Price: 200 points
Why it’s one of the best: Originally a WarioWare microgame, Bird & Beans is simplicity at its best. You play as a bird with an insatiable appetite for beans. You have to catch the beans with your long tongue as they fall, or they’ll destroy the terrain. If you get hit with a bean, you’ll die. Some beans can restore broken terrain. GO. The concept is simple, but the gameplay is surprisingly fun and addictive. Plus, if you get a high enough score, you unlock an additional gameplay mode. For a scant 200 points, this is as good as pick-up-and-play games get.
Price: 500 points
Above: 8-bit games: Still kicking ass after 20 years
Why it’s one of the best: Even though it’s a faux-8-bit spinoff, this is the kind of game that made the 8-bit era so memorable. It’s notably better than its console counterpart, because it’s actually, um, good. To stop a race of aliens, you must fly around on your jetpack, shoot your way through enemies with assorted weapons and get to various objectives over several levels. The jetpack is super fun, and the game’s got a satisfying 8-bit difficulty curve: if you want to beat it, you have to be careful, coordinated, and quick. For the equivalent of five bucks, you’re getting a full-length arcade game that plays as tightly as the best of them. And you also get a chance to see the potential the Dark Void series had before it all went so terribly wrong.
Price: 500 points
Why it’s one of the best: The concept behind the Pop franchise has always been simple: See those bubbles? Pop ’em! There are various multipliers, however; matching the same-colored bubbles in an unbroken chain gets you more points, and more time on the clock. Popping special power-ups gets you more time and points and the ability to pop bubbles in new and interesting ways. It’s a formula that worked on the Wii, and thanks to the stylus, it works just as well here. Particularly remarkable is the inclusion of ‘medals,’ which work sort of like Achievements or Trophies. This is a very polished product. There’s no multiplayer mode, however – not even Local Wireless. Know that going in, and you won’t have any problems.
Above: You too can create an animation of a cat falling of a skateboard
Why it’s one of the best: Flipnote studio is a unique app that gives you the ability to create animations, complete with sound effects, on your DSi. The results depend on your own effort; if you do three frames, you’re going to get a very basic animation. But there are animations created with this app that look to be professional quality. Once you’ve created something you like, you can share it with the world using a YouTube-like hub called Flipnote Hatena. Access to this app is definitely one of the biggest perks of owning a DSi. And here’s the best part: It’s totally free. If you have an internet connection, you owe it to yourself to download this little gem.
Price: 500 points (each)
Why it’s one of the best: The Art Style series are unique, highly stylized games that vary wildly, from a deep-sea diving puzzler to creating boxes at a factory. That last one, Boxlife, is a personal favorite; you’re given a grid of paper squares, and must cut them out in specific shapes in order to create cubes. More cubes equals more money. Sometimes bombs will drop and explode, destroying the paper. But if you can box them up first, you get fat stacks of cash. A very simple premise, but super fun.
Price: 500 points (each)
Why it’s one of the best: The Clubhouse Games series has always been all about offering classic board and card games in digital form, which has an obvious benefit: you can never lose game pieces, or have your board broken when you inevitably destroy your friends at various strategy games. The DSiWare versions – which include games like backgammon, dominoes and assorted card games – do an excellent job of bringing these classics to the digital stage, with a clean, intuitive interface, and crisp sound and music. Not only this, but you can play with up to eight people in one room, which is pretty good networking for the DSi.
From the highest highs to the lowest lows, read on to see the dark side of DsiWare.