Thursday, January 12, 2012

Five DS games you should have played, but probably didn't

I hate to start posts like this with a disclaimer, but in this case I really feel I have to do so.

You see, although I've played a ton of DS games over the last few years, I've yet to play a number of the titles that tend to be included on lists such as this--titles like Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure, Kirby Mass Attack (which is on its way to my doorstep), Solatorobo and The World Ends With You (which I'll be picking up shortly).

Still, I've played and enjoyed enough of the system's releases that have been overlooked by the masses that I'm fairly confident the following list--which is organized, for once, in reverse alphabetical order--will be helpful to at least a few game-starved DS fans.

1. Rhythm Heaven--Sure, this is hardly an unknown game, thanks in large part to Nintendo's use of Beyonce in its TV ads, but it also hardly lit up the charts. That's too bad, because it's one of the funnest, wackiest games I've ever played. It also includes one of the best soundtracks you'll ever hear in a handheld title. It's horrendously cheap these days, so you may want to pick it up now if you've yet to give it a try.


2. Retro Game Challenge--This one has received a lot of press since it was released in 2009, but even then it didn't make enough for the folks at Xseed to translate and release its much-wanted sequel. Why is that unfortunate? Well, Retro Game Challenge is chock-full of witty writing, which ties together a bunch of well-made retrotastic titles that call to mind the classics of old (like Dragon Quest and Galaga). If you're a fan of such games, you're sure to quickly become a fan of this one, too.


3. Kirby: Canvas Curse--For me, this was one of the first games to really show the potential of Nintendo's dual-screened handheld, thanks in large part to its intriguing stylus-only control scheme. Sadly, I seem to be one of just a handful North Americans to feel that way about the game, as it was all but ignored by my brothers and sisters despite the fact that it bore Kirby's name (usually an attention-getter in the States, as far as I'm aware). Used copies can be found on eBay for a song, though, so it's not too late to snatch one up if you're at all into innovative platformers.


4. Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light--I'm sure some of you who have been coming here for a while are sick of me mentioning this game. Sorry about that. I can't help myself, though, as I thought it was an absolutely wonderful RPG. I seem to be one of the few North American gamers who feel that way about the title, though, which is why I'm bringing it up again. Really, if you love RPGs like Final Fantasy IV, V and VI, you'll love this one, too--although you may not love the way it places limits on your ability to store items and weapons.


5. Daigasso! Band Brothers--I honestly believe that if Nintendo had localized and released this accessible and surprisingly addictive music title in Europe and North America in 2005 as originally planned, it could have become quite a hit among so-called casual gamers. Instead, the company dragged its feet and, in the end, dropped its Western release altogether. It did release this game's sequel, Daigasso! Band Brothers DX (aka Jam with the Band), in the former region--but it waited nearly two years to do so. (The game hit Japanese store shelves in 2008, while it didn't hit European ones until 2010.)

Honorable mentions: 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors; Etrian Odyssey; and Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland.

Are you a game-starved Wii owner, too? If the answer is "yes," keep an eye out for a similarly titled post that focuses on five of that system's should-have-been-classics. (Don't worry, you won't have to keep an eye out for it for very long, as I plan on publishing it tomorrow.)

56 comments:

Retr0gamer said...

I own them all other than jam with the band but only played two of them. Does that count? :)

Viewtiful_Justin said...

I have Kirby's Canvas Curse on my wish list on Amazon, but it's regularly listed at upwards or $100.

Viewtiful_Justin said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention that Retro Game Challenge is one of my favorites! What a cute little gem!

Zach A said...

retro game challenge was too hard for me =\

i skipped that FF game. i might pick it up on yr rec if you think it's close to 5 and 6, which are my favorite final fantasy games

Bryan Ochalla said...

Retr0gamer: What are you, me?? Ha! Which ones have you actually played, by the way?

Bryan Ochalla said...

Justin: Yeah, Kirby's Canvas Curse can be expensive these days. Seems NOA didn't press a ton of them -- or people are just jacking up the prices because it's an early DS game and Kirby is involved.

Prices can be a bit better on eBay, as far as I remember, so you might want to check there rather than Amazon at some point.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, and, yes, Retro Game Challenge is cute, isn't it? Reminds me of my childhood, for various reasons.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Zach: In regards to FF: The 4 Heroes of Light, just be warned that many probably disagree with my assessment of the game being somewhat like FF IV, V and VI. Really, I made that comparison because, for me, the games "feel" similar. Plus, The 4 Heroes of Light is charmingly "old school" in nearly every way, just like those earlier FF titles.

Sorry to put so many disclaimers on my recommendation, but I know that a lot of people just haven't enjoyed this game and I want you to go into it with eyes wide open, if at all possible. I completely loved that game, and consider it one of my all-time favorite DS games, but I know not everyone is going to feel the same way...

Darwin said...

I completely forgot about Retro Game Challenge - going to order it now :)

Question about FF Heroes - so I bought FF4 for DS and liked the presentation, but that game was just too damn hard. Nothing grinding could have solved, but I felt the game was a bit excessive about it. How does Heroes rank in difficulty?

BTW, have you tried out Ghost Trick? I've only recently heard about that game, but it's come up in a few Game of the Year discussions.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hello, Darwin!

Ah, hope you enjoy Retro Game Challenge! Seems like something that would be right up your alley.

As for The 4 Heroes of Light: Hoo boy, I'm not sure what to say! For starters, I've barely played the FF IV remake for DS, so I can't really say if T4HOL is easier or harder than that.

I will say this, though: Despite its "baby-ish" graphics, T4HOL is not a walk in the park.

I'd also say it requires a bit of grinding at various points throughout the game, but I can't say that with certainty because I'm someone who loves to grind (take that as you will -- ha!) and who will grind even if it's not required.

Soooooooo, I'm not sure if you will like this game, I guess that's what I'm saying, Darwin. If you lived nearby, I'd totally loan it to you so you could decide if you'd like it or not, by the way :)

As for Ghost Trick: No, I haven't played it yet. I was thinking of including its name in this post's disclaimer, by the way, but didn't do so in the end for a reason I can't even remember.

I've definitely heard good things about it, and I'd like to try it at some point, but my "to buy" list of DS games is so long at this point that I'm not sure I'll ever get to it.

This post and this conversation have really served to remind me of just how many great DS games have been released in the last five-plus years. I mean, I own a TON of DS games and yet I'm still lacking quite a few that people consider "must own" titles...

Retr0gamer said...

I've got a massive backlog unfortunately, lots of games I want to play but not enough time :(

Out of them I've only played Canvas Course, which was fantastic, and I'm currently slowly getting through retro game challenge and really loving Guadia Quest. It also helps that I'm a big Game Centre CX fan.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Retr0gamer: I often wonder why I continue to buy games for non-current systems, as I have a hard time playing them once they arrive. That's supposedly why I started my Great Gaymathon series a while back -- to force myself to play through my backlog. I'd say it's been partially successful, but maybe not as successful as I would have liked. (Mainly because I'm still avoiding playing certain games.)

Anyway, I'm glad to hear you not only own Canvas Curse but think it's fantastic. Same with Retro Game Challenge. So sad that the sequel is going to stay Japan-only :(

Darwin said...

OK, that's good to know. I don't mind grinding all time, as long as its quick, lol. I just watched a video of it and it does look good, so I think I'm going to give it a go. Have you tried the FFXIII-2 demo? Honestly it made me wish the newer FF games would go back to a simpler design. I am still interested in that game, but the demo was just a bit to crazy.

Totally agree with your comment about the DS's library. I've just been bargain hunting for games - though some of these gems are actually priced a lot higher :(.

Bryan Ochalla said...

BTW, I just noticed how "spaced out" my last comment to you was, Darwin. Sorry about that.

As for giving T4HOL a try, I'd say if you like FF games in general and you're willing to do so (and you can find a copy for a cheap-ish price), yes, give it a try. Some of its quirks may turn you off, though -- just be warned!

I haven't checked out the FF XIII-2 demo yet, BTW. I just don't seem to be interested in "modern" FFs, sadly -- unless they're retro-tinged spin-offs like T4HOL. Like you, I really wish the series' designers would go back in time a bit. That said, I'll likely try the demo soon. I'd at least like to know what everybody else is talking about :)

Finally, I hear you 100% when it comes to some of the DS' gems being a bit pricey these days. Ugh! I really need to get some of the ones on my "to buy" list before they reach that point -- games like Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes and The World Ends with You...

videogamesarerad.com said...

You can get retro game challenge for like $15 brand new now, and it's totally worth it!

Darwin said...

Hah, you didn't sound spaced out - that's probably how I talk anyhow. :)

Retro Game Challenge for $15 is a good deal!

I saw The World Ends With You go from $15 to $30 and now $20 on Amazon - and this was only in the past month.

All this DS love kind of makes me want to get a DSXL.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Yes, you're right, videogamesarerad! Rhythm Heaven and The 4 Heroes of Light should be pretty cheap, too, if I'm not mistaken. Hell, the UK version of Jam with the Band should be pretty cheap, too -- if you're willing to import and use a site like GAME.co.uk.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, it's funny you should mention how The World Ends with You has tracked on Amazon as of late, Darwin -- I've been paying attention to that myself!

I actually nearly bought the game just before Christmas (when it was $15), but I decided to wait for a bit. Now I refuse to buy it until it goes down to $15 again. Ha!

Oh, and I'm with you in wanting a DSi XL. You know me, I'm sure -- I want a pink one! May get one later in the year, too, although, really, I should save my money for 3DS and PSP games and maybe a Wii U...

Matthew Bartlett said...

What an awesome list! Definitely a bunch of great and under appreciated/recognized games.

Once I'm in the market again to buy more games (serious backlogging here), I'm getting Rhythm Heaven. I've heard too many great things to ignore it anymore.

Also, wholeheartedly agreed with the idea that you should try Ghost Trick, though it seems that you're in the same boat as I am with gaming. It was super addictive and enjoyable.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Matthew! Yeah, most of the games on this list probably should be put into the "under-appreciated" category as opposed to under-recognized, but that's OK, right?

As for you getting Rhythm Heaven: Uh, yes! Really, you can find it soooooo cheaply these days, there's no reason not to pick it up.

Also, if I were to suggest just one of these games to someone, Rhythm Heaven would be it.

I'll definitely try to secure Ghost Trick at some point, so no worries there. It just may not be for a while :) Regardless, thanks for sharing your thoughts on it!

Kaze said...

I'm actually shocked I haven't picked up RetroGame Challenge either considering I'm a mega fan of the show! I've been having a GameCenter CX binge lately! lol I'm going to join the bandwagon and grab it now. =]

The World Ends with you is such a great game!! I was super stoked for it and picked it up when it first came out and promptly devoured it! lol I love the Shibuya setting and the music is awesome! (I had most of the sound track stuck in my head for awhile after playing it lol)

I've been following Ghost Trick for awhile and around Halloween Amazon had a "Spooky Games" sale and I picked it up for $15 although I haven't played it yet lol I'll prolly dive in when I'm done with Dragon Quest VI.

Have you guys played Tetris DS? (The original one that's out of print now.) I regretfully don't have a copy but I used to do download vs. play with my friends for hours with it! I love how they added the Mario Kart style items you use against other players plus the retro Nintendo pixel art used for the stages and the character select!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Kaze!

Ah, that's great that you picked up Retro Game Challenge! Can't wait to hear what you think of it.

As for The World Ends With You: Thanks for letting me know your thoughts on it. I honestly don't know why I haven't picked it up yet. I love the looks of it, and everything I've heard about it on line makes it seem like a wonderfully unique RPG. I'll definitely be picking it up soon ... count on it!

As for Tetris DS: Oh, yes, I've definitely played it -- and enjoyed it! Unfortunately, I gave it to my mom since she loved it so much and couldn't find it anywhere. (She's definitely not a user of eBay. LOL!) I'm planning to pick up another copy of it soon, as I can't live without it, really. Such a wonderful game. Too bad Nintendo refused to pay the $$$ needed to reprint it...

J said...

I must say that i have all of these games except the japanese one. HOT!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, good for you, J! Do you like all of them? You should check out Daigasso!/Jam with the Band at some point, BTW -- if you don't mind importing games, of course, and if you enjoy music games.

David said...

Retro Game Challenge is my all-time fave DS game. It even revealed to me that I actually like old-school JRPGs (since I missed them the first time around). Oh for a localized Game Centre 2!

The DS/3DS is my primary gaming console right now, and I've got a huge backlog of purchased-but-unplayed games. Even still, I have a want-list, and Canvas Curse is near the top (along with Mass Attack and Solatorobo).

I actually just bought an XL, as GameStop (Canada) had a Black Monday sale. My Significant Other didn't fully understand - "Don't you already have a 3DS, a DS Lite, and a DS Phat?" - but all my sprite-based games will look so good on it, and $100 for a new XL is an unheard-of deal in Canada. No color choice - I had to get Bronze, but I can't complain!

Bryan, Henry Hatsworth is a must. I found it for ten bucks at a department store, and it's not the best game I've ever played, but that was the best ten bucks I ever spent on a game. It got too hard for me to even consider finishing it, but I totally got my money's worth!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hello there, David! Nice to see you in another post :)

RGC is your all-time fave DS game, eh? That's great! I wouldn't say it's my top pick, but I can certainly understand loving it.

I'm with you when it comes to the DS and 3DS being your primary gaming consoles at the moment, BTW. It's amazing what these little systems can pull off. That said, I'm very much looking forward to using my Wii again -- after Rhythm Heaven Fever and Xenoblade Chronicles are released.

I'm completely jealous of your acquisition of a bronze DSiXL, BTW. For just $100? My god, if I saw such a deal around here I'd pick it up, too.

As for Henry Hatsworth: Thanks for sharing your insights. I've heard such great things about it, but it's just been sitting there on my wish list. Maybe I'll do my best to clear off that sucker (my DS wish list) by the end of this year...

apricotsushi said...

I am probably the worst niche gamer ever... The only game I've played and own on this list is Rhythm Heaven! This needs to be fixed ASAP! I have played some Kirby's Canvas Curse, though, but I haven't been able to find a good cheap copy yet.

I can't wait for your Wii post, Bryan! I'm all Wii crazed at the moment :)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, that's OK, Anne! It sure seems like Kirby's Canvas Curse is hard to come by these days, though -- sorry about that! Hopefully all of you will be able to find a cheap-ish copy soon enough.

As for the Wii list: It'll be posted tomorrow! I don't think there will be too many surprises for you, though. I think I've mentioned all but one of them to you in the past (via Twitter and e-mail, I think). Still, hopefully you'll find something interesting on it :)

warp770 said...

Great list, but I've played all of these except for Jam with the Band. I'd say Kirby and Retro Game Challenge are my favorites from here.

But I think my favorite DS title that no one has played is Master of Monster Lair. It's one of those dungeon crawlers where you have to build the dungeon yourself. I guess I enjoyed experimenting with different layouts and seeing what type of monsters showed up. Maybe I should've been an interior decorator.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, warp770! Yeah, this list is far from 'complete.' As I said in the opening lines, as many DS games as I own, I've still yet to play a number of games that others consider 'gems.'

Speaking of which, thanks for mentioning Master of the Monster Lair. I've honestly never heard of it, which is surprising since it's from Atlus. I should check it out at some point.

I also probably should have asked people to suggest some of the games they consider under-appreciated gems of the DS catalog. Well, if anyone else checks out these comments, please let me know what you think!

Darwin said...

OK so I just ordered Retro Game Challenge, FF Heroes, and totally blind buying Rhythm Heaven - it's $11.77 on Amazon!!

In regards to World Ends With You, I'm completely the same Bryan. Once I saw it for $15 on Amazon, anything else seems to pricey :P.

Kaze, did you play through DQ5? I'm working through that right now. Going to do 3,4,6 this year :).

Oh, and I have my Tetris cart - love it.

Lewis said...

Kirby: Canvas Curse is indeed a great little platformer. I definately want to check out Retro Game Challenge though, I've never played or seen much of it to be honest.

One title that didn't sell too well in the US was Bangai-O Spirits, which is a real shame as it's a delightful shooter, and one of the best games on the system full-stop, for me.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah! Good for you, Darwin. Hopefully you like those games as much as I have -- Rhythm Heaven especially :)

Also, you're working your way through the DQ series, eh? I've been meaning to do that for a while, but I got tripped up while playing the first one and, well, I haven't been back since. Maybe I should make that a goal for this year??

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Lewis! It's funny you should mention Bangai-O Spirits. I've often thought of buying the game, as I've heard great things about it and I love Treasure, but I have to admit that the first Bangai-O left me completely confused. I loved its graphics, but I didn't know what to do at all. Would I still be confused by the DS version, do you think? Maybe I should give it a try at some point regardless...

Lewis said...

Bryan, I honestly can't recommend it enough. Treasure made sure this version is perfectly tailored to the DS. It's faster, shorter, and there is more of a focus on puzzles this time around. And it's very addictive.

Especially if you can find it cheap somewhere, it's no-brainer!

Bryan Ochalla said...

OK, I'll look for it, Lewis. I honestly didn't give the original enough of a try, I think, so I won't hold my confusion against the series. Thanks for the recommendation, by the way!

Kaze said...

Darwin, I haven't played DQ5! I wanted to pick it up! It seems like it went up in price then dropped and now its climbing back up again. I finally got DQ6 because I've always wanted to play it as a kid since reading about it in Nintendo Power and dreaming it'd get published someday! (The 2nd CD I ever bought was actually the DQ6 Sound track! Yeah I was a young nerdling. lol)

I'm also playing the Super Famicom version of DQ2 right now as a way to mix up my Japanese practice. lol Also, that's one I never played.

Bryan Ochalla said...

OK, all of this DQ has me itching to race to Amazon or eBay. Must. Be. Strong!!!

Kaze said...

Haha, I know what you mean Bryan!! I'm liking all this DQ love! Maybe it's just me but it seems like a lot of people turn their noses up a bit at the series. ^^

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, not me, Kaze! That said, I've only played two of the series' many games thus far: the first (for the NES) and DX IX. I really want to play the rest of them, though.

Kaze said...

I've only beaten the original for NES and the GBC remake of the third one. But I have DQ8 as well for the PS2 which is an awesome game! That one is on my pile of shame for never finishing. lol I really liked the job system in the third though! It reminded me a bit of FF3 or FFV!

I haven't picked up DQ9! I know it got kinda mixed reviews but I remember you praising it highly on Gayme Bar!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, I have DQ8, too, Kaze -- but I've never played it! Talk about shame :)

Comparing the job system of DQ3 to FF3 and FF5 realllllllly makes me want to play that one, BTW. I must be strong, though -- I want to play them in order!

As for DQ9: I can't speak for anyone else, but I absolutely loved it. I rarely play through to completion any RPGs these days, and not only did I beat DQ9, but I continued to play the game long after the credits rolled.

Anyway, DQ9 is single-handedly responsible for me picking up DQ8 and wanting to pick up DQ7 and the DS-based DQ remakes -- which has to count for something, right?

Kaze said...

I dunno if you're a fan of the emulation route but you can get a fully translated ROM of the DQ3 port for the Super Famicom (which the GBC one was then in turn ported from! lol) which I think is the best version of the game since the graphics and soundtrack are greatly improved. Plus it has the cool personality test in the start that's also in the GBC version which is always fun!

Hmmmm, looks like I have to add DQ9 to my long wish list! lol

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, yes, Kaze, I'm definitely a fan of emulation. I buy so many damn games and systems that I don't have a problem with emulating one once in a while :P

Anyway, it sounds like I'll have to track down the translated ROM of DQ3 eventually. I may want to play the original NES version, too, though, since I really love chunky, 8-bit games.

As for DQ9: Yes, give it a try at some point. And when you do, let me know what you think of it, OK?

Darwin said...

Hey I missed all this Dragon Quest talk! I highly recommend listening to Roleplayer's Realm Podcast episode 5, entirely dedicated to the DQ series: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/roleplayers-realm/id431173420

OK, admittedly I've never finished a single DQ game. I started all of them (except #2) but didn't get past the 10-20 hour mark. I'm going to do it this year though :). I picked #5 to start because the host on Roleplayer's Realm did a really good sell job.

DQ3 on the SNES is really pretty! I recently tried out the translated ROM and it almost took me away from playing 5. Definitely looking florward to playing through that one.

Kaze, I love the fact that DQ6 soundtrack was your 2nd CD purchase. We have to geek out next time I see you :).

Darwin said...

Oh and check out this cute story about the 77 year old woman who plays DQ games over and over again:
http://kotaku.com/keiko-awaji/

Bryan Ochalla said...

Thanks for the podcast recommendation, Darwin! I'm really interested in the DQ series these days (thanks to my great experience with DQ9), so I'd definitely like to hear/read more about it.

I'm surprised you've never finished a DQ game, BTW. Well, kind of surprised. I'm sure that's the case for many people when it comes to RPGs, don't you think -- that they start them and never finish them?

Hell, it happens to me all the time these days. Although I finished DQ9, I stopped at the final boss in FF: The 4 Heroes of Light and I stopped just before the end of Pokemon White, too. (I really have to get back to both of those, BTW.)

And now you've got me wanting to play the SNES remake of DQ3. Argh! No, I'm going to start with the first one. I swear!! :P

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, and thanks for that link about the old lady who plays DQ over and over again. I actually remember reading that article when it first came out. How cute!

Kaze said...

I love that lady! "What am I supposed to do," said Awaji. "It's Dragon Quest." lol

Bryan, I do the same thing! I'll get to the last boss/dungeon of a game and then randomly stop playing! I know a lot of other people who do that too. I feel like there's a psych research paper that could be written on this topic! lol

Darwin, yeah most kids were rocking out to Green Day or Nirvana and I was rocking out to DQ6.... lol

Kaze said...

Oh, and if you were interested in the DQ3 ROM I may or may not allegedly be able to point you in the right direction on that. =]

Bryan Ochalla said...

Thanks for the offer (RE: the DQ3 ROM), Kaze, but I already have it ;)

Also, yes, I'm sure a psych paper *could* be written about the tendency of many gamers to give up on a game at the last boss!

In my defense: I only gave up on FF: The 4 Heroes of Light after trying to beat the damn last boss about 15 times. Argh!!!

That said, I've given up on many other games without even trying the last boss. Sigh...

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey, Kaze: Not sure if you're still paying attention to this comment thread, but if you are: Have you ever played any of the DQ spin-offs -- like Dragon Quest Monsters or the like? I've long been interested in them, but have yet to give any of them a try.

Kaze said...

I haven't really played any of the DQ spin offs besides Rocket Slime for DS which I love!! lol Adorable slime as the main character? Yes, please! Too bad they didn't release the sequels over here. =[

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, yes, Rocket Slime! That game has been on my wish list for a long time. I really should pick it up. I'd like to pick up the GBA original, too, since I'm always up for a good GBA game -- and one that features that adorable little slime :)

apricotsushi said...

Sorry to jump in, but I played Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 for a review a few months back and quite liked it! I probably wasn't as fond at it as someone very familiar with Dragon Quest would be, but synthesizing your monsters was a lot of fun – it's definitely a different kind of experience than Pokemon. There's also at least one big bad monster in every area that you have to watch out for – I thought that was a fun touch, too.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, no need to be sorry, Anne, I'm glad you jumped in, especially since I've been curious about the DQM Joker games. Sounds like I may have to pick up one or both of them at some point. Anyway, thanks for the insights!