Farewell, DS: Part One (by Carl B. and Robbie P.)
March 7, 2011, by Carl B. and Robbie P. - Nintendo released their dual screen portable, the Nintendo DS, on November 21, 2004, breaking away from the ultra-popular Gameboy series that made portable gaming a viable market. It has been over six years since the release of the DS, and since then, a plethora of great games have released on the platform. Carl B. and Robbie P. have put together a list of all the greatest games on the DS that will be released in a multi-part article the weeks leading up to the 3DS launch. Numbers 34 through 23 follow.
34. Super Mario 64 DS
As a launch title, Nintendo looked to utilize the power of the Nintendo DS to enhance this port of Super Mario 64 DS. Enhancing the game is exactly what they accomplished. Traditionally the game could only be played as Mario, but Nintendo went the extra mileage and included Luigi, Wario, and even Yoshi as playable characters. Power Flowers also play a big role in the remake. Besides the differing characteristics for each character, they would all take on separate abilities when using a power flower. These new abilities were designed to replace the different hats seen in Super Mario 64 such as Luigi's invisibility and Metal Wario. Super Mario 64 DS also had improved graphics including a higher polygon count for the characters resulting in a game that looked less blocky. All the original 120 stars appear in Super Mario 64 DS, but an additional 30 objectives were added bringing the total star count up to 150. Not only did the star count increase, but Nintendo included some new areas and new Boss fights for returning gamers. It was a really fantastic game to include during launch, but gamers wouldn't get an original Mario platformer until New Super Mario Bros. - Robbie P.
33. Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
The first Golden Sun on the Gameboy Advance is one of my favorite games of all time, and was my very first GBA game. Golden Sun and its sequel, The Lost Age, were both praised for their great story-telling, fantastic visuals and art style on the GBA, and unique twists on standard JRPG combat. After seven years since the release of The Lost Age, Golden Sun: Dark Dawn finally came out for the DS. It doesn't star the same cast of characters from the first two games -- their children now take up the responsibilities of defending Weyard -- and it may not carry the same magic that the first two games in the series did, but Dark Dawn is still a great RPG on the DS, especially for nostalgic fans of the Golden Sun series. Due to the Golden Sun event, the world of Weyard has changed dramatically. Continents have shifted and new countries have been founded, giving a new world for players to explore while still making references to locations in the previous two Golden Sun games to please the veteran fans. For players that haven't played the first two titles, Camelot has incorporated an encyclopedia function that highlights key terms in a conversation and lets players select the term to view more information about it. Not only is this a great addition for new players, but it also acts as a welcome refresher for fans that may have forgotten events, locations, or characters in the seven year period of no Golden Sun titles. - Carl B.
32. WarioWare: Touched!
WarioWare Touched! is a compilation of short and quick mini-games. Each mini-game is played in succession and gameplay ends when you master that character. Each mini-game is played exclusively with the stylus and microphone, best utilizing two of many Nintendo DS features. Some examples of the mini-games include: cutting food in half, rocking out on a guitar, connecting a light bulb to wires, and many, many more. As you advance through the game each mini-game gets faster and faster. WarioWare has become known for its fast paced quirky gameplay and has gone on to grow larger with many sequels, and likely many more to come. - Robbie P.
Not since the days of Tamagotchi and Nano Pets have pet simulation been so popular. Nintendogs is a game that challenges you to look after a puppy. Not only will you be looking after the dog, but you can also pet them and play with them via touch screen controls to ensure they stay happy. Not only could gamers focus on the single player, but there was also a Bark Mode available that was activated when linking up with other gamers. Both dogs would be able to play and hang out together during this multiplayer mode. It was released in five different versions on the Nintendo DS and sold more than 22 copies combined. Like Elite Beat Agents, Nintendogs is not necessarily aimed at traditional gamers. It caters to a more casual like audience and is likely the reason for its huge success. It will be followed by the Nintendo 3DS release of Nintendogs + cats. - Robbie P.
30. Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation
My first foray into the Dragon Quest series was through the less than spectacular Dragon Quest VII on Playstation, but despite the game being pretty mediocre, I was interested in playing more games in the series. I eventually picked up the first two Dragon Quest remakes on the DS, Dragon Quest IV and V, and then Dragon Quest IX when that released exclusively for DS. Dragon Quest contains this strange, laid back atmosphere that no other JRPG seems to replicate. Compared to Final Fantasy, which has been bogged down by long cut scenes and uninspiring narratives, the Dragon Quest series has always been fun to play, even if the games still rely on old-school mechanics. The latest remake, Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation, is no different. The game opens with the hero and two companions, Carver and Milly, as they approach Murdaw's castle, the main evil in the adventure. The party makes their way to Murdaw but is trapped in a spell he casts, thus sending each character to a different place in the world and turning them to stone. The hero then awakens in a house in a small mountain village, as if the entire thing only a dream. Players will eventually discover that there are two worlds -- the real world and the Dream World -- and that the characters who were defeated by Murdaw at the very start of the game are indeed themselves; each character that was defeated by Murdaw in the real world was sent to the Dream World, where they have lost the memories of who they are in the real world. Compared to Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride on DS, the overarching story of Dragon Quest VI isn't as riveting an emotionally gripping, but the various sub-stories scattered throughout the game are very engaging as players travel through both worlds to complete various tasks. - Carl B.
29. Retro Game Challenge
Any gamer that grew up in the late eighties/early nineties era were no doubt playing 8-bit consoles. Retro Game Challenge is not only a compilation of 8-bit inspired video games, but it's also pays homage to the days of playground cheat codes and video game magazines. Retro Game Challenge is not only based on the Japanese video game, Game Center CX, but it is also based on the television show of the same name. Gamers play through a number of 8-bit video games spanning different genres, the objective in each game is to clear certain goals. It could be to reach a certain number of points, or get to a certain stage, but either way the goals were clear and fun. After finishing each objective, you will no doubt stick around to finish each game. I still play the game to this day and feel it is one of the strongest "retro" video games in recent times. - Robbie P.
28. Contra 4
WayForward Technologies brings yet another great 2D platformer to our Nintendo handheld. Contra 4 is a return to form for the Contra series and that comes without saying there will be tons of running and gunning. Contra 4 is the direct sequel to Contra 3 and brings back the sprite style to accompany its return. Seeing how Contra is an anniversary title, it not only brings a brand new game for Contra fans to play, but also adds in a ton of extras; including unlockable characters, Contra and Super C NES games, mission mode, and even a complete series museum. Contra 4 utilizes the dual screen quite well on the DS offering action that encompasses both screens. This is also makes for some gigantic boss battles and epic levels in general. It is must have for Contra fans, but pussy boos need not apply. - Robbie P.
27. Elite Beat Agents
The Nintendo DS is home to many quirky games and Elite Beat Agents is no exception. As a rhythm game, gamers had to tap their stylus and drag it across indicators on the touch screen to advance the gameplay. Like most rhythm games, Elite Beat Agents carries a list of tracks that consist of various popular musicians. Some musicians that made this game were Sum 41, Hoobastank, Madonna, David Bowie, and even a hidden ditty by the Jackson 5. It was a gamble to release a game like this in North America, but due to reaching new gaming audiences it was the perfect time to release something unique. - Robbie P.
26. Advance Wars: Dual Strike
I've always been more of a turn-based strategy fan than real time strategy fan, and the fantastic Advance Wars series has never failed to impress me. Dual Strike contains many of the same gameplay mechanics that made the series so popular on the GBA; players control a large army and attack an opposing army on a grid-based map. Players are able to build various ground, sea, and air units, as well as capture enemy and neutral sites to fuel their respective units. Like most turn-based strategy games, Advance Wars: Dual Strike incorporates fog of war, a mechanic that blackens the entire screen except for areas that players have moved their units to. Fog of war is first introduced in the game in later missions, and is a great way of forcing players to carefully think out their attack patterns before they execute them. -Carl B.
25. Dementium II
Renegade Kid has been one of the best developers on DS, with games such as Moon and Dementium: The Ward made exclusively for Nintendo's handheld. Dementium II, the sequel to Dementium: The Ward, features an even more wacked-out story than the first game had. Players take control of William, a patient in the Bright Dawn Treatment Center. When the game starts up something bad is going on, as guards are seen running in the background and alarms are ringing. After players read a postcard on William's bed, the area morphs into a demonic, hell-like version of what it once was. The area eventually morphs back after William manages to escape his cell, but the game's story is never fully explained to the player; as William continues on in his adventure he finds postcards and notes that slowly unravel the game's mysterious plot. The atmosphere in Dementium II is nothing short of fantastic. The game's soundtrack consists of mostly ambient tunes, but more up-tempo sounds will play when players engage in battle with an enemy. Dementium II's constant state of loneliness is so authentic that it rivals that of Metroid, and even surpasses it in some cases due to Dementium's horror factor. Enemies never jump out of windows or run at the player from seemingly nowhere to get a cheap scare, but the fact that William is completely alone in the messed-up, ghoul-filled world, with the only resemblance of other human life in the form of postcards and notes, makes the experience scarier than most survival horror games. - Carl B.
24. Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride
Out of the four Dragon Quest titles available on Nintendo DS, Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride is by far the best. The combat and gameplay in general stay true to their SNES roots just like the other Dragon Quest remakes on DS, but where Dragon Quest V shines is in its fantastic story. Players begin the adventure as an unnamed hero travelling the countryside with his father, Pankraz, until they reach a small village where they meet up with Sancho, an old friend of Pankraz. Eventually, while exploring a cave with his father and the young Prince Harry, Pankraz is killed by evil entities bent on ruling the world. The hero and Prince Harry are then captured and sold into slavery, with the game picking back up ten years later as the two make their escape from their captors. The narrative then follows the hero as he tries to finish the business his father had started ten years ago, all while visiting familiar locations now ravaged after the ten years he had been gone. - Carl B.
23. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
A video game with a defense attorney as the main character you may ask? Yes, that is Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. The game follows Phoenix Wright while he builds a case through investigation and then partakes in the trial itself. If the player makes a mistake during trial, they are punished by losing one exclamation point on their health meter and must try again. It is a unique game using the Nintendo DS to its fullest. Both the touch screen and microphone are put to use in this game. One last tidbit about Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is that the game is actually an enhanced port of a Japanese only Game Boy Advance release. Wright has gone on to spawn many sequels and side stories, a testament for any great video game. - Robbie P.