Rather than refer to the following titles "my 10 favorite DS games," I've decided to call them 10 of my favorites. That's because I love so many DS games that choosing absolute favorites would be like choosing a favorite ... beer? Candy? Diva?
Actually, I think I'd have a far easier time selecting and writing about a favorite candy than I would settling on 10 titles I consider to be my all-time favorite examples of the DS' wonderfully varied game catalog.
As such, you may want to take the following list with a giant grain of salt--or, rather, you may want to read it knowing that if I were to update this post tomorrow, and the next day, too, and then again the day after that, each iteration likely would include a few unique entries.
For this exact moment in time, though, I can somewhat confidently state that the games discussed below are 10 of my favorites for the now-10-year-old Nintendo DS system.
Daigasso! Band Brothers--You know how I mentioned in last Friday's post that I wasn't all that impressed with the early-2004 reveal of the DS? The one part of Nintendo's DS reveal that did impress me was this game. Sadly, it never made it to our shores, so I wasn't able to experience it until a good couple of years after its Japanese release. Was it worth the wait? I sure think so. Mind you, it's a very basic rhythm game--although calling it a "music" game may be more accurate. Regardless, I think Daigasso! Band Brothers' simplicity is a big part of why I enjoy it as much as I do.
Dragon Quest IX--I was pretty sure I was going to like this one before I ever got my hands on a copy of it. It just looked like something I would enjoy, if that makes sense. And you know what? Not only did I enjoy it, but I fell in love with it and played it until I'd wrung every last ounce of enjoyment out of it. (I believe I put just over 80 hours into it before calling it a day, but don't quote me on that.) I know some folks who are long-time fans of the series were a bit disappointed by this entry, but it captivated me completely with its engaging battles and touching storylines.
Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime--Do you want to know why I ignored Rocket Slime, a game that's been called a classic from one end of the Internet to the other (whatever that means), until a couple of years ago? Because I didn't like how it looked, for starters. Also, I didn't much like the idea of its gameplay. I guess I wanted it to be a more traditional RPG, a la its "mainline" namesakes. Boy, was I an idiot. I know I suggested earlier that it would be impossible for me to set aside a single DS game as being my absolute favorite, but if I were forced to engage in that kind of tomfoolery, it's quite likely Rocket Slime would be one of the top contenders for that title.
Etrian Odyssey--I was a late comer to this DS title, too, although that had nothing to do with me initially finding it unappealing in any way. Instead, it had to do with the fact that for some time new copies of it were pretty pricey. It finally got a reprint a couple of years ago, though, which caused prices to drop to far more acceptable levels, and that's when I jumped on board. It quickly earned both my admiration and respect thanks to its demanding gameplay and delectable soundtrack.
Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light--If I were forced to pick a favorite between this game and Dragon Quest IX, I'm honestly not sure which one I'd go with in the end. That said, I prefer most what's found in The 4 Heroes of Light--battles, graphics, overall art style, story, soundtrack (this last one's kind of a toss up, admittedly), chief among them--to the same elements that are showcased in Dragon Quest IX. Two noteworthy exceptions: the latter title's optional quests and visible-from-the-overworld enemies. So, I guess you could say I consider both games to be standouts in one way or another.
Kirby: Canvas Curse--Full disclosure: I wasn't all that enamored with this game after I first bought and played it. Oh, I liked the idea of it, no question about that, but I had a hard time wrapping my noggin around its stylus-centric gameplay. I of course came around to it eventually, though, and now I very much appreciate that its developers decided to go out on a limb and provide DS owners with a Kirby game that strayed from the series' tried-and-true formula.
Professor Layton and the Curious Village--I'm sure some will pooh-pooh my decision to include this game here, but the fact is, although the series has since become a bit stale (in my opinion, of course), there's little denying it was a fascinating blend of brain-busting puzzles and winsome storytelling when it first burst onto the scene back in 2008. Fun fact: of the five Professor Layton games currently in my collection, Curious Village is the only one I've actually finished.
Retro Game Challenge--How good is this game--assuming, of course, you geek out over old arcade and console games as I tend to do? It's so good that I can call it one of my favorites for the DS even though I've yet to experience all it has to offer. (Don't worry, I'm going to rectify that early next year.) Anyway, the retro-tastic mini-games included on this DS cart are so spot-on that I, like most folks who have spent any amount of time with Retro Game Challenge, can't help but despair that its 2009 sequel never earned an official English localization.
Rhythm Heaven--For me to call this one of my favorite DS games is no small feat. After all, I absolutely adored the GameBoy Advance original--to the point where I was pretty sure this follow-up was going to be a letdown of epic proportions. Thankfully, I was quickly proven wrong. Do a few of its mini-games suffer due to the touch controls? Sure, although not in any sort of game-breaking way--or at least that hasn't been the case for me. Plus, the grin-inducing art style and head-bopping tunes should be enough to entice even folks who consider the gameplay subpar to stick with it for a good while.
The World Ends With You--Sigh. Where has the Square Enix that produced this lovely adventure gone? Given its current output, it seems doubtful the company's head honchos will ever again green-light a game that's as packed with creativity as this one is. Which is a shame, as The World Ends With You was one of the first titles that proved to me that DS games (RPGs, especially) could offer up unique experiences that couldn't be accomplished anywhere else.
Note: another reason to not take my comments above as gospel--there are a ton of seemingly or supposedly stellar DS games I either have yet to play or haven't played enough of to include here, such as 999, Contact, Elite Beat Agents, Hotel Dusk, Nanashi no Game, Ni no Kuni and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.