My “Deserted Island” Games — Nintendo DS edition

Image by Flickr user m-s-y
Image by Flickr user m-s-y

I really can’t even begin to describe just how attached I was to my DS. Short of playing a borrowed Gameboy way back when, the DS was the first handheld gaming device I owned. And man, did I OWN it. That little white box went everywhere with me. It became the savior of public transportation, a willing companion on any journey, and my knight in shining plastic. I rented, bought, and sold back dozens of DS games over the course of several years. And for a couple of those years, I definitely favored its games over those on any console.  But though our connection was swift, our breakup was even faster. With a change in life and commuting, and less time to game generally, the DS went to a young and very excited family member. Will I be able to “borrow” the DS for my island? Will I be able to choose only five games? Read on…oh yes…read on.

The Nintendo DS, released near the end of 2004 quickly established itself as a premier handheld gaming device. It outstripped the Gameboy Advance (being backwards compatible with its games certainly fueled that fire), and gave the PSP a run for its mobile money. With the combination of old faces and new blood, Nintendo developed a huge library of games for the device, and the DS became one of the bestselling game systems of all time. Even today as Sony tries to dent the market with the Vita, the DS, now the 3DS, remains on top in the world of handhelds.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars 
After going into a Grand Theft Auto IV coma, there was no doubt in my mind that I had to have Chinatown Wars. It remains the only DS game I ever pre-ordered. So it is with absolutely no pretense that say it must, MUST, be on my island. The game is filled with wacky content. It’s splendidly over-the-top and loads of fun to play. Nintendo took a large step forward with the release of this M-rated game, and I’m incredibly glad that they did. Hearkening back to the top-down play of early GTA titles, Chinatown Wars set players in Liberty City with missions, minigames, a bizarre cast of characters, a story revolving around a sword, and guns…lots and lots of guns. Having become used to GTA on a console, I worried a little over the DS’s controls. But once I started playing, that worry quickly gave way to the wholly entertaining and wanton destruction of a make-believe town.

The World Ends With You
Sitting squarely among the most unusual titles developed for the DS is The World Ends With You. This strange yet amazing JRPG looks like it was ripped straight out of manga. With an odd storyline involving a dead kid named Neku and his exploration of the “Underworld” (which looks like modern-day Japan), The World End With You marked a turning point in gaming for me. Prior to it, I didn’t go into many games sight unseen. I had either played the originals or read tons of reviews before buying. With The World Ends With You, I heard a single TV review and decided it was worth a buy. And I’m so glad that I did. But, as fun as the game was, I missed a lot of its nuances the first time round. I didn’t become a master at its combat system, and I didn’t really play around with all the game’s extra features. It needs to be on my island because I need to find out with whom the world really ends.

New Super Mario Bros.
Since the release of the original  Mario Brothers back in 1983, Mario’s been all over the place, from the creepiest, pipe-filled underground to the vast reaches of space. But in as many incarnations as I’ve seen Mario, my favorite remains of him as the plumber saving the princess in a simple platform game. And the remake of Super Mario Bros. for the DS is oh so much fun! Take the original game that many know by heart, spruce up the graphics, add in new items and varied level designs, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a good time. I played this game in tandem with Super Mario 64 for the DS, which was a wonderful game, but I always found myself more drawn to New Super Mario Bros. Need I say anything more than GIANT MARIO?? I think not.

Metroid Fusion
I know, I know. This is a Gameboy Advance game. But I never had a GBA, now did I? The original DS could play GBA games like a champ. Therefore, I need not explain myself any further. Moving on… I’d need about 500 hands to count how many times I played Metroid Fusion (and Zero Mission) on the DS. And this is despite my hatred of its horrible, awful, dreadful, Nightmare boss (((shiver))). Metroid Fusion, brilliantly and in as few words as possible, told the story of Samus verses a terrifying cloned version of herself called the SA-X. The game offered plenty of exploration and discovery, just like almost any Metroid game, but it had the added element of “the chase.” For most of the game Samus was weaker than the SA-X, so the game contained plenty of tense moments where you either had to hide from or be chased by the SA-X. As nerve-weakening as I found those moments, I just couldn’t get enough of this game. When I gave away my DS, this game was the hardest to let go. And now I want it back. For my island! Think of the island!! 

LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
Yep, here I am, back again with another compilation. (YAY!) Of all the LEGO games available, the best of the bunch has got to be the Star Wars series. On one little cartridge were three fantastic games: Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. The game entered my life at a time when I could not have been more detached from the Star Wars universe I once worshiped. Between the simple yet tremendously satisfying gameplay and the large dose of humor, these games helped me return to everything that I had once loved about the movies. By the late 2000s, the whole franchise had almost become a parody of itself; but in the LEGO Star Wars universe, parody turned wry and witty. Each game offered plenty of cleverness in its tongue-in-cheek approach to Star Wars. And I drank it up like hot coffee on a cold day. Shoot, just the cut scenes alone make this game a must for eternity!

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Hmmm…this all makes me think that I need to re-invest in a DS, or a 3DS. If only my budget would allow for it. Can’t get very far in life on coconuts and sunshine.  (Or can you, Super Mario Sunshine…??) Anyhoo, this ride down the path of Nintendo is coming to a close as next week I cover the Wii, the last Nintendo console in my arsenal. After that, I’ll rewind back to the Playstation, cause that’s how I roll.

12 Comments Add yours

  1. simpleek says:

    I definitely agree with TWEWY! One of the best games ever! Although I have long beaten the game, I still haven’t taken advantage of the game’s version of new game+ along with the many extras still left to keep playing. I hope to come back to it someday!

    I probably would add the Ace Attorney games to my island list for DS games too.

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    1. cary says:

      I keep hearing inklings that Ace Attorney *might* come to the Google Play store. I’m on it if that ever happens! I also never played the TWEWY new game+, and I’d certainly have enough time on my island to tackle it. Good times, good times.

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  2. duckofindeed says:

    I only have two DS games because I bought the DS for the sole purpose of buying this one “KIngdom Hearts” game with a really weird name, then when I saw another “KH” game was available, I impulse-bought that one, too. A mistake, as that latter one wasn’t very good. So I would, well, bring those two. Plus, my DS came with some “Brain Age” games. That still only adds up to four. So if I knew I was destined to be stuck on an island somewhere, I could buy another game to reach the five game limit…. But, which would I choose?…

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    1. cary says:

      That’s a tough choice, for sure. If you have an original DS, considering that it’ll play both DS and GBA games, managing to choose just one more game seems nearly impossible. In fact, just thinking about it makes my head hurts. And I thought it was tough just narrowing down my couple dozen games to five. Imagine trying to narrow down a dozen YEARS worth of games to just five! If you come up with a fifth, I’d love to know what it is. 🙂

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  3. Hatm0nster says:

    Hmmm…For the DS, I’d choose the following:

    1. Animal Crossing: Wild World – What can I say, I love Animal Crossing! There will always be something to do, always new ways to to make up the house.

    2. Mario Kart DS – The only Mario Kart I ever got really good at. I’ve always wanted to have the time to get back to it and master it all over again.

    3. Pokemon Heart Gold/ Soul Silver – I got Soul Silver, but never got around to making much progress, due to my unwillingness to play mobile games over console games. It would be great to actually finish it.

    4. Warioware: Touched – It’s random, it’s crazy, it’s Wario, and I’ve never been able to get enough of it!

    Also…METROID FUSION! YES! It’s got exploration, challenge, puzzles, twists…it’s super metroid on GBA…enough said. Excellent choice there!

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    1. cary says:

      A nice selection of games there! Though, I’ve never heard of Warioware: Touched — sounds quite intriguing. No Nintendo handheld experience is complete without a Metroid game, and Fusion is one of the best of the the series. There’s no way I’d leave home without it!

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  4. Hey Cary, so you really like New Super Mario Bros.? Me too! But sometimes the newer Mario games can be sort of overrated am I right?

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    1. cary says:

      Indeed, but it really comes down to matter of opinion. If given the choice between, say, New Super Mario Bros. DS and New Super Mario Bros. Wii, I’d pick the DS version hands down. The Wii version was plenty fun, but it was still a standard Mario game and I wasn’t 100% enthralled by the gameplay. You can only revamp Mario so many times before fans start to get a little bored.

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  5. pushstart89 says:

    If I look back on the DS I’d say it was great to have New Super Mario Bros back, but at this point the formula has gotten dated and on the 3DS it’s been surpassed by Luigi’s Mansion in my opinion

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    1. cary says:

      I’ve not played Luigi’s Mansion, but I’ve heard it’s a great game. And you’re right about the Mario “formula;” I was rather tired of it myself by the end of New Super Mario Bros. Wii U. But when I got to the game on the DS, it had been years since I played a 2D Mario platformer, so I welcomed the game with open arms.

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      1. pushstart89 says:

        yeh i thought it was great too, but by the time i played the newer version on the 3DS, it just seemed very complacent with same old level designs etc. You should play Luigi’s mansion it is awesome! Very challenging & well designed levels, (the 1st one was on gamecube)

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