So, as most of y'all know, the DS is my favorite system. Of all time. This generation was, for me, defined by Nintendo's quirky dual-screen handheld. The wealth of quality software, unique and innovative ideas and (thanks to the DSi) cool accessory features, the DS will remain as my top pick for 'most favorite hardware' for at least the foreseeable future. I love that thing.
It's brought so much to me this past generation. The DS ushered in the first time Nintendo games have been officially online. The DS hosted the most robust and high-quality 3rd-party support Nintendo has seen since the SNES. And the unique design offered new ways to play old games, as well as introduce brand new ideas and even new genres. It's been an amazing six, going on seven years.
And best of all? Despite the DS's successor already being out, it's not over yet. 2011 has some of the best DS offerings yet, and there are more to come by the end of the year. Here are my top picks for the DS in 2011:
I'm pretty sure this was the first DS game released this year, and it's a great one. Casual-friendly, yet intriguing and fun enough to pull in more serious gamers. I'm not sure how PopCap figures out this fantastic formula to literally appeal to EVERYONE, but man. They know how to to do it. And they do it well. This game came out at retail, but it's also available as a downloadable on DSiWare for those that have a DSi or a 3DS and don't want to buy the cartridge.
One of the first games released in 2011, Capcom delivers one of the best point-and-click "action" games from the Shu Takumi, the designer behind the acclaimed Ace Attorney series. The game features beautiful stylized graphics, smooth-as-butter rotoscoped animation, and an intriguing, humorous, entertaining story. This game shows that designers still have some unique and brilliant ideas for the aging hardware.
The hits didn't stop there. Square-Enix delivered another entry in the Kingdom Hearts series on the same day as the above-mentioned Ghost Trick. Featuring all the action-RPG elements the series is known for, as well as elements from Birth By Sleep, 358/2 Days and the original Kingdom Hearts: Coded, this game came up big for gamers and Disney fans looking for something they could really sink their teeth into. Great graphics, tight gameplay and an all-new FMV ending that ties in with the upcoming 3DS title, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, this game had it all.
de Blob 2 hit the DS in February this year, and offered a "bridge" story line that connected the events from the original game on Wii to the console sequels on Wii, PS3 and 360. It was a charming, 2D action-platformer that brought everything the game (series?) is known for to the portable... with the exception of any kind of real challenge. Despite this game being a walk in the park, it was charming and entertaining as ever. I actually even wrote a review for the game, which you can check out by clicking RIGHT HERE!
In a sweetheart move, Nintendo published the Square-Enix developed game; DragonQuest VI: Realms of Revelation on Valentine's Day, 2011. Admittedly, I haven't gotten around to playing this one, but from what I've read and heard, it's classic DragonQuest gameplay the series is known for, using the same "updated" look and translations DragonQuest IV and V received. RPG fans definitely had plenty to play early this year!
Speaking of RPGs, how could one forget this gem?!? Time-traveling RPG goodness with an incredible soundtrack, terrific pacing and an overall epic quest. This game also boasts one of the best localization translations from the good guys and gals over at Atlus. Those looking for another Chrono Trigger-esque adventure on-the-go, this is your game. Enjoy!
Trackmania Turbo released in March this year, and delivers one of the best arcade-style racing experiences on the DS. The quick, pick-up-and-play, "time trial" races and course design fit the handheld to a "T." The game is a vast improvement over the 2008 release of the first Trackmania game, offering improved track editing tools, more challenges and online connectivity.
Hey, what year of the DS would be complete without an entry not only from Nintendo themselves, but also from one of their biggest franchises ever? Developer Game Freak made a huge game for Pokéfans, with an epic quest (that doesn't overstay it's welcome) tons of post-game content, tons (tonnes?) of new monsters, abilities, and more. The game even fully embraced the online mode, with global tournaments and events. It's pretty amazing how much stuff they were able to uh... stuff into this game. Anyone claiming Nintendo no longer makes games for gamers obviously hasn't played this amazing entry in the long-running series.
Ah, the sequel to one of the best PS2/Wii games out there: Okami. In a year without a new handheld Zelda, Capcom steps up to the plate with a fantastic action/adventure game with stylish cel-shaded graphics, an epic quest, and great usage of the touch-screen. I remember dreaming of an Okami game coming out on the DS, back in 2007. It just seemed too perfect, y'know? Well, it took a while for this dream to come into fruition, but hey. Good things come to those who wait!
Developed by DreamRift, a studio created by alums from the Henry Hatsworth team, Monster Tale hits the DS with a wonderfully charming action-adventure platformer, mixed with a kind of virtual pet simulator. The blending of these two genres makes this game one of the most unique and enjoyable pieces of software not only in 2011, but in the entire DS library. "Metroidvania" progression, Mega Man-esque action, and the unique twist make this an excellent choice for any action game fan.
Another racing game nitrous-boosted it's way into the DS library this year, from acclaimed developer Renegade Kid. This game is a far stretch from what the developer is known for (moody FPS games) but this turned out to be a fairly decent arcade racer, with plenty of tracks, unlockable ATVs, and a rockin' soundtrack by the developer's own band! It's not the best racer on the system, but Nintendo Power acknowledged that it's the best ATV racer on the system. So there's that.
I realized I should have mentioned this game as well - Mighty Milky Way from the good folks at WayForward. It's not a retail game - it's exclusive to the DSiWare shop. But it's a fun, quirky game and one of the better games available for download on Nintendo's handheld. And so far, the only one released this year on the online shop that's *really* worth your cash. Check it out. If nothing else, it'll help you unlock stuff in Shantae: Risky's Revenge!
And that's just the beginning of the year, gaming fans. You think just because the 3DS is out and has games coming, that the DS is just gonna QUIT? Well guess what? That ain't happenin'. Check out these other promising titles coming out later this year:
(Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3)
So yup, the DS has been amazing, and it's not gonna be stopping anytime soon. Will 2012 be the final year of the DS? Only time will tell, but from the look of things now, the DS is alive and well in 2011. As a gamer, this gets me excited thinking of all the great stuff that has yet to be played, and as a bit of a DS fanboy, this makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. As a consumer though, my wallet groans.
Thoughts? Opinions? What are you looking forward to from the DS? Do you still play yours? Why or why not? Sound off now, Negative World!
Rofl. Ghost Trick. The play on words in conjunction with the blatant ass up, head down action with the ghost right behind literally cracked me up. That is seriously one of the most unintentionally hilarious box arts I have ever seen.
Agreed, the DS is the new PS2 as far as I'm concerned. I just wish the fighting genre was better represented on the system. There are a few gems, but those are far and few between. I suppose I can take solace in the idea that the 3DS is making up for that in spades (so far).
This generation, the DS is the new PS2, the PSP is the new Gamecube, 360 is the... well, Xbox. I don't really know where to "place" the PS3 and Wii.
Bumping this from earlier in the year as I feel now is a great time to look back at the DS in 2011.
Gah!! I had enough on my plate this year to keep me busy: my backlog, the 3DS launch, my wedding, the Nintendo Triple Dose of Awesome (SM3DL, SS, MK7) released just recently, that I have not had a chance to play any games on this list YET. So so sad...
Which games ended up great? Which ones failed to meet expectations? Which ones were overlooked?
The ones that ended up being great: Radiant Historia, Kirby Mass Attack, Ghost Trick, Pokémon: Black/White, Okamiden and Monster Tale. The rest are either "OK" or "GOOD" - your personal preferences will dictate which category they fall in.
The ones that failed to meet expectations: ATV Wild Ride comes to mind immediately. I don't normally expect much out of an ATV racing game, but since it was developed by Renegade Kid, my hopes skewed higher than usual. It's a solid game, but at it's core, it's... yeah. An ATV racing game. I suppose Mighty Milky Way could fall under this category as well, but only because the game is really confusing at first. So it only *kinda* failed to meet expectations. I had higher hopes from WayForward, especially after their stellar work on Mighty Flip Champs! and Shantae: Risky's Revenge.
The ones that were overlooked: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 for sure. Why? Well, obviously because everyone bought the PS3/360/PC versions. And probably rightfully so. The DS game is simply a portable version for when you're not at home and want some FPS gamin' on the go. I think Monster Tale, DragonQuest Monsters: Joker 2, ALIENS and Solatorobo were all missed by everyone's radar.
I suppose I should update the OP with games like The Legend of Zelda: 4 Swords Anniversary Edition, Go! Go! Kokopolo and Cut the Rope for DSiWare. Even after I made this fairly lengthy post, the DS came out with even more great stuff for gamers to play!