A long-lost DS game makes its way overseas thanks to the DSiWare service.
It isn't difficult to tell that Number Battle is a niche game. Heavily based on Japanese culture, it would have made little sense for Nintendo to bring the game overseas for retail release back when it came out for the DS in 2007. Thanks to the availability of the DSiWare service, Nintendo has finally decided to bring Mitchell Corporation's fun and enjoyable puzzle game to North America.
Number Battle is a new kind of board game that combines various classic games, such as Dominoes, with strategy. At the start of each match, each player is assigned five tiles with numbers inscribed on them. They then take turns placing them on a grid. The goal is simple: reach a certain score before your opponent does.
This sounds like a straightforward goal, but victory doesn't happen by simply throwing random tiles on the board. In fact, Number Battle is likely one of the most strategic games on the DSiWare service. In each round, players take turns placing one of their tiles on the game board, while trying to predict what their opponent will do during their turn.
To complicate things even further, tiles can have up to four "connectors." What this means is that they all have branching ends that can be connected to other tiles. In order to earn points, players will need to connect these ends while making sequences with their tiles, such as connecting two tiles with the same number inscribed on them, or lining up a series of consecutive numbers.
Each player has their own unique color of tile, as well. Points can only be earned by connecting their own tiles without using any of their opponent's. Special rainbow tiles can also be used, but unlike player-specific colored tiles, anyone can take advantage of them.
If you haven't already noticed by now, Number Battle is a little difficult to explain in words, so the addition of a tutorial is greatly appreciated (even if the instructions are a bit tedious to play through). Strategy plays a large role in the game, and as players progress through the story mode, more and more concepts are thrown into the mix, resulting in a steady learning curve.
The single-player mode is a great way to get into the game and learn the basics of Number Battle, but players will unquestionably spend the majority of their time online playing with up to three other gamers. Number Battle is part of the "Express" line of games in Japan, and seeing as this downloadable version is the localized version of the Express edition, it was especially heart-warming to see online included, as many of the other games in the line have omitted it.
Number Battle is steeped in Japanese culture. The aural and visual presentation has a very Japanese feel to it, bringing the game together and making Number Battle one of the most unique offerings on the DSiWare service.
The level of enjoyment that gamers will get from Number Battles will be largely based on whether or not they can adapt to the game's strategic gameplay. While it can be a little frustrating at first, those who stick with it will find a very rewarding experience. Number Battle may be a niche title, but don’t let that discourage you from trying one of the most enjoyable games in the DSiWare Store.