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Wiiloveit's Top DS Picks

24th March 2011; By Patrick

With the Nintendo 3DS launching tomorrow in Europe, and Sunday in North America, I thought it would be a good idea to commemorate the DS in some fashion. Serving as gaming's greatest and most successful handheld ever to release, it would certainly be appropriate to draw attention to some key titles that contributed to the system's success. And so, I decided to rally the troops and ask members of the staff here at Wiiloveit: "What are your five favourite DS games?" Read on for the outcome! Please keep in mind though: these are in no particular order. Now, without further ado, let's start with...

Daan’s Picks

Mario Kart DS
Mario Kart DS
is easily one of the most robust and replayable titles to ever release for the handheld. With gripping local matches as well as an online mutiplayer component to keep players occupied for months, even years, it's hard to find fault with anything. It’s still widely regarded as the best Mario Kart title to date.

Rhythm Paradise (a.k.a Rhythm Heaven)
Although the sales numbers said otherwise, Rhythm Paradise (or Rhythm Heaven as we know it here in North America) was a strong DS release. Nintendo put their best foot forward in catering to fans of music/rhythm games, and they were successfully able to provide a thoroughly entertaining and memorable experience. It’s pretty hard to forget such mini-games as Love Lab, Blue Birds and Rhythm Rally even long after you've completed the game, which speaks volumes about how effective Nintendo was with their approach to this musical mini-game mash-up.

Maestro! Jump in Music
Pure fun at it's core, a total blend of music and gameplay, and it's inventive nature help solidify this as one of the more inventive releases on the DS to date. While it was never released outside of Europe, North American gamers can download the first world for 500 points on the DSiWare service.

The World Ends With You
No DS developer seems to be able to use the system better than Square Enix can, and The World Ends With You is
the best example of this. Using both screens to fight in two different places at once, a unique badge system for attacks, and characters that dance around to the music, The World Ends With You is truly clever in the way it makes use of the dual screens. And who doesn't want to play a game where you can make you character’s defense higher by making their jeans more fashionable?

Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time
Partially buried under the success of it’s sequel, Bowser’s Inside Story, Partners in Time was the first game in the humorous RPG series for the DS. Starting on the Gameboy Advance with the magnificent Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga, the series had you controlling both Mario and Luigi at the same time. Not only was there time travel involved in the plot and gameplay, but the added twist of having Baby Mario and Baby Luigi made the game that much more memorable! If you missed it the first time around, we definitely recommended you pick up a copy!

Billy's Picks

Mario Kart DS
As stated before, this game holds amazing value for the DS Platform, exemplified by the fact that Billy chose it too! Even post-release, it is still very easy to find online races due to it’s evergreen-selling nature. Seeing as online was one of the best new features to the series, all the value stays intact even today.

Elite Beat Agents
The spiritual successor to Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, this game involves three agents (Morris, J, and Derek) as they go through the world doing various "tasks" to help people. While in reality all they do is sing and dance as you tap on the correct buttons to move the song along, the charm and beauty of the game comes through the mostly-humorous narrative about how your dancing affects people's lives. The fun, pick-up-and-play nature of this game has always shined, and was recently replicated in Ubisoft’s Michael Jackson: The Experience for DS.

Big Bang Mini
As far as we’re concerned, Big Bang Mini is Southpeak’s best release on a Nintendo platform. Full of charm and fun gameplay mechanics, the innovative idea of creating fireworks in a celebratory fashion was both inspired and well-executed. It still is a surprisingly great endeavour, especially considering there wasn't a big name to back it up.

New Super Mario Bros.
When the Nintendo DS launched, we were promised a new 2D Mario title, with little idea of what to expect. It was the first side-scrolling Mario game since
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (1995), and suffice to say, it lived up to all expectations. Outside of the lengthy and properly-difficult single-player mode, there was a multiplayer component for DS Download Play as well as a series of mini-games as a side-diversion. Evidently, Nintendo was waiting for the right opportunity to let this loose onto the world, and it definitely experienced loads of success.

Puzzle League DS (a.k.a Planet Puzzle League)
Puzzle League DS (Planet Puzzle League) is a deceptively simple puzzle game, with an enormous amount of depth and replayability. With lots of modes for both solo and group sessions, this is one title not to be missed. Nowadays you’d be hard-pressed to find this at your local retailer, so if you missed out on this gem, your only way to acquire it would be to head online or stick with the mini-version on the DSiWare service. Those that did purchase the game, however, discovered a wealth of options and an addicting gameplay experience that even rivaled the original Tetris. Score one for puzzle fans!

Murat's Picks

Mario Kart DS
For this game to appear on our list three times, you know it must be an essential title. Do we really need to say it again? You’d be missing out if you didn’t have this in your DS collection!

Pokemon: Diamond
Pokemon: Diamond and Pokemon: Pearl were the first titles in the series for the Nintendo DS, introducing many innovations such as Wi-Fi battles, Anonymous Global Trading, new Pokemon, a new region, dual screen usage and much more. Even though other Pokemon titles have released since this one came out, it's still great to pick up and play!

Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games
Ever since Sonic’s debut in 1991, gamers have debated over which company had the better mascot: SEGA or Nintendo? Thanks to this unique sports offering, players can find out for themselves as they compete for the Gold Medal in numerous sports: some real, some recreational. Couple this together with fun multiplayer, and you have a “Gold” title!

Rhythm Paradise (a.k.a Rhythm Heaven)
The fact that
Rhythm Heaven popped up again says a lot about just how moving it was on a personal level. With so many fun activities to play, it’s frustrating to see this didn’t experience more success. We urge you to purchase it if you haven't already done so!

Cooking Mama
One of the most notable casual efforts to release over the system's lifespan, Cooking Mama "treated" players to a wide selection of recipes to harness their inner Chef. Although the dialogue was cringe-worthy at times and the entire presentation turned off many male gamers, Cooking Mama experienced untold success and went on to become a series in itself, spanning additional iterations even outside Nintendo-based platforms. However, this was the one that started it all!

Jack's Picks

Jam With the Band
This game has everything: quirky music, the fun of playing songs with a variety of instruments, new song downloads from Nintendo and the user community, the ability to Jam with up to 8 people on DS Download Play, and a companion Wii channel! All these features makes
Jam with the Band the most robust music game package the DS has to offer! Now to get Nintendo of America to localize it...

Dragon Quest V
Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride was originally released for the Super Famicom (SNES) in Japan in 1992, but never released in other regions. Another small glimmer of hope was opened up when a remake for the Playstation 2 was released in Japan in 2004, but once again, overseas gamers were forgotten. Finally in 2009, Square-Enix brought out Dragon Quest V for the Nintendo DS to North America and Europe, and it was definitely worth the wait! While it wasn’t drastically different than the Japanese release for the Super Famicom, it was the first time for fans to experience an English version of the game. Dragon Quest V is an RPG in the truest sense of the word, so it’s highly recommended if you can deal with grinding!

Jump Ultimate Stars (Import)
Super Smash Bros. Brawl was a great game, but many thought it was impossible to be on a handheld. Imagine the same game with 300 (!) characters, all licensed from Shonen Jump -- this is precisely what Jump Ultimate Stars was. With a unique ally system that made use of the touch screen, deceptively-simple combat, and a comprehensive mission mode, this shows what fighting games on portables can be! It's just too bad it will never be released outside of Japan, due to licensing issues.

New Super Mario Bros.
Aside from the likes of Mario Kart DS, Super Mario 64 DS and Nintendogs, New Super Mario Bros. was definitely one of the most iconic first-party titles to release for the system. It’s for good reason, then, that the game comes up in our list again. Full of great platforming elements that went on to serve as inspiration for New Super Mario Bros. Wii, this was truly a top-notch title for the system.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Easily the most recognizable law-focused franchise to ever hit the gaming scene, the Phoenix Wright series received an influx of followers as more titles were added to its name. It all started out, though, with a very strong first effort on the part of CAPCOM, who successfully managed to make court cases in video game form enjoyable -- imagine that! Between investigating locations for clues, interrogating suspects to uncover the truth, and yelling “Objection” whenever you got a chance, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney had a whole lot going for it. It’s of little surprise, then, that the series is still going on strong, and Phoenix himself continues to be regarded as one of the coolest new characters to get added to gaming culture.

KnucklesSonic8's Picks

Kirby Super Star Ultra
Serving as the most varied and arguably the most thrilling of Kirby’s classic adventures, it’s of little wonder, then, that we felt this title deserved a spot on our list. Whether playing by yourself or with a friend in co-op, it was thoroughly enjoyable to visit new locations and participate in a variety of antics using the pink puff and his powerful allies. Really, nothing could get in the way of enjoying all that
Kirby Super Star Ultra had to offer, and it sure did offer a lot of content.

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box (a.k.a Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box)
Curious Village and Unwound Future were in a league of their own in terms of quality, so it’s very hard to select just one of the marvelous Professor Layton titles. In the end, we decided to highlight Diabolical Box for being superior to other DS games on so many levels. The plot was engaging from the very beginning and it totally sustained your interest throughout the entire adventure. Uncovering the truth behind the seemingly-impossible mystery was by no means easy, but seeing how each twist was handled so well made it all worthwhile. Although not all the puzzles made as big of an impact as they did in Curious Village, as a whole, the game was a lot stronger than its predecessor.

Hotel Dusk: Room 215
Following Kyle Hyde as this 70’s-inspired mystery story unfolded was not exactly the most appealing cup of tea. As a text-heavy title, Hotel Dusk: Room 215 wasn't truly appreciated by the masses -- or at least, not as much as it should have been. While there were some annoyances to be had, Hotel Dusk: Room 215 managed to provide a suspense-filled adventure that had you concluding each chapter with feelings of excitement and curiousity. We’re still saddened that development team Cinq has since disbanded and incredibly frustrated that Last Window will likely not be coming to North America. But upsets aside, Hotel Dusk: Room 215 was a great game for anyone who was open-minded enough to stick through it until the end and it truly left an unmistakable mark.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
Boasting a great storyline, a gameplay system that was well-constructed and court sessions that kept you attentive and fully engrossed, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney was definitely one of the strongest story-driven titles to release for the DS system. Almost all the cases were interesting enough that they kept your full attention as you made your way to the major twist at the end of the game. It’s just too bad Apollo Justice only got one game -- we would have loved another one!

WarioWare D.I.Y.
Any true fan of the WarioWare series likely jumped for joy when they learned Nintendo was releasing a DS title that would allow them to create your own microgames. The "do-it-yourself" approach was well explored and the entire interface was very user-friendly to get into. More than that, the great memories you could take away from your own creations was a major benefit in itself -- one that would be further explored in the WiiWare counterpart. Despite the fact that you could only create tap-based games, this didn’t put a big damper on the creativity players could exert. This was yet another fantastic DS release that was totally worth buying at full price.

My Picks

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor
was the first SMT game to release on the Nintendo DS. Shin Megami Tensei games are traditionally RPG’s that involve type match-ups, and the eventual battle between good and evil. Devil Survivor adds a twist though, making battles work like a mixture of SRPG’s and RPG’s, where you move around on a grid to attack enemies, and then choose attacks based on attack order and stats. While it uses no touch screen features and is primarily played on the bottom screen, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor makes a great addition to the DS library of RPG’s.

Professor Layton and the Flute of Malevolent Destiny (Import)
Professor Layton and the Flute of Malevolent Destiny (Japan-only at time of writing) is the first game in the series to not be in chronological order. It takes place before Professor Layton and the Curious Village, focusing on a town that has been having monster attacks, and the back-story of how Luke met the Professor. And when you’re done with the amazing story and puzzles, you get an RPG "bonus game" that lasts 100 hours in length! How amazing is that!

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
The creator of the Ace Attorney series, Shu Takumi, decided that after the main series was finished, he wanted to tell a different type of story -- one of a murder victim that looks like a ghost. And he does this with puzzles involving the manipulation of inanimate objects to precision timing. Gameplay most certainly does not take a back seat in this game. And not only that, but the graphics are quite possibly the best I’ve seen on the DS to date. Well done, Shu Takumi!

Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations
The fact that a developer managed to appear three times on our list (each for a different title) says a lot about how superb their games are. Shu Takumi’s storytelling is top-tier, that's for sure. Wrapping up the trilogy nicely, this is another courtroom simulator where you play as Phoenix Wright (for most of the game), meeting new characters and old, solving five court cases. This all leads up to one of the most emotional endings I’ve ever experienced, let alone on a handheld!

Pokemon: Black Version
Released on March 6th, 2011 in North America, this title snuck it’s way onto my list for one simple reason. This game took everything Game Freak learned with Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, and SoulSilver versions, and put everything together into one package, while also increasing the amount of content throughout the game. In my opinion, it truly stands out as the definitive Pokemon experience on the DS. And that's saying a lot!

So there you have it! All of our opinions! Although we'll certainly miss the Nintendo DS and the amazing hold it had on the industry as a whole, we're eager to see what sort of impact the 3DS will have in the grand scheme of things. 

Thanks to Billy, Jack, Daan, Murat, and KnucklesSonic8 for their contributions!

Feature by Patrick
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