There’s no doubt that 2008 was a banner year for the Nintendo DS. Among the hottest games released for the dual screen handheld that year were the unique Square Enix RPG offering The World Ends With You, several entries in the venerable Final Fantasy series, Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, Professor Layton and the Curious Village, Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword, and many others. The trend continued in 2009, as there were many highly anticipated DS games due out.
So which were the most anticipated, top 10 DS games – 2009? Here, in alphabetical order, are our picks:
Elebits: The Adventures of Kai and Zero — A quasi-sequel to the early Nintendo Wii game, the DS version of Elebits promised to move away from the first-person point of view to be a top-down action game. Players would still need to collect certain amounts and types of the Elebit creatures in order to use their energy to solve various puzzles, though. Entirely stylus controlled, the game looked to expand the promising concept of the Wii title into a polished game.
Dragon Quest IX — With the remake of Dragon Quest IV recently released, and DS versions of Dragon Quest V and VI on the way, it seemed that the next original title in the long-running RPG series had been somewhat forgotten. The game looked absolutely gorgeous, though, and included both excellent animated story sequences and traditional turn-based Dragon Quest style play. Plus, Square Enix offered some kind of multiplayer mode. It appeared to be shaping up to be one of the better DS roleplaying games yet, and that’s saying something.
Flower, Sun, and Rain — Created by Goichi Suda, the driving force behind such unique titles as killer7 and No More Heroes, Flower, Sun and Rain was an adventure game with a plot somewhat reminiscent of the old Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day – except this featured a detective who specializes in finding missing items and is attempting to keep a time bomb from blowing up an airplane. The game was originally released on the PlayStation 2, and while the DS remake was already available in Europe and Japan, XSEED Games gave North American game enthusiasts their first taste of Flower, Sun and Rain with the release in 2009.
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars — The Grand Theft Auto series had already gained a great deal of acclaim and notoriety for its violent, gritty and decidedly mature world — not to mention its wide-open sandbox style of play, seamless blending of different game style, and its big budget production values. In early 2009, the Nintendo DS got its first taste of the series with Chinatown Wars, as players assumed the role of a young man out to avenge his father’s murder and recapture a stolen family relic. Word was that the camera angle would switch to an isometric viewpoint and that the graphics would be different from previous installments – but it was also promissed that this game would, nonetheless, still be Grand Theft Auto through and through.
Gauntlet — Gauntlet had taken many forms over the years, starting off as a multiplayer action title in the arcades and eventually growing and evolving to include some RPG elements. The DS version looked to meld the excitement of the original along with the best bits of games like Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, promising both local wireless and online play for up to four people (complete with voice chat). The Warrior, Wizard, Elf and Valkyrie mowed down hordes of enemies and smashed monster generators throughout multiple levels – all while still being able to acquire items and gain experience, ala newer games in the series.
There were also several other promising-looking games which could be added to the list of top 10 DS games – 2009. On the RPG front, the development team that worked with Square Enix on their DS Final Fantasy remakes released an original title known as Avalon Code, while Atlus had announced plans to bring over the dual-screen remakes of Legacy of Ys: Books I & II. In addition, Retro Game Challenge was to include multiple old-school style titles in one attractive package, Electronic Arts was readying an intriguing puzzle and action game hybrid called Henry Hatsworth, and Nintendo’s Rhythm Heaven was offered to appeal to the WarioWare crowd. Clearly there were many reasons to believe that the DS handheld would continue to provide plenty of opportunities for on-the-go enjoyment in 2009.