This week’s Sega Addicts collaborative feature counts down the Top 5 Best and Worst Sega DS Games.
With Aliens: Infestation’s release there’s a good possibility that Sega is finished with the DS as they move onto development for Nintendo’s latest handheld the 3DS and with that milestone there couldn’t be a better time to look back at the Sega published library on the DS and pick out what games really stood out in both great and not-so-great ways.
Hit the jump to find out our thoughts on the best and worst Sega DS games…
5. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games
Scott Morrison: I can sum up Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games in one phrase: scratch the heck out of your DS’s touch screen. One of the main reasons these games sold well were the fact that Sonic and Mario were in the same game, and before 2001 this was a video game taboo. The Olympic events include archery, fencing, rowing, shooting, gymnastics, athletics, and aquatics. There are also Dream Events that take place in Sonic and Mario-themed worlds, while using the characters’ abilities loosely to get through said events.
Ironically, the racing portions (100 meter dash, 400 meter dash, hurdles) are exactly what everyone pictured would work for the first Sonic DS game: you rub the stylus back and forth for the entire race as quickly as you can. I see why Sega did not implement this in games such as Sonic Rush, because you will have arthritis 10 years earlier than most gamers.
To sum up the other games you spin your stylus, rub back and forth, or tap wildly. If you are looking to try the Olympic series, try it on the Wii, so that the flailing is expanded a room rather than just doing damage to your DS.
4. Iron Man 2
Alex Riggen: The only nice thing I can say about this game is it’s better than the console releases of the same game. You wouldn’t think it would be that hard to make a decent sidescrolling licensed game in this day and age but apparently I don’t know what I’m talking about. Everything about this game is boring and repetitive. The level design is uninspired and confusing, the gameplay is extremely repetitive, and the difficulty jumps randomly making the game frustrating to play.
Stevie Grant: Thor is boring. Really, really boring. Almost impossibly boring. For a game with good sprite work and a competent team this game did nothing to get rid of the stigma associated with most movie tie in games. It would be a letdown if it wasn’t such an obvious rushed job. However it is a waste of potential and it only deserves one of the highest places in this list.
2. Iron Man
Pat Reddick: I haven’t played a whole lot of this game, but that really speaks to how bad it is and why it deserves a spot on this list. The controls aren’t great, the camera isn’t great, and there’s no replay value. Some games are considered bad because they have one of these three qualities, but Iron Man takes the super-hero approach to bad game design and incorporates all three and it hits you hard. It won’t be long until you find yourself pissed off from dying from off-screen enemies you can’t anticipate (and could barely shoot if you could anticipate) and then you ragequit the game, hopefully for good. I can’t imagine what the poor guys who had to review this game were going through, especially if they were fans of the movie. Being forced to play this game should be considered cruel and unusual punishment by the UN. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but the game is awful.
1. Sonic Chronicles
Scott Morrison: Sonic Chronicles: Dark Brotherhood shows that Sonic games cannot be slowed down to a crawl. I believe the Sonic series could be turned into an RPG, but this was not the way to do it. People automatically assumed Chronicles would be awesome simply because BioWare was behind the wheel, but this eventually proved nothing. If anything, it gave Ken Penders more reason to attack Archie Comics for the rights to his story ideas.
Using the touch screen to guide Sonic and his friends throughout the game was difficult when your hand would block half of the environment. It was interesting to see each character’s abilities being used to get through different environmental hazards, but that was as interactive as the exploration allowed. The environments were beautiful in their own right with a sketchbook feel to them, but the fact that you would enter a loop and automatically follow paths would get rather annoying. The controls for battle sequences were simple enough with equipping Chao for certain abilities and attacks, but the attempt at including the touch screen for battle was not as practical as they were hoping for. The touch controls were reminiscent of Elite Beat Agents but not as intuitive or responsive. I found myself losing battles entirely because I did not complete a circle or I missed a timed button combo. This was a huge turn-off for the game, which could have been a bigger draw if done better.
Overall Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood had a lot of promise but fell through in the end and showed that Sonic games need to have more action than story, and less characters.
5. Feel the Magic: XY/XX
Stevie Grant: Feel the Magic is one of the most bizarre minigame collections I’ve ever played. Being one of the DS’s launch titles it explored pretty much everything the system had to offer. Although not a game you’d like to play in public (trust me you’d just look like a weirdo doing some if the stuff the game wants you to do) it is a game that warrants a quick play now and again just for the wacky humour. One of Sega’s best DS games by far. A real gem.
4. Phantasy Star 0
Kris Knigge: Phantasy Star 0 was a surprise for me. After the disappointments of PSO Episode 3: C.A.R.D. Revolution and Phantasy Star Universe, my burning passion for PSO began to dwindle. However, that all changed when I discovered a used copy of the game while looking for a copy of Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. While I didn’t find Dawn of Sorrow, I immediately snapped up PS0, and immediately fell in love. Building off of the original PSO’s mold of rhythmic combat and semi-random exploration, but adding the dodge button and special attacks of the Universe series. MAGs are back, bosses are pretty fun, and it’s great to tear through some levels with a friend. Sure, the anime art direction and weak story don’t quite have the mystique of PSO, but from a sheer gameplay perspective, it’s my favorite Phantasy Star title ever.
3. Sonic Rush
Sven Wohl: Sonic Rush isn’t only a great DS game, but one of the best Sonic games I’ve ever played. It uses the two screens in a great way and only uses touch controls where it makes sense. While the level designs could be better sometimes, there’s a lot of fun to be had with this game, where speed is king. Sure, Blaze the cat as a new friend isn’t so hot, but at least it adds a bit to the replayability. It’s one of the few games from my DS library that I revisit regularly.
2. Aliens: Infestation
Josh Newey: I never thought that a sidescrolling shooter would end up being my favorite Aliens game of all time. With Aliens: Infestation, Developer Wayforward managed to create a genuinely intense Metroid-style game dripping with authenticity and overflowing with subtle nods to the fans. The sprite work in this game really sets it apart from other DS games, and does so much to transform an adorable 2D xenomorph into something genuinely intimidating. Sure, at 4-5 hours, the game’s length is agonizingly brief, but every bit of this tiny morsel of a game is filled to the brim with pure, unadulterated Alien-shooting goodness. Throw in some 20 wholly unique characters with their own dialogue and individual personalities, and you’ve got a game that goes from being a mere tribute to the classic sci-fi films to being a worthy, original addition to the series lore.
1. Sonic Colors
John Doherty: Sonic Colors is a damn good Sonic game. Sure it may not be as good as its Wii counterpart but it stands on its own as a solid title in the Sonic library. The controls are on point and the visuals are also very pretty. The level design was generally great and it didn’t feature any of the huge pitfalls that Sonic 4 was a fan of. It also features two exclusive wisps, the Red and the Violet. Both of these wisps were fun to use and for uber fans of Sonic Colors they are a must try. Any fan of Sonic with a DS should really consider picking this one up as it’s a really great game, and it’s dirt cheap.