NOTE: ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON COMICBOOKMOVIE.COM 03/16/2013
Looking back I can see why people may not have bothered to give the DS version of Iron Man a chance: All of the home console versions reviewed incredibly bad, so the chances that a version on an underpowered handheld being worth anyone’s time was slim. Of all the versions of Iron Man published by Sega to coincide with the release of the 2008 hit film, the DS version is actually a game that’s worth checking into.
Developed by A2M, Iron Man for the DS follows a similar structure to the console games. It tells the story of the film while adding additional plot elements to pad out the play length, such a sub plot with Tony dealing with the Maggia who are after Tony for cancelling their weapons contracts. Much like the film, the only Iron Man villain you’ll encounter in this version is the Iron Monger in the final stage.
What makes the DS version of Iron Man unique from its relatives on home consoles and the PSP handheld is the way it controls. The majority of the game with the exception of two levels is played like a twin stick shooter, where the touch screen takes the place of the second analog stick. Outside of the d-pad (or analong nub on the 3DS if you have the hardware)the only button you’ll use is the L button for boosting. You fire in all directions with the repulsors by using the touch screen and can access the unibeam and an EMP attack using designated touch screen buttons. You’d figure with having all those functions mapped on the bottom screen that you would find yourself firing a weapon you didn’t mean to in the heat of battle, but everything is spaced out on neatly on the screen to avoid things like this.
Two of the levels, the beginning where you’re in the Mark I armor and later in the Mark III, take place in interior environments and are not as fun as the regular stages where you’re in flight. The action is slow and the games graphics don’t look as well up close as they do from an overhead perspective. It’s often difficult to see enemies in certain cases as well with the camera pulled in so close. These levels are a change of pace from the flight levels, but thankfully they’re infrequent.
Between levels you’re given the chance to upgrade your armor with a decent amount of areas to power up. You can level up your weapons, your armor strength and your speed both in and out of boost. You can replay levels and complete additional objectives to level up your suit better should you want.
Unfortunately the problem with Iron Man on the DS is the same as the Invincible Iron Man for GBA in that there isn’t much content. The game can be beaten in an hour or two, and the only thing you can do after that is replay the game or go for a high score in the endless attack mode that unlocks upon completion.
Anyone looking for a solid twin stick style game starring your favorite armored Avenger should give Iron Man for DS a look. It probably won’t set you back much, and if anything it could help kill some time while waiting in line for Iron Man 3. I wouldn’t be opposed to a developer trying this concept as a downloadable game for consoles or PC with a little bit more content.