I'd like to discuss DS games.
The DS is Nintendo's latest handheld gaming system. It's been around now for five years, and is currently in its third iteration.
Most of you, if you own a DS (which you should) probably have the DS Lite. The original DS was ugly, a little bulky, and had dull screens. The DS Lite is sleek and shiny, but, most importantly, the screens were considerably brightened. The battery life is still fantastic (15-19 hours) and even on the lowest brightness setting it's still a great deal clearer than the old DS.
The hot and new DS, however, is the DSi. It is similar in shape and design to the Lite, except that it has more brightness settings, a matte finish (no more fingerprints showing everywhere!), two cameras and a SD card slot. As of yet there are few decent DSi-exclusive games.
The DS's primary strength is its fantastic games library. There's sure to be something to suit everyone. I've played at least one great game in nearly every genre. The old DS and the Lite are also backwards-compatible with the GBA.
But there are so many games; which ones do you choose? Well, I would like to humbly offer my suggestions:
This is the closest description I can find for one of my all-time favourite games: Rocket Slime
You are Rocket Slime, and you awaken one day to discover that all the other slimy inhabitants of your hometown of Boingburg have been slime-napped! Your task is to rescue all of your family and friends, but it won't be as simple as it first appears: Your enemy has Monster Tanks at its disposal, and you will have to command your own slime-shaped war machine in order to defeat these, too.
The controls are extremely simple and easy for anyone to grasp a hold of. The animations are adorable; I mean, look how cute Rocket is:
. The localisation is excellent; the puns are suitably atrocious (Fort Knight: Not Too Weak) and the music is catchy without being irritating.
Broken Sword: The Director's Cut
It's no secret that the Broken Sword series is one of my favourite gaming series and therefore I am ridiculously biased. Regardless, I think this is an excellent port of a classic game, and in my opinion the new artwork and additional puzzles are a decent enough bonus to justify buying the game a second time if you already own the original PC version.
The story is a good one: George Stobbart, unwitting American tourist, is drawn into a tale of mystery and intrigue surrounding the Knights Templar when the cafe he is sitting outside on a sunny afternoon in Paris is blown up...by a clown. Along the way he travels as far north as Scotland and as far east as Syria, making friends with ridiculous national stereotypes and a very alluring French reporter named Nicole Collard.
The hand-drawn animations and backgrounds look fantastic on the DS; the only drawback is the lack of the original decent music and Rolf Saxon's excellent voice-acting.
Hotel Dusk is probably the most stylish game available for the DS. It's a slow-paced, slow-building noir adventure that nonetheless had me hooked by the end.
The protagonist, Kyle Hyde, is an ex-NYPD officer who, in his search for his missing partner, ends up stopping at a remote hotel. The game is set in 1979 and takes place entirely in the hotel. The puzzles utilise the microphone, touch screen, and even the closable cover of the DS.
Trace Memory is an older adventure game developed by the same company behind Hotel Dusk and shares many of that game's puzzle elements, although the story and design are quite different. It is quite short, but enjoyable, and probably worth the purchase if you can find it for under $20 (amazon lists it as being twice as expensive as Hotel Dusk, which is ridiculous).
The story is centred around Ashley, a young girl whose parents disappeared when she was three years old. Ten years later she receives a package from her father, asking her to meet him on Blood Edward Island. While there she teams up with a shy ghost named 'D', who has a troubled history of his own.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Justice for All, Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations & Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
If you have not yet played any of these games then you at least owe it to yourself to try them. I understand that they're not for everybody, and if you don't like one you probably won't like any of them, but I think most people really enjoy these games, and it is a very consistent and addicting series.
In all four games you play a defense lawyer attempting to go up against Japan's incredibly biased and often bizarre court system. For those of you not already aware, in Japan over 99% of all defendants are found guilty, and the system leans heavily in the prosecutor's favour, making the life of a defense lawyer very difficult indeed.
But fear not! You, Phoenix Wright and/or Apollo Justice, have the assistance of a deceased mentor, two spirit-channeling sisters, and a reactive bracelet at your disposal, and not only are you going to find all of your defendants innocent, you are also going to uncover the identity of the true criminal! Each game has between four and five cases, with half of the game having you investigate crime scenes, and the other half battling the prosecution in the courtroom itself.
The characters are likable and well-portrayed, and the music is excellent: I'd urge anyone who even vaguely likes the music to track down the orchestral and jazz versions that were released. Mori listened to the orchestral version for nearly a week solid, and he's not even a fan of the games.
With the exception of the fifth case in the first game, the first three games are all direct ports of the original GBA games. The fourth game, Apollo Justice, was created for the DS and has superior graphics and integrates some of the DS's touch-screen capabilities.
One of the great advantages to having a handheld system is being able to pick up and play anywhere, anytime. Sometimes you just want something fun and silly that'll last you the length of time it takes to go to the bathroom. Mini-games and puzzle games are great for this.
Feel the Magic: XY/XX
The sole purpose of this game is to successfully complete mini-games - all involving either rubbing the touch screen or blowing into the microphone - so that a male protagonist can attract a young woman. It was named as one of the top ten weirdest games of all time by GameInformer. Still, it is fun, challenging, and very easy to play in short bursts.
Mario Vs. Donkey Kong 2
I really enjoyed this game, and a sequel has just been released. I hear it's inferior to the original GBA game (which I have never played) but I still found it well worth the purchase.
The aim of the game is to get your little wind-up Marios safely to the exit before the mini-minions can crush, impale or burn them. You use the stylus to move them around. In addition to the 80+ main stages there is the ability to design your own stages and share them over wi-fi.
Fun, bizarre mini-games that are really short; most last a maximum of thirty seconds. Some levels are pretty disgusting (shoving your finger up a nose?), some are inspired by classic Nintendo games, and others are just downright nonsensical. It was one of the first games released for the DS and is largely a showcase of all the DS's functionalities, but is still very fun and kept me amused for hours back in the day.
When wearing headphones, the DS's sound quality is none-too-shabby; certainly good enough for these games' purposes.
I wouldn't say this is worth owning, per se. It's very much a gimmick, and most people aren't likely to play Electroplankton for very long. But it is very cute and very nicely presented, and it's a great little program to use to showcase the DS to other people. (My friends all loved it).
Essentially you create music by interacting with animated plankton. There are ten plankton interfaces in total. There is no way to save the music that you create.
Elite Beat Agents
The American version of Ouendan, with a variety of American pop songs. If you've not played either this or Ouendan before, the gameplay is simple: You listen to the music, and use your stylus to tap the screen along in time with the beat. Each song is prefaced by a silly and amusing little cartoon.
Ouendan 1 & 2
The same as above, only with Japanese pop. These games haven't actually been released in the US, but are easily imported, and you really don't need to understand the slightest lick of Japanese in order to play them. (You may miss out on the subtleties of the cartoons, but even then the drawings are generally explicit enough for you to understand the gist of the story). Personally I prefer Ouendan to Elite Beat Agents. Maybe it's that they have better covers of the songs, or maybe it's simply that J-pop lends itself better to the game than American pop does (they didn't choose a brilliant selection of songs for EBA after all).
Ah, platformers. My downfall. I'm so exceedingly rubbish at these games.
Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure
Henry Hatsworth is a British adventurer tasked with finding the 'Golden Suit' (only available to wear by a true gentleman).
The game is an action-platformer on the top screen controlled by the DS's buttons. As Henry defeats enemies, they are relegated to the bottom screen, where they are captured within a puzzle game controlled by the stylus. If the enemies rise to the top of the puzzle game screen, they can 'escape' back into the platforming world.
Gameplay is a frantic mix of both platformer and puzzle, and it is also very challenging; far too difficult, I am afraid to say, for me. I enjoyed the puzzle part very much, but kept dying at the first boss, and haven't been able to pick it up again since.
The characters speak amusing gibberish, and the game has a unique and attractive style.
Kirby: Canvas Curse
The first Kirby game to be released for the DS, and, in my opinion, the best. It, like many other early releases, makes almost exclusive use of the stylus and touch screen.
You use the stylus to draw a rainbow-coloured line along which Kirby can run. You can loop-the-loop, draw a vertical line as a barrier to prevent Kirby from going somewhere, or draw a vertical line to push Kirby downwards if he needs to dive. It's a gimmick that works really well, and it's a great pity that they did not continue with it for the successive Kirby games.
New Super Mario Bros
This is yet another game which I found far, far too difficult for me, but it is apparently extremely popular with almost everyone else. It's a return to traditional form for Mario, with the addition of the ability to have Mario grow very huge or very small.
A simple platformer that may be too easy for your liking, but which was just about perfect for me. It's very silly; Peach, like any good girl, relies on her wide range of emotions to get her through any tricky situation. For example: She can cry in order to cause a climbing vine to grow. She also uses her umbrella to float through the sky like a regular ol' Mary Poppins.
Meteos is a fun astronomical-themed puzzle game in which you have to link up three similarly-styled blocks in a row in order to 'launch' them into space. You can also collect minerals from which you can create new planets, and thus new levels, to play on.
N+ is a pure unadulterated jumping platforming. It is a game with a very clear mantra, get your teeny tiny ninja from one end of the level to the other as fast as possible.
As this game is at times balls difficult things try and stop you from doing this, electrified this, and exploding that all seem to aim fly towards you in an effort to make you die. And you will die a lot luckily the game will reload you in less than a second so you rarely spend time not running around but this game is not recommend for people who are not ok with dying alot. For example.
I have not played this, but is has a reasonable score on Meta-Critic and I know Mori is highly addicted to the X-box arcade version, so I figure it may appeal to some of you. You shoot pinballs at a series of lines and dots, aiming to eliminate all of the orange ones.
Another puzzle game that I have not played but which is apparently great fun. You've probably seen the regular pen-and-paper version of picross in your newspaper or in the puzzle magazine rack.
Professor Layton and the Curious Village
A very well put-together logic puzzle game with a strong story element. It doesn't have the replay version of, say, Meteos or Puzzle Quest, but is still very much worth owning. I beat the game in under 8 hours, but then I'm somewhat of a logic puzzle addict. A sequel is due out soon.
The screenshots provide a couple of examples of the types of puzzles you can expect to find:
Like Bejeweled, but with a simple roleplaying element attached. You win games in order to level up your character, build a party, lay siege to fortresses and continue the story. You can also learn spells which can aid you in your battles against the enemy.
I sank a good 40+ hours into this game during my lunch breaks at work.
A decent update of the classic game with several different play modes. I'm more a fan of the one-shot puzzles than I am of actual Tetris. It's good, but I haven't played this nearly as much as I have Meteos or Puzzle Quest.
I'm going to admit right here that I haven't played many of the RPGs available on the DS, but apparently these are all highly-regarded and worth a look:
Etrian Odyssey 1 & 2
(if you like grinding and pain, or so I've heard).
Many of the Final Fantasy
However I have
played Dragon Quest 4 & 5
Dragon Quest 4 & 5 have been updated for the DS and, although I never played the originals, from what screenshots I've seen they've undergone quite the radical graphical transformation.
The gameplay, as with Rocket Slime, is extremely simple and easy to learn. The localisation is equally good, with not only similarly bad puns but also a plethora of awful accents amusingly portrayed through the medium of text. I counted: Scottish, Cockney, French, Spanish, generic Eastern-European and Middle-Eastern and probably a couple of others I'm forgetting.
The story for Dragon Quest 5 is especially charming, following your hero as he grows from the age of 6 to 18 and then to 28, marrying and having children along the way.
Although the games require some grinding, they never feel too boring, and while they can present a challenge they are never too difficult.
There's Pokemon Pearl and Diamond available for the DS, and now they've released Pokemon Platinum, too, which is rated highly. If you've never played a Pokemon game then it's probably worth picking one up. I found Diamond engaging enough to carry the game to completion, and I even managed to score quite a few competition ribbons for my Empoleon.
These are all games that I shamefully have not played, but which are both popular and highly-regarded:
I hear this is the best RTS available for the DS.
Mori'd probably kill me if I forgot to mention this. I know he loves the Castlevania games.
GTA: Chinatown Wars
I hear so many excellent things about this game but I haven't had the energy yet to play another iteration of the popular but time-consuming (and sometimes difficult) GTA series. Mori was all about the drug dealing for a long while, though.
Knights in the Nightmare
I'm intrigued by this game. Is it worth me picking up?
I was addicted to Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town and was bitterly disappointed by the ridiculously buggy Harvest Moon DS. I hear this is a very good and decent alternative to that series. Again, I'm intrigued, but not sure if I have the time and energy to devote to such a game.
The World Ends With You
If I had found this in a store I probably would've bought it by now, but I'm not quite sure enough to buy it outright online. I've heard nothing but good things about it, though.
Evil Games Which You Must Never Play, Ever
Animal Crossing: Wild World
If you see this game, do not pick it up. If you must pick it up, throw it into the corner of the room and leave it there, forever to collect dust. This is an Evil game and will Consume Your Soul.
If you must know what it is about, you play a small humanoid creature enslaved by a megalomaniac raccoon who forces you to live amongst a variety of self-obsessed creatures. Here you are obliged to harvest fruit from dawn to dusk, provide the museum with every single one of its exhibits, and maintain your house in a condition as approved by the asinine HSA.
P.S. Larlar, I would have humbly asked you to approve this thread only you were not online.