Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Best of the Best - Handhelds

Welcome to the final installment of our three-part Best of the Best series right here on SuperPhillip Central. We started this series to celebrate 500 entries on SPC. By the end of this we'll be close to 550! We've looked at the Wii, we've looked at the HD consoles, so now let's miniaturize our focus and look at handhelds-- portable gaming at its finest. What we have is a healthy mix of Nintendo DS and Playstation Portable titles perfect for gaming on the go. Without further ado, here's the list.

New Super Mario Bros. (DS)

New Super Mario Bros. is as it sounds-- the first new 2-D Mario in nearly fifteen years. There's eight worlds in all spanning across various terrain from swamplands to traditional fortress levels to haunted houses. New power-ups include the mega and mini mushrooms as well as returning favorites like the baddy-burning fire flower. The game may be on easy side, but searching levels for gold coins and finding all the secret exits will push the longevity of this game into dozens of hours.

Mario Kart DS (DS)

Not being satisfied with bringing online play to the franchise, sixteen awesome new tracks, and twelve characters total, Mario Kart DS decided to bring with it a brand-new mission mode full of bosses and other challenges as well as sixteen classic Mario Kart tracks from previous entries in the series. You can argue if snaking is a legitimate tactic until you're blue in the face, but you can't argue that Mario Kart DS isn't one heck of a racer with more content than console iterations.

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story (DS)

Essentially Super Bowser RPG featuring those two plumbers, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story is the longest and most complete entry in the Mario & Luigi saga to date. While Mario and Luigi are inside Bowser, clearing obstructions in his body and buffing him up, Bowser is having an adventure all to himself. The crazed and dastardly villain, Fawful, has taken over Bowser's castle, and it's up to Bowser to save the day in this hilarious RPG.

Yoshi's Island DS (DS)

The original Yoshi's Island was called Super Mario World 2 in North America. It really has little to do with the original Super Mario World besides starring Yoshi and Mario. Yoshi's Island DS spans across five worlds each with eight levels, two of these levels feature diabolical bosses to battle. Baby Mario isn't alone this time in his quest to rescue his kidnapped brother as Baby Peach, Wario, DK, and even Baby Bowser will join the fray. While the music quality is way down, the difficulty of the game is way up with some grueling later levels. A great platformer for sure.

Tetris DS (DS)

It's everything you love about Tetris with a Nintendo theme. Tetris DS has the modes, it has the content, and it has that Nintendo charm to make it one of the greatest Tetris packages ever. Combine all that with up to eight players duking it out via Wi-Fi battles, and you have one Tetris game that's hard to pass up. Well, there is that little thing about the game no longer being in production due to Nintendo no longer owning the rights to the Tetris name...

Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS)

Wild World effectively took everything that made the original Animal Crossing terrific and translated it to a portable to perfection. Many hours will be lost acquiring new furniture, helping out new neighbors, furnishing and upgrading your house, hopping online with up to three other friends, partaking in the various holidays, planting flowers and pulling up weeds strewn across your village, and the list goes on and on. By the time the game gets old, you'll already be playing the next edition of Animal Crossing.

Advance Wars: Dual Strike (DS)

Ten-hut! The Advance Wars series has been around long before the Game Boy Advance originally appearing on the Nintendo Family Computer under the guise of Famicom Wars. It wasn't until the GBA that Westerners finally got to play the series for themselves. The first DS incarnation features a dual-screened presentation, new troops, new maps, and new strategy thanks to the dual strike moves that allow two teammate commanding officers to move one after another. If you liked the Advance Wars series before it turned dark and gritty, check out Dual Strike.

Kirby Canvas Curse (DS)

Still to this day it's one of my favorite Kirby games, and it's easily my favorite DS installment. Kirby Canvas Curse wasn't your traditional side-scrolling platformer. What you did was control Kirby by drawing lines for the pink puff to follow, through spike-littered corridors, past ruthless enemies, and through mazes filled with fun obstacles to contend with. Beating the game wasn't too difficult, but tracking down all of the red coins hidden in each level definitely was. Then you could beat the game as one of three other characters. Blast! Now I've made myself want to play this game again!

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS)

A Zelda game controlled solely with the stylus? That sounded like a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, it was anything but with The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. Couple ingenious puzzles with crafty dungeon design, lovable characters, impressive boss battles, and a wealth of new items for Link to utilize, and you had one Zelda adventure that sailed the seas towards awesomeness. The only gripe I have with the game is the constant returning to the Temple of the Ocean King. Other than that, Phantom Hourglass is a great game.

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box (DS)

Do you like wrapping your brain around perplexing puzzles? Have a seat with Professor Layton as his game, the Diabolical Box, has a ton of them! From block-sliding puzzles to logic puzzles, Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box has enough brain-busters to make a genius satiated. The game follows the death of one of Professor Layton's friend via a box that when opened, instantly kills the opener. By solving various puzzles, the secret of the Elysian Box will be solved! Are you up to the challenge?

Nintendogs (DS)

"Sit. SIT. Good, boy." Nintendogs was part of the influx of games for the Nintendo DS that made it the dominate system it is today. Walk your dog, pamper your dog, give your dog gifts, enter your dog into competitions from obstacle courses to disc-catching competitions. There's a lot to see and do in the world of Nintendogs. While the voice-recognition software wasn't the absolute best, Nintendogs was one of the first games to full utilize all of the features of the Nintendo DS. It stands today as a crazily addicting game full of cute puppies for owners young and old.

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (DS)

I think I enjoyed this game more than any other Castlevania simply because it was my first taste of the Vampire Killer. The castle was expansive and was designed beautifully, the bosses were challenging, the action-RPG gameplay was great, and the soul-collecting was addicting with new souls giving hero Soma the ability to access new areas of the castle. If you can afford it, track down all three Castlevania games for the DS because they sure are fantastic journeys filled with hordes of monsters to bash and tons of rewarding gameplay to cherish.

The World Ends With You (DS)

What do you get when Square-Enix creates a brand new intellectual property for the DS under the guise of one Mr. Nomura? You get The World Ends With You, a cryptic message but a wonderful game. Set in Shibuya, Tokyo, The World Ends With You combines stylus-driven action-RPG gameplay with an engaging plot that will keep you wondering just what exactly is going on. There's tons of content to battle through, a pumping soundtrack, and some impressive 2-D visuals to boot.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (PSP)

Who would have ever guessed that you could take a city with the scope of Vice City and place it on a portable device? Well, that's exactly what Rockstar Games did with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories. Love the gameplay of the console versions? Then you'll adore the gameplay of Vice City Stories. It takes what you love about the console versions and effectively transplants it onto a PSP UMD for an entirely new story with new characters. That's not even the best part. Did someone say... Phil Collins?

Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions (PSP)

Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions is a remake of the Playstation One classic. It's not all old here. There's brand-new, gorgeous cinematics, all-new classes to partake in, new characters to recruit, and all of the wonderful tactical gameplay of the original that you may or may not remember. While the incredible soundtrack is dampened by the PSP's speakers, it's still one of the best to this day accompanying one of the best TRPGs to this day.

Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles (PSP)

When you take Rondo of Blood and remaster it with new visuals and music, you get the Dracula X Chronicles, a game deserving of its accolades. It's your old school Castlevania (see: not Metroidvania/Castleroid) with linear progression, multiple paths, multiple levels, insane bosses, and enough whip-cracking fun for anyone not put off by the classic difficulty the game possesses. As a bonus, the game comes with the original Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night games! If you've been longing to slay Dracula on your PSP, you can now do so with Dracula X Chronicles.

Daxter (PSP)

He's back, and he hates bugs! Daxter follows the titular character in the events leading up to him rescuing his old buddy Jak in the beginning of Jak II. Daxter is a pure platformer with some third-person shooting thrown in for good measure. The adventure lasts about ten hours with plenty of secrets to unlock and bad bugs to beat down. The franchise's signature wit is present and accounted for as well. For its current price of twenty bucks, there's no reasons for a PSP owner not to have Daxter as part of their collection.

LocoRoco 2 (PSP)

A game anyone can get into with its easy to get a hang of controls. The left shoulder button moves your LocoRoco to the left while the right shoulder button (you guessed it) moves your LocoRoco to the right. Hitting both buttons together causes your LocoRoco to leap into the air. Simple gameplay premise, but things get dastardly in difficulty later on. Completing levels is fine and all, but the real challenge comes from collecting all twenty fruits in a level. A strikingly superb sequel, LocoRoco 2 may just be the PSP's best game this year.

Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 (PSP)

Fooooooore! Tee it up with the Hot Shots crew all over again. Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 brings with it all of the characters and courses of the original Open Tee, and adds six brand-new, well-designed courses and a cast of new characters to putt, chip, and drive with. Each character can be customized with multiple accessories and costumes, and then you can take said characters online and play with friends, family, and complete strangers from around the world. Without a doubt, Open Tee 2 is the best in portable golf.

Mega Man: Powered Up (PSP)

It seems I can never get enough blabbing about the next two Mega Man titles whether it's talking about how they're overlooked PSP games or games I'd love sequels to. This time around we're talking about why they're part of the best of the best the PSP has to offer. Traditional run and gun Mega Man gameplay mixed with gorgeous chibi visuals, and you have one Mega Man game that's hard to pass up on. Well, maybe not so hard to pass up on consider how so many of you did pass on it... but I digress.

Mega Man Maverick Hunter X (PSP)

Remixed music, remixed stages, remastered visuals, and added cut-scenes are what's new with the original Mega Man X. The latter of the two PSP Mega Man games, Mega Man Maverick Hunter X takes what's great about the original Mega Man X and adds a bounty of bells and whistles to make the game worth checking out all over again. Now if only more people would have checked out this game we'd have an updated Mega Man X2!

Wipeout Pulse (PSP)

Wipeout is a series very similar to Nintendo's F-Zero franchise. It's a futuristic racer but only with weapons. Pulse has your playing through multiple grids, a chart with multiple challenges from grand prix-style tournaments to fastest lap competitions. There's sixteen races in all, multiple different vehicle types to use, and online play thrown into the mix, too. What Wipeout Pulse lacks in originality it makes up for in sheer speed and fun.

And that does it for the Best of the Best this time around. Perhaps I could make lists from past consoles. Regardless, I hope you've enjoyed the trilogy. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it! Did your favorite not make the list? Let me know in the comments.

1 comment:

Val said...

Ultimate games! Ultimate awesomeness! Its a REAL shame I lost all my games a year ago XD