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Dream Trigger 3D Review

Much like brain surgery or rifle marksmanship, proficiency with Dream Trigger 3D comes only after determined hands-on practice. While both the instruction booklet and an in-game tutorial explain the fundamentals, the title’s ‘pat your head while rubbing your belly’ multitasking is bound to lead to a series of preliminary game over screens. Learning to simultaneously manipulate the circle pad, stylus and trigger isn’t a skill that is often required from gamers. Yet, once players master the activity, Dream Trigger reveals itself to be an enjoyable, albeit limited, 3DS experience.

Prudently forgoing a plotline to explain the game’s abstract mechanics, players use the portable’s analog nub to guide an avatar around the top screen, avoiding waves of enemy bullets. Unlike most shmups, Dream Trigger‘s bullet-spewing baddies are initially concealed from the player, forcing gamers to use the bottom screen to draw dormant sonar charges. In tempo with the game’s soundtrack, a vertical line periodically sweeps the screen, converting these etchings into pings capable of revealing an antagonist. To destroy these foes, players must hold the trigger down, as they collide into the innocuous-looking insolents.

All the while, gamers are compelled to manage their shot power- which gradually recharges as foes are uncovered, and renders the avatar invincible when it employed. Additionally, a number of color-coded powerups defy collection, often sending players into dangerous areas for scoring, health, or energy perks. While the learning curve for right-handed participants is steep, southpaws have it even harder- they are forced to use to A,B,Y and X buttons as a makeshift circle pad substitute.

Once players adapt to Dream Trigger’s concurrent components, the game becomes temporarily absorbing, as players are required to devote their complete concentration to each five-minute long level. Individually, each of the cartridge’s fifty-five stages offer a brief succession of cascading foes, culminating in a boss battle. Regretfully, these concluding conflicts reveal the title’s one fatal flaw- a lack of collective variety. It’s been said that repetition is the bane of all video games, with the best ones able to mask it. Although Dream Trigger delivers an assortment of animated backgrounds, songs, and even varies the player’s avatar, sonar, and enemy types, there is an unmistakable homogeny to each of the levels. Part of the problem may be the patterns of antagonists, which follow predicable, serpentine paths too often. Undeniably, the central source of tedium comes from the title’s boss battles, which frequently succumb to ‘shoot the boss when it’s black’ simplicity. Not even a collection of different game modes, ranging from a time attack to a local multiplayer variant, seems to alleviate Dream Trigger’s drab uniformity, although a laundry list of 117 in-game achievements humbly tries.

Fortunately, the game’s vibrant visuals make the most of the 3DS hardware. Powerups flow though 3D space, enemy bullets flow in pinwheel patterns, and backdrops pulsate and gyrate with exuberance. Occasionally, the scenery becomes a bit too frantic, momentary obscuring the player’s agenda, although even deeper concentration can assist gamers through these moments. Sonically, the electronic beats complement the game’s abstract graphics, offering a eccentric mix which doesn’t sound muted when listening with headphones.

Reminiscent of experimental DS titles such as Big Bang Mini, Dream Trigger 3D is best enjoyed in short, concentrated bursts. While the title is difficult to recommend at its current forty dollar MSRP, players looking for a creative, commute-time 3DS game might want to pick up Dream Trigger at the first sign of a price drop.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.


  1. This one came out a month ago or so, right? Should be cheap now.

  2. Hmm, is it anything like Rez?

  3. I heard this one was hard as hell. A few reviews said they couldn’t pas the first level. True?

    • I heard this too. Why would they make a game that damn hard?

    • Like the review says there’s a learning curve. For the first 20 minutes, I was failing the first level. Now my eyes and hands are tuned to the game, it’s not hard at all.

  4. Is this an American or Japanese game?

    Are there difficulty levels?

  5. Thanks DesertEagle. I always like to read your reviews, if if I don’t have a 3DS.

  6. How come all the commenter icons look like Atari penises?

    • Hmmm, they look like abstract blocks of pixels to me. Would would Freud say about your interpretation?

  7. I’m still not seeing a game I want to play on the 3DS. No wonder why it’s not doing well.

  8. Does it get bullet hell-ish on you?

    Actually, this sounds interesting to me. I really like abstract games with shapes over realistic FPSes. Maybe it’s the Karnov effect.

    • Later in the game, there’s a good amount of bullets onscreen, but because you are invincible when you fire, it rarely gets too difficult.

  9. You write like you’re stuck on yourself. get over it dude.

  10. You write like you\’re stuck on yourself. get over it dude.

  11. I almost picked this up at GS after looking at the back cover. For some reason, I thought it would be $30 or so. When they told me $40 I had them put it back.

  12. I watched a video of it and it def looks crazy. The MTV MB review made it seem like some people won’t get it.

  13. Thanks Deagle. One question do you have to look at the top and bottom screen to play? That would seem a bit too hard.

  14. Any sales on this one yet? $20 seems like the right price.

  15. Seems more like a nightmare than a dream.

  16. So would Dream Trigger be considered a shmup? Look interesting.

  17. Looks like it could be hard to keep track of whats going on onscreen.

  18. I can wait until a clearance sale on this one.

  19. I have have to check this out.

  20. I picked it up today. Not bad at all.