Orcs and Elves DS

Orcs and Elves DS

Developer: Fountainhead Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: November 13, 2007

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Ahh, the Classic Battle Between Orcs and Elves.

Katherine Anna Kang is a name with which most gamers are not familiar. Wife to the video game industry legend John Carmack, Kang originally was a business development director for id Software. Wanting to develop her own software, Kang left id Software in 2000 to form Fountainhead Entertainment. Though Fountainhead Entertainment has released titles that have met with reasonable commercial success, none can be compared to the admiration and respect received by Orcs and Elves.

"...few cellular titles have ever received recognition on level with Orcs and Elves."

So, what is Orcs and Elves? Orcs and Elves is a cellular phone dungeon-crawling first-person role-playing game developed by Fountainhead Entertainment and produced by id Software. Winning IGN's Best of 2006, Leipzig Game Con's Best Mobile Game of 2006, and AIAS's Best Mobile game of 2006, few cellular titles have ever received recognition on level with Orcs and Elves. While originally the title was only intended for use on cellular phones, Fountainhead Entertainment announced during the 2007 E3 Media Summit that the game would be coming to the Nintendo DS.

The story unfolds in the world Areth and centers around a 17-year-old half-elf by the name of Elli. In this world, Elli's father, Eöl, and his friend, Brahm, had ushered in an era of peace by defeating an army of orcs many years ago; however, this era was short lived and within 20 years of the orcs' defeat, they began to return to power. Leaving home, Elli travels to Mount Zharrkarag, the homeland of the orcs, to follow in his father's footsteps in attempt to purge the world from evil. Taking only the basic of supplies and his father's sentient wand named Ellon, Elli starts his journey.

Technically, the game differs greatly from its mobile cousin. The title had originally been created using an engine that Fountainhead Entertainment had acquired for the cellular title Doom RPG the previous year. Even though the same engine had been used to develop the cellular version of Orcs and Elves, it had to be adapted for development on the Nintendo DS. Utilizing the additional system resources the platform provided, Fountainhead Entertainment was able to modify the engine to support many visual and audio upgrades. Though the creatures the player encounters are still limited to 2d sprites, the world itself has been fully adapted to 3d, significantly increasing geometry, texturing, and lighting. Also, multi-layered audio has been implemented to increase environmental ambience. While standard cellular phone audio can be limiting, the resulting audio creates a far deeper sense of immersion.

In addition, the Nintendo DS's cartridges have allowed for significantly larger storage capacities. Utilizing this extra space, Fountainhead Entertainment was able to include a great deal of extra content. Three new levels along with more monsters, spells, items, puzzles, effects, and difficulty settings have been added to increase the overall experience. The controls have also been modified to incorporate touch screen control, though this does not limit the player only to touch screen use as the game can be played exclusively with or without.

Overall, Orcs and Elves seems to be a solid adaption of the original and brings a number of new features to the table. If you were a fan of the original cellular phone title or simply are nostalgic at the thought of first-person role-playing games, then perhaps you should look a bit more into what Orcs and Elves has to offer. Orcs and Elves will be hitting shelves in North America November 13, 2007.

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