Video Game Appreciation 101: Nintendo DS (New Additions)

I need to do this on a more regular basis like some of my other fellow game bloggers (you know who you are, but I need to list you guys on my sidebar at some point today), so here you go, six new DS games added, all picked up quite cheap.

Aliens: Infestation is a pretty challenging side-scrolling shooter/adventure from WayForward Technologies (makers of some of the best “retro” style games out there) and Gearbox Software. Hop aboard an alien packed Sulaco as a squad of Marines as you search for survivors in this sort-of sequel/side-story to Aliens. With a limited number of squad members available (one they’re dead, they’re gone for good), some mean bosses that take a bit of work to put down and a decent amount of replay value, it’s not a bad game at all if you’re a fan of this sort of game.

Avatar: The Game is interesting as it’s a side story to the film that plays like an older Zelda-style game (but isn’t a Zelda clone like some lazy reviews state) and isn’t a bad deal for about four bucks new. I didn’t like the Saturday morning cartoon-styled character art at all, as it’s an odd decision that’s a bit condescending to me. Not everyone who owns a Nintendo system is under ten years old, so why do some people who make games for the handheld go the cutesy route automatically? Given the film’s subject matter and how the console games were far different, it may have been a smarter choice to make the DS game fit along a similar path. That said, what’s here is fun to play and the game is fairly lengthy for a licensed property.

Brave: The Video Game – I reviewed this recently and found it to be pretty good for what it is. Short, but nicely reminiscent of some of those cool 8 and 16-bit side-scrollers (albeit with PS1-era visuals). Like the console version, it plays a bit fast and loose with the film’s events and has an abrupt ending that may not satisfy some gamers out there. That said, it’s a good rainy day or three experience that appeals to those who like to grind away at levels until they earn enough to buy all the upgrades (which makes the game a bit too easy, but hey, it’s a kid-friendly experience).

Magical Starsign is a game I always wanted to play, but never got around to. Five bucks new and about and hour or so in and I’m pretty pleased with it, despite it being a bit easy. I like the comical tone in the writing and the cast of characters, although the teeny-tiny sprites could have been bigger. Actually, the game is fun enough that I wish a Wii version would have been made just so developer Brownie Brown could beef up the charming visuals and make some of the maps larger. Anyway, I’ll get back to this one a bit later, as I need to get to reviewing some more recent titles I’ve been working on completing.

Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure is just as fun as I remembered it on the original PlayStation, but the DS version has a different combat system and loses the English lyrics to its musical numbers. Yes, the game is supremely easy (to a fault) and yes, too cute for its own good (again, it’s a game geared toward younger players). But there are some surprisingly racy bits in the form of underwear and dirty old man jokes and the game actually drops in questionable body image issues regarding the weight of its main character. Those issues aside, it’s not a bad deal if you like JRPGs, musical comedies and a bit of offbeat humor that may or may not be tasteful in certain circumstances.

Solotarobo: Red, The Hunter
wasn’t a bad deal at all for about $12. It’s a fun action/RPG hybrid that’s pretty well made overall, although it shows how some DS games would be better with camera control in some areas or better vehicle controls in the flying/racing portions. My poor left thumb was a bit sore from the air racing mini-game, but it’s not necessary to be an expert at in order to enjoy the rest of the adventure. Which, by the way has a decent (albeit cliche-packed) plot, some fun combat and a nice upgrade system for Red’s mech. This is a game that would actually benefit from a console sequel or remake, as there are some great in-engine cinemas that would look even better in HD.

OK, that’s that for now… back with another set of recent acquisitions shortly.

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