2005 – Warming Up
Year in brief
: Kirby Canvas Curse, a remarkable stylus-only platformer that justified the system’s quirks, saved the DS from a rather vacant spring season. It proved unique gameplay experiences were possible on such a distinct platform, and was one of the first DS titles to receive near-unanimous praise. The floodgates opened shortly after, dropping one amazing title after another through the rest of the year. This led to the December launch of Nintendo’s Wi-Fi Connection service that let people play online with the use of 16-digit Friend Codes. Nintendo wasn’t the only publisher to prosper, as Phoenix Wright and Trauma Center made their first US appearances in the later months, cementing them as viable franchises for years to come.
Criticism: The first six months of ’05 were ridiculously sparse, an alarming fact when paired with Sony’s PSP launch in March. Up against the sleeker, prettier and more powerful PSP, the DS felt a generation behind with too few games to set it apart. The Nintendo WFC, while a fantastic idea and evidence that Nintendo was finally taking online gaming seriously, was a pain to use because of those cumbersome Friend Codes.
Above: Special editions made their first appearance in 2005
Sales: Even though the first half of the year was devoid of “must have” games, the system remained strong and eventually stomped asses in the holiday season. By the end of 2005, worldwide sales were nearing 15 million, a staggering increase from the year before.
Best game of 2005: Mario Kart DS
Arguably the best kart racer of all time, it combined the best courses of the entire series into one amazing package, plus added inventive new tracks, a mission mode and decent online play. Still one of the best games on the DS, and a major reason the DS prospered so much in the ’05 holiday season.
Honorable mentions: Advance Wars: Dual Strike, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
Worst game of 2005: Animaniacs: Lights, Camera, Action!
Forget about its 39 Metacritic average or even its substandard quality – who put up the money for an Animaniacs game in 2005? We most assuredly admire the show, but the last episode aired in 1999 and we can’t imagine anyone really needed a new shitty game.
Hateful mention: Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects, King Kong