The Nintendo DS and You, Me, the Voice Inside my Head, and Everybody Else
Well, only one person called me a complete idiot in my Nintendo thread which well, I figured I could top that you know? I mean come on! I used to be able to get at least five people calling me an idiot per outlandish comment! I can do better, so here we go, you guys like the games I’m sure, I mean I know I do. Thing is we’re typically tied down to our glorified Blu-Ray players and word processing machines, but not anymore! Now, I know what you’re thinking, a machine that plays games, unpossiburu!
Now, I don’t mean to sound like a monorail salesman, but it’s true! I’ve got the magic ointment for you! For the small asking price of whatever a DS goes for in your country/used game retailer/place that sells drugs in the back you too can have the greatest gaming machine ever made! Shut up guy with the $3,000 computer, my thing is better! Okay, okay, better is subjective, but I’ve got plenty of subjects to talk about, so yeah, I think I win this one computer guy.
I was a bit disappointed in my slightly neurotic self for essentially just writing a long drawn out incoherent ramble in my Nintendo post (The Friends to this article’s Joey!), so this one is going to have like thought out topics and crap. I know right? Almost like a professional! But, you know, with way less making crap up. Okay, a little less making crap up. Now with slightly less adieu, the Nintendo DS, the greatest handheld of all time:
I would've said "the Cheers to this article's Frasier", but I don't think this is high brow enough.
The Worst Handheld of All Time
Er, okay, that headline wasn’t exactly what I was going for, but whatever. Although, you can’t really blame me, this is the beginning, and that’s where I want to start. See, the DS got off to a rough start. The thing was pretty bulky and not nearly as sexy as the PSP which was making a killing taking out UMD’s down at the red light district. So, it was bulky, so what right? I mean it did have the games right?
Sort of, I mean there was cool experimental stuff like Feel the Magic XY/XX, but you sure aren’t going to find many people talking those rub rabbits anytime soon (Well, me, I guess). The only thing game that most people remember from the launch is Super Mario 64 DS, which, well I have a torn opinion on. I got my copy of the game shortly after the Christmas after the DS came out, and it was fun, I really enjoyed it, but the controls were bogus which seemingly didn’t bode well for the DS’s future.
What was wrong with the controls you ask? Actually, you aren’t asking because 99% of the complaints I see about the 3DS are how it only has one analog stick and the DS didn’t even have that. So basically, you had to either use the touchscreen or use the D-Pad. The former only worked with the forgotten thumbstrap accessory (Which as my brother learned was all too lefty compatible) and even then wasn’t all too precise, or you could go with the D-Pad method which you can only imagine how painful that was. Anyway, the game let you play as Yoshi so it was rad.
Moving along, this, GBA games, and a copy of a crappy Spider-Man game were all I had to play on my DS in the beginning (Although GBA games are pretty amazing so it was already winning whatever race it was in). So, how about the early months? You know the months where we think we’ll get all the games but usually don’t? Well, all I really remember are three games Nintendo published, Yoshi’s Touch n’ Go, WarioWare: Touched!, and Pokemon Dash. I let Wario rip me off, while a couple of my friends went with the other two. Looks like as Wario may say, "Good choice!" (He said that once, trust me). WarioWare may be Nintendo’s secret weapon in showing us everything hardware can do in one experience. For those uninitiated (We’ll have to initiate you later, and yeah, you’ll have to raid another forum if you want into our frat, we throw rockin’ keggers though so you want in), WarioWare is a collection of microgames that go by superfast and you play in like 10 seconds. It’s manic, it’s wacky, and it’s the brainchild of quite possibly Nintendo’s best department.
So while I’m seeing all the innovative ways the DS’s mic and touchscreen can be used, well, my friends aren’t so lucky. I borrowed Pokemon Dash from my buddy, and well, there’s a reason that it’s the only Pokemon spin-off missing from my collection, and why I typically avoid anything developed by Ambrella. As for Yoshi’s Touch n’ Go, it was a glorified minigame, my friend actually just gave me his copy of it because it lacked substance. It was fun I guess, but well, if there was ever an argument that handheld games should all cost $1 this would be it.
I mean, there's a nose picking microgame! GOTY right here! The immersion...
Touching is Good
So, we’ve got some underwhelming but creative games and some N64 ports, luckily Nintendo learned their mistake here and would never make it again. The latter half of 2005 and early 2006 brought the pain so to speak, if by pain you mean, ecstasy, because man did Nintendo touch me in all the right places. So yeah, that Christmas I was still getting GBA games (WHY DID NONE OF YOU BUY GUNSTAR SUPER HEROES!?), but that didn’t mean I was playing a GBA with a bonus screen. Oh no, I was getting my furry on.
Er, I mean, Animal Crossing: Wild World and Nintendogs came out (There were some more cool games, but let’s talk about these two for a second). I’d played Animal Crossing on my GameCube (Best console ever by the way kids, well except for the SNES, but that’s ancient history man like 1998 or something), but all I ever really did was collect NES games (Balloon Fight FTW! Also, YUALLH8 DK Jr. Math?). I could never really get into this "play a little every day" experience when it had to be tethered to my TV. This is the beauty of handhelds guys, this is why they’re magical, they can turn experiences that you didn’t care for into something else without changing much of a thing.
See, games like Animal Crossing and Nintendogs are meant to be played in short intervals, but that’s not quite how console gaming works. With a handheld you can take it out when you’re on a bus, waiting for a prostate exam, staking out your ex-girlfriends place, or whatever. Whatever little time you would normally have to waste, you can fit in something like these. However, there’s a lot more depth in these experiences than playing something akin to a flash game, and they were just the beginning of Nintendo’s foray into truly social mobile gaming.
Oh Chief, I've never forgiven my brother for letting you leave. One day we'll be reunited my love, one day...
Social Gaming with 99% Less Spam!
We’ve all heard the phrase "social gaming" either from my game design teacher who’s only gaming experience was Farmville or some propaganda article from your favorite clickbaiting website. However, the games aren’t all that social, I mean, they’re less social than those creepy otaku that just sit at home all day looking up weird anime porn on their computers. Trust me, I’m one of them (Okay, yeah, I get it, it’s hard to trust a creepy otaku with weird fetishes, but man, just give me a little wiggle room alright? Lol, wiggle room…). Um, anyway, yeah, the DS is a bastion of real social gaming experiences. I could rattle on examples all day, from those last two games I talked about, to Dragon Quest IX, to Pokemon, to whatever, but I don’t think I need to talk about any actual games.
What? YUNOTALKGAMEZ? See, Nintendo’s got this thing called Pictochat, it’s pretty amazing without doing anything amazing. All you do is draw crap and send it to your friend who has a DS, so you kinda need two DS’s, sort of. My brother and I each had a DS and we sent each other fun pictures or came up with stupid games just with that silly little program. It does require an accessory that isn’t included though, imagination. I know, I couldn’t even find any at GameStop, so hopefully you already have it.
I’d say one of the greatest "social gaming" experiences I’ve ever had was when I would take my brother’s DS and my own to my Scholar Bowl games (Um, this is some dorky trivia thing I did in school, I’m like, a pop culture master, everyone else was like math nerds and crap) while two of my friends brought there’s. Seriously, I had way more fun with a bunch of people passing DS’s around drawing crap (Mostly dicks of course) than I ever will playing whatever’s hot on Facespace (OMG look how freaking clever I am!). Although I guess most TRUE GAMERS are looking for online play and stuff…
Some people were more talented at this than I was...
Online Play and Stuff
Nintendo sucks at online. Why? Friends codes I guess, I don’t know, I don’t play online much and have been satisfied with what Nintendo’s given me. I know, crazy fanboy, but whatever, I can play my Pokemanz with people I meet online, and that’s all I ever wanted. But some people want shooters, or racing games, or online chess. For those people I recommend Metroid Prime: Hunters, Mario Kart DS, and Clubhouse Games. I own all these and think they’re pretty damn fun multiplayer games. But, those are just the ones I’ve played.
Lots of other games have online features, including JRPG’s like Phantasy Star Zero, more shooters like N-Space’s handheld Call of Duty titles, and even, believe it or not, the handheld Zelda games (Which I’ve played, so technically my Segway up there is a lie, no autocorrect, I don’t meet the little mobilized scooter when I say Segway, whatever, fine, I’m not going to screw with it) ! Nintendo put online features into tons of games like Star Fox: Command, Tetris DS, all these games I’ve mentioned (You know, in the online part, oh and Animal Crossing: Wild World), and some that I’m sure I’ve missed. For whatever reason, this still means that Nintendo hates online, I guess it’s the friend codes…
I swear it was my Wi-Fi disconnecting every time someone knocked-out my Dragonite. Also, this is hilarious.
I Interrupt Whatever the Hell I Was Talking About for a Musical Break
Okay, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack to my favorite DS game while writing this. Getting a little too into it so I guess it’s going to infect my work. That game in question is The World Ends With You, the only JRPG that can make you less emo (Well, I haven’t played ALL of them, I mean, I haven’t played all of the ones I own, okay, that wasn’t really a fact per se, okay, it made me less emo, jeez). Aside from helping me through my depression and anxiety problems, TWEWY (As most people refer to it, because come on, no one wants to type that much) is also a super fun (And fashionable!) game. Why is it so fun? Because it’s a game that you can only play on DS, no, not because that’s the only place it was released, but because it’s designed with the DS in such a way that porting it would end with a much lesser game.
You see, TWEWY uses the touchscreen and the top screen at the same time for chaotic rhythm fueled battles set to the game’s variety-filled soundtrack. That said, it’s not really a rhythm game, it just makes use of rhythm in such a way that you really have to be listening to the music to enjoy the game. This sort of rhythm fueled game play was pretty popular on the DS. Or at the very least it’s prominent in the games that make me love this thing. Seriously, go play Space Invaders Extreme, preferably with the Rumble Pack, it’s an experience you would think was impossible to get from a Space Invaders game of all things.
And then there’s the actual rhythm games, ones like another gem from my "Top 5 DS Games Evah" list, if you read my Nintendo article (And you should of because that would be like skipping an issue of your favorite comic book just because Rob Liefield wrote it) then you probably know what game I’m talking about, yeah, that’s right Guitar Hero: Modern Hi…er no, Elite Beat Agents baby! Seriously, this game is good guys, really! I know it looks ridiculous, but ridiculous is good (I mean, I know I’m a bad example, but sometimes ridiculous IS good).
There’s a reason nearly anytime you see a review of a non-plastic guitar based rhythm game they mention it being "EBA-like" as this game was a game changer for the genre. No longer were simple button presses the input device for video games, now there was a touchscreen and yeah kids, that’s really all it took. Well, not quite, obviously the game had to make good use of it, but it did do that! I promise! Trust me (Seriously! I’m way more trustable than I look!), the game gives off a feeling that you’re dancing, even though all you’re doing is taping things (Lol, taping things to rhythm, think about it). Rhythm is such a fundamental part of video games that often goes ignored and here was a good that just oozed it, I mean, even a turn-based JRPG can make good use of rhythm.
Hmm, Squeenix and Liefield DO have similar design philosophies so that joke wasn't completely random...
Here Yo’ JRPG’s Dawg!
See, certain JRPG classics like Chrono Trigger and the Dragon Quest series are clearly made with the rhythm of the combat in mind (I think this is why I like streamlined games like Final Fantasy XIII and Dragon Age II so much, I’m really too into rhythm…). There’s a certain way these battle systems click. Anyway, this was all just supposed to be a cheap way to transition into the JRPG portion of my way too long expose on why the DS is better than you, but I’m a crappy writer so let’s just get down to it.
There are a lot of JRPG’s on the DS, like a ton. I mean, let’s say you liked Dragon Quest VIII or Ni No Kuni on PS3 gives you a huge boner (No worries, you’re in good company), well maybe you should play Dragon Quest IX, seriously, don’t let Square Enix and Level-5’s desire to get people to play co-op detract you from playing. While most co-op centric games I find impossible to recommend without one having a buddy, DQIX (Yeah, DQ like the Ice Cream) is the one I could recommend to even the most friendless of losers (No worries, you’re in good company). It’s the same kind of sprawling quest you’re used to, but it’s a handheld game. A handheld game guys! You can take it anywhere! You can grind on the toilet! And I don’t mean as some weird fetish!
And you can grind on the toilet in many other fine games like Nostalgia, Radiant Historia, and Golden Sun: Dark Dawn! Oh, and you guys remember all the talk about how Legends of Grimrock resurrected dungeon crawling? That sort of thing has been present on the DS for awhile now! Orcs and Elves, The Dark Spire, the Etrian Odyssey series, and the one I’ve actually played Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. Although, I mostly spent all my time fusing monsters in that last one.
Speaking of which, duh, monster battle games, like Pokemon, you have to have a DS if you’re a fan of that, but you already know that, so let’s just skip ahead to strategy games. So, yeah, there are some great ones, both of the RPG variety like Disgaea DS, Final Fantasy Tactics A2, and Pokemon Conquest, and the non RPG variety like Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, Advance Wars (There are two of them, one cheerful, one depressing, it’s kind of like Pokemon in that way, except not really), and the game I’m going to spend some more of your time talking about in the next section Lock’s Quest.
My rhythm comparison isn't that crazy! Look at this guy bust a move!
You Didn’t Play This So I’m Mad at You
I’ve already talked "at length" (Hahaha, not really) about certain hidden gems, but here are some more that you might have missed. Since I promised I’d talk about, Lock’s Quest is first on my half-assed attempt to sell you things. See, Lock’s Quest is a strategy game, but, it’s kind of tower defense-like, but in a way that people that can’t stand tower defense can enjoy it (No, it’s not like Plants and Zombies, although, yes, I like that one too, we all do). It’s kind of got a few Action-RPG elements in it and the writing is solid.
It’s about a steampunk war of some kind and it’s not actually a JRPG this time, it’s from 5th Cell, who you might have heard of before. I haven’t talked about them yet in this piece, maybe I’ll get to Scribblenauts later guys, I don’t know, I don’t really plan that far ahead okay? Anyway, yeah Lock’s Quest is pretty cool and I like it, but it’s also really hard. Wait a second, it’s kind of an RTS, does that I mean I like RTS? Well, if you like RTS you might like this then.
Moving along, next up something for my fellow retro gamers, the DS saw a ton of great retro style games from the aforementioned Space Invaders Extreme to a WayForward developed Contra game, but the one that shines the brightest is Retro Game Challenge. It’s a game where you play as an 80’s kid playing 80’s games that don’t actually exist. It’s also based on a Japanese TV show. Unfortunately you jerks didn’t buy it (Yeah, I didn’t either until I found a copy for $10 so I’m even worse for calling everyone out like this).
You guys may have seen the TV show when Kotaku was briefly streaming it (There’s a DVD coming out this Fall guys!), the star of the show has gone mad and is the bad guy. Yeah, it’s kind of wacky, anyway, as you play it you’ll find games that evoke memories of RC Pro-Am, Ninja Gaiden, Gradius, Dragon Quest and more. Here’s the thing about these parodies, they’re actually good (Unlike mine)! But, the really beautiful thing is the in-game magazines, you get your tips and tricks in the game just like a kid from back in the day would. Beautiful.
Okay, I think I’ll talk about one more gem, and it’s called Mega Man Legends 3, not really, but it’s the closest we’re going to get. I’m talking about Solatorobo which is a similar whimsical action-adventure game. It just oozes charm even if it gets a bit repetitive and is quite possibly too easy even for pushovers like me (Why are you so hard Kirby?), but man if it’s not enjoyable. But, a lot of my love is for what it represents. We all know Capcom canned Mega Man Legends because they don’t love us, well XSEED loves us (Or I guess Nintendo of Europe if you’re one of those gross Europeans. What? Fine then, I’ll write a whole section for the Europeans then to make amends.), they releases this baby over here in the US and gave us a soundtrack. For once in my life I decided to buy a game for full price just to support the publisher and I got a pretty good game out of it.
Also, furries, that's kind of a huge selling point for me...
New Wave Bossa Nova
So, I guess we need to talk about the most brilliant thing the DS did, and that was get people that don’t play video games to play them. Before the Wii did it, before Spaceface (God, I’m on fire tonight!) did, before that crappy flash game knock off that sells crazy amounts of merchandise did, the DS did. Here’s the thing about the DS, it’s weird. It promotes weird. Who would’ve thought that Brain Age would be a killer app? Well, it is, it’s pretty fun too, and apparently my old fourth grade teacher is into it.
Then there’s stuff like Nintendogs (See, eventually I got to it!) which let people like me who couldn’t have a dog as a kid experience something similar (Shut up it’s exactly the same thing!). Yeah, mechanically it’s similar to games like Seaman (Literally pfft anytime I say that) and Hey You! Pikachu (I own two copies of this, don’t judge me), but it turned that formula into something with universal appeal. I mean, that’s what Nintendo really went for this gen and they did it wonderfully.
Heck, before the appstore, people were buying things like Personal Trainer: Walking and Personal Trainer: Cooking for the DS. Why? I don’t know, I guess they’re crazy, I was only going to walk if it gave me some kind of in game advantage (Thank you Pokewalker and Play Coins!). But people ate this crap up, but how about for a second we talk about gamer games with gamer appeal for gamers.
Yeah, it’s on iOS now, but Scribblenauts is the kind of thing that got all the publicity it did because it was a DS game. This game is fueled entirely by how creative you are (Like other games like Pictochat, Minecraft, and MS Paint). I’ve mentioned this before, but this game has the greatest title screen ever made, because you can get all the gameplay you’d ever want out of it with that alone. See, in Scribblenauts, you write a word and it becomes real, with few exceptions (No profanity or pop culture stuff, so yeah, I was terrible at it). You remember those bus rides I was talking about earlier? Well during one of them I convinced someone to get a DS with Scribblenauts’ title screen alone. By the way, the only thing that beats God is Vampire. Spoilers.
Now, I forgot how this matchup ends, but I'd say my lord and master wins. R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.
Alright, there are a few more things that I’m too dumb and lazy to do whole sections for so here we go.
This DS has a crazy amount of classic games remade, here’s a short list, Super Mario 64 (Which I already mentioned), Kirby Super Star, Chrono Trigger, Lufia II, Ys I&II, Final Fantasy III, Final Fantasy IV, Dragon Quest IV, Dragon Quest V, Dragon Quest VI, Pokemon Gold and Silver, Mega Man Zero I-IV, and probably a few more.
The DS has also been the host to a certain resurrection of point and click adventure games outside of the Telltale stuff elsewhere. Check out the Professor Layton series, the Ace Attorney series, Ghost Trick, and 999.
If you don’t have a DS and would rather get one cheap as opposed to getting a 3DS at the moment, I’d say go with the DSi, it’s the perfect size, the buttons have the best feel, the speakers have better quality than earlier models (And the 3DS), plus it has a few extra features like the ability to play music and download DSiWare games (Like Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, ArtStyle: Pictobits, and Dragon Quest Wars).
Speaking of which, I sold someone on the DSi with WarioWare: Snapped! Of all things, it’s kind of like Kinect but worse, but it’s only like $5 and my launch DSi came with $10 credit to be spent on DSiWare.
Sonic sucks way less on the DS, pretty much all of the Sonic DS games are good, with Sonic Rush being nearly incredibly and extremely stylish, while Sonic Chronicles is a neat experiment from BioWare which I wish they’d do more often.
Here are a few more cool DS games that I personally loved that I failed to mention, Tenchu: Dark Secret, Jump Superstars, and N+, my brother says Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime is quite awesome, especially if you like Zelda stuff or adorable stuff.
So, if you don’t have a DS did I convince you that it was awesome? Yeah, didn’t think so, but hey I tried right? Right? Well, screw you then, nah, I’m kidding, we’re good, I think, probably. Actually, I don’t think we’ve met. Hi, I’m Chaos Yoshi Mage, and I like hats! But, not Hat Fortress, I know, it’s weird, you’d think it’d be for me. Um, yeah, I don’t know why I’m talking to myself either, but I’m keeping it in. Editing is for sissies, no disrespect to editors reading this, well, a little, I mean, you know, just about as much as I show to everyone else. Well, discuss if you want, I guess, whatever, I’m going to go get some pizza…
Oh yeah, the TLDR version: Hi, I want you guys to call me an idiot. Some stuff about the DS, lots of bad jokes, more DS stuff, bad jokes, talking to myself, lots more talking to myself, DS stuff, bitterness at Zynga, there’s some pictures in there, but you probably saw those, um, more DS stuff I guess, let’s just skip to the end, I start talking to myself again and leave to eat pizza. There you go!
This counts as that European section I promised as we didn't get this game in the US. I guess because apparently you can solicit prostitutes.