To those with whom I am e-pals on Xbox Live, you may have noticed I have been suspiciously absent as of late. No, I haven’t completely given up on Live due to the frustration associated with the continuing delay of Tron and Discs of Tron. Instead, I currently find myself to be a few hundred miles from my 360, having to settle for looking at this everyday in place of Guitar Hero’s fleeting train of multicolored circles. Diehard gamer or no, at this particular juncture in my life’s journey…tis a damn fine trade, indeed.
But of course, like any other self-respecting gamer, I am hardly sans gaming whilst on holiday. No, despite having my notebook with me, I haven’t been mired down in PC gaming (LOL!), but have instead been hitting the DS pretty hard. In fact, by the time my little vacation is over, I am quite confident that my affinity for Nintendo’s wonder-portable will have reached a level of Dreamcast proportions.
So, with all things DS in mind, I thought I’d give a little rundown of what I’ve been into lately:
Animal Crossing: Wild World — I liked the original Gamecube version of Animal Crossing well enough, but as a portable experience on the DS, it’s just all the more endearing. As a title that can be picked up for a few moments of play several times a day, the game seems perfectly suited. I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve been enjoying this revisit to Animal Crossing, and it’s looking like I’ll be working on this one for a while.
Contra 4 — Holy hell…who woulda thought that the studio behind the DS’ unnecessary chat program, Ping Pals, would have made such an awesome addition so the classic Contra franchise? Whatever they’re smoking over at WayForward, they need to keep the bongs filled up, ’cause their take on Contra is nothing short of badass. Fantastic audio-visuals, cool unlockable content, authentic Contra gameplay, and an extremely unforgiving level of difficulty (just as it should be) makes this a DS title not to be missed. Really. Go get it.
The New York Times Crosswords — Hey, its crossword puzzles. Some people love ’em, some don’t. I belong to the former group, and this collection of 1,000 puzzles is not only challenging, but is also presented exceptionally well on the DS. Multiplayer, performance scoring, hints, option to save, and even character recognition so you can write in the letters instead of using the optional keypad; you really couldn’t expect more of this title. I picked up my copy on sale for $9.99 (new) from GameStop, but it’s easily worth the normal $19.99 price tag. Well, if crosswords are your thing, that is.
Cooking Mama — I played this on the Wii, but came away quite indifferent about it. The gameplay was interesting enough, but something about using the Wii remote to slice and dice just felt too awkward to me. It’s a different story on the DS, though, where using the stylus feels completely right. I suspect that the game never really builds to anything from where it begins, but if the rest of its as enjoyable as the beginning, then that’s good enough for me. BAM!
The Simpsons Game — I haven’t played very much of this title yet, but what I have played has been pretty darn good…and quite funny. The gameplay is fairly derivative of other platformers we’ve seen in the past, but the way the game presents it — by making fun of itself and its own lack of originality — seems to make it all okay. The game is loaded with comical references to other games and establishments within the industry, and I believe that it would be quite difficult to play this game and not crack a smile. Good stuff!
So, that’s about it. I’m sure I’ll expand on these titles a bit more as I get deeper into them, but for now, all signs point to portable gaming happiness. ¡Viva la DS!