What the Fuck is Contact?
Intial screens led people to believe that Contact was a DS sequel to Earthbound/Mother, but were let down when it turned out to be false. Still, just because it isn't Earthbound DS doesn't mean it won't be good! And the game does look to be in the same kind of humor of the popular Nintendo series, so that's good. And if we get Mother 3 one day, it and Contact might be too
good. In such an event, one of us might have to suffer a natural diaster for the good of the team.
So back to brass tacks.
From the people that brought you Killer7, Contact is about a boy named Terry, who has crashlanded on Earth along with a Professor who presumably is in charge of the spacecraft/laboratory. The professor has charged Terry with getting the needed "Cells" to power the ship. Along the way, it turns out someone else is gunning for the Cells and the Professor might have other motives...
Okay, so what's unique about Contact?
First, the game breaks the fourth wall so much it really doesn't have one. The characters will talk directly to you in several cases, especially the Professor. The developrs have said that Professor is relying on YOU to teach him about Earth so that he can repair his ship. It's you helping Terry, not controlling him, and thus (from what I have read), the controls are more like a click-to-move RPG.
Also, the game is divided via screens. The top screen serves as a view of the ship, with the Professor and his dog. The graphics here are like old-school 8-Bit, which is likely the reason the game got confused for Earthbound. Here the Professor might give you clues or tips.
The bottom screen is where the action is, and it looks like a 16-Bit RPG with lush backgrounds and many sprites. This is where you control Terry and do all the dungeon-crawling and monster serial killing.
Somewhat different is the leveling. You've probably heard of games that increase stats based on what you do. Same deal here. Get hit a lot and your defense goes up. Beat the shit out of people and attack increases. According to Wikipedia, it's been claimed that the stat increases come fairly often and should increase fairly naturally in battle. Hopefully this means you won't have to go out to some low level area and let squirrels hit you so your defense will be high enough for the next boss.
Also, Terry has reputation stats that increase his standing with NPCs. Unlike many RPGs, Terry can attack anyone in the game (Fallout did that, I am almost positive!). Your reputation depends on good deeds you have done, whom you have killed and how tough are the people you are slaughtering.
Suits also give Terry unique abilities instead of armor. Concept art has shown everything from a vampire emo kid suit to a fisherman suit. Shit, I even saw what looked like a hazmat suit. Alas, I have yet to see a Tanooki Suit.
Rounding off the list of features is Decals. These are basically stickers Terry can mix and match for various effects. Think the badge system in Paper Mario, only they likely do not confer spells or special attacks. You might gain healing, increased attack power, and so on.
Yes, actually. Now, I am going to quote the main site from Atlus on this:
Through the magic of the Nintendo WiFi Connection, you can Contact your friends. Their "Terrys" will come live in your game, on WiFisland.
Yes...WiFisland. The big sites are pretty silent on this, offering only a guess that it might be a Animal Crossing Lite sort of deal.
Despite your sloppy writing, I have managed to learn enough to want this game. Release Date?
The game came out in March in Japan, but currently there is no solid release date. Originally planned for September 19th, the newly launch website
gives a rather vague "October 2006" estimate.
For Europe, I cannot find an accurate date, but the general consensus is shortly after the US sometime in the Fall.
Here is a screen to give you an idea of the difference in graphic styles:
Here's a metric shitton of screens, art, and sprites to ogle.
Next month, consider making Contact...a purchase.
IF NOTHING ELSE WILL CONVINCE YOU TO BUY THIS, THE BOX WILL. IT'S GOOD ENOUGH TO FRAME.