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"Fossil Fighters" – Nintendo DS Game Review

Jennifer Wilber is a teacher and writer. She holds a B.A. in English and an Associate's in Computer Game Design. She is a life-long gamer.

The cover art for "Fossil Fighters" on Nintendo DS.

The cover art for "Fossil Fighters" on Nintendo DS.

Fossil Fighters

Fossil Fighters is a role-playing game for the Nintendo DS. It was developed by Nintendo SPD, Red Entertainment, M2, and Artdink and published by Nintendo. Fossil Fighters was released in Japan in 2008 and in North America in 2009. Fossil Fighters is called Bokura wa Kasekihoridā in Japan, which means “We Are Fossil Diggers.”

Fossil Fighters is an RPG where the player must collect fossils to revive dinosaurs (called Vivosaurs in this game) and use them to battle other Vivosaur trainers. There are many parallels between Fossil Fighters and the Pokémon series.

Promotional Artwork for "Fossil Fighters"

Promotional Artwork for "Fossil Fighters"

Plot

Fossil Fighters follows the story of a young boy who arrives on Vivosaur Island. In the beginning of the game while the player is traveling by boat to the island, he is asked a series of questions to determine how he will look (similar to the character creation mechanic in Animal Crossing).

Once the player arrives on the island, he is sent to a practice dig site to learn the basic game mechanics. The game involves digging up new fossils to revive Vivosaurs and participating in battles against other Vivosaur trainers. The game involves completing various tasks and missions and competing in tournaments to level up. The plot and gameplay are very similar to the Pokémon games.

There is a hint of a romantic subplot between the playable character and another character in the game. Throughout the game, the player gets to know this character and there are hints that they are developing feelings for one another. As the game progresses, the plot does get a bit darker than it is in the beginning, but this game is still suitable for all ages.

Fossil cleaning in "Fossil Fighters."

Fossil cleaning in "Fossil Fighters."

A Vivosaur in battle in Fossil Fighters.

A Vivosaur in battle in Fossil Fighters.

Gameplay

The gameplay in Fossil Fighters is straightforward. You dig up fossils from various dig sites, then bring them back to the lab to clean and revive them. Once you have revived your Vivosaurs, you are able to use them in battle. At the end of each chapter, you take a level-up test, which consists of a cleaning test and a battle. Your ultimate goal is to become a master fighter. This is reminiscent of the badge system in the Pokémon games.

You must find the skull fossil first in order to revive any Vivosaur. As you find the fossils of other body parts, you can integrate them into the Vivosaur to make it stronger and to allow it to learn new skills. The initial strength of each Vivosaur depends upon how well you cleaned to fossil. The Vivosaurs also get stronger as you use them in battle.

Though there are many similarities between Fossil Fighters and Pokémon, the fighting style is completely different. Rather than having a party of 8 monsters to choose from throughout the battle, with one active party member at any time, in Fossil Fighters you carry up to five Vivosaurs at a time and choose three to use at the beginning of each battle.

During battle, you can attack with any of the three Vivosaurs you have chosen to fight. One of your Vivosaurs will be assigned to the attack zone, while the remaining two will play from the support zones. Your attacking ability relies on FP. With enough FP, two or even all three of you Vivosaurs may be able to attack during your turn. As you level up, more FP will be available. After each battle, the Vivosaurs that you used in battle will be healed and ready for their next battle.

Also, similarly to Pokémon, Vivosaurs each have a different element association. There are five different elements in Fossil Fighters: Neutral, Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. The strengths and weaknesses are straight forward. Water is strong against Fire. Fire is strong against Earth. Earth is strong against Air. Air is strong against Water. Neutral has no advantages or disadvantages

A battle formation in "Fossil Fighters" for Nintendo DS.

A battle formation in "Fossil Fighters" for Nintendo DS.

Elemental strengths and weaknesses in "Fossil Fighters" for Nintendo DS.

Elemental strengths and weaknesses in "Fossil Fighters" for Nintendo DS.

Critical Reception

Fossil Fighters received mixed reviews from critics. The Japanese video game magazine Famitsu gave the game a score of 32 out of 40. During the first week of release, Fossil Fighters was the third best-selling game in Japan, with 35,000 copies sold. It sold 240,176 copies in Japan by the end of 2008, making it the 15th best selling Nintendo DS game that year in Japan.

In the United States, Fossil Fighters averaged scores between 7 and 8 out of 10 from reviewers. Most reviewers praised the game for being fun, having simple controls, addictive fossil cleaning mechanics, and enjoyable battles. Most reviewers compared the game to Pokémon, though some reviewers, including GameSpot, did not mind the similarities. Some reviewers did, however, find the graphics and music lacking and criticized the game for being too much like Pokémon. Fossil Fighters sold 92,000 copies during the first month of release in the United States, making it the 10th best selling game for that month.

Box art for Fossil Fighters: Frontier for Nintendo 3DS.

Box art for Fossil Fighters: Frontier for Nintendo 3DS.

Sequels

There were two sequels to Fossil Fighters released after the success of the original Fossil Fighters title.

Fossil Fighters: Champions was released in 2010 in Japan and 2011 in North America. This title was also for the Nintendo DS.

A third installment in the series, called Fossil Fighters: Frontier, was also released for the Nintendo 3DS. It was released in 2014 in Japan and in 2015 in North America and Europe. The gameplay of this game is quite a bit different from its predecessors, in that the player is confined to a vehicle while searching for fossils.

The Stego Vivosaur in Fossil Fighters for Nintendo DS.

The Stego Vivosaur in Fossil Fighters for Nintendo DS.

My Thoughts

Fossil Fighters is a simple, yet addictive, game. It is perfect for Pokémon fans who have already exhausted the Pokémon RPG library and are looking for a similar game to play. I also recommend it for all RPG fans and gamers who like dinosaurs. It seems difficult to find good dinosaur-themed games, and this is one of the best that I have played.

© 2018 Jennifer Wilber