Thursday, March 19, 2009

Review-a-palooza 2009: 55 DS games reviewed

If this doesn't make up for the last two weeks, nothing will.

What you see above is my entire DS game collection, and I'm gonna review every single one right here, right now! Buckle your seatbelts, this is gonna be one heck of a ride!

Advance Wars: Dual Strike: Bringing the series to the DS, Dual Strike is packed to the brim with modes, both online and offline. With a huge single player campaign and so much more to keep you coming back afterwards, Dual Strike is a must-have for any fan of turn-based strategy games. Verdict: YAY

Advance Wars: Days of Ruin: A sequel to the previous game, Days of Ruin takes the serious in a more grim direction with a post-apocalyptic setting. On the downside, Days of Ruin is lacking many of the different modes present in Dual Strike. Nonetheless, it's a solid title well worth your time and money. Verdict: YAY

Age of Empires: The Age of Kings: Yet another turn-based strategy game. What can I say, I'm a fan of the genre! Anyways, The Age of Kings features five campaigns based loosely on historic events. With units from mounted soldiers to trebuchets, there's no shortage of variety in any battle. The sound quality is pretty low, though, and the stylus controls are so bad they're pretty much useless. Even with that factored in, Age of Kings is still a fun, if flawed, game. Verdict: YAY

Animal Crossing: Wild World: Animal Crossing is a difficult franchise to describe, leaning into both the social- and life-simulator categories. Whatever it is, Wild World builds onto the formula by adding online play, further character customization and a whole bunch of new furniture. On the downside, all four players on a game card have to cram into one house, leading to some big troubles for those of us with siblings. That's just one downside in a sea of positives for Wild World, though. Verdict: YAY

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney: The first title in the Ace Attorney series made for the DS, Apollo Justice benefits from the new hardware's boosted horsepower to provide an even more engaging courtroom experience. The art, humour, gameplay and storytelling are all of the same high quality we're used to, delivering an experience worthy of the Ace Attorney name. Verdict: YAY

Big Brain Academy: One of the many brain-training games available for the DS, Big Brain Academy manages to stand out from the crowd with fun, mind-boosting games suitable for anyone. One may argue exactly how much (Or little) the game actually does for your intelligence, but the fact remains that Big Brain Academy is an entertaining and fulfilling experience. Verdict: YAY

Brain Age: Train Your Brain In Minutes a Day!: Brain Age isn't just another brain-training game; It's the one that started it all. Every one of the game's many activities is designed to have a different effect on your brain, increasing bloodflow to specific parts and resulting in an overall improvement of your mental performance. If that isn't enough, there's also tonnes of Sudoku puzzles on the game card, making this a package of pure mental health and good times. Verdict: YAY

Brain Age 2: More Training In Minutes a Day!: Brain Age 2 does everything the first game did in new ways, with many new activities taking over for the old. Not only that, Brain Age 2 also includes a miniature version of Dr. Mario as a hidden bonus, which in my opinion is worth the whole $20 on its own. Also, just like its big brother, Brain Age 2 comes packaged with a whole whackload more Sudoku puzzles, making this sequel just as addictive, entertaining and pro-brain as the original. Verdict: YAY

This review has pleased Mr. Kawashima.

Brothers in Arms DS: The consoles may be inundated with World War II games, but the selection of such titles on the DS is quite slim. Brothers in Arms DS helps correct this imbalance, bringing all the man-to-man and vehicular combat down to the dual screens with amazing levels of graphical and gameplay quality. I suppose the only downside to this game is the complete lack of online play. It's a pity to waste all those weapons on virtual opponents... Verdict: YAY

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare: Funny how this list is alphabetized, yet games of similar genres seem to get lumped together. Call of Duty 4 distances itself from Brothers in Arms DS by taking the battle to the modern battlefield, adding weapons and vehicles of a higher technological level to the mix. There's also a notable difference in the fields of control, audio and graphics, but this time they're not so welcome. The touchscreen is sometimes inaccurate, it's often confusing to figure out where a sound is coming from, the the character and world models are just plain messy. A great game taken down by some really simple-to-fix issues. A shame, really. Verdict: MEH

Children of Mana: Probably Square-Enix's least-known franchise, the Mana series was a huge hit back in the days of the SNES. These days, though... It's insanely repetitive and lacking in challenge. Children of Mana is a sort of Mystery-Dungeon-meets-Zelda game, but lacking in most of the good qualities of both these franchises. I don't know why, but I got right up near to the end of this game before deciding it wasn't that great. Such a pity, though, because the art is beautiful... Verdict: NAY

Contact: It's a real shame that the gameplay isn't better in Contact, because the storyline is fantastic. While the player controls the main character, they're actually a separate entity from him. The professor character in the game is aware of the player's existence outside the game world, and it plays a major part in the plot. What's disappointing, though, are the lame battle system and the quite often useless different classes available to the player. The amazing storyline deserved so much better... Verdict: MEH

CrossworDS: You got your anagrams, your word searches and, of course, you got your crosswords. That's CrossworDS in a nutshell for you. Strangely, although the title clearly points to the crosswords being the main attraction here, I find myself more drawn towards the anagrams and word searches than anything else. Why? Well, to put it simply, it's how incredibly easy the crosswords are. Oh, there's harder ones, but you can't get to them until you suffer through dozens of mind-numbingly easy puzzles. Not exactly the best game design ever. Verdict: MEH

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker: Morrie's Monstrous Pit was probably my favourite part of Dragon Quest VIII, if only for the name. Anyone familiar with that knows exactly what to expect from Dragon Quest Monsters, a game in which the player commands a team of monsters in battles, Pokémon style. With excellent visuals, addictive gameplay and a soundtrack perfectly fitting the Dragon Quest name, Joker is an excellent way to pass the time while waiting for Dragon Quest IX. Verdict: YAY

Drawn to Life: While other platformers focus on the player exploring a pre-made world crafted by the developers, Drawn to Life lets the player shape much of the world in their own way, ranging from the main character itself to the very weapons he wields. Even much of the special objects in the game world are free to design, letting players craft their own platforms, springs and vehicles with ease. While the platforming itself may be a little by-the-numbers, the ability to craft your own world certainly makes up for any shortcomings. Verdict: YAY

Electroplankton: I always have a very hard time calling Electroplankton a game. There's no objective, nothing to unlock, just about nothing resembling a typical video game. What is there, though, is a fun way of creating little techno mixes with the help of several distinct species of musical plankton. Although lacking any way to save your creations and devoid of any sort of multiplayer (Just imagine sending copies of the game to friends and jamming out like a band!), Electroplankton is one heck of a fun... Toy. Verdict: YAY

Feel the Magic: XY/XX: Originally released the same time as the DS itself, Feel the Magic is a collection of bizarre mini-games tied to an even more bizarre love story. Whether you're ejecting fish from a man's stomach or clearing the road for a bunch of weirdos rolling down the hill in shopping carts, it's all in the interest of impressing and winning the girl. Sure, a few games make somewhat gimmicky use of the DS' abilities, but overall Feel the Magic is a solid collection of fun, quirky games with a hilariously strange storyline. Verdict: YAY

"Break Time"

Final Fantasy III: A remake of the until-then Japan-only Super Famicom title, Final Fantasy III was, at the time, the best-looking DS game by far. With excellent 3D graphics and an amazing pre-rendered opening sequence, Square-Enix spared no expense on this title. The gameplay is just as solid, with dozens of selectable classes and hundreds of possible team combinations. The storyline is just what you'd expect from a 1980s video game; Incredibly cliched and somewhat predictable by today's standards. However, that's probably the only real downside in my eyes, making Final Fantasy III a great RPG for the gamer on the go. Verdict: YAY

Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift: Oh man, it's another turn-based strategy game! I suppose now I can be considered a true maniacal fan of the genre. What I'm not really a fan of, though, is this sequel to what was one of my favourite Game Boy Advance games. The story is crap, the touch screen controls are often sketchy, and making characters start every single battle with no Magic Points at all is one of the worst game design choices I've ever heard. Tactics A2 had the potential to be so great. A pity that Square-Enix screwed it up so royally. Verdict: NAY

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon: Surprise, it's another you-know-what game! The way alphabetizing a list lumps similar titles together is starting to really creep me out... My fears of organizational coincidences aside, Shadow Dragon is a remake of the original, Japan-only Fire Emblem game released for the Famicom. For once, this is a game that has aged quite well, with a battle system being just about as deep as any similar game released this generation. The story has also held up well, giving plenty more incentive to fight through all those intense battles. Added to the original game is a brand-new tutorial prologue with exclusive-to-the-remake dialog, as well as the ability to battle, shop and trade units online. Definitely a worthy upgrade for any of you out there still making do with the fan-translated Famicom version. Verdict: YAY

Flash Focus: Vision Training in Minutes a Day: Brain Age 1 and 2 were great, Big Brain Academy was fun, so of course Flash Focus has to be worthwhile too, right? Well, that's what I though, but I was sadly mistaken. Flash Focus, like other training games, is a collection of mini-games advertised to improve the player's abilities, this case focusing on the realm of eyesight. Problem is, the minigames are more about reflexes than anything else. None of what I played improved hand-eye coordination any more than playing just about any other video game on the DS. Flash Focus? More like Flash Bogus. Oh yeah. I went there. Verdict: NAY

Game & Watch Collection: This collection consists of not one, not two, but three of the most-loved dual-screen Game & Watch games. Oil Panic, Donkey Kong and Green House make up this threesome of classic gaming goodness, all wonderfully addictive in their LCD-screen, black-and-beige graphics. Probably the only thing I'd change about this is a remade, full-colour version of each game, but even without that, Game & Watch Collection is still a whole lot of fun. Plus, you don't even have to spend a nickel to get it! Man I love Club Nintendo. Verdict: YAY

GRID: While Mario Kart relies heavily on luck and Trackmania is largely a light-hearted, laws of physics-breaking racer, GRID is a game of skill and realism. With events ranging from mountain top-sprints to drifting competitions, GRID is also a game of variety. All the tracks are based on real-world locations, and every single vehicle is a real car. Whether you're cruising through Chicago, flying down Mt. Fuji or sprinting down a track of your own design, GRID never fails to deliver challenge and excitement. Verdict: YAY

Hotel Dusk: Room 215: Of the 55 DS games I have, this is the only one that can be accurately described as an "interactive novel". Hotel Dusk is a text-heavy point-and-click game, or as the DS now makes it, point-and-tap. This interactive novel tells the story of Kyle Hyde, NYPD detective-turned-delivery man, as he investigates the mysterious Hotel Dusk. The DS is held like a book while the stylus does all the work, digging deep into the secrets of the musty old hotel. With expertly-written dialog, a wonderfully unique "sketch" art style and plot twists crazy enough to make your head spin, Hotel Dusk is a "book" you just can't put down. Verdict: YAY

This is Melissa, and she approves this review.

Kirby Super Star Ultra: Man, there sure are a lot of remakes on the DS, aren't there? This particular game is a remake of Kirby Super Star for the SNES, and is actually a whole bunch of games in one, with several new ones added to the original selection of eight. All games are great fun and of excellent visual quality, with beautiful pre-rendered 3D cinematics popping up here and there to further the many different mini-stories. Add to that the four multiplayer-compatible games and you've got a fun-filled game collection worthy of a spot on any DS owners shelf. Verdict: YAY

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass: When people first heard that the DS Zelda would be entirely touchscreen-controlled, they freaked out. "No buttons in a Zelda game? This is insanity!" Despite these doubts, Nintendo pulled through and proved that touchscreen-only controls can be done right. Phantom Hourglass did more than just prove this, though. It also delivered greatly in adventure, graphics and plot, producing a game more than worthy of being called "The Legend of Zelda". Verdict: YAY

Lock's Quest: Coming from the same developer that made Drawn to Life, Lock's Quest had a lot to live up to in my eyes. Like 5th Cell's previous work, their newest offering also has a unique basis. Whereas many games are about infiltrating enemy bases, Lock's Quest is about building your own base and defending it from waves of attacking monsters. Using the touchscreen to place defenses is quick and easy, but sometimes directing Lock to repair part of the fortifications can get a little complicated. Despite this one gameplay flaw, Lock's Quest is still an addictive little game great for whiling away the time on the bus. Verdict: YAY

Mario Kart DS: The DS version of the franchise that started it all, Mario Kart DS carries on the tradition of light-hearted and fun racing on colourful and creative race tracks. In addition to that, it also adds a series of challenges so far exclusive to this version of the game, all demanding great levels of skill to overcome. Of course, the biggest and most important contribution Mario Kart DS made to the franchise is online play. Giving us the ability to race against up to three other racers from all around the world seamlessly rockets this game into legendary status. Verdict: YAY

Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time: Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga was one of my favourite games on the Game Boy Advance, so I went nuts when I heard it would be getting a DS sequel. However, similar to the sad story of Final Fantasy Tactics A2 above, Partners in Time just couldn't hold up against the amazing quality of gameplay present in the original game. It's not as extreme a case as Tactics A2, though, as Partners in Time is still a fun, light-hearted RPG with hilarious writing. It just sucks that it could have been so much more, yet wasn't. Verdict: MEH

MechAssault: Phantom War: One of many franchises to make its Nintendo console debut on the DS, MechAssault does so with the sadly lackluster Phantom War. While all the great MechAssault core gameplay is there, it's all so clunky and ugly that it's just no fun at all. Even the storyline seems to have somehow become awful in the transition, with me being completely in the dark from the get-go. The only thing this game has going for it is the fully-voiced dialog, although it is of mediocre quality. MechAssault: Phantom War is a disgrace to the franchise. Verdict: NAY

Meteos: Puzzle games have become somewhat stale over the years, with quite often the unique aspect of a new puzzler is also the worst aspect. Meteos, thankfully, not only defies this trend, it stacks it up and blasts it into the mother-loving cosmos. ...and that's basically how the gameplay works in Meteos. Stack 'em up, line 'em up, blast 'em off. Simple, yet incredibly fun. Factor in the wonderfully cheesy "storyline" and Meteos is a puzzle game for the ages. Verdict: YAY

Metroid Prime: Hunters: The Metroid series has always focused mainly on the single-player experience, often tossing aside any sort of multiplayer aspect in favour of concentrating on the story mode. Metroid Prime: Hunters, however, seemed to do the exact opposite, focusing heavily on the multiplayer and giving very little attention to the single-player mode. Although we ended up with a short, repetitive and fairly mediocre single-player experience, Hunters gave us the best damn online multiplayer the DS has to offer. I feel that makes up for any single-player shortcomings. Verdict: YAY

Metroids weren't the only thing that sucked in Hunters, but
the multiplayer more than made up for it.

Metroid Prime Pinball
: "Come for the Rumble Pak, stay for the excellent pinball action." Seriously, if there were ever a tagline associated with this game, that would be it. I bought Metroid Prime Pinball mainly for the Rumble Pak, I admit that. But I got much more than that when I cracked open the game case. I got an amazing retelling of the Metroid Prime story wrapped around a fantastic pinball game. The beautifully detailed tables span across both screens and are based on Metroid Prime locations such as the Pirate Frigate and the Tallon Overworld. Believe it or not, they managed to make a Metroid-themed pinball game without messing it up. Verdict: YAY

Namco Museum DS: A compilation of seven classic 1980s Namco games, Namco Museum DS is a game card for the retro nerd in all of us. Pac-Man, Galaga, DigDug II, Xevious, The Tower of Druaga, Mappy and Galaxian all make their jump to the 21st century, and even the much-loved Pac-Man VS from the Gamecube era gets a part of the action. Whether you're crazy for the olden days or just looking for a far-easier way to play Pac-Man VS, Namco Museum DS is for you. Verdict: YAY

New Super Mario Bros.: The first new Mario platformer since Super Mario Land 2 on the Game Boy, New Super Mario Bros. had a lot to make up for. Thankfully it delivered, giving us what is one of the best platforming games on the DS. With fun, classic level designs and bright and beautiful graphics, New Super Mario Bros. was like reliving the days of the NES all over again in a magnificent new way. The multiplayer modes and mini-games packed onto the card sure didn't hurt, either! Verdict: YAY

Nintendogs: Oh, I went so nuts for this game back in 2005. I was so incredibly excited to have my very own dog in the palm of my hand (And I don't mean getting one of those yappy purse dogs). And it was fun, too, walking my dog, feeding my dog, washing my dog, walking my dog... Feeding my dog... and walking him again... Fun at first, yes, but man does it become mind-numbingly dull after a while. Also, I can only yell cute dog names into an electronic device so many times before I snap. My DS. In half. I'm more of a cat person, anyway. Verdict: MEH

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Justice for All: The second game in the series, Justice for All was actually the first one I played. Minor "ohmahgawdthatpersonisdead" spoilers aside, I had an excellent time playing Justice for All. The same intense type of exaggerated court battles from before return, with a few new twists and a handful of new characters. The storyline, though, is somewhat dismissible when looking at the trilogy as a whole, making Justice for All almost skippable for anyone only in it for the plot. This one caveat aside, the second game in the series is still a worthwhile experience, and is sure to challenge just about anyone who plays it. Verdict: YAY

Picross DS: Don't let the game fool you with its bland graphics; Picross DS is an excellent puzzler that will surely eat up any spare time you have. As the name suggests, Picross is a picture crossword kind of game, but it requires much more logical thinking than that description may imply. Like a Sudoku puzzle, one mistake can screw up the whole thing, demanding total attention. This isn't exactly the kind of game to screw around with on the bus. But if you've got the spare time and the logical mind to figure it out, Picross DS will give you near-endless hours of challenge and entertainment. Verdict: YAY

Pokémon Diamond Version: Finally bringing the immortal franchise to the DS, Pokémon Diamond is probably the ultimate version of the game so far released in North America (Platinum just may outdo it). With nearly 100 new Pokémon, a huge new world and new battle mechanics, Pokémon Diamond is sure to keep any Pokémaniac busy for hours upon hours. I should know, it did it for me! Of course, if you weren't a fan of Pokémon before this won't change anything, but if you've been meaning to check the series out, you can't pick a better place to start than with Pokémon Diamond. Verdict: YAY

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team: The turn-based strategy games keep on comin'... Blue Rescue Team places you in the role of a human-turned-Pokémon (Which Pokémon you become depends on a personality test) trying to find the way back to their own world. On the journey home, players will explore many randomly-generated dungeons and get the opportunity to add just about every one of the then-totaling-at-385 Pokémon to their roster, giving an insane amount of possible team combinations. I suppose the only real problem with this game is the lackluster graphics, but when there's over 385 creatures to make sprites for, I think it can be forgiven. No matter how you look at it, Blue Rescue Team adds up to a great dungeon-crawler that will certainly last anyone dozens and dozens of hours. Verdict: YAY

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time: See above, but replace all instances of "Blue Rescue Team" with "Explorers of Time", and change total amount of Pokémon to 493. In case you didn't get the idea, Explorers of Time is almost exactly like Blue Rescue Team, and you know what? I'm damn happy about it. I had a blast with the first game, and I had an even greater time with the sequel. Bring on the third game! Verdict: YAY

A message to Chunsoft: Follow Turtwig's lead and get movin'!

Pokémon Trozei
: A new Pokémon puzzler, but it isn't a Pokémon Puzzle League sequel? I'm sure there were at least a few people freaking out back when this was announced. Pokémon Trozei is sort of like Bejewled, except whole lines are moved at a time instead of swapping pairs back and forth. Line up four or more Pokémon to clear a line, then line up three within a few seconds to keep the combo going, then go nuts pairing up Pokémon until the possibilities run out. That's the basic rhythm of Pokémon Trozei. It's a fairly simple puzzler, yes, but so's Tetris! Of course, I'm not saying it's anywhere near as good as the timeless masterpiece that is Tetris, but Trozei certainly stands out from the crowd of overcomplicated puzzlers. Sometimes basic is better! Verdict: YAY

Professor Layton and the Curious Village: The first game of the trilogy (Now a quadrilogy, it would seem), The Curious Village sees the titular professor explore the bizarre town of St. Mystere with his boy sidekick Luke. The entire town's gone nuts looking for the Golden Apple, the key to inheriting the recently-deceased baron's fortune, and they'll tell Layton anything they know... If he can answer their riddle. Thus is the basic rhythm of Professor Layton; Running about, gathering clues and solving complex riddles. It may sound bizarre and repetitive, but in reality it is anything but. Tying it all together is brilliantly-animated, fully-voiced cinematics that look like they came straight out of a Hayao Miyazaki film. Just like the village of St. Mystere, Professor Layton and the Curious Village is far more than it appears to be. Verdict: YAY

Resident Evil: Deadly Silence: Remakes, remakes, remakes! Deadly Silence is a remake of the original Resident Evil game released for the Playstation. Actually, it's more of an enhanced port, with all original graphics, sound effects, music and voice acting remaining intact. So if you're hungry and itchin' for a Jill Sandwich, you know where to go. Also included is an enhanced version of the game taking advantage of all the new features the DS has to offer, meaning first-person touchscreen knife fights and microphone mouth-to-mouth are all now possible. Yes, all your dreams have come true! Verdict: YAY

SimCity DS: Oh, I just love SimCity. I love laying out zones and roads and watching the little digital people make a city out of it all. What's that? SimCity DS? Count me in! Well, that was my reaction before I got my hands on it. Once I started playing I was hit by crappy controls, even-naggier-than-usual assistants, and a plain awful limitation of only being able to save one city at a time. I'd like to resign from my mayoral duties now, please. Verdict: NAY

Sonic Rush: By 2005, people were really getting sick of Sonic. Quality just kept nosediving with each new game. But then, out of the darkness emerged Sonic Rush, and people began to love the blue blur once again. With a 2D perspective and focus shifted back to speed and nothing else, Sonic Rush was like digging out the old Genesis and playing Sonic the Hedgehog 2 all over again. The only time it ever turned away from 2D was with the amazing 3D boss battles, quite possibly the only time Sonic has ever been fun in 3D. Rush is everything I've been wanting out of a Sonic game for all these years, and boy is it good. Verdict: YAY

Star Fox Command: Like Sonic the Hedgehog above, Star Fox had gone through some dark days with Adventures and Assault, but Command brought it all back to where it belongs: In the cockpit. No more runnin' and gunnin', Fox McCloud is back in the air and staying there. And with excellent touchscreen controls, beautiful graphics, insanely fun gameplay and the pure excitement of online dogfights, I wouldn't have it any other way. Verdict: YAY

Super Mario 64 DS: When I first got my DS back in 2004, this was the very first game I played. The greatest 3D Mario platformer (At the time, at least) in the palm of my hands. And it was a great game... On its own. As a remake, though, too much was changed. It wasn't Super Mario 64 anymore. I don't want to play as Yoshi, Luigi and Wario, I want to play as Mario! It was still fun, yes, but I prefer not to associate it with the excellence that was Super Mario 64. Verdict: MEH

Tetris DS: Seriously, it's Tetris. What more do I need to say? It's the game we've all been playing for the past twenty years yet have still to get tired of. It takes something special to be able to do that. But that wasn't enough for Nintendo this time. In addition to the timeless Tetris we all know and worship, a whole bunch of brand new, almost-as-awesome modes were added, leading to a game you could literally play until the end of time. But they didn't stop there, either! They also added a robust online mode, making Tetris DS quite possibly the best damn Tetris ever. It's a mystery to me why Nintendo stopped making this god among games. Verdict: YAY

Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam: I love racing games, and I love games that require tonnes of skill. Both of these loves collide with Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam, a trick-centric racer much like Excite Truck. Blazing down hills and racking up millions of points is one of the coolest experiences ever on the DS, and it just hurts so much that I can never find an opponent online. Of course, I'm not at all holding that against the developer, but man, that peeves me off. This unavoidable inconvenience aside, Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam is an insanely fun trick-based racer, great for Excite Truck-lovers that need a little something on the go. Verdict: YAY

Trace Memory: The first DS game by the makers of Hotel Dusk: Room 215, Trace Memory a point-and-click game much like the adventures of Kyle Hyde, but with a lot less text. It follows the story of Ashley Robbins as she explores the deserted Blood Edward Island in search of her father, using the DS in ways you'd never imagine along the way. Trace Memory is every bit as amazing as Hotel Dusk, with the only problem being how incredibly short it is. Seriously, it's maybe six hours long, and that's being generous. Besides this, though, Trace Memory is an excellent game that everyone should play, but not necessarily at full price. Verdict: YAY

Ashley never did see the appeal of the DS Lite.

Trauma Center: Under the Knife: A game that could only ever come to be on the DS, Trauma Center is just what you think it is: A surgery game. Well, whoop dee doo, you may say. Well, the surgeries here are quite far from the typical hospital fair, with man-made, robotic diseases tearing up the insides of dozens of victims. In a bizarre, reflex-testing, sweat-summoning frenzy the player is forced to eradicate the disease from all he treats, all the while juggling fibrillating hearts and plummeting vital signs. Still think it sounds boring? No? I didn't think so. Verdict: YAY

Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2: Sequel to the above Trauma Center: Under the Knife (In case you hadn't figured that out on your own), Under the Knife 2 features all that was great about the original, while also adding in new types of surgeries such as organ transplants and bone restructuring. Just as before, though, nothing is routine here, with new, lethal symptoms constantly arising and demanding treatment simultaneously. I didn't think it was possible, but this is actually more stressful than the original. And I love it. Verdict: YAY

The Urbz: Sims in the City: The only other DS game I have that launched with the system, The Urbz is a slightly different take on The Sims. While all the usual "needs" bars are present, Urbz is more of a social adventure game than a simulator. Befriending other Sims does more than add them to your phonebook now: It opens up possibilities in the storyline and progresses the plot. Basically a port of the Game Boy Advance game, the DS version adds several minigames and a whole new island to the mix, making it a clear winner over the other. It's not all sunshine and lollipops, though, as The Urbz is quite the buggy game, with glitches teleporting Sims around and causing them to sometimes react improperly to your interactions. It's never game-breaking, but it does knock the game down quite a few pegs. Verdict: MEH

Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise: It's not often that a company can succeed in porting a game from the XBox 360 down to the DS, but Rare pulled it off beautifully in Pocket Paradise, even adding features not present in the original. Viva Piñata is a strange sort of game, one where the player is tasked with building a desirable garden to attract living piñatas. The piñatas can then move in, breed, go off to parties, and die. Really, that's just about all there is to Viva Piñata. What makes it addictive, though, is the amount of different piñatas there are to discover and obtain. 67 different piñatas are crammed into the cartridge, and any collection fiend is going to go nuts trying to grab every last one of them. A pity the gardens are too darned limited in size to cram more than ten or so breeds of piñatas in at once. Verdict: YAY

Take it. You've earned it.

And that's it, folks: 55 games reviewed in one massive article, and you didn't even have to click "Next page" 55 times. Now to break down the total "YAY"s, "MEH"s and "NAY"s handed out:

YAY: 43
MEH: 7
NAY: 5

If I had some sort of "seal of approval", I'd have to slap it on 43 games right about now...

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SpinachPuffs said...

Wow - I think I can forgive you for your lack of posting ;)

Couldn't agree more with your comments on Metroid Prime Pinball - mediocre accessory but a great game.

But you really should track down a copy of Tony Hawk's American Sk8land - it's the perfect mish-mash of old-school tape collecting and a modern sandbox story mode.

Anonymous said...

So THIS is what you've been up to, we gotta play MPH, I've been practicing on the Alinos Gateway, I rarely use special weapons ;)

Kyle said...

Wow, very intense. More than makes up for your absence. A lot of great games reviewed there too.

Unknown said...

"Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift: Oh man, it's another real-time strategy game!"

Did you mean Final Fantasy XII: Revanant Wings? That's an RTS. Tactics is a turn-based strategy like Fire Emblem and such.

Not to be a know-it-all-- I just was confused on which game you meant. Sorry. >_<

PsychoDuck said...

@ SuperPhillip: Whoops, I wrote down the wrong genre XD I'll fix that right away.

Unknown said...

This might be a good idea for games I don't want to dedicate a whole review to.

Great job on the article!

Anonymous said...

No wonder this article took so long!

Excellent guide to a good collection of games, and I was giggling at 'Flash bogus' more than is probably healthy.

Heh. Flash BOGUS. Lol.

Anonymous said...

excellent reviews. More pics though.