Most of the games on this list are gorgeous, which is no small feat considering developers are producing impressive graphics out of a system that’s essentially a dual-screen Nintendo 64. That’s good enough, but at least one title this year opted to forgo graphics altogether, focusing instead of the other end of the spectrum: sound. So, no graphics at all, really.
Above: Breath-taking to look at isn’t it?
The DS is full of non-games, but the music-generator in KORG DS-10 is densely technical instead of insipidly shallow. It comes with an incredibly thick manual and little other direction, just a bunch of frill-free menus to make your electro-trance pop with.
While it made little sense to us, once we put it in the hands of a musician friend of ours, 30 minutes later he had a Slayer cover finished, was screaming at the top of his lungs and somehow had 10 girls waiting outside a tour bus we swear wasn’t there when he started.
Above: One amazing example
KORG set out to do one thing, and absolutely nailed it. Everyone else take notice: sometimes, instead of trying to do everything and spreading yourself too thin, pick one thing and own it.
Though this year had an official Ninja Gaiden sequel for the 360, many were disappointed with how similar it was to the Xbox original, including its soul-shattering difficulty. Who would have thought the real risks taken in the franchise would be a DS spin-off? Even fewer would think such a spin-off could be considered better than its full-price, HD counterpart.
Though it wasn't as insanely violent as the console versions, we were shocked how much it felt like controlling the everyday Ryu Hayabusa. We were pulling off crazy combos, quick slashes and casting Ninpo on the worst of fiends, all using the stylus while holding the DS like a book. Hard to believe controls like that could make this fully 3D title play like a 360 game, and aside from it being manageably difficult and not covered in blood, this was as close to the current games as it gets.
Another 360 exclusive made the jump to the DS this year, this one thankfully devoid of ninja stars and fire-belching demons. With a Blue Dragon title coming next year and Gaiden this year, it's a tad confusing why all these Microsoft titles end up on the DS, but in the case of Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise we understand. Microsoft has no portable of its own and Viva Pinata always seemed like a Nintendo game on the wrong system.
It starts up all the same as the big screen cousins, as you quickly set up your garden and start getting Pretztails in no time. In fact, it plays so close to the real thing, Rare, its developer, might have been better off just starting with the DS to begin with - you know a system children actually play. The fact we felt just as guilty when our first Mousemallow died in this game as we did when he was screaming for help in 720p is proof enough this was a great transfer. Along with Dragon Sword, these games represent the visual peak of the DS platform.
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