It's the day of the Moon Festival for the rabbit clan but the moon is nowhere to be found. A mysterious stranger appears and tells two rabbits, Cookie and Cream, that there are clues to finding the moon hidden on an island, which he conveniently takes them to. That is how our story begins.
Being one of the small handful of people who have actually played Cookie and Cream on the PS2, I was excited to hear that it would be coming to the DS. The PS2 game's focus was on cooperative play; I don't think it's even possible to play the PS2 version on your own. While the DS version of Cookie and Cream offers a friendlier single-player experience, it doesn't exactly make it easy.
Like its predecessor, the game uses a 3D top-down perspective where the player must move forward (up) toward the GOAL or finish line at the end of the level before time runs out. Unlike the PS2 version where Cookie and Cream and split up to the left and right side of a level, the DS version has one rabbit exploring the island and the other rabbit in a tower that controls several aspects of the island. On the top screen the player can control Cookie using the D-pad to move and the L/R buttons (or the A button) to jump. On the touchscreen waits Cream, who will spring into action whenever something needs to be manipulated on the island.
As Cookie makes his way through the level, there will be obstacles and buttons near these obstacles. When Cookies goes over a button, the touch screen changes into one of many micro-games including cutting some ropes, blowing a log over using the mic, a whack-a-mole version of press-the-button, and some weird gears puzzle. Most of the puzzles are intuitive without resorting to tapping the 'Help' icon at the bottom right of the screen, but there are a few that I wouldn't mind being left out. One that comes to mind is a slot machine puzzle where you must not only match each column with one another, but you also have to make sure it lands on a certain tile. That one was just trial and error for me.
Story Mode is where most people will spend their time in the game. Playing single-player may seem easy at first, but it soon turns out to be a hectic mix of moving the bunny on the top screen while doing something on the bottom screen. It helps if you're ambidextrous. When time runs out, you get the choice of either restarting from the beginning of the level, or just continuing from the current spot. Obviously, continuing from the current spot is the wiser choice. With that choice in, I wondered why there was a time limit in the first place. Continues seem to be unlimited. I guess it's for the high score chasers. I was just happy completing a level.
The most fun I had in the game was figuring out how actions in the micro-game on the bottom screen affected the environment in the top screen. During single-player, it means keeping your eyes on both screens at once or quickly switching between those two. When what I needed to do on the bottom screen to get past an obstacle on the top screen finally clicked, I felt pretty satisfied with myself.
Unfortunately, the DS version of Cookie and Cream falls short in several areas. One is the music: it's repetitive which wouldn't be bad if the music was good, but it's not. A second flaw is that because of the size of the screen and the size of objects on the screen, it's sometimes hard to figure out what's going on. If you're bad at jumping puzzles, prepare to get frustrated. Luckily the developers put in a shadow on the ground to guide where you jump, but sometimes even that's not enough because of how hard it is to gauge how far away some things are.
The third complaint I have about Cookie and Cream is that in some parts of the game, I just have no idea what I'm supposed to do. The game has a bad habit of just throwing the player into the deep end of the pool and hoping that he'll figure it out on his own. One example that comes to mind is the boss in the Music levels. The clock ran out several times before figuring out how to hurt it.
This version of Cookie and Cream is not the definitive version of the game, but is still worth picking up for a fan of the series. The option of single cart multi-play, the bonus mini-games and the battle mode may be enough to please some players. I like that playing Cream is easy, which means I can delegate that role to a non-gamer and they won't get too discouraged. Playing this game may get frustrating if you're on your own and not good at doing two things at once, which is why I think multi-player might make it more fun. Plus, it gives you a chance to yell "BLOW HARDER!!" at your friends.