It sounds a little strange to bring a lightgun shooting franchise to a handheld, even Nintnedo's touch-screen equipped DS. But, in a way, the touch screen minigame genre already owes a debt to Point Blank. Namco's classic arcade shooting gallery has had this formula down for years, and while the touch screen does lend a different feel, it's surprising how little change was really needed for it to fit right in amongst its peers like Wario Ware Touched! and Feel the Magic.
In this DS adaptation there are a whopping 40 minigames, many plucked from the classic trilogy, making it the meatiest game the series has seen yet. While many of these are similar, or variants on a theme there's really no shortage of variety to be found with games ranging from all types of shooting galleries and carnival games to more puzzle-based challenges. The juice has been turned up appropriately, to keep the pressure high on aspiring touch screen marksmen despite the close range.
And for a moment, it's brilliance. The fast-paced, intense action is without a doubt some of the best gaming of its kind on the platform. Moreover it really does manage to capture what made the arcade originals work and bring it more or less faithfully to the handheld medium. Even the visuals and sounds are more or less true to its PlayStation brethren.
The problem, if it is indeed one, comes from change of context. Point Blank DS still keeps the arcade formula of its predecessor. An entire game can be played through in about five minutes. There is nothing grander to be found; no repackaging of these minigames in a longer or more substantial mode, no goodies to unlock, nor indeed anything that couldn't be completed during a commercial break. There is an odd evaluation mode inspired by Big Brain Academy but it doesn't seem to offer anything different enough from the arcade mode. Ultimately this feels like a bare bones arcade release, and I'm not sure how well this will fly with many people out there.
There is, of course, a place for games like this, though. Handhelds are perfect for a quick pick up and play, and Point Blank will most certainly scratch that itch. The classic head to head multiplayer further seals the deal, and I enjoyed the Versus Mode here more than any other multiplayer minigames on the system. For those looking to keep a game around for flashes of boredom or some fun with a friend, this is just what the doctor ordered, but those looking for something to keep the busy with on a long car ride would be well advised to look elsewhere.
I might just be asking too much from Point Blank DS. It does its thing and it does it well, but the market doesn't seem very receptive to barebones arcade-style releases, and gamers have come to expect some sort of structured mode that will take a while to get through. But then the series never really had anything like that, and those simply looking for the giddy thrills of its predecessors on the go won't be disappointed.