Farewell, DS: Part Three - The Ten Best DS Games (by Carl B. and Robbie P.)
March 21, 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 ten through one follow.
The sequel to the masterpiece Okami, Okamiden looks to take what its predecessor did on our consoles and shrink the adventure for our handhelds. The game may not be released by the time this article hits, but there is no doubt it will be one of the most revered DS games to hit the system. Okamiden brings the Celestial Brush techniques to the touch screen, and they work flawlessly. It is definitely the easiest way to use these techniques, and feels more natural on the DS than the Wii or PS2. Okamiden also brings back the classic sumi-e art style that won critics over to the sequel, and it looks fantastic. I actually think that when it releases it will be the best looking game for the Nintendo DS. Also in Okamiden, Chibiterasu will meet friends that will join the wolf on his journey. Each of his friends will play a role in advancing the gameplay which should open up unique puzzle aspects. - Robbie P.
9. Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia was the third and final Castlevania game released on the DS by Konami, and it's one of the best titles on the system. Order of Ecclesia plays very similarly to the other two DS Castlevania games, except this time around players aren't able to equip traditional weapons to Shanoa, the game's protagonist. Instead, they must acquire Glyph symbols that transform into different weapons from defeated enemies and challenges they encounter along the course of the game's adventure. - Carl B.
8. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
It's a shame that Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars didn't sell exceptionally well on the DS, because it truly is a great game. Released in 2009, GTA: Chinatown Wars takes players back to Liberty City in the classical top-down view. Players take control of the son of a Triad boss as he avenges the death of his father. Many aspects that make the GTA series so popular are present in Chinatown Wars, and the game even expands on some gameplay elements to the point that they need to be added in the next GTA installment. One such example is being able to destroy cop cars that are chasing the players in order to decrease their wanted level. - Carl B.
7. 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors
999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors features fantastic story-telling -- once Junpei, the game's protagonist, encounters the other people trapped on the ship he's able to engage in different conversations with each of them that can even influence the outcome of the game. As the story progresses, Junpei slowly pieces together how he was kidnapped and why the mysterious, gas mask wearing kidnappers are putting the nine people through a rigorous test of life and death. The overall atmosphere of 999 is often gloomy and bleak, but it's never overly gory, unnecessarily violent, or made of low production values similar to the Saw movies. - Carl B.
6. New Super Mario Bros.
New Super Mario Bros. was a return to classic 2D platforming most of us remember from our childhood. The classic Super Mario Bros. formula was updated with new 3D visuals on a 2D background and looked pretty good to boot. Mario didn't only get an aesthetic update, but some of his athletic 3D moves also carried over to the 2D gameplay. Mario could wall jump, triple jump and even ground pound in a 2D platformer. New power-ups, which have become tradition for new Mario games, were introduced to the game such as the Mega Mushrooms which would cause Mario to grow to an enormous size. Mini- Mushrooms would cause Mario to shrink to microscopic levels to access pipes that were otherwise inaccessible by a bigger Mario. New Super Mario Bros. also took advantage of the dual screens by using both screens to display the action when Mario would go underground. It was a great experience to relive the classic days of Super Mario and ushered in a new wave of retro games that seem to be hanging around for the long haul. - Robbie P.
5. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is a fantastic game and a major step up from its predecessor, Phantom Hourglass. While many of the same elements from the previous game are included in this new DS adventure, Spirit Tracks adds enough, mainly in the form of replay-ability and puzzle solving, to keep the experience fresh. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks takes place 100 years after the events of Phantom Hourglass. Link, Tetra, and the group of pirates have seemingly found a new land to call Hyrule as Spirit Tracks takes place in a far more rural Hyrule than any game has seen before. In Spirit Tracks, a new Link travels to Hyrule castle to get his engineer certificate; the land of new Hyrule is littered with train tracks called the Spirit Tracks, and the inhabitants traverse the country in trains. After Link receives his certificate, Princess Zelda slips him a note asking him to meet her in a private place. It is revealed that something is going on with the Spirit Tracks, and a Hylian noble called Chancellor Cole is trying to revive the "Demon King." Princess Zelda's soul is split from her body and she accompanies Link in spirit form as he tries to restore the Spirit Tracks and prevent the resurrection of the Demon King. - Carl B.
4. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow was the first Castlevania adventure to release on the DS, and it is by far its best. Dawn of Sorrow is a sequel to the GBA's Aria of Sorrow, and follows Soma Cruz as he returns to Dracula's Castle to prevent the evil vampire from being resurrected. Dawn of Sorrow expands on several gameplay mechanics that were in its predecessor, including the Tactical Soul, which allows Soma to consume the soul of defeated enemies and gain their powers. - Carl B.
3. Radiant Historia
The DS has had some great RPGs over the course of its lifespan, but none are as fantastic as Radiant Historia. Radiant Historia takes place in a medieval world where two warring countries, Alistel and Granorg, threaten the future of mankind. Stocke, a Special Intelligence Agent of Alistel is sent on a covert operation to rescue an intel-operative from enemy territory. However, when he and his subordinates rescue their ally and attempt to escape back to Alistel, they are ambushed and the operative is killed. Stocke and his small team find themselves trapped once again when they're faced with a blockade to the south and a group of Granorg soldiers to the north. They try to break their way through, but Stocke and the members of his small task force are killed. Stocke awakens in the land of Historia, where two imp-looking beings bestow him with the White Chronicle, a mysterious book that grants the user the power to travel through time, and the ultimate objective of shaping history into one where Granorg does not control the world. - Carl B.
2. Mario Kart DS
Mario Kart DS is the sixth best game in sales on the Nintendo DS and with good reason. It was a fantastic addition to the series and possibly one of the best. Mario Kart DS is still the traditional kart racing with the beloved Nintendo characters we all know and love, but with some awesome new additions. For the first time in the series gamers could race against each other over Nintendo Wi-Fi. Not only did it add Wi- Fi, but for the first time in the series players could race on an additional 16 retro tracks from previous Mario Kart iterations and play through a single player mission mode. At the time, Mario Kart DS was in my opinion the most complete edition offering an abundance of features. Not to mention it was, and still is one of the better looking games on the Nintendo DS. This is definitely a game DS owners should own. - Robbie P.
1. Pokemon Black & White Versions
When Robbie suggested that the number one DS game on our mega-article series be Pokemon Black & White, I thought he was crazy. There's was no way Black & White could be better than HeartGold and SoulSilver – my personal favorites – and even then, I would never place those two games in the top ten. Everything changed when I completed the game and wrote my review, however. Pokemon Black & White feel like the completely fresh experiences, a feat that no Pokemon game has accomplished since the original Gold and Silver versions. This has been achieved thanks to a re-worked visual style for both battles and the overworld, awesome new Pokemon designs (players won't even see old Pokemon until they beat the game), and a fleshed-out online experience. After players beat the Pokemon League – a task that will run them at over 20 hours – the real game has just begun. Team building on Pokemon is such a deep experience (an entire iNintendo podcast is dedicated to the science of team building in Pokemon) that it will take players hours upon hours to catch the Pokemon they want and EV train them to greatness. Since the online modes are so feature-rich, competitive Pokemon battles have never been better. This is the first generation I've tried playing the game competitively, and I've already sunk over 60 hours into my copy of Pokemon Black. These two games didn't score as high as Radiant Historia or The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks in our DS review section, but the insane amount of replay-ability is enough to warrant the very best DS game to Pokemon Black & White. - Carl B.