I would never hold it against a Wii or Nintendo DSi owner for ignoring either platform’s weekly downloadable offerings. Whereas Xbox Live Arcade and the Playstation Network are hotbeds for inspired game designs and retro chic throwbacks, Nintendo fans often have to sift through cruddy Flash games and endless Shanghai ports to get to the good stuff. But if you’ve listened to our podcast or frequent my blog, then you know that every so often, the stubborn online dinosaur likes to hide a few hidden prizes in its weekly piles. And starting this week, I’m going to be the guy to sift them out.
Expect future roundups to be posted on Monday nights after we record, unless we’re dealing with a surprisingly beefy week. Most game journalists – besides Kotaku, god bless ’em – have also chosen to ignore DSiWare and WiiWare, so I’ll do my best to highlight the best games available. However, I do want to offer a one-time disclaimer. All of these games are purchased out-of-pocket, and I can’t afford to play everything. I tend to buy all of the first-party stuff that isn’t the Animal Crossing pocket protector, but I’ll try to go out on a limb a bit more often for the sake of this column. Also, these may not always be definitive reviews. I just want to let you know if these games are junk or not.
Alright, now that we’ve laid some ground rules, let’s get to the games…
Dark Void Zero
Dark Void Zero is modeled after NES classics like Bionic Commando and Sunsoft’s Batman, right down to the dusty cartridge and blippy soundtrack. Word-of-mouth for the “big boy” edition has been pretty lukewarm,Â but I loved this 8-bit prequel while it lasted…which was about 90 minutes, tops. There are only three stages in this side-scroller, and while all of them have Rondo of Blood style hidden passages and goodies, the game’s anticlimactic conclusion might make it a tough sell. I’d still give it a pass though, as it’s one of the few substantial adventures on the service, and a lot of heart went into the presentation and pixelated art. The jetpack and aiming controls might be tricky, but this game was clearly more than a promotional afterthought.
The tower defense game with a name so generic that neither Tony nor I could remember it on the show. Look past its dull name, however, and you’ll find one of the best values on the DSi Shop. I expect nothing less out of charmer Q-Games, but if pedigree alone isn’t enough to sell you on their latest, maybe 30 stages with varying difficulties and tons of enemies/weapons/abilities will do the trick. I’m a big fan of the interstellar graph paper presentation too. It takes a pretty tired concept and gives it a Galaga-esque sheen, complete with dive-bombing buggies. (The stage selection screen recalls Cuthbert’s SNES Star Fox days, too.) At the very least, this is just as good as say, Ninjatown, and sold at a fraction of the price. According to Tiny Cartridge, there’s at least one more Q-Games DSi title on the slate for the near future. Thank goodness!