Give it time, however, and Ring of Fates blossoms into a rather more interesting game. Like Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass it still plays to the playground crowd, but the gameplay evolves to make it an engaging title for older players as well. First it throws in a system of tribe abilities. Each character in the game belongs to a particular tribe, and each tribe can harness particular powers through the medium of drawing on the DS touchscreen. Next, it adds secondary heroes, allowing you to switch between the twins and their allies using a quick-switch bar on the touchscreen.
Having managed that, it starts combining these abilities with switches, floating platforms and other objects dotted around the level - not to mention the ability to stack spells by casting them on top of each other - to create some pretty interesting puzzles. Finally, it even throws in one of the simplest and most intuitive item crafting systems I've ever seen in an RPG. Just collect all the items the monsters drop then take them to the workshop in the big city and there's no need to pony up the dough for shop-bought weapons; you can have them made better at a fraction of the price.
Another point in Ring of Fates's favour is that it's one of the most attractive action RPGs on the system. Earlier efforts favoured 2D graphics over proper 3D visuals, but since the Final Fantasy III remake Square-Enix seems to have been working on its DS 3D engine, and Ring of Fates features some surprisingly detailed background scenery, some nicely animated characters and monsters and some great magical effects. If you remember the days when the shaft of light through a window was the signature Square motif, then you'll also be glad to see them deployed so generously here. The music, meanwhile, is also better than you might expect from a handheld side-project of a major series.
The one major downside is the AI. When not directly controlled by you, characters in the party are CPU-controlled, and the CPU either doesn't quite understand what the job entails or can't quite get the hang of what to do. The fact that the game features an instant recall button, which summons errant party members back to your side, speaks volumes about their navigational abilities. That, however, doesn't solve the fact that they are shockingly useless in combat, nor does it help that having to constantly switch between characters to solve puzzles can be a bit of a chore - can't that chap just jump on the switch or stack his spell upon yours without detailed instructions?