There weren’t that many great games released for the Nintendo DS this year, as game developers began working on the upcoming 3DS. That said, there were some truly outstanding titles to keep us gaming on the go. Meanwhile, Nintendo nearly single-handedly kept the Wii going without much third-party support with new games starring heavy hitters like Mario, Metroid, and Donkey Kong. This year Nintendo’s competitors finally conceded defeat by releasing their own unique motion controllers, though neither the SONY Move nor Microsoft Kinect had any software worth talking about (besides the hacked stuff). In this week’s feature, we’ll take a look at our favorite games to hit the Nintendo Wii and DS game systems in 2010.
Donkey Kong Country Returns
The Super Nintendo’s Donkey Kong Country, famous for its then-revolutionary use of computer-rendered graphics, gets a spiritual successor on the Wii with DKC Returns. The level designs (including the dreaded mine cart sections) are all new, but feel straight out of the original thanks to the traditional side-scrolling perspective. The art direction and boss designs are much improved over the previous games, but players may be frustrated when they are forced to shake the controller to perform certain moves.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn
Just when you thought the lovable pink puffball couldn’t get any cuter, Kirby’s latest adventure takes place in an arts-and-crafts world made mostly from strands of yarn. Although most Nintendo games are made for all audiences, this one truly feels like it was tailor-made for very young children. Kirby and his sidekick cannot die, so anyone should be able to enjoy the game, making it ideal for parents to play with their children in a friendly two-player cooperative mode.
Metroid: Other M
After 3 games in the first-person perspective, Metroid: Other M’s mix of perspectives is a breath of fresh air. The series’ heroine finally speaks and lavish production values present the science-fiction story in gorgeous style. Some gamers were turned off by the admittedly cheesy dialog, but it feels like a step in the right direction for a series that is still trying to find its footing in 3D. The bosses will challenge your reflexes while pushing the Wii’s graphics processor into overdrive. Read the full review
Sin & Punishment: Star Successor
In an unexpected but welcome move, Nintendo teamed up once again with Treasure to make this sequel to the cult classic N64 rail-shooter Sin & Punishment. Although released to little fanfare, the Wii’s unique controller lends itself perfectly to the action in this game, as players take aim at scores of aliens, robots, and super villains that really put your skills to the test. Treasure’s trademarked bosses and minibosses really steal the show, as each level is packed to the gills with them.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
The original Super Mario Galaxy is one of the best games of its kind ever made, and the sequel manages to recapture its magic. The game play has been expanded with new power-ups and the return of Mario’s dinosaur friend Yoshi. Whimsical graphics, an incredible orchestral score, spectacular bosses, and that just-right challenge factor make this a strong contender for game of the year! A must-own game for the Wii. Read the full review
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
Square-Enix and Level-5 teamed up to deliver the latest chapter of Japan’s favorite RPG series, Dragon Quest, on the Nintendo DS. Not only is it the first numbered entry to get released on a portable system, it’s also packed with more content than any portable RPG that has come before it. A heart-warming storyline of epic proportions, a 4-player cooperative mode, and many updates to the fundamental Dragon Quest formula streamline the experience. Players can continue to connect online for free weekly quests and exclusive items for a whole year! Read the full review
Final Fantasy: 4 Heroes of Light
This retro throwback for the Final Fantasy series is leaps and bounds better than the recent numbered iterations in the popular role-playing franchise. Fans of oldschool RPGs from the 8-bit and 16-bit eras will feel right at home with the increased difficulty and simpler presentation. What it lacks in expensive computer animated cinematics it more than makes up for with its painterly art direction and whimsical score. On top of that, there’s a whole new twist on the typical battle and job systems. In what may be the last truly traditional Final Fantasy game ever made, Heroes of Light was a welcome and thoroughly enjoyable addition to the DS line-up. Read the full review
Golden Sun 3: Dark Dawn
It’s been 7 years since the last episode in Camelot Software’s ongoing RPG series Golden Sun, which first started life on the GameBoy Advance. The next chapter takes the series into the 3D realm but retains the spirit-summoning battles that players have come to expect. Also notable are its enjoyable puzzles, which require the player to use a variety of elemental spells to manipulate the environment to explore a diverse range of settings. It has certainly been a long time coming. Read the full review
Professor Layton & The Unwound Future
The third chapter in the popular puzzle game series takes place in a futuristic London while also fleshing out the Professor’s past with a glimpse into his former lovelife. This time around there are more than 165 puzzles to solve, and the story is presented with more voice-acting than before. A few new mini-games will keep you busy in between puzzles. As usual the story is a bit far-fetched but the charming characters and lovely artwork are top-notch. Read the full review
Upcoming games that we’re looking forward to on the Wii include the new Zelda, the rumored Pikmin 3, and we’re holding out hope that Nintendo of America will get around to releasing Xeno Blade and The Last Story. We’re also expecting some sort of announcement concerning Dragon Quest X.
We’re still looking forward to more than a few stragglers for the regular DS. Square-Enix has yet to release its remake of Dragon Quest 6, which will be the first time it is available in English. We’re hoping they’ll also translate both SaGa 2 and SaGa 3, remakes of classic GameBoy games from the early 1990s. Level-5 has another Professor Layton to release, along with its original RPG Ni no Kuni (made with Studio Ghibli). Atlus has announced Radiant Historia for February, and Capcom’s Okamiden should hit around the same time.
The 3DS looms on the horizon, and we’re certainly excited to play the new Kid Icarus as well as Level-5′s charming Fantasy Life.