One year ago this week, the launch of DSiWare finally brought downloadable games to Nintendo’s handheld. The service gone through plenty of highs and lows since then; while new games are consistently released every Monday, some weeks have seen only one, while others have had four or five. In this guide, we’ll show you 10 of the best titles to appear on DSiWare in the last 12 months, and 10 of the worst. This is by no means an exhaustive list – there are plenty of great games we didn’t have room for, and plenty of stinkers, too. But it should give you a rough idea of what to expect if you’re still on the fence about getting a DSi.
1. Mighty Flip Champs
Above: Looks pretty trippy, right? Imagine playing it
Price: 800 Points
Why it’s one of the best: Mighty Flip Champs is an interesting puzzler, in which your character is tasked with gathering up her friends and getting to the exit of a maze. Problem is, the maze occupies several different planes of existence, with your friends scattered throughout. Fear not, however, as you have a magic wand that - with the simple press of a button – can “flip” the environment to the next plane, with you remaining in the same place. If you flip yourself into a wall, however, or onto a gap over a pit of spikes, you’ll soon learn to be more careful. The lower screen shows the next plane to be flipped to, as well as a ‘reflection’ of yourself showing exactly where you’ll end up. The game also tracks and grades you based on time and number of flips used, adding extra appeal for puzzle purists. Definitely one of the more ambitious projects on DSiWare.
2. Chronos Twins
Above: You have to watch and play both screens to beat this one
Price: 500 points
Why it’s one of the best: Chronos Twins is a gimmicky game, but it’s one hell of a gimmick. Basically, your character exists in both the present and past, and moving one of you moves the other in exactly the same way. If you jump, your past self jumps. If you run into a wall, your past self will be unable to move any further. And if one of you gets hit, you both take damage. Keeping your eyes on both screens at all times is pretty taxing, and requires some pretty quick thinking to stay alive. Our description doesn’t do it justice - this one has to be played to be believed. The cutscenes are absolute garbage, but the gameplay is so good we looked past them.
3. Escapee Go!
Developer: Gevo Entertainment
Above: OK, so maybe it doesn’t look that exciting, but it is
Why it’s one of the best: This dark, brooding maze-escape game is more tightly developed than a lot of DS cartridge games. You play as Claire – a young woman who awakens in some sort of facility to the sound of a mysterious voice, guiding you to a single objective: freedom. Luckily, you have a variety of potent psychic powers at your disposal, from inspiring terror in guards and running super-fast to teleportation. Escapee Go! has a very simple 8-bit look and feel, but the graphics and music work beautifully together. For two bucks, it has a decent length, too (just over 15 levels), and is definitely worth picking up.
4. Brain Age Express: Arts & Letters/Math
Price: 800 points (each)
Above: Math can be fun, and Brain Age proves it
Why it’s one of the best: The Brain Age series has carved itself a niche in games - it’s basically the only form of edutainment that you want to play. That trend continues with the pared-down DSi versions, especially because you can choose to download what you want. Not a fan of math? Get the Arts & Letters package. Not a fan of the arts? Get Math. Considering that buying both packages (or one package and the 500-point Sudoku edition) still costs less than the actual game, it’s a better value, too.