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Treasure World Review Package Art

Treasure World Review

When Nintendo first announced the DS, one of the features that was heavily touted was its wireless capabilities. For the first time in Nintendo history, a system was coming to America that was made to intuitively find internet signals and go online. And while this feature has been used in many great games to great effect, many gamers would probably believe that the ways to utilize this portion of the DS's tech had been tapped out. But then Aspyr released Treasure World and proved that while the DS has not changed very much since its release in 2004, there are still untapped ideas hidden within the system.

After booting up Treasure World, players will encounter Starsweep, an intergalactic custodian who, with the help of his trusty robot the "Wish Finder," travels throughout the galaxy cleaning up "stardust" in order to make the heavens shine brighter. Unfortunately his ship uses this stardust for fuel and Starsweep manages to run out of it and crash on Earth. Luckily for Starsweep, common Wi-Fi signals are an excellent source of stardust and he quickly recruits players to wander about gathering enough stardust so that his ship can take off again.

This is where the game takes a radical departure in the gameplay department. Instead of requiring players to wander about in a fictional world looking for stardust, the game immediately tasks players with wandering about the real world looking for various Wi-Fi signals. These Wi-Fi signals translate directly into either stardust or "treasures." Treasures range from items to place in a virtual garden, to clothing items to disguise the Wish Finder with, to items that link with the online Web site Club Treasure World providing tangible rewards such as printable pictures and crafts.

This virtual treasure hunt manages to really bring a sense of continuity between the game and the real world, since every day players will probably pass as many as a hundred Wi-Fi signals, more if they live in heavily populated areas. Signals only count the first time players pass them, however, meaning that trudging the same path to school or work every day will not continually net more treasures and stardust. This encourages players to find new routes to familiar places. It also helps players get off the couch and out into the world. Whether it's to ride a bike, run a quick errand to a store they haven't visited, or to take a pet for a walk, Treasure World encourages normally sedentary gamers to do something different, something physical to earn their digital rewards.

However, there really isn't any "game" here. Early on the game offers incentives in the form of special treasures for completing various "goals". The main goal is to refuel the ship's fuel tank with gathered stardust, but other goals include gathering all the items in specific groups or arranging the garden in specific ways. None of these goals are enforced with a timeline. Players are encouraged to set their own goals and told that the game's "goals" are merely suggestions.

Collection is not the only aspect to the game, however. Every treasure in the game possesses a sound effect and when placed in the garden players can use these items to create songs. While the game does have some public domain and original songs built in that can be found or bought off Starsweep with stardust, for the most part players can create their own original compositions. While this can be fun, the system is nowhere near as complex as the composer in Mario Paint lacking a way to add sharps and flats to notes, other than changing the tonal mode. It's fun to play around for with a bit, and the vast range of sounds that may be used will provide endless compositional opportunities, but Treasure World should not be considered a music tool. The music feature feels more like an add on; it's just another reason for players to be collecting these items.

Another feature that really feels like an add-on is the "disguise" portion. Early on, the game forces players to disguise the Wish Finder as its appearance would possibly be frightening to locals... or prove that aliens exist. The game is never exactly clear on the reason why the Wish Finder needs to be disguised, and in fact, after it has been disguised players can opt to remove the disguise without any ill effects. The Wish Finder ends up being an avatar for the players, and while its costumes are varied and unique, there is almost an overabundance of them. While players may choose to use the Wish Finder as some sort of dress-up doll, most players will probably figure out a costume they would like to see it in, buy the requisite parts and then be annoyed by picking up new outfits that they will never use.

So once players have an awesome garden layout and cool-looking character what is there to do with them? Well, players can always upload their creations to the Web, thanks to Club Treasure World. Club Treasure World ends up being one of the most compelling parts of the product. Aspyr set up an online community so that players can show off what they've created and interact with other players of the game. While the game does require players to set up wireless profiles as in any other Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection enabled game, the process is painless and can be done within 15 minutes of booting up the game for the first time. The integration between the game and the Web site is top notch. "Awards," similar to Xbox's Achievements, are given to players that arrange their gardens in specific ways with specific items, which offers yet more incentive to go out and find more stuff. Club Treasure World really is an important part of the package, and the game would not be complete with it.

In the end there shouldn't be anything to recommend Treasure World to players. Like Electroplankton before it, Treasure World is a piece of software that is hard to classify as a "game" because of how different it is from contemporary experiences on DS. However, Treasure World has a sense of charm that cannot be denied, and brings a sense of wonder back into the world. It hearkens back to a time when exploring the world was fun because you never knew what treasure you would discover. By utilizing tech that is now much older than the five years that DS has been around, Aspyr managed to create a unique experience, something it should be commended for. Players looking for a traditional "game" should probably steer clear of this one. However, those looking for the magic of adventuring and taking "the path less traveled" will enjoy this game.

final score 8.4/10

Staff Avatar Matthew Tidman
Staff Profile | Email
"It's dangerous to go alone! Take this."

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