Michael Leparc On April 2, 2015 at 2:14 pm

Fossil Fighters Frontier_LogoWith how perennially popular dinosaurs are among kids (and even adults like me), it’s a wonder there aren’t more games designed to exploit that fact. Fossil Fighters is a series that debuted here on the DS back in 2009, but mostly slipped under the radar despite some decent reviews. It’s back now as a 3DS title, Fossil Fighters Frontier, but unfortunately it doesn’t do too much for the cause of dinosaur games with its failure to stand out much from the pack of other RPGs like Pokemon.

It’s a shame because the core concept of the game is actually quite interesting. Yes, reviving fossils has been done before, from Jurassic Park to the aforementioned Pokemon, but this game adds some interesting wrinkles to it. First of all the game gives you customizable “Bone Buggies” to drive around through various dig sites around the world. You ping a sonar in order to discover fossils and once you approach close enough to one, it switches to mini game where you excavate the bones by tapping on the touch screen. The amount of time you have to work on it is limited by the battery in your buggy, which can be upgraded, along with the tools like the hammer and drills which will allow you to work faster. As you would expect, you have to balance between working fast and proceeding delicately so as not to damage the fossil. Depending on how well you do, the quality of the fossil dictates your revived dinosaur’s stats. Finding different parts of an already revived dinosaur (or vivosaur) levels them up as well as unlocks previously unknown battle moves.

Unfortunately the battles themselves are an inconsistent mess. Some are fairly easy and straightforward to get through, while others suffer from a severe spike in difficulty (the first tournament you enter being a prime example), which is quite unexpected in a game ostensibly geared towards children (the cheesy intro song and corny dialogue full of stereotypes tend to give away its target, anyway). Battles themselves occur either through the course of the story, encounters with rogue vivosaurs at dig sites, or tournaments back at the Fossil Park. Before the fight begins you have a choice of which vivosaur in your collection to trot out (much like Pokemon you’ll want to counter elements like water against fire, etc.). You also have the option of bringing AI or multiplayer teammates along as “Paleo Pals” (and you’ll want to) to fill out your roster for up to 3 vs. 3 fights. Sadly you have no control over your Paleo Pals, though they often do the right thing and will perform better than you at times.

Anyway, there’s some interesting wrinkles in the gameplay as far as things like stances. For example, performing a certain battle move can leave your vivosaur in a different stance that will make them more or less vulnerable to certain attacks by the enemy and the same goes for them. Another nice touch is the ability to deploy certain booster shots during a vivosaurs attack to either increase attack, defense, or resistance to poison and other similar status effects. Your Paleo Pals will chip in with a few of their own to help you out as well. What I didn’t particularly like is how if the first move your vivosaur gets revived with costs too much TP, they basically have to wait every other turn to even do anything, something that isn’t always viable in combat and will force you to relegate them to the bench. Many battles later in the game are so unbalanced that you’ll have to spend time grinding your vivosaurs up so they can withstand the onslaught. There is an option to just automatically go through a fight without issuing any commands, but that doesn’t make it any less tedious.

The story is pretty humdrum even by the low standards of Pokemon (kids get taught how the business works and save the world from evil genius, check) and there’s no voice acting to speak of. It’s not very adventurous musically either, but that’s not a big problem. I was disappointed in the graphics however. While there’s minimal framerate loss, it’s mostly because they didn’t bother to push too far beyond the original DS’s capabilities even though they have much better hardware to work with. It’s not an ugly game, but the vivosaurs themselves could’ve been more awe inspiring and don’t measure up to the competition.

Still, I think kids would be more forgiving of this title than I am, and there’s enough here to keep them occupied between collecting all the fossils and participating in online matches and unlocking customizations. Fossil Fighters Frontier is not as earth shaking as its vivosaurs, but it’s a competent RPG for its intended audience, nonetheless.


There’s plenty to do, but also plenty of flaws that hold it back.


Feels more like a well done last gen handheld game than a current one.


Nothing really caught my ear in this soundtrack, except for the humorously bad intro.


Not the dinosaur game I was hoping for, but a decent time killer anyway.

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