Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Most Overlooked Nintendo DS Games - Part One

The Nintendo DS may very well be the system of this console cycle. At first, it was a rocky start with a drought of quality content for around eight months. Sure, there were beams of light penetrating through the darkness at the time like Meteos and Kirby Canvas Curse, but for the most part, new DS owners were clamoring for more content. Now it seems it's the exact opposite for DS owners, and don't get me wrong-- that's a good thing! There seems to be too many great games and not enough time to enjoy them all. Of course, this means that a lot of titles fall under the radar into obscurity except for those who took a gamble and picked them up. The following is a short list of games that you may not have played, but they're very much worth the time to check them out. I haven't listed every overlooked DS game, but I have compiled a list of some of my unsung favorites.

DK: Jungle Climber

Seeing that Jungle Climber's predecessor, DK King of Swing (GBA), didn't get that big of a fanfare on release or after, it didn't seem that Nintendo would bother greenlighting a sequel. I was very pleased to see the opposite. Those longing for the Donkey Kong Country days of old will find that DK Jungle Climber shares many similarities with the SNES trilogy even though how the game is played is entirely different. Leaping into the air, grabbing pegs, swinging around, bashing enemies, collecting KONG letters, and discovering hidden bonus barrels, DK Jungle Climber has/is a barrel of fun.

Dragon Ball: Origins

I know the characters and most of the legend behind the Dragon Ball franchise, but I'm not really a fan of the show. Even if you have no knowledge of the series, Dragon Ball Origins is an excellent action-adventure game borrowing a lot from The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass-- at least control-wise. Origins is oftentimes hilarious in its cut-scenes, the character models are some of the DS's best 3D, the action is seldom slow, and it all adds up to an experience even a Dragon Ball critic can enjoy.

Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble

I believe this title didn't do so hot as Capcom really murdered their own franchise, running it into the ground. You had the superb original on Gamecube (later ported to the Playstation 2), and then the sequel came out a year or so later. Then Capcom opted to release an ill-conceived Smash Bros. clone party game, and by the end of this, many were tired of the franchise. Regardless, Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble is a very competent and enjoyable romp. While only two enemies can be on-screen at the same time, the humor and charm of the series is still present as well as new V-powers taking advantage of the DS' dual screens. A fun game for a franchise that I wish would return to its former excellence.

Mega Man ZX Advent

I'm sure many Mega Man fans of old really were not pleased with Mega Man being placed into a Pokemon-like series with the Battle Network franchise. Combine this with the multiple X and Zero games, and it's not too difficult to see why some gamers would be burnt out on the blue bomber. However, Mega Man ZX Advent melded three series-- the classic, X, and Zero games-- beautifully into an extremely fun and satisfying experience. All of the intense firefights, brutal bosses, and action-packed levels were present and accounted for. It's a shame we won't be seeing a sequel anytime soon as instead Capcom has opted to essentially alter the Battle Network franchise as a new one in Mega Man Star Force. I definitely do not see any similarities between the two at all...

Nanostray 1 & 2

Those old-school gamers or just gamers who love their daily dose of shoot-em-up action have a bounty of arcade sweetness with the Nanostray series. Made by the fine folks who made the Iridion line of Game Boy Advance titles, Nanostray is a top-down shooter with brilliant and impressive visuals and presentation. That's just the icing though for the actual cake-- fantastic gameplay that can be tough as nails at parts. Nanostray 2 stayed true to its roots, but it also brought a new side-view in some levels akin to the old arcade classic, Defender. The best part of the Nanostray series is that you don't need to waste any quarters once you die-- which you will-- a lot.

Drawn to Life

While the level design and platforming action were pretty much run-of-the-mill, the main draw to this creative title was the ability to doodle in your own character and creations. Your hero was whoever you drew him, her, or it to be in Drawn to Life. Not only did you create the character, but you also drew various environmental objects. Can't cross that large chasm? Draw a bridge! Need to plunder the watery depths? Draw a submarine! Even if you have little artistic talent and can only draw eggs for everything, it was very cool as well as hilarious seeing your creations come to life in Drawn to Life's virtual world.

Soul Bubbles

Destined to be overlooked as it was originally only available at Toys 'R' Us, Soul Bubbles is the type of game that only something like the DS could do. The premise is simple: use the stylus to blow your bubble through a labyrinth of caverns and challenges, uncovering level-unlocking goodies, on the way to the goal. This isn't really a game that will make you sink three hours into before realizing it, but it is a wonderfully unique idea that is executed rather well to make a thoroughly enjoyable game.

That's the list for now, but already we're seeing more overlooked Nintendo DS games. We're seeing little applause for Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure, Elebits: The Adventures of Zero and Kai, Moon, and many more. That doesn't mean they won't sell well, however, but it does mean that there may be many DS titles that you don't even know are great. Perhaps now is the time to check back on the DS library and see those overlooked treasures in there!


Christopher Jon said...

Thank SP. I had completely forgot about DK Jungle Climber.
I wonder if my best buy has a copy.

Anonymous said...

Gah, I hate you Phil. It's like every single time I get an idea for an article or review you beat me to it.

Anyway, yeah these articles are good for people who are getting the dsi and need reasons to love dual screen gaming again. Nice little gems, especially nanostray