Reading Time: 2 minutes
There are two ways that a video game tie-in for ball bearing-based toy line DaGeDar could have potentially gone. The first was with the classic skill puzzler motif of Marble Madness, the second the rolling speed of a Sonic the Hedgehog clone. The developers at Black Lantern Studios elected for the latter, but, despite how well the properties seem to mesh superficially, the implementation simply never gels.
Boasting 100 unlockable DaGeDars, each with its own stats like speed and acceleration, and numerous Leagues, Zones and Levels through which to race, the game starts with a solid enough concept. Sadly, in a game about blinding speed and the epic combat of rotund other-dimensional entities, it never seems to rise above the level of meh.
Relying less on technique, experimentation or bold (virtual) athleticism than on pure rote memory and button-mashing, DaGeDar for the Nintendo DS is run-of-the-mill 2D track racer attached to an admittedly interesting new license. You race and jump and attempt to refill your Turbo Boost power across numerous segmented race tracks while simultaneously avoiding the occasional drop or sticky hazard, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that you’re just biding your time in another piece of DS shovelware.
Executing a perfect jump and racing ahead of the competition is, in its own way, exhilarating, but that excitement is noticeably short-lived. Multiple modes like Practice, Time Attack and (single- or multi-cart) Multiplayer seek to add more flash to this budget priced title, but just don’t help overcome the pervading sense of mediocrity that accompanies the bland visuals and repetitive gameplay.
The DaGeDar toy line has proven itself one of my family’s favorite new playtime diversions, but the inspired simplicity of the real-world product just doesn’t translate well into the realm of handheld gaming. Admittedly, the minimalist level design and tired loop-de-loop-to-turbo-jump aesthetic abate a bit as players advance, but overall the game scarcely makes it out of the starting gate. Perhaps it’s enough to charm the youngest and most rabid DaGeDar racers, but even my six-year-old quickly tired of its monotony.