The DS is five years old today, so the G4 staff got together over a long e-mail thread and discussed everyone’s favorite games for the system that surprised everybody. ("Two screens? What are they thinking?") As a testament to the DS’ amazing library, there were no duplicate submissions for favorite game. Feel free to join the thread in the comments below!
Mike D’Alonzo — Manager, G4 Interactive Services
To this day, my favorite DS game is still Brain Age. There’s nothing that motivates you to want to be smarter more than the shame of being told that your brain is literally years older than you are. It’s always fun to feel your lack of intelligence and your mortality, all at once. Should it, perhaps have been called Shame Age? You bet!
Rob Manuel — X-Play Associate Producer
The World Ends With You: Daring, innovative, quirky; there are few games that can tout such praises, let alone a JRPG from Square Enix. The World Ends With You takes full advantage of everything the DS can dish out such as battles occurring on two screens simultaneously, touch screen combat, and even Wi-Fi enabled pin trading. You can even gain experience when you’re not playing the game. How cool is that?
Patrick Klepek — News Editor
DS proved itself to me early on. Kirby Canvas Curse proved what the platform’s technology could do to traditional video games through an application of touch screen gameplay few games have been able to replicate since. Even though DS has become a wonderful platform with a large and rewarding library of games, many do not really take advantage of the hardware’s main differentiator. But Kirby Canvas Curse, giving you the ability to move Kirby through levels on your personal wind current, did that years ago. I still go back to it, as a reminder of what’s possible when less is more. Speaking of, where’s my sequel?
Tim Jennings — X-Play Associate Producer
Let me start out by saying that I don’t normally like sports games. I’m as uncoordinated throwing a pass in Madden as I am in real life. That said, I loved Tecmo Bowl Kickoff for the DS. In my mind, this title does a lot of things right to make it a perfectly addictive DS game.
#1 – The nostalgia factor. I played Tecmo Bowl as a kid. I also played Tecmo Super Bowl as a kid. Kickoff captures what was great about those games but tweaks its gameplay just enough to keep the Tecmo football nostalgia alive while not making a game that feels “old”. Furthermore, the games wireless versus option reminded me of taking on my friends in the NES versions as a kid.
#2 – Kickoff keeps it simple. Plays are easy to run and the action never feels overwhelming. It’s simple just like the games on the NES that it references. If I wanted a complicated football experience, I’d play Madden and I wouldn’t play it on a handheld. Sometimes something simple can be a wonderful thing.
#3 – It’s bite-sized. What I want out of a DS game is a distraction I can pick up while I’m on the train, waiting for a flight, or am moderately bored. I play it, it’s satisfying for the moment, and that’s it. That’s what a handheld game should be as far as I’m concerned, and that’s what Kickoff delivers.
Jake Gaskill — Feed Writer
I haven’t been as genuinely surprised, enthralled and pleased with a game as I was with Level-5’s mystery puzzle title, Professor Layton and the Curious Village. Not only does it feature beautifully crafted cinematics and a wonderful mix of whimsy and dread, but the premise is just instantly engrossing. Seriously, who doesn’t love exploring mysterious towns where bizarre and unexplained things are happening, unbeknownst (or beknownst) to its citizens? Throw in a crazy amount of truly mind-bending puzzles, and a Sherlock Holmes-inspired narrative, and voila! Instant DS classic.
Brian Leahy — Previews Editor
Just as Lumines captured me on the PSP, Q Entertainment’s Meteos caught my attention on the DS. I sunk a lot of time into the games modes and I thought the stylus controls worked really well for the game’s mechanics. The different planets and effects added some depth and strategy and Meteos didn’t leave my DS for an extremely long time. I’m still waiting for the iPhone version over here!
Abbie Heppe — X-Play Editorial Coordinator
If you define “favorite” as the game that barely left my DS for over a year and that I actually wore away a small part of my touch screen playing, I have to nominate Majesco’s New York Times Crossword Puzzles. Sure, years have passed and now I have an iPhone app that feeds me the puzzles daily, but it doesn’t let me sit down and play co-op or competitive crossword puzzling with friends, and most importantly, my dad, who bought a DS the second he saw the game.
Sterling McGarvey — Reviews Editor
As much as I love Phoenix Wright and Trauma Center, Tony Hawk’s American Sk8land is still my personal favorite DS game. As you might’ve read in my article on a decade of Tony Hawk, this DS debut was the brightest point of a rapidly declining game series. Why? Vicarious Visions adapted the best parts of Tony Hawk — arcade-driven madcap fun — and made lemonade from lemons. The handheld lacks the visual panache of a PSP, but the cel-shaded animation runs fluidly on Nintendo’s handheld. Throw in some great online integration (customizable skateboards and awesome multiplayer), and you have a handheld experience that stood toe to toe with the likes of early PS2-era Birdman games. If you’re lamenting the death of the series and you’ve overlooked Sk8land, seek it out. It evokes the best moments of the series, and none of the bad.
Eric Eckstein — Director of Editorial, G4tv.com
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney may be as much a training tool as Pauly Shore’s Jury Duty, but what it lacks in accuracy, it makes up for in sweet goofy stories that revolved around revenge and spirits. It also stars Larry Butz, solely to offer a joke about “if something smells, it’s usually the Butz.” Between that, touch-screen CSI-lite antics and the ability to yell “Objection!” into the mic to counter arguments, it was easily one of my favorite DS experiences.
Michael Demski — X-Play Writer
I’m sure everyone’s saying Mario Kart DS or New Super Mario Bros. but my pick is Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin. After an extended hiatus from the series, I immediately became re-hooked thanks to the solid gameplay and that obsessive drive to discover 100% of the map. I also appreciated the fact that the game didn’t include unnecessary touch screen gimmicks and microphone nonsense just for the sake of having it (no one wants to blow really hard into their DS on a bus).
Andrew Pfister — Senior Games Editor
I’m frequently finding myself in situations where A) I’m over my head and B) I really need to hear some good music to help me through it, so it’s natural that one of my favorite DS games is Elite Beat Agents. Known and loved as Ouendan in Japan, EBA is the music game that got overshadowed by the plastic instruments, but it’s one of the DS’ most unique and endearing games. Plus, Chicago’s "You’re The Inspiration" just might make you cry as you tap each heartbreaking circle.
Jonathan Goorvich — Interactive Content Specialist
Happy Birthday DS! The two things I love about you most are The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and the very unique form of carpel tunnel syndrome you gave me. Phantom Hourglass brilliantly utilized everything the DS was built for, from drawing boomerang trajectories, to creative ways of utilizing the dual screens, to annoying an entire airplane full of people when I had to yell into the DS microphone during a red-eye flight. Thank you for all that, and five wonderful years!
Daniel Whitehill — Director, New Media
Picross DS: If Soduku were fun, it would be Picross. This overlooked gem and my trusty iPod has gotten me through plenty of flights. Plus, you can make your own puzzles and scar your friends with digital dongs and breasts. The cost used on Amazon? $12. Surprise 8-bit digital nudity? Priceless.
Stephen Johnson — Lead Editor, The Feed
PictoChat: Not enough attention is given to the Nintendo DS’s groundbreaking ability to allow friends to share crudely drawn pictures of dongs. Before this innovation, I had to use pieces of loose-leaf paper – it was like the Dark Ages. Oh, and Mario Kart DS is twice as addictive as Quaaludes.
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