The DS has popularized the brain game genre with new titles like 'Brain Age' and the 'Professor Layton' series, as well as with classics like 'Tetris DS' and ports such as 'Puzzle Quest.' Regardless of their particulars, all of them provide ways of taxing the mind in an entertaining fashion. The genre is one that also appeals to a multi-generational audience, from the young to the old. There are lackluster titles like 'Brain Voyage' and 'Napoleon Dynamite: The Game' (yep) that should be avoided, unless you're looking for a headache.
If you like: 'Tetris' and 'Brain Age,' you'll also like:
is a truly innovative puzzler that tests both your imagination and ingenuity. Players can summon tens of thousands of objects, from Cthulhu to Abraham Lincoln, in order to solve a series of side-scrolling challenges. Scribblenauts is a game that's just as much fun to mess around with as it is to play properly. (Being able to pit a ninja against a zombie is never a bad thing.)
Air Traffic Chaos
Without a satisfyingly addictive undercurrent, even the most innovative games are no fun to play. Thankfully, 'Air Traffic Chaos'
has both devilishly challenging game-play and a unique setting, sucking you into the high stress world of air traffic controllers (yes, really). Thankfully, the game's cute, anime-inspired presentation makes the demanding job of managing take-offs and landings, domestic and international flights, and even the weather fun and worthwhile.
The adventure gaming genre used to rule the world of PC gaming with its combination of puzzle elements and in-depth storytelling. While some say it's died a slow death over the years, the genre has experienced an incredible renaissance on the DS. Games like 'Hotel Dusk' and Capcom's 'Phoenix Wright' series have made the DS the place to go for adventure fans of old, and have also turned a whole new generation on to the genre's charms. While some publishers have attempted to jump on the bandwagon with poorly localized Japanese titles like 'Lux-Pain' or dreadful ports like 'Myst,' the DS has plenty of options for those in search of good storytelling and clever puzzles.
If you like: 'Day of The Tentacle,' 'The Monkey Island' series and 'King's Quest,' you'll also like:
Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars Director's Cut
'Broken Sword Director's Cut'
is a fantastic port of the globe-trotting PC adventure classic. The game is flush with clever puzzles that, thanks to an in-game hint system, never bring the story to a halt. That is a good thing, as players will inevitably be drawn into its thrilling narrative and cast of characters, all brought to life by illustrator Dave Gibbons (of 'Watchmen' fame).
Flower, Sun and Rain
'Flower, Sun and Rain'
is an eccentric game, putting players in the role of Sumio Mondo as he attempts to solve ever-deepening mysteries on an island populated by cast of bizarre characters. Of course, Sumio keeps reliving the same day over and over again, 'Groundhog's Day' style. While technical and presentation problems hamper game play, the surrealist storyline is well worth checking out.
Surprisingly, the DS does the racing genre justice, as anyone who's played marathon sessions of 'Mario Kart DS' can attest. While the choices are a bit more limited than those in other genres, there is still some good fast-paced racing action to be found.
If you like: 'Mario Kart,' 'Ridge Racer,' and the 'Burnout' series, you'll also like:
provides great arcade racing with a dash of more realistic elements. Cars accrue damage and react accordingly as you race, making players think a little more carefully about Tokyo Drifting all over a course. Add some great hand-held graphics and a competitive multiplayer mode, and you have the best racer on the DS (at least of those not involving karts).
Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing
should be the choice for those who've worn out the treads on 'Mario Kart,' but are still looking for a cartoony-action racer with great game-play. While the Sega characters lack some of the appeal of Mario's cast (Ulala from 'Space Channel 5' doesn't really hold a candle to Donkey Kong), the game's tight controls and great courses make it a blast to play.
provides fun arcade style racing on the DS, and, while the game sadly lacks serious multiplayer functionality, its true appeal lies in its robust course editor. There's nothing quite as satisfying as setting up a complex series of corkscrews, loops and insane jumps, and then taking a spin through your devious creation, praying that you can keep your kart from flying off the edge of the track.