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Jeremy Jastrzab
13 Dec, 2007

Christmas Buyer's Guide - Nintendo DS

DS Feature | Wonder what to buy for the dual screened wonder?
Even though it's still destroying all the sales records, the megaton that is the Nintendo DS had something of a quiet year. Still, as the undisputed market leader, there was always bound to be some good games to come along during the year, and a few considered great games. Either way, there was always going to be something for everyone, be they young or old, be they experienced gamers or total newbies. Here are a couple of games with a great chance of tickling just about anybody's fance.

Christmas Buyers Guides
PLAYSTATION 2

Anno 1701: Age of Discovery

Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1
Developer: Sunflower Int.
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios


Economic management games may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but if you're after a game that will keep the grey matter warm, there are worse things you could do. Not to mention Anno 1701: Age of Discovery happens to do a pretty good job on the DS. It seems that the developers have gotten the portability aspect 'right', while at the same time, providing an engaging game and story. It might be a little hard to find though.

Our review said: Surprisingly, Anno is the perfect game for a handheld system and, more specifically, the Nintendo DS. There are still a few minor drawbacks with the overall Anno 1701 game design that prevent this from being a better game, but being someone who has played both the PC and DS versions, the DS version comes out on top quite easily. The touch controls are simple to execute, the story mode is much more involving and the overall portability of it all makes this a much more appealing experience. Anno 1701: Dawn of Discovery still comes highly recommended for fans of such economic management games, and even for those of you who are willing to try something new. [FULL REVIEW: 8.0]

  

Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin

Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1-2
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami


We're big fans of the Castlevania, here at PALGN. The latest handheld addition to the series, Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin is the game where the developers got it spot on with the platforming mechanics. If you've never played a Castlevania game before, Portrait of Ruin could be just about the best thing you've ever played. While it's still enjoyable for veterans as well, it's hard to shake the feeling that you've been there before or that the well of ideas was starting to run dry. Still, it's among the best that the DS can offer.

Our review said: Often a review of a franchise game will conclude with the reviewer stating that a game may be 'good overall, and even better for fans of the series'. With Portrait of Ruin, this formula has been reversed. If you're tired of finding double jump boots and exploring just to fill out map percentages, then take a full point from the total score. If you haven't played all the other GBA/DS Castlevania games (or either of the excellent GBA Metroid games), then the stylish graphics, interesting settings and characters and great music may win you over enough to wonder what the others are complaining about. [FULL REVIEW: 8.0]

  

DK Jungle Climber

Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1
Developer: Paon Corp.
Publisher: Nintendo


While he's never quite been able to get back the status he once had, there have been a number of solid Donkey Kong games released since the SNES days. DK Jungle Climber follows up on its GBA predecessor and provide another interesting twist on the conventional platformer. While it certainly is no masterpiece, it's a good bit of fun on the go.

Our review said: DK Jungle Climber is one of those games that takes a unique control system, a wacky plot, and challenging level design and wraps it up into a remarkably effective package. While it does encourage ‘circular search’ syndrome, there’s enough included in the game to keep most players entertained for a decent time. Overall, it may not be a genre-defining game, but it is an excellent example of the genre done well. While The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is likely to be eating into every DS owner’s increasingly limited available gametime, one could do worse than to play this. [FULL REVIEW: 8.0]

  

Drawn to Life

Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1
Developer: 5th Cell
Publisher: THQ


Drawn to Life is one of those games that are perfect for the Nintendo DS. You get to draw your own protagonist, but things don't just stop there. When you're not looking for a specific someone to talk to, you're putting your stylus to work to bring to life any number of objects that will help you through the games numerous obstacles. This includes clouds, cogs, weapons, transportation and a wide variety of other useful objects. While some may say it was an experience that could have been improved, we just can't help but think how good the next game will be.

Our review said: Drawn to Life is a title that should provide quite a number of delightful hours to kids and adults alike. Its platforming is laid back, and although not overly innovative, when you add in the charming fact that that you can illustrate sections of its world into being, the game which would probably not stand out otherwise is taken to a whole new level and ends up evolving into a fun little experience. [FULL REVIEW: 7.5]

  

Final Fantasy III

Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1
Developer: Matrix Software
Publisher: Square Enix


Widely considered to be one of the best of the early Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy III has been rebuilt for the Nintendo DS in full 3D, though it's just as tough and just as enjoyable now as it was back when it was released on the Famicom. Not to mention it's also one of the biggest games that can be played on your dual-screened handheld. Everything that was old, is now new again.

Our review said: The DS is in a unique position. It gets to receive solid versions of various games from age’s past and present ideas, with these games not having to ostensibly live up to what may be a standard level of technical quality for the hardware. For example, Final Fantasy III is a game that deserves current day recognition, and Square can put together a decent build of an old concept without having to artificially ramp up graphical quality to a higher level which is standard (and therefore expected) on something like the PSP. Final Fantasy III succeeds both as a stunning remake, and a completely new RPG experience for English-speaking countries. It really is the biggest little adventure yet seen on the Nintendo DS. [FULL REVIEW: 8.0]

  

Glory Days 2

Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1-8
Developer: ODENIS Studios
Publisher: Secret Stash Games


As our review mentions, Glory Days 2 wasn't a game that we had heard much about before we actually played it. So, it was exceedingly pleasant when we found that the game is actually pretty good. It may not have the flashiest graphics, the most noticeable gimmick or be all that recognisable, but it's a fun little game that delightfully mixes action and strategy and just does things right. This is one no name that might be worth the plunge.

Our review said: It’s always a great feeling when a game you knew nothing about and assumed would be crap turns out to be rather good, particularly when you happen to be reviewing it. The only downside to this is that a title like Glory Days 2 will probably never receive the praise it rightfully deserves, as it is bound to be overlooked by consumers who favour licensed kids titles and other flavours of the month. Glory Days 2 doesn’t really do anything spectacular – it just combines a lot of excellent elements of older games, and gives them a bit of a spit and polish and makes them part of a greater product. Anyone looking for a solid action game that does things a little differently will be well served by Glory Days 2. [FULL REVIEW: 8.0]

  

More Brain Training from Dr. Kawashima

Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo


Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training was part of the launching platform that sent the DS toward the sales stratosphere. With several million units already sold worldwide (and with no sign of slowing down), the phenomenon continues with More Brain Training from Dr. Kawashima: How old is your brain?. If you do end up taking this for a spin, you might want to consider buying another DS as well. After all, once Nanna gets a hold of it, you might have a bit of trouble getting your DS back. [[FULL REVIEW: Coming Soon]


Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Justice for All

Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom


The Phoenix Wright series took a ridiculously long time to get to PAL shores, but the wait was worth it. The second in the unique series, Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Justice for All provides witty and intelligent gaming that will be appreciated by anyone who used to play PC adventure titles or is up for some mystery. While there are a few aspects of the series that could be updated at this stage, there is no denying that the game is clever and has some priceless laugh-out-load moments.

Our review said: Justice for All is a tough game to score. There are so many areas in which the formula could be improved, and yet it still dishes up a very compelling experience. What happens when they get it all right? Perfection, probably. After suffering through no less than six Resident Evil games with little to no advancement in core gameplay, it seems overly harsh to condemn Justice for All for not being particularly revolutionary with only the second installment. Sure, as the series receives more additions (and it damn well should), we can gradually expect bigger and better things in the lawyer landscape. Until then, it’s safe to clear up the backlog of GBA ports and give the DS fans what they’re screaming for after the first game – more amazingly unique Phoenix Wright gameplay. No objections here. [FULL REVIEW: 7.5]

  

Picross

Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1-8
Developer: Jupiter Multimedia
Publisher: Nintendo


So what exactly is Picross. Well, it's what you get when you take a 'picture' and mix it together with a 'crossword puzzle'. Basically, you have to fill the grid with squares and crosses, in order to eventually figure out what the picture is you're looking at. There are around 300 puzzles for you to check out, but there's also the option to make your own puzzles as well. You can then shares these puzzles online, over the Nintendo Wi-fi service. Finally, you can compete to solve puzzles with friends.[FULL REVIEW: Coming Soon]

  


Pokemon: Diamond/Pearl

Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1-16
Developer: Game Freaks
Publisher: Nintendo


It was only a matter of time before the juggernaut made its way to the Nintendo DS. Pokemon just doesn't look like it will die any time in the next 25 years. If you are one of the four people who haven't picked up the game, then now is the time to rekindle your youthful passion for capturing those little fuzzy creatures and creating your own underworld army of terrifying beasts. This time, you can even try to fulfil your plans of world domination over Wi-fi. Well, maybe not quite, but if you say that you're not at least tempted to once again try to be the Pokemon master, we'd like to question that.

Our review said: Passing a final verdict on this new Pokemon experience is a very difficult task. On one hand, the lack of evolution and clear underperformance of the DS hardware are major setbacks. On the other hand – it’s Pokemon, and it still rocks. D&P is as strong in the gameplay department as any other installment before it, and provides a hugely compelling experience for well over 50 hours. Now that the DS allows for wireless battling and trading, this is the original vision of a core Pokemon game the way it is meant to be played. We can’t keep playing the same game forever, but at least the Nintendo DS has helped realise the true value of the original Pokemon formula. [FULL REVIEW: 8.0]

  

Sonic Rush Adventure

Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1-2
Developer: Dimps Corporation
Publisher: Sega


Sonic Rush for the Nintendo DS was one of the most well received Sonic games in years. It was one of the few games that rekindled the old school memories of yesteryear and did so with some distinction. A couple of years later, and Sonic Rush Adventure adds to the old school aspects with a story, 3D portions, new characters and multiplayer to make a whole new experience. He's not quite back to his old form yet, but this certainly doesn't do our blue friend any harm.

Our review said: Sonic Rush Adventure is a quality entry in a series that desperately needs to be reassessed, but intrusive, frequent and annoying story sequences, poorly conceived new characters and an awful lot of repetition keep it from being great. The adventure parts of the game feel a bit undercooked – there should be a bit more depth to these sequences than merely replaying already completed levels to collect materials to move on to the next point. That said, we think that Sonic Rush Adventure is a solid game that should appeal to not just fans of the newer Sonic titles, but those who grew up with the series too. [FULL REVIEW: 7.5]

  

Spectrobes

Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1-2
Developer: Jupiter Corp.
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios


Spectrobes was touted as the next big thing since Pokemon. While it hasn't managed to win that crown, it was a great first foray for Disney Interactive Studios. After all, people are just hunters and gatherers, and Spectrobes is more than just your average Pokemon clone. It actually manages to capture a lot of what made Pokemon so successful. You might want to check out what the fuss is all about, before they decide to release the next one...

Our review said: Spectrobes is a brilliant game then, and the start of a big franchise for Disney Interactive Studios. It does have a few shortcomings, but it uses the DS in some of the best ways we've ever seen. The game includes some really good ideas that Nintendo should look at implementing for their Pokémon franchise. The best thing about Spectrobes is the fact that it appeals to both children and adults. Children will love collecting the cards and trading them with their friends, while adults will enjoy levelling up their Spectrobes and playing through the campaign. It is a shame you cannot battle online, and the limited moveset for each Spectrobe is another irritation, but these are really minor complaints - in truth, you'll be enjoying the game so much you just won't care. [FULL REVIEW: 7.5]

  

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1-4
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo


The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass would have to be the highlight of the DS this year. While Wind Waker was much maligned for its ease and graphical style, it's direct sequel, Phantom Hourglass was maligned for solely using the touch screen. Well, guess what? It works and it works supremely well. The puzzles are just as inventive and the game benefits from some clever implementations such as being able to draw on your map. Temple of the Ocean King aside, the game is a great little adventure and possibly the most fun that you can have on your DS this year.

Our review said: Many were wary of the direction Nintendo seemed to be taking with The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. With claims the game would be 'easy for new gamers to play', many fans were worried the series would be 'dumbed down' for those graduating from Nintendo's casual supersmash hits like Nintendogs. But they needn't have worried. While Phantom Hourglass does offer a streamlined version of the Zelda formula, many of its cuts are welcome renovations of built-up conventions. The new interface is both approachable and revolutionary at the same time, the holy grail of game design. And underneath it is the most tightly designed Zelda since Link's Awakening. Phantom Hourglass is another must-buy in the hallowed series, and we can only hope this re-invigorated Nintendo can continue to walk the line between the new and old with such grace in future iterations. [FULL REVIEW: 9.0]

  

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9 Comments
6 years ago
Yay for phoenix wright, I just got the 3rd one from play asia (for like $30US) as an xmas present for myself icon_biggrin.gif
6 years ago
Quote
Until then, it’s safe to clear up the backlog of GBA ports and give the DS fans what they’re screaming for after the first game – more amazingly unique Phoenix Wright gameplay. No objections here.
icon_lol.gif

Great list, I have most of the titles already but I'm desperate to get the third Phoenix Wright game and maybe this holiday I'll finally get around to finishing Castlevania DoS so I can finally play Portrait of Ruin. Man so much gaming for these holidays - my eyes are going to be so messed up by near year heh.
6 years ago
Never heard of Picross before, looks like fun. Might give that a go.
6 years ago
I'm getting Zelda and Pokemon for Christmas. I can't wait.
6 years ago
I've got Spectrobes and Final Fantasy III on my wishlist from that list and also Yoshi's Iland 2 and Mario Party DS.


EDIT: +1 for Snorlax.
6 years ago
Plussed for Anno 1701, great game icon_smile.gif
6 years ago
BurnZ wrote
Never heard of Picross before, looks like fun. Might give that a go.
If you enjoy Sudoku or any other logic puzzles, you'll love Picross. It's so addictive. If you're on the fence about it and have a Wii, give Mario's Super Picross a whirl to try it out before buying the full DS game.
6 years ago
Skiller wrote
Yay for phoenix wright, I just got the 3rd one from play asia (for like $30US) as an xmas present for myself icon_biggrin.gif
Does PW3 Jap version have english text support? And does anyone know when the US version will be released? Didn't realise that 3 was our allready, going to have to consider getting this.
6 years ago
Qbert wrote
Skiller wrote
Yay for phoenix wright, I just got the 3rd one from play asia (for like $30US) as an xmas present for myself icon_biggrin.gif
Does PW3 Jap version have english text support? And does anyone know when the US version will be released? Didn't realise that 3 was our allready, going to have to consider getting this.
Trials and Tribulations is out in the US already, and the Japanese version does have English support too.
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