Robert Wm. Gomez's

Nintendo DS

The DS is my favorite Nintendo console. They're cheap, backwards compatible and there's a ton of games.

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks on Nintendo DS (8/10)

Spirit Tracks Box ArtIt took me nearly half a decade to finish this one. Not that it's terribly difficult, I just put it down at some point and forgot to finish it. I suppose that's not really a ringing endorsement. Oh well.

This installment in the series feels much like its predecessor, The Phantom Hourglass. The hook here is that over world travel takes place on trains rather than boats. Also, this time around Zelda is with you as a spirit who can possess the bodies of various armored "phantoms". This leads to some decent puzzles in which you need to control both characters in order to achieve your goals.

Radiant Historia on Nintendo DS (8/10)

Radiant Historia Box ArtI bought Radiant Historia based on its reputation as one of, if not THE best RPG on the Nintendo DS. Well, it's a JRPG so take that praise with a grain of salt. In fact, when I first got it, I manged to clock about 20 hours but eventually got distracted by other games. It's easy to lose focus from this extremely text-heavy game. Once again, many clicks are wasted on redundant "..." dialogue boxes and the accompanying, un-skippable "..." word bubble animations. So, it took four years and a fun romp through Etrian Odyssey for me to muster the energy to attempt another play through. Rather than pick up where I left off, trying to remember the convoluted plot up to that point, I started anew. During this run I would try my darndest to differentiate between all the cutesy anime characters and not lose focus.

The main touted selling point of Radiant Historia usually is its complex time-travelling plot. At first, being able to redo past events to alter the current ones is an nice mechanism. However, once you are deep into the game and there are dozens of points to which you need to return again and again, it becomes a drag and a nuisance. For me it didn't help that there seemingly was no way to skip the endless cut-scenes (I discovered it's the "start" button about 30 hours in). Despite the grandiose concept, there isn't that much in terms of branching story lines that would, like a Telltale game, lead to a unique game for each player.

Etrian Odyssey on Nintendo DS (8/10)

Rat Battle in Etrian OdysseyEtrian Odyssey is an old-school RPG in the vein of Wizardy or The Bard's Tale. That is, you assemble a party of adventurers, go to a town hub to gather quests and equipment, then delve into an uncharted labyrinth killing monsters and mapping your progress. There isn't much of a story to follow here. Your goal is to find the "secret of the labyrinth" which, spoiler alert, has something to do with global warming (97% of scientists agree this is a dumb twist). Exploration and combat are the real core of the game, and the mapping of the maze is the primary gimmick. A task for which the DS is excellently suited. No need for graph paper. Just use the stylus and mark your map directly in the game. I can't tell you how frustrating it was playing Bard's Tale, carefully mapping away, only to have my time-consuming efforts foiled when the map ran off the edge of the graph paper. I'd then have to tape a second piece to the side or, worse, start over from scratch.

Giana Sisters DS on Nintendo DS (8/10)

Giana Sisters DS - Screenshot

Giana Sisters is a reworking of an old Commodore 64 game that itself was a note-for-note ripoff of Super Mario Bros. This new version has updated graphics and sound and around eighty new levels to explore. As far as platformers go, this is as about as derivative as you can get, and yet, the solid controls and cutesy graphics make this one worth playing.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars on Nintendo DS (9/10)

Grand Theft Auto - Chinatown Wars Aside from the hour or two of GTA 2 that I played on the PC years ago, this was my first Grand Theft Auto game. I don't find that whole gangsta thing terribly appealing. However, mature rated games are very hard to come by on the DS so I decided to try this out. Having finally completed the main storyline, I have to say this one of the best games on the DS by far.

Cooking Mama on Nintendo DS (6/10)

A nice little time killing game for the DS. Nothing too deep, but a great kids game.