A monumental year for console gamers, 2010 brought such brilliant efforts as 'Red Dead Redemption,' 'Mass Effect 2,' 'Alan Wake' and 'God of War 3.' With such an abundance of riches to be had on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, it can be easy to overlook the diminutive Nintendo DS. This would be a huge mistake; 2010 ushered in a plethora of games for the system that rivaled many console blockbusters. With the 3DS
due out next year, 2010 may prove to be the DS's swan song. While the year may not have been exactly explosive, it still had enough hits to help the system go out with a bang. For those who've cast aside their DS, or have missed out on some incredible gems, here is our list of the top ten DS games of 2010.
'Dragon Quest IX'
This year brought us new entries in two of Japan's most venerable RPG franchises: 'Dragon Quest
' and 'Final Fantasy' The latter traded cutting-edge graphics for an ultra-linear experience more akin to an awful CG anime. The former was an insanely deep, addictive and open-ended game that truly made you feel like you were the star of your own epic story, rather than just watching someone else's play out. With immense customization options, ranging from race to skill, 'Dragon Quest' is our pick as the defining JRPG of 2010 -- and one of portable gaming's most immersive experiences to date.
'999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors'
The DS has become this generation's home for a new breed of adventure games. While the venerable 'Professor Layton
' and 'Ace Attorney' series both saw delightful new entries this year, 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors
proved itself as perhaps the best, living up to its lengthy title. The game features a gripping storyline – wherein nine strangers wake up on a sinking ship and are given nine hours to escape – and it ensnares the player with a series of brain-bending room escape puzzles. It's the perfect combination of story and adventure puzzles -- genres the DS excels with -- and of which we just can't get enough.
'Professor Layton and the Unwound Future' / 'Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth'
The 'Professor Layton
' and 'Ace Attorney
' series have become staples in our DS diet. Every entry in both series is not only enjoyable, but also the type of gaming we just don't get on consoles anymore. Professor Layton specializes in puzzles wrapped in adventures that take place in beautifully realized settings, which evoke the work of Hayao Miyazaki. The Ace Attorney series is the spiritual successor to the PC point 'n' click adventure games of yore, featuring a lovable and litigious cast of characters trying to solve ever-more complex (and oftentimes) hilarious crimes. We love both to death, and this year's entries are no different. The only thing we'd enjoy more would be a team comprised of Ace Attorney star Phoenix Wright and the Professor himself. Oh, it's already happening
? Well, consider our pick for 3DS game of 2011 already decided.
'Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey' / 'Infinite Space'
The DS has truly shined as a platform for genres that have faded from consoles, and JRPGs in particular have skipped TV-based systems for the DS -- to the delight of fans who grew up in the genre's 16- and 32-bit heyday. Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey
and Infinite Space
are perfect examples of the types of games that would not only be impossible to make on today's consoles, but also would never have been brought to the United States in years past. Both are immensely deep, complex and rewarding manga-inspired RPGs that aren't for the casually inclined. Yet they titillate the sci-fi enthusiast and space-enamored Japanese teen in all of us.
transposes Nintendo's absorbing, logic-based puzzle game into the third dimension with startlingly addictive results. A bit like a three-dimensional 'Minesweeper,' the goal is to use logic to whittle away a clump of cubes, and reveal a three-dimensional sculpture hidden within. It may seem complex, but 'Picross 3D' is the sort of game you just can't help but pick up and play while you should be doing other, more important things.
'Alice in Wonderland'
Alice in Wonderland
combines elements of puzzling and platforming in such a perfectly sublime way that it almost
made us forget the abomination
of a Tim Burton flick that inspired it. Its wonderful aesthetic looks as if a child's drawing has come to life, which feels perfectly suited to the source material. By using Wonderland's fabulous denizens, from the Mad Hatter to the Cheshire Cat, players circumvent each level's platforming-based obstacles. Alice in Wonderland has proven to be a licensed game that not only bests the film it's based upon, but also stands on its own as a charming adventure perfectly suited to the DS.
'Dark Void Zero'
While this DSiWare release may be based on a bland, uninspired console shooter, don't judge too quickly. Dark Void Zero
is a retro-themed platformer that does nostalgia right with pixel-perfect 8-bit graphics, a fantastic chiptune soundtrack and even a hilarious in-game manual, recreating a faux-retro classic. A love of old-school gaming shines in every aspect of Dark Void Zero, and, considering its measly $5 price, there's no reason any DSi owner shouldn't be enjoying this blast from the (not so distant) past.
Sonic fans have been waiting a long, long
time for their favorite spiny mascot to return to his former glory. It's been a while since Sonic starred in anything remotely resembling a solid game, and many thought that the episodic 'Sonic 4' would be the one to break Sonic out of his racing rut. Surprise!
While 'Sonic 4' was an unabashed disappointment, 'Colors' for DS turned out to be the Sonic game we've all been wanting. Sonic Colors
is full of the classic breakneck 2-D platforming we love best from the series, as well as some gameplay additions, like color-related power-ups and amusement park levels that build on the core experience.