Time to look at a movie tie in that came out for the DS. I actually miss these games. For a while (The Gamecube era) just about every movie got a video game adaption almost instantly. They were usually short and fairly low budget, but there were some really good ones like the Spider-Man games and the Matrix. Typically none of them were downright terrible or anything either so it fun to have them around. Lightning Thief is one of the last movie games left or at least comparatively so. It’s naturally not a AAA title, but it is pretty fun and I enjoyed playing through it.
The plot starts off with a bang as Percy is chased by a Minotaur. It ends up destroying his Mom and Percy is taken to a school for demi gods like himself. Percy doesn’t care about fitting in with the other kids and doing his studies though as he wants to go to the under world and save his Mom. The problem is that he has been framed by someone for stealing the Master Bolt. If he doesn’t find it within 24 hours to clear his name, Zeus will start a huge war among the gods and millions will perish. Percy decides this is important enough to make a sub goal on the way, but saving his Mom is the priority. Mission start!
The gameplay is a pretty simple turn based system. You have to tap on the screen at the right time to reduce damage from enemy attacks so that makes it a little interactive. If you land a critical attack then you draw on the screen to increase the damage. Each character can have 3 different attacks equipped and instead of everyone getting a turn, each party gets a turn. This means that you can just stick to using one character and the other 2 can act as shields in the meantime. Interestingly, Grover was the strongest character in the game so I rarely ever used Percy. I’m assuming that was an accidental game design choice.
To progress through the story, you go from level to level via a map. There are no random encounters like in a traditional RPG as you see each circle before you cross it. You’ll only be forced intro a non story encounter once in a blue moon so for the most part you’re always progressing through the story. That being said, the game does add a lot of henchmen and random bosses for you to fight in the story to pad the game out a little. It’s still not a terribly long story and you’ll probably end up beating it in around 10 hours or so. It feels a little artificial when you’re fighting the same enemies over and over again, but fortunately I like turn based combat so it wasn’t too bad.
There’s not much in the way of replay value though. You can level yourself up to 99 I suppose. There’s not much point to doing so, but I suppose it’ll feel good. There are post game bosses that you can track down as well and eventually you can clear the map. It doesn’t personally interest me, but it’s better than not having any post game stuff to do.
The soundtrack is rather limited, but it isn’t bad. I liked the main theme well enough. It may not have been quite as high effort as the average title, but I like to think it tried its best. The graphics are also rather underwhelming as the sprites can be really blurry. It looks slightly worse than the average PS1 game, but I like to think that it would have looked better if the developers had been given a few more months to work with.
One thing to keep in mind during the game is that items are extremely valuable. They usually don’t count as a turn so you can still attack afterwards and they also deal as much, if not more damage than your best attacks. I ended up saving all of the items I had earned until the final 3 bosses and I’m really glad that I did. I was able to beat them extremely fast thanks to this strategy as I just spammed the items. The final boss was only able to get in one shot thanks to my item spam. You get items with each level up so just follow that strategy. In the meantime, use your upgrade points to improve strength and accuracy.
My favorite combo that I used for the whole game was Percy’s Accuracy increase ability on Grover and then I’d use his heavy slash to take out the opponents. It’s full proof and will work without exception for the first 80% of the game. After that you may need other strategies at the ready since the villains really love to spam status effects against you. They’ll blind you, burn you, etc. You just gotta press on or use the overpowered healing ability which cures you of everything and also restores a bunch of health. Clearly this game wasn’t balanced all that well.
The game did a good job of making Percy a really likable main character in this game. He doesn’t back down from a fight and is always making the right calls. He goes to save his Mom even when everyone else tells him to back off and he handles the traitor twist pretty calmly. He’s pretty much the ideal main character and while in part that may be due to the game’s limited level of story telling it worked out well so I can’t complain. The other characters were around, but none of them were as likable or charismatic as Percy.
Overall, The Lightning Thief was a fun game. It’s not a masterpiece and the story is stretched out a little too much at times, but you won’t get bored. It’s repetitive, but after catching over 50000 Pokemon in Go, I chuckle at the average game’s repetition. It’s pretty easy so it’s not much of a challenge, but it doesn’t feel insulting either. I wish the game would chill a bit with the status effects as they barely hurt you and just stretch the battle out. At the end of the day though, it’s a solid portable game to keep you entertained for a few hours. I’d recommend checking it out and maybe it’ll inspire you to watch the movie.