North American front cover of Fossil Fighters.
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
|Distribution||Nintendo DS Game Card|
Fossil Fighters, known in Japan as Bokura wa Kasekihoridā (ぼくらはカセキホリダー lit. "We Are Fossil Diggers"?), is a 2008 video game developed by Nintendo SPD, Red Entertainment, M2, and Artdink and published by Nintendo. It was first released in Japan on April 17, 2008 and was later released in North America on August 10, 2009, and in Australia on September 17, 2009.
On September 10, 2010, a sequel titled Super Kasekihoridā was announced, and it was released in Japan on November 18, 2010. Near the end of Nintendo's E3 2011 conference, it was announced that it would be released outside of Japan originally titled as Super Fossil Fighters, but later changed to Fossil Fighters: Champions. It was released in North America on November 14, 2011. At E3 2014, Nintendo casually announced the first entry on the Nintendo 3DS, Fossil Fighters: Frontier, released in North America in 2015, the game has been available in Japan since February 2014.
The game starts with a young boy arriving on Vivosaur Island, a place where dinosaur fossils can be dug up. These fossils are encased in stone, and must be taken to a lab to be cleaned on the touch-screen, using drills, hammers, and x-ray. The player must be careful not to damage the fossils, or they will be destroyed. Once successfully cleaned, the dinosaur DNA can be revived into powerful dinosaur-like creatures called "Vivosaurs". The game revolves around hunting for fossils, reviving Vivosaurs, and using them to battle other Fossil Fighters to raise their rank, therefore gaining access to more areas to dig up fossils, and learning more about the mysteries of Vivosaur Island.
The game begins with the Hero on a boat with its captain, Travers. He'll ask a series of questions of which determines the color of the Hero's apparel. Once he arrives at his destination, the Hero visits the local hotel on Vivosaur Island, where the manager gives him instructions on how to work the basic game mechanics. Soon after the manager finishes delivering her instructions, she sends the Hero to a trial Dig Site for first-hand practice. Such practice includes a Fossil Battle against a young boy named Holt. Once he completes the required training, he gains access to his first official Dig Site, the Greenhorn Plains. Upon arriving at said location, a man called Medal-Dealer Joe steals everyone's Dino Medals. The Hero encounters a young girl named Rosie, who's medals have also been stolen. She informs him that his medals are still safe, and that he must fight the criminal in a Fossil Battle. A victory results in Medal-Dealer Joe being arrested, and everyone's Dino Medals being returned safely. Rosie takes interest in the Hero, and decides to accompany him on his journey. Once the duo return to the Island, it is announced that Level-Up Battles have begun. Both Rosie and the Hero successfully complete their battles, bringing them one step closer to becoming a Master.
Soon after they level up, a new Dig Site, known as Knotwood Forest, becomes available. This particular location is home to a tribe called the Digadigs. They plea that the Hero must defend their treasures from the wretched BB Bandits. When investigating the Digadigmid, the Hero encounters a woman by the name of Nevada Montecarlo (a reference to Indiana Jones). The two later team up and take on Vivian, the leader of the BB Bandit Trio. In the meantime, Rosie becomes cursed and is only able to speak in a similar manner to those of the Digadigs. This curse will last throughout the majority of the game. Once the villains flee and peace is restored, Nevada and the Hero part ways. He and Rosie then head back to the Island to compete in their second Level-Up Battle, in which both emerge victoriously.
- Hero (known in the official manga as Hunter): The protagonist of the game. A young boy that arrives on Vivosaur Island at the start of the game. Players can change the character's name and the colors of his outfit, but not his gender. Players also can change his face by finding or purchasing masks later in the game.
- Rosie Richmond: A young girl with pink pigtails, matching pink skirt, and a matching pink helmet. Rosie helps the player character at various times, but seems to have bad luck. She is also one of the love interests for the hero.
- Holt: Is a returning Fossil Fighter and he could be considered your rival. In the official manga Holt is a big fan of V-Raptors and Rosie also has a crush on him.
- Dr. Diggins: A tall, wiry man with glasses, blue hair, and a deep tan. The foremost scientist on Vivosaur Island, and an expert at cleaning and reviving Vivosaurs.
- The B.B. Bandits: An organization of thieves on the island. The player encounters and battles three of the members several times: Vivian, the greenish blue-haired field leader, her long-nosed subordinate Snivels, and their strange canine companion Rex.
- The Digadig Tribe: A tribe of ancient island natives, led by a chieftain.
- Captain Woolbeard: A ghost pirate who lives in a shipwreck in Bottomsup Bay. He has beard ribbon.
- Saurhead: The reigning arena champion, a mountain of a man with a macho attitude and trademark green dinosaur mask, making him seem much like a luchadore wrestler.
- Duna: A mysterious girl (Dinaurian) with purple hair, and a deep connection to the island's past. She is also a love interest for the hero.
- Mr. Richmond: Rosie's Grandfather who owns Vivosaur Island. He appears frequently throughout the plot and has his own office in the Richmond Building.
- Guhnash: A large monster with three brains. The Hero fights him in order to save Vivosaur Island and the Earth itself.
The director Azusa Tajima and Genki Yokota from Nintendo SPD along with their entire sound staff from Nintendo worked together with Artdink, M2 and Red Entertainment in the development of this game. In an interview with the 4-team development group, Nintendo's Hitoshi Yamagami describes the game's conception around 2004, when Red Entertainment proposed the idea of a game involving dinosaurs.
The official manga currently has 15 "episodes" as stated on the Fossil Fighters official website, each of which has 16 pages each.
Hunter, the main character of the manga has revived the following vivosaurs:
- Spinax (Altispinax): Hunter's First revived vivosaur
- V-Raptor (Velociraptor): Hunter's 2nd revived vivosaur
- Shoni (Shonisaurus): A slow developer, but fends off the BB Bandits' Plesio (Plesiosaurus) in the manga.
- Tricera (Triceratops): Revived from greenhorn plains, Tricera was used against BB bosses Frigi, but didn't stand a chance. Also fought alongside the Samurai's Mihu (Mihunekisaurus), in destroying the Dinomaton in Fossil Stadium.
- Coatlus (Quetzalcoatlus): Not seen being used in battle, but has assisted Hunter.
- Igno: Battled the BB Boss' Frigi, though only temporarily as Igno faded after Frigi was beaten
Fossil Fighters received a decent score of 32 out of 40 by the Japanese magazine Famitsu. The game was the third best-selling game in Japan the week of its release at 35,000 copies sold. By the end of 2008, Fossil Fighters had sold 240,176 copies, making it the 15th best-selling DS game of the year in the region. In the United States, it sold 92,000 units in August 2009, making it the 10th best selling game for that month.
In America, Fossil Fighters scores averaged between 7 and 8. Reviewers generally praised the game for being fun, having simple yet surprisingly addictive cleaning while having battles that were somewhat enjoyable. While most reviewers compared it to the Pokémon video game series, some reviewers like GameSpot didn't mind, saying that they might as well borrow from the best, while others didn't bring it up much. However, reviewers found game elements like graphics and music overall lacking, and some reviewers, like IGN (who gave the game a 5.3), knocked the game for being repetitive and too Pokemon-like.
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Fossil Fighter's low bar of 92,000 units didn't bode well for several titles missing from the top 10.