On the same day Nippon Ichi released Disgaea DS in Japan they also released Jigsaw World: Daigekitou! Jig-Battle Heroes. Laharl stole the show and nobody seemed to notice Nippon Ichi’s first original Nintendo DS game. I got a chance to try it and jumped right into story mode. You can choose one of four characters: Mute Kid (he looks like a 1970s costumed anime super hero), Ayame (a female ninja with an eye patch), Justeiga (a robot), and Mikan (a cat in a loaf of bread). Four more characters can be unlocked including Etna who makes a cameo from Disgaea. Etna is in so many games nowadays.
Each level in story mode is introduced like an anime episode. Every character is from a mock anime series like Neko to Mikan, Mikan's show. To my surprise there is a lot of voice acting in Jigsaw World: Daigekitou! Jig-Battle Heroes. Even Mikan, aka the cat in a bread loaf, speaks. I started playing with Mikan because he’s the obligatory cute mascot character in the game. Strangely, he’s also the most powerful out of the first four characters. We’ll get to that part in a bit. Regardless of what character you select Jigsaw World: Daigekitou! Jig-Battle Heroes plays the same. You pick up one of four puzzle pieces from the top of the screen, walk on a giant jigsaw puzzle board, and try to the piece in the right place. A small picture on the bottom left hand corner acts as a guide. The other clue is the board shows the shape of the correct puzzle pieces, but you can’t stand still and stare at the board. While you’re trying to solve the puzzle one to three other players are doing the same thing. If you can't figure out where to put a piece you can press R to trash it and make a new one appear. Whoever puts the most pieces in position wins the round.
The easiest way to win is being a jerk. Don’t bother to run up and grab the pieces. Just watch the top screen and wait for the computer player(s) to grab them. Once another player grabs a piece you can steal it by walking up to them and pressing the A button. Shoving also has the effect of temporarily stunning the other player which gives you enough time to run away and figure out where to set the piece. As you continue to fill up the board a special meter fills up. When it’s a third full you can use your first special. Mikan’s level 1 skill magically places a puzzle piece into its hands. Ayame can swipe a piece from another player with her skill. If you wait for the bar to fill up 2/3rds of the way Mikan can get a running boost and Mute Kid gets an ability that temporarily shows him where to put the puzzle pieces. When the bar fills up you get to use your most powerful skill. Ayame unleashed an explosive sword strike that removes properly placed pieces. Mikan’s super ability makes him cry a river of orange juice (note: his name is a type of orange) and allows him to automatically place any piece he picks up correctly on the board. If you play use Mikan you can run to the top screen, grab the pieces as they appear, and get a huge lead. Mikan rocks.
Playing through the story mode unlocks jigsaw puzzles to play in free play mode. Mikan’s puzzle set is full of mythological creatures like kappas, dragons, and Bigfoot. Mute Kid has a bunch of dinosaurs. There are 144 puzzles in total and any unlocked puzzle can be used in wireless battles. Jigsaw World: Daigekitou! Jig-Battle Heroes feels like it’s designed for multiplayer since the computer AI is brainless. Unfortunately, Jigsaw World: Daigekitou! Jig-Battle Heroes doesn’t support Nintendo Wi-Fi. You can only play with a nearby friend. Good thing Jigsaw World: Daigekitou! Jig-Battle Heroes supports DS download play because it doesn’t look many people own this game.
In an interview we did in July NIS America told us they won’t release Jigsaw World: Daigekitou! Jig-Battle Heroes in North America. This isn’t a big deal since the actual game is easy to play. Understanding the cutscenes and the quirky humor is a different story though.
Images courtesy of Nippon Ichi.