This year saw the launch of not one, but two additions to the DS family.
The DSi, sporting two cameras and the ability to download games, hit in April. The DSiLL (XL to folks outside of Japan) is all of that a more, well more in the sense of size, super-sizing the screen and mondo-sizing the stylus.
Of course, there were also games, plenty of games. Here's some of the top titles we reviewed on Kotaku.
What DS or DSi games would you suggest picking up for friends or family?
Art Style: Digidrive
Price: $US5 (download for DSi only) Rating: E Genre: Puzzle Subject Matter: The world's only game based on directing traffic, but fun Value: Not many modes, but very deep gameplay, Tetris-like. Buy it for: People who want an engrossing puzzle game for their commute — and the only puzzle game built well for one-handed play (good for shaky subway/bus rides.) Read the Full Review
Art Style: Boxlife
Price: $US5 (download for DSi only) Rating: E Genre: Uh, puzzle box-folding? Subject Matter: Work in a factory, fold boxes, live the American dream Value: Second-best of all DSi Art Style games, based on a clever, deep mechanic, and a bevy of modes and unlockables. Buy it for: Fans of innovative game design. Read the Full Review
Art Style: Pictobits
Price: $US5 (download for DSi only) Rating: E Genre: Block-dropping puzzle game Subject Matter: A Tetris twist with an artsy retro style Value: Highest of all downloadable DS games, offering many levels, great nostalgia for old pixel art, and a high-quality full chiptunes soundtrack that re-mixes classic Nintendo themes. Buy it for: Anyone with a DSi, anyone who is nostalgic for the Nintendo Entertainment System Read the Full Review
Art Style: Precipice <
strong>Price: $US5 (download for DSi only) Rating: E Genre: Puzzle Subject Matter: Endless Tetris-style game featuring a man climbing falling blocks Value: Doesn't have any modes, but its core gameplay is long-lasting. Buy it for: Puzzle game fans and those who enjoy the DSi's innovative Art Style series Read the Full Review
Bakugan Battle Brawlers
Price: $US29.99 Rating: Everyone Genre: Marble-shooting, creature-battling action game. Subject Matter: Based on the wildly popular collectible toy game and cartoon series, Bakugan follows in the footsteps of Pokemon but adds transforming marbles to the mix. The game does a good job of capturing the essence of the franchise. Value: With a relatively robust single-player campaign and ability to battle up to three friends on one television in a slew of interactive arenas, this game is a pretty good deal. Buy it for:fans of Bakugan and maybe even curious fans of Pokemon. Read the Full Review
Price: $US2 each (five games - download for DSi only) Rating: E Genre: Music, Sports Subject Matter: The NHK TV mascot, Domo, stars in five re-purposed mini-games that were originally made in 2002 Value: Low, because the games are not fun. Buy it for: Only people who love Domo and whom you don't love. Read the Full Review
Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter
Price: $US29.99 Rating: Everyone Genre: Action/Adventure Subject Matter: Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter is a relatively simple adventure game with similarly simple side-scrolling platforming levels and a touching, sometimes sad story. What makes it unique are its drawing features, which let the player customise their hero, what weapons they use and various elements of the game world all via the DS's touch screen. Value: Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter's main adventure is brief, but the option to create new heroes, which can vary from flower people to ninjas to robots, extends the life of this charming 2D adventure. Buy it for: the creative kid who may be too young for a more challenging Nintendo DS game. Read the Full Review
Price: $US169.99 Rating: N/A Genre: N/A Subject Matter: The next step for the DS Lite features two cameras and the ability to download games from the Nintendo store. Value: While the price isn't exorbitant, more than half a year after launch the Nintendo Store is still lacking in quality downloadable titles. Buy it for: gadgetophiles, people who love Nintendo, children who don't own digital cameras, anyone interested in a DS but who hasn't taken the plunge yet. Read the Full Review
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon
Price: $US29.99 Rating: Teen Genre: Turn-based role-playing strategy Subject Matter: Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon is a thoughtful, modern day remake of an 8-bit medieval fantasy classic, telling the turn-based tale of Marth, heir to the throne of Altea who leads a band of soldiers in a tactical revolt against the Shadow Dragon Medeus. Value: Over twenty five chapters, loads of characters, ample upgrade options, rare weapons via the online shop, and an excessive six levels of difficulty should ensure that your purchase of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon is money well spent. Buy it for: the fan of fantasy, strategy and epic adventure. Read the Full Review
Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars
Price: $US34.99 Rating: Mature Genre: Open world action-adventure Subject Matter: Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars is a 3D, top-down adventure, putting players in the shoes of Huang Lee, a spoiled son of a Chinese gangster. The typical Grand Theft Auto rise to power through sex, drugs, violence and bad driving flows over the course of the game. Value: There's a lengthy story to be told, with Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars throwing in plenty of side missions and mini-games to keep the player interested. Buy it for: the Nintendo DS owner sadly lacking in over-the-top violent content. Read the Full Review
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
Price: $US39.99 Rating: Teen Genre: Action RPG Subject Matter: An action RPG that bridges the gap between Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2. Value: While those not familiar with the Kingdom Hearts franchise will find themselves a bit lost story-wise, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is a lengthy game that fans will love for the back story and RPG fans will enjoy for its depth. Buy it for: Anyone who is a fan of the Kingdom Hearts series. Read the Full Review
Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
Price: $US34.99 Rating: Everyone Genre: Action RPG Subject Matter: Mario, Luigi and their nemesis Bowser band together to fend off a common foe in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. As role-playing games go, it's heavy on the action, light on the story and packed with memorable, humorous characters. Value: Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story offers a lengthy adventure, about 20 hours worth of play time, but after the story's complete, there's little incentive to return to the game. Buy it for: the younger gamer looking for a long, not too challenging experience (or anyone with a Nintendo DS and a sense of humor). Read the Full Review
Mario Vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again
Price: $US8 (download for DSi only) Rating: E Genre: Lemmings-like puzzler Subject Matter: Mainpulate girders and gadgets to enable Mario toys to march to their goals. Value: Very high due to a generous amount of levels and a level-editor that supports downloaded user-made maps. Buy it for: Fans of brain-bending puzzle games, as the solutions to some of these levels are hard to engineer. Read the Full Review
Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box
Price: $US34.99 Rating: E Genre: Adventure/Puzzle Subject Matter: The Professor and his protégé, Luke, are out to solve a mystery surrounding a man who never ages and box that kills all who open it. Value: With a crazy amount of puzzles and a new puzzles to download every week, this is one game that won't ever be very far from your DS during those long commutes. Buy it for: Yourself and anybody you actually want to give a good gift to. Read the Full Review
Price: $US29.99 Rating: Everyone Genre: Music/Rhythm Subject Matter: Rhythm Heaven is a loosely connected series of rhythmic and musical challenges with very simple controls, requiring little more than good timing and simple touchscreen tapping. Simplistic though it may be, Rhythm Heaven is inventive and fun. Value: There are dozens of mini-games to unlock and play, with sound toys and more serious challenges for the player who masters Rhythm Heaven's main mode. Buy it for: anyone with Nintendo DS that can keep a beat or longs for more WarioWare style mini-game fun. Read the Full Review
Price: $US29.99 Rating: E10+ Genre: Open world, spell-checking puzzle action game. Subject Matter: Scribblenauts brings just about anything you can spell to life in the game, backing up a stunningly large visual dictionary with a web of interactions that can surprise and amuse as you work out how to solve puzzles. Value: With 150 puzzles and 150 action levels, and the ability to use more than 22,800 words to figure out what to do, this is one of the best values this year in gaming. Buy it for: children learning to spell, people who love lateral thinking and anyone with a sense of humor. Read the Full Review