Like the changing of the seasons and the rising of the sun, the Nintendo DS can always be counted on to feature some of the best games in the industry. 2010 was no different, with Nintendo's popular portable playing host to dozens of noteworthy games this year.
In fact, there were so many that it was hard to nail down just a few. Here are five of the best that should easily satisfy any gamer's fancy.Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
With the last game in the series pushing the visual capabilities of the PlayStation 2 to its limits, many gamers have questioned why the ninth game in the series would be exclusive to Nintendo's popular handheld. After only a few minutes with the game though, most quickly realized that what Dragon Quest may have lost in high-end visuals, it has more than made up for in playability.
Dragon Quest IX takes the popular role-playing series in several bold new directions while keeping the popular core of its turn-based gameplay intact. In a series first, players are no longer hassled by random encounters. Instead, roaming monsters are visible to players on the map. More importantly though, Dragon Quest IX is the first game in the series designed with a focus on the multiplayer experience.
Rather than going on a quest with virtual characters, up to four real world friends can get together in the same room with their own characters and copies of the game to explore the world of Dragon Quest IX together. Buy it and they will. Rated Everyone (10+)Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
Casual gamers looking for a brain-achingly good puzzle challenge were first introduced to Professor Layton and his boy assistant, Luke, in early 2008, and have since seen no less than three Layton games hit the Nintendo DS to tickle their frontal cortex.
Offering brain twisting puzzles, a charming art style, and a mystery worthy of the Layton name, Unwound Future tells the tale of a time machine that malfunctions during its inaugural demonstration and causes the scientist who invented it and the Prime Minister to disappear without a trace.
Just as in previous Professor Layton games, players will unravel the mystery by solving logic puzzles presented by the local townsfolk. With 165 puzzles to solve, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future is bound to keep gamers scratching their heads for a good, long, satisfying while. Rated Everyone (10+)Sonic Colors
While Sonic the Hedgehog's adventures on home consoles may have taken a turn for the worse in the past decade, handheld Sonic games keep getting better. With Sonic Colors on the DS, this trend shows no signs of stopping.
Top notch level design makes this the best side scrolling, platform-hopping Sonic game in years. Combine that with the introduction of "colors" that provide Sonic with a variety of special abilities used to revisit previous areas and you've got a game that combines the speed of Sonic with the backtracking fun of other exploratory mainstays like Metroid and Castlevania.
Players disappointed by the lukewarm Sonic games on home consoles of late, don't write the blue dude with the 'tude off just yet. Sonic Colors is definitely something you want on your wish list. It has all the old school charm and new school design that you could want from a Sonic game. Rated Everyone (6+)Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
While it may not be the biggest role-playing game for the DS this year, Golden Sun: Dark Dawn marks the return of a much-loved Nintendo franchise after an absence of more than half a decade.
Emphasizing story over gameplay, Dark Dawn tells the tale of the children of the previous games' heroes. It's been 30 years since the last generation put down their blades and magic, but the same darkness is threatening the world once again.
In addition to familiar gameplay, Golden Sun: Dark Dawn brings the series visuals to life in glorious 3D. With plenty of dialogue, gorgeous environments, and classic turn-based role playing combat, die hard Nintendo fans will no doubt be delighted with this, Golden Sun's first appearance on the Nintendo DS. Rated Everyone (10+)Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem
Some rivalries are as old as time itself. Cain and Abel, the sun and the moon, Kirk and Khan. But few such conflicts are as memorable as the never-ending battle between Donkey Kong and Mario.
Still holding a grudge since their initial showdown in 1981's Donkey Kong, Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem is the fourth title in the series that has rekindled their classic rivalry. This latest outing is all about guiding wind-up Mario toys safely to an exit by drawing platforms and triggering different items. It's what the classic Lemmings would have been if Nintendo had dreamed it up first.
Mini-Land Mayhem adds to the series' established puzzle formula by offering a comprehensive set of level design tools and the ability to share user-created levels with other players online. Loads of playability in this one; a keeper for sure. Rated Everyone (10+)
DS by you!
If you've already got the DS and games figured out, we also highly recommend creating a custom decal for the device at www.MyTegos.com
. The site allows you to upload your own images or photos and have them placed on a form-fitting decal for just about every device known to man, including the original DS, the DS Lite, the DSi and the DSi XL. The custom "skins" are then mailed to you or the recipient of your choice.