ALL 5 Years 5 games

Staff writer Chris took some time out recently to celebrate the DS turning 5 and the games which secure it's place in gaming history but do you agree with his findings?

As our American readers will no doubt know, and anyone else who imported the console like myself, the DS celebrated its 5th birthday at the end of November. From the humble beginnings of 2004, the DS has really grown of age and 5 years in, it still sees a hefty stream of content released for it week in, week out, ranging from the educational to the more time intensive role playing games to games that continue to push the hardware harder than anyone thought possible. We all have our ideas of what the great DS games are and have been over these 5 years, from the likes of Mario Kart DS to Animal Crossing: Wild World to New Super Mario Bros. DS, and there really is no contesting of the impact these particular games have had on the market, with all three aforementioned titles having sold in the millions and continue to sell extremely well even now. So, in celebration of 5 wonderful years of dual screen gaming courtesy of Nintendo's DS console, we're going to show you 5 great games that show exactly what the DS has done for not only the handheld market but the console market in general over these 5 years of service; games which those who follow games deeply may know about but may not have tried, or games that have been completely missed by newer gamers that are definitely worth your time as a gamer. It's the following gems that many may have overlooked that really have shown great innovation in gameplay and will leave the DS with a legacy as one of the best consoles of all time.

Kirby: Canvas Curse/Power Paintbrush

Released in the early days of the DS' life cycle, Kirby: Canvas Curse, or Power Paintbrush as it was known in PAL territories, helped span the gap between the initial titles which launched alongside the console and those big games that saw a release towards the end of 2005 and into the start of 2006. Foregoing the usual platforming setup that all prior Kirby games had been used to, Nintendo and HAL Laboratories maintained the platforming but changed the way in which you would play entirely. Instead of giving you normal control of the pink amorphous blob, courtesy of the face buttons and d-pad as was the usual in the series up till this point, this game required you to draw rainbow coloured pathways for Kirby to move around the levels, with the touch screen literally becoming your canvas as you could draw paths for movement, draw ramps or draw barriers to protect Kirby from enemy attacks. The emphasis on power-ups remained, with classic power-ups returning and completely new ones that made for some interesting moments and increased difficulty towards the end of the game. And believe me when I say it was difficult, going once again against the conventions of most other Kirby title. It made for a truly unique experience; one which has yet to be repeated by the developers who went back to providing fans with updated versions of the SNES titles on the DS. It brought together fantastic pastel graphics that really sprang to life on the DS and innovative gameplay to make it perhaps the best title in the series yet and perhaps the best and most underrated platformer on the system, being overshadowed by New Super Mario Bros. DS. If you're looking for some platforming action on the DS or any console this festive period and haven't tried this, this is a must own title because it really is a fantastic game.


Another title to see the light of day in 2005, Meteos hit US shores in June and Europe in September. With Q Entertainment behind the game's development and both Tetsuya Mizuguchi, the man behind the fantastic Space Channel 5 and Rez games, and Masahiro Sakurai, the man behind many of the early Kirby games and Smash Bros. titles, everyone was looking for them to deliver big time and deliver they did. Meteos took the simple tried and tested formula of a block based puzzler but made it fun again. You took to various planets and worlds in a fictitious universe where gravity effects hampered your progress as you slid similar blocks into groups of 3 or more to send them soaring off into space. It was such a simple premise but was so expertly done that the game had huge lasting appeal as no retreading of done planets or worlds ever played out the same and remained thoroughly enjoyable for many months after release, and is still enjoyable now to someone who bought it 4 years ago. Throw in some power-ups that really shook things up and you have quite possibly one of the best, if not the best, puzzle games to grace any console in recent years. Many games have come and attempted the block based gameplay of the genre since Meteos but such was the standard that it set, none have come close to matching it. It was so good that they even releases a sequel on the DS, known as Meteos Disney Magic, for a younger audience who perhaps didn't understand the planets and the various effects used throughout the gameplay and it even spawned a version on the Xbox 360's Live Arcade, but that unfortunately didn't live up to the potential set by the original due to the lack of touch screen input. Puzzle games always make for great presents at this time of year and there are few better than Meteos, in either DS version, so give it a go.

Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! / Elite Beat Agents

In 2005, developer iNIS and publishers Nintendo released a game so quirky for the DS that it had people talking about it worldwide. Although only ever release in Japan, Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan quickly gathered a cult following and became one of the most imported games in recent times. The impact it had was so great that a year later, the same team decided to release a Western centric version known as Elite Beat Agents so those who couldn't import could get their fill. Both games saw you controlling a group of male cheerleaders who were tasked with helping ordinary people overcome the adversaries that were plaguing their lives by completing choreographed dance routines to music. What made the games so interesting was the gameplay, which mixed various musical tracks with touch screen tapping, sliding and spinning to create a really addictive game. In concept, it was incredibly simple but in practise, the latter difficulty settings proved to be anything but simple, really pushing your hand eye coordination skills to the limits meaning if you kept the idea of simplicity in your head, you'd soon falter. When you look back on the game, it's hard to see how it could have made such an impact as it has within the genre, but the way in which it used the touch screen and the soundtracks in each game really made these two standout titles in the DS' library of titles. There have been many rhythm music games on the DS now, with the likes of Guitar Hero, Band Hero and Lego Rock Band having now jumped on the bandwagon to various degrees of success. But Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! and Elite Beat Agents easily stand above those games by providing an original and incredibly addictive form of gameplay that made simple but effective use of the system and the functions it has. That they had such an impact has left many fans wondering whether or not there will ever be a sequel to Elite Beat Agents.

The World Ends With You

Normally, when it comes to RPGs with the name Square Enix on them, you'd expect the box to either have the words "Final Fantasy" or "Dragon Quest" adorning them. The pilfering and diluting of those franchises has resulted in many iterations turning up on the DS, all of which have been of a high standard. But it was a game created by Square Enix that carried neither of these titles that really shook up the genre and provided one of the best and most memorable role playing experiences in recent times. The World Ends With You ditched the sword play, magical fantasy of its brethren titles and provided a modern setting, within Tokyo's city centre districts, and perfectly realised characters that allowed anyone who played the ability to build up a rapport and feel easily at home. The story was fantastic, pairing off the unlikeliest of characters in a game of life or death set over the course of 7 days where each day required them to team up and complete a task or face being erased from living memory forever. While you weren't held to any time constraints in the game, the way in which the story unfolded made you feel as though you had to get moving, and fast, because you genuinely felt and cared for the characters you controlled in the game. It showed exactly why Square Enix is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to storytelling and role playing games. But that was only the beginning. The game also provided stunning visuals, realised in a graffiti art style that looked fantastic on the DS' screens, and a fantastic soundtrack that complimented the art style and gameplay perfectly. The biggest inclusion which was provided was the battle system with the fights taking place in real time on both the top and bottom screens and you having to input touches and slices on the touch screen, using the power of the pins you have equipped, while pressing the d-pad to link up sequences of attacks on the top screen. It was complicated and gave the game a very steep learning curve but once you mastered it and the fashion element of the game, where certain styles of clothing performed better in certain areas of the map and this changed all the time, the game really came into its own. For the RPG fan on the console, if they or you haven't played this then I strongly recommend it as it is the best new RPG on any console to date.

Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword

Bringing games up from the DS to the home consoles has proved to be a much easier job than bringing big console games to the handheld. Yet, even after its announcement, people were very optimistic about the chances of Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword being a good title on the DS. It was, after all, developed by Team Ninja, one of Tecmo Koei's subsidiaries, who are known for making the best of what the console has on offer. And they did just that. Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword proved that an over the top action game can make the journey from the more powerful consoles to a handheld and come through almost unscathed. The action was brilliant and fast paced as it should have been, making use of the DS' touch screen in a similar way to that being used in Nintendo's own iterations of The Legend of Zelda on the handheld and while many would have thought this kind of interface wouldn't translate to ease of control, it proved those wrong. It was also one of the first major 3D action titles on the DS, with many of the other 3D offerings coming from racers or role playing games, and maintained the aesthetics of the console games through the lesser power of the DS and made it look visually stunning, planting itself as one of the best looking games on the console. It wasn't perfect though, with a short run time and did become repetitive but these were small niggles in the bigger picture of what Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword managed to achieve on the console: a fully 3D action title that maintained virtually everything that its bigger brethren did, from aesthetics to action, and paved the way for more to come. Unfortunately, they didn't but the game stands as a testament to the developers and the console that such a game could be produced with the hardware.

And there you have it; 5 games that go to show more than enough reasons as to why the DS has been such an innovation in the handheld market; 5 games that aren't really known outside of the gaming community but should be. These 5 games have shown innovation within their respective genres and/or simply shown that it can be done on a smaller scale courtesy of a handheld. If you haven't tried these games, then I whole heartedly recommend you do. While the Marios and Zeldas are thought of as the best the console has to offer, these are every bit as good. If you have tried these and perhaps want to try something more, then how about these alternatives that really deserve some attention as well: Drawn To Life, Nintendo's Puzzle League, Contact, Daigasso! Band Brothers, and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. Yet, these are but a single person's thoughts on some of the games the DS shall be remembered for but what do you, the readers, think. Leave a comment below on the DS games you think highlight exactly what the DS has given us or just the games you've enjoyed and think others should give a go.

By Chris Coyne

Posted on 23-01-2010 by Andrew


  • This wasn't by Trent. It was by me, Chris. Just thought I'd let you know. Anyway, yeh these are basically I'll remember the DS for. TWEWY is such a good role playing game. Hard to master but when you do, the feeling is great.

    ganepark32, 30-11--0001 at 00:00
  • Whoops! Sorry about that.

    Andrew, 30-11--0001 at 00:00
  • Theres a few articles I've wrote and another review in the feature thread I have, but other then that no I'm not making lists yet, though I think I mentioned I would do one once and you might of got confused from that?

    Trent, 30-11--0001 at 00:00

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