Well folks, we’re back again. So far this week we’ve looked at the Top 10 DSiWare games we’d like to play and our Top 10 WiiWare games of 2009. Today we’re going to head back to Nintendo’s portable and take a look at what our favorite DS proper games of the year were. These are, as usual, presented in no particular order. These are just the 10 games we think stand out above the rest.
Matt Says: Nostalgia is as it’s name implies; a wonderful play on all the tropes that make Japanese RPG’s such a lauded genre. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel in any way; from saving the world from a dark entity to the “she’s really a princess/holy figure!?” plot twist to the turn based combat, it takes the safest approach to entertaining you. Whether it’s pulling stuff from Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest or even Skies of Arcadia, it’s all done in love.
Tony Says: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days has probably the most bizarre title I’ve seen for a game in a while, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good game. The events of the game take place between the events of Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II and explains many of the details that might have been missed between the first two games. Who doesn’t like seeing the Disney crew palling around with some of Squares more memorable characters. It’s the perfect combination and I’ve been sucked in by every game in the series so far. It also was the last performance for Mickey’s long time voice actor Wayne Allwine, may he rest in peace.
Shelby Says: Rhythm Heaven is the western localization of Rhythm Tengoku Gold from Japan. I contemplated importing the Japanese version numerous times assuming that Nintendo would never localize a game with such heavy Japanese roots. Somehow, the gaming cosmos aligned and Rhythm Heaven saw a North American release. With the only controls being tap, flick and release, this game takes the old adage of “easy to play, difficult to master” and proceeds to bring you to your gaming knees. Anyone out there that has played the ping-pong game knows what I am talking about. For those of you that haven’t, consider yourself warned. Rhythm Heaven is a simple rhythm game with such a high kawaii factor (kawaii is Japanese for cute by the way) that you can’t help but smile at the quirky situations you tap your way though. Some will argue that the game’s appeal suffered from its western localization but for those of us that can’t read Japanese, Rhythm Heaven is a great DS game to add to your library and one of our top ten DS games of 2009.
Matt Says: Where as Nostalgia is a love letter to the past, Bowser’s Inside Story trumpets in the glory of iteration. It took the winning formula from Mario’s other role-playing traipses and polishes it to such a sheen that you can just barely look at it. While ham-fisted throughout, the story breaks that fourth wall and makes fun of itself as it travels down the interesting rabbit hole of the Bros. taking arms inside Bowser; which is what makes the whole thing so memorable. What else is there to say other than this game gives us chortles?
Tony Says: E3 this year was the break out time for 5th Cell’s latest DS project, Scribblenauts. The game garnered a huge following based on the play time that many people had there. The release of the game brought much hype, and unfortunately necessary criticism as the game didn’t control very well when doing small, precise movements. Despite that though, the endless possibilities for solving the game’s brain bending puzzles and the hilarity that would often ensue when a Chihuahua faced off against a T-Rex meant it was an experience you couldn’t and shouldn’t pass up.
Shelby Says: Peggle is yet another form of “gaming crack” to come from PopCap Games. Being a sort of upside down pinball, Peggle challenges players to shoot a number or orange pegs with a limited number of shots. It recreates all the fun and excitement of Plinko, which has been scientifically proven to be everyone’s favorite The Price is Right game. With the help of Q Entertainment, Peggle has finally found the platform that best suits its “point and shoot” game play with Peggle: Duel Shot. Not only does Duel Shot match the DS acronym, but it also implies that both Peggle and Peggle Nights are included on the cartridge. That means twice the addictive game play for your buck. The only thing that is different from Peggle DS is a new minigame that you play after hitting 5 purple pegs. The activation of this games makes you bounce your ball around new boards to collect gems and extra balls. Peggle: Dual Shot is without a doubt one of the best DS games of 2009. It is the kind of game you can pick up and play for five minutes or five hours. The combination of the graphics and sound remind me of a slot machine. Thankfully I only have to pay for it once.
Matt Says: In my mind, the original Professor Layton was the kind of game that should pull in the two disparate gamer stereotypes; giving us puzzles that casual players would like and adventure aspects to pull in “teh hardcorz” . Although sales didn’t skyrocket like most Nintendo published titles, it did gain a following and managed to become one of those evergreen titles that constantly showed up on sales charts. Which is a godsend, because it begat Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box. It ups the ante by taking the gentleman on a train, adding even more of those devious puzzles that have become a hallmark, giving us beautiful cut scenes and wonderful voice acting and fulfilling a life-long dream of helping a hamster lose weight.
Tony Says: Was there ever any doubt that this game was going to make the list of best games of the year? Well, actually there always is until the list comes out, but Spirit Tracks brought everything you love about Zelda to you yet again. It fixed the problems that many people had with the previous hand held title Phantom Hourglass and this time Zelda even came along for the ride, so to speak. Despite the game’s limited exploration of the Overworld the stylus based game play of Spirit Tracks proved that it really can be done on the DS and you don’t always need the buttons to control your game. And who doesn’t want their mail delivered by a guy who thinks he’s a train?
Matt Says: Besides the obvious inspiration from Layton, Hatsworth decides to mash-up genres in a different way: adding match three puzzles with platforming. It’s definitely a case of something’s sum being more than the sum of it’s parts; alone the platforming and puzzling is unspectacular, but combined they make for a hectic and colorful adventure. What makes this such a great game this year is it’s undeniable charm and wit, making it this best game involving an old man searching for golden pantaloons ever.
Tony Says: 5th Cell makes the list yet again for another of their great user generated games. This game had you drawing the main character and many of the elements that he or she or it would need to proceed through the adventure. The story was moving at times and at one point I really felt sorry for (spoiler alert) the child who had seemingly lost his mother. The story could drag on at times, but it was so engaging you couldn’t help but put it down. And my hero, Ugly, saved the day yet again.
So there you have it. Another list in the books for this year. Do you agree with our picks? Do you disagree with our picks? Leave us a comment and let us know, or head over to the forums and talk to us there. Tomorrow’s final list of the week brings us to our favorite games on the Wii, so come back tomorrow to see what we’ve picked.
Yesterday we brought you our review for Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter on DS. Today we take a look at the Wii version of the game. Essentially a remake, and not a true sequel of the DS original, The Next Chapter provides an as to date unique experience on the Wii.
The plot of the game revolves around a number of items that belong to the different Raposa villagers going missing. These items have been hidden throughout a number of different themed environments and it’s up to you as the hero to find them and return them to their owners. You’ll create your hero at the beginning of the game and from there travel to lush jungles, dark themed environments and more.
Right from the beginning you’ll notice some glaring issues with trying to put this style of game on the Wii. The beauty of the DS system is that you are touching the screen and for the most part it’s essentially like drawing on a piece of paper. The Wii Remote, while accurate to where you’re pointing does not offer the same tactile feedback of the handheld and drawing feels awkward. You just can’t get the level of detail and accuracy on Wii that you can with the DS touch screen. One of the first environmental objects I was asked to draw was a bridge. I drew what I thought was a good bridge and when it was in the level I was walking well above it in mid air.
The platforming elements of the game themselves are for the most part boring and uninspired. There’s no difficulty to them and you very well may find yourself bored very quickly. Story elements take place outside the games levels themselves and you’ll be going back to the hub world after every level to deliver messages or items to different villagers. This will mean having to traverse from one side of the world to the complete other to deliver something and then turn around and go right back to get to the next level. There are a lot of things that can be found hidden in hard to reach areas of the levels and for veteran gamers looking for a challenge it can be a lot of fun trying to find all of these hidden templates, color patterns and objects. It will add a bit of depth to an otherwise easy platformer.
Also during the game you’ll be asked to stop the action to draw mostly useless background elements, that while can be a bit engaging really bring the action to a halt way too often. The beauty of the DS version was that you were only asked to draw what was necessary to complete the level. Its fun to see the lizard you drew sitting on trees, but in the end it’s completely unnecessary and a waste of time. There are a lot of different types of platforms and other elements that you’ll be asked to draw and the way they’re incorporated is quite clever. Different colored platforms have different properties and many times you’ll combine two or more of these types to create a multi-part platform. This could be putting a solid block down setting a physics based one on top of that to reach a springy platform. It’ll tax your puzzle solving skills and is one of the more difficulty elements to the game.
Visually the game is quite nice to look at. The drawn characters and elements fit into the game a little better than they do on the DS. Though not as pretty as the DS game, the art style does fit nicely with this game.
Once you’ve finished the main story there are a number of multi-player mini games that you can play. The are versions of different sports like basketball, hockey, soccer and volleyball. They’re not well implemented and they’re not anything you’re going to play more than once just to say you did.
All told Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter has some good qualities, but they’re greatly outweighed by the bad. The story moves along a bit faster than the handheld version, but the constant back tracking, no sense of danger and the constant drawing will leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Final Score: 2/5 Below Average
Review copy of the game provided by THQ. Screenshots courtesy of Kotaku & IGN.