types. You can either boost attack by buying bony spikes, boost the amount of health you regain using defensive moves by buying what appears to be metal plate armour or boost the number of attacks you can make by decorating your dinosaur with feathers. The best bit is that you actually see the upgrades on your dino. If you get a bit battered in combat then you can replenish health by drinking water or eating bananas? You can also attempt to dissuade the NPDs from battle with a vocal warning meaning you don't have to fight every single dinosaur per arena to proceed. In yet another bizarre twist, occasionally when looking for the fossil pieces you stumble across a mystery combatant which takes the form of commonplace static objects.

I never really realised how much I wanted to play as a pitch black with green tiger stripes, armour plated Brachiosaur with bony spikes coming out of it's face and fancy feathers on the tail attacking a particularly vicious phone box until it happened. I won't regale the epic clashes with a house or a tractor either. Let's do this.

Dinosauriness: I'm yet to play through all the arenas and unlock em all but there are a healthy number of dinosaurs as well as a bunch of inert objects. I'll update the list here when I'm done.

Scientific Accuracy: Well, armour plating, phone boxes, automobiles and nose bone weapons aside I hate to bring down the mood by calling foul on this one. Bananas are suspect too and when the combat starts to get heavy, dare I say it, the sauropods start to do 'combos'. The feather problem normally par for the course in dinosaur games is cleverly dealt with with the crazy customisation tool. Physiologically shall we say, challenging, combos.

Buzz Bonus:On the upside though, this is by far the most comprehensive dinosaur customisation in video games (Spore doesn't count because everything looks like a muppet any approximation to a dinosaur you make is but a muppet dinosaur rather than a dinosaur muppet).

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