With the upcoming launch of the 3DS in the US, I wanted to take a look back at my favorite games on the DS now that the handheld is in its twilight years. Last time on this blog series, we took at look at my favorite platformers and DSiWare games. This time we’ll look at the best DS RPGs and quest adventures.
First I should clarify a few things. I combined both RPGs and more Zelda like adventures into one category since those kinds of games all have some type of RPG element to them. Also, there are TONS of great RPGs not on this list, simply because I haven’t had the time or money to play them all (but mostly not enough time). I wish I could try stuff like the Dragon Quest DS games, Nostalgia, Radiant Historia, etc. Also, you’ll notice that RPGs like the FF remakes of 3 and 4, as well as Chrono Trigger, are not on this list. That’s because they’re going to be in another category I’ll talk about later, involving classic remakes on the DS. So anyway, with all that out of the way, let’s take a look at my favorite RPG and adventure DS games!
Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime
There was one Dragon Quest game I made time for, and it’s also my all time favorite Dragon Quest in the series, too! It’s not an RPG, but more like a cross between an overhead Zelda game, Mario 2, and some awesome tank battles. You play as a happy little blue slime, the minor enemies in Dragon Quest games. It’s actually a sequel to another game on the GBA. But the DS version adds something totally cool. Tank battles! During boss fights, you run around in a giant mech tank, loading ammo you’ve collected throughout your adventures to defeat the enemy tank. Once you’ve whittled down their defenses, you can infiltrate their tank to knock out their core. I loved playing four player linked tank battles with my friends, there’s so much strategy and techniques you can use! Even better, I just read they’re making a Rocket Slime sequel on the 3DS! I hear it has boat battles, so that’s probably what they’re doing now instead of tanks! I hope it comes to the US!
Kingdom Hearts Re:coded
One of my complaints about KH sequels is how some rehash older worlds. Re:coded is no exception, but I was still impressed how they basically got the first Kingdom Hearts game on the DS. Plus they added some of my favorite gameplay hooks from Birth By Sleep, and it’s still a pretty neat hack and slash adventure. I never did get the first KH DS game, 365/2 Days, mainly because it was all about Organization XIII, and I hated that part of the KH storyline. Now I’d better brace myself for the flood of angry KH fans for saying that!
Zelda: Spirit Tracks & Phantom Hourglass
I was really impressed how they got the look of Wind Waker onto the DS. I think I like Spirit Tracks a little more, though. Mainly because you don’t have that dumb timed dungeon you had to go in over and over in Phantom Hourglass. But also because driving a train was more fun than a boat. Granted, it cut down on the fun exploration parts of Zelda, but conducting that locomotive was like having your own virtual toy train set! Plus, in Spirit Tracks you get to team up with Zelda to solve puzzles (granted it’s only her spirit possessing things, but still). I’ve always wanted a Zelda game where you can play as the Princess, and this’ll probably be the closest thing we get to do that.
Mario & Luigi games
The first Mario & Luigi RPG was on the GBA, but its sequels were on the DS. Partners in Time had the brothers going back in time to team up with their younger baby selves. The Mario babies were freaking adorable. I almost got sad at the end when baby Luigi didn’t want to say good-bye to big Luigi.
One of the complaints of Partners in Time was it was a little complicated controlling Mario, Luigi, and the two babies with each of the face buttons. So they simplified things a bit in the next game: Bowser’s Inside Story. Most main Mario side characters have gotten their own games. Luigi had Luigi’s Mansion, Peach had Super Princess Peach, and even Toad had the puzzler Wario’s Woods. So you can count Bowser’s Inside Story as Bowser’s own game, really. The humor and writing in this was funny and clever, and it was neat fighting as Bowser. Mario and Luigi were inside Bowser most of the trip, and the big guy was unaware they were helping him the whole time! Neat thing about being inside Bowser was that part of the game played like a 2-D platformer. Highly recommended game if you like silly and whimsical action RPGs.
My World, My Way
In this game you play as a spoiled princess, who goes on an adventure to prove to her dream man that she’s not a wimpy brat. Yeah, it’s pretty girly, but I still liked it anyway. The gimmick in this game is you have the power to pout to get what you want. Yes, you even get pout points. Pout to make enemies drop more gold or items, make bad guys easier or tougher, or change the scenery entirely! The game forces you to use your pout ability, too, or you’ll never get anywhere. It’s a pretty original take on an otherwise simple tried and true RPG.
Whether it’s Diamond and Pearl, the Gold and Silver remakes, or the newly released Black and White, they’re all good. I only wish they weren’t all ‘same-y.’ Of course, it’s not entirely the game series’ fault. If it’s not broke don’t fix it, as the saying goes. Plus, I probably OD’ed too much on Pokemon back when I was writing about it all the time for The Dallas Morning News anyway. I really liked the PokeWalker in the Gold/Silver remakes. I just wish that, in the next main games, they do something a little different with the gameplay. Maybe make the way you catch Pokemon be a little different, or have the battles be more action-oriented.
Rune Factory series
The Harvest Moon games are kind of fun, but I got bored with most pretty quickly. Rune Factory adds something those games were missing: action packed battles! When you’re done farming in Rune Factory, you can go fight monsters in dungeons, Zelda style. You can still do most everything you can in the Harvest Moon games, including marrying one of the town’s eligible bachelors or bachelorettes. But since you do more stuff, they give you more time and streamline some of the more tedious activities. Plus, the Rune Factory games have some of the best 2-D graphics on the DS. Fans of Harvest Moon should really try one of these out. There’s 3 of them on the DS.
And finally, what will probably be the DS’ final swan song. I just got finished reviewing this game, so please click on the link to read my full review. Just as Okami, my Game of the Year for 2006 surpassed Zelda: Twilight Princess, I feel that Okamiden is just as good as the handheld Zeldas. Plus that puppy is so darn cute! If you haven’t already, do be sure to check out the Okamiden Art Contest, too!
And that’s all my favorite DS RPGs and adventures! I know I left out a lot, so now’s your chance to let them shine! In the comments section, let me know YOUR favorite DS RPGs and quests. Also, let me know what you’d rather read about next time: my favorite arcade classic remakes on DS, or my favorite causal and puzzlers on DS? I’ll write about both eventually, but I just was wondering what you’d all rather read about first. So until next time, later! –Cary