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.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
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.
Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story
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.
Peggle: Dual Shot
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.
Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box
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.
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
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?
Henry Hatsworth and the Puzzling Adventure
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.
Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter
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.