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Veteran Member - Level 11
I love writing blogs. I know I haven't been all that regular about posting recently, but you must believe me on this one. The problem I've been having lately is that in order to write blogs, I need two hands for typing and enough un-used brain memory to form coherent thoughts, sentences and points.
All the feels. All the time.
Sadly, after the birth of my second daughter, things have been quite chaotic (understatement of the year). I've been basically just trying to survive the day-to-day grind, the opposite work schedules with my husband (because daycare is so expensive that it would eat up one of our entire incomes and it's hard to find a dependable one), the inconsistant sleep (and BTW anyone who tells you that sleep deprivation is not torture had never been sleep deprived), and a host of other things (holidays, my oldest daughter's 4th birthday, and the every-day chores to keep my living quarters clean and clutter-free so that I don't get the film crew from "Hoarders" knocking on my door, you know, the usual), which basically have kept all the things IN MY BRAIN and it's built up this weird pressure in my head and I just can't hold it in anymore or I'm going to explode.
So I'm writing (you're welcome, brain!).
I like to think of the writing part of my brain like a balloon that is full of stories. It can only hold so much before it has to release some of those words and express itself or else it gets bloated and painful and I get grumpy and short with people. I can let off small amounts of pressure by writing little snippets of ideas here and there in sentence/pitch format, but it's really not enough to truly feel relieved. Sadly, I've been like this for awhile, and that hasn't really helped my mood when I do get a bit of time to myself.
In other news, I've been playing Fire Emblem: Awakening like crazy (ie: in the two minute intervals that I randomly find myself alone and not forced to do chores or interact with another person) and have been loving every minute of it. In fact, I must admit that I'm guilty of putting off the endgame fight with Grima the dragon and am playing tons of levels over and over again just to get all the relationship support dialogue sections and play the extra maps (and, while I'm at it, don't forget the Hubba Tester for added lols- See HERE if you want to access it in the bonus features. Just don't say I didn't warn you.).
Sometimes bigger *is* better...
I have also somehow convinced my husband that getting a 3DS is a great idea. He has always been a console guy, and having children has definitely altered his ability to play games on the console because children are like ninjas who freak out when they sneak up behind Daddy while he's playing some gory FPS game because he thinks they're napping. He started out playing the Epic Mickey game and is now playing Pokemon Black. We're both pretty excited for Pokemon X/Y, and have preordered a copy of each game so we can play together when they are released this Fall (and yes, I'm hoping to get my Pokemonth blog event back up and running just for the occasion). My husband decided to go with the red 3DSXL (you know dudes, always getting the XL stuff, you know, for his comfort....XD), and he's actually really happy with it and has used it quite a lot more than his old DS Lite (which found a new home and is now being played quite a lot by its new owner). It apparently fits into his hands and doesn't lead to as much fatigue on his part anymore. Which is good, considering that handhelds have notoriously cramped up his hands because of their size (I've never had problems, but then again, I've got little petite lady fingers, so I'm kinda lucky that way).
She's got pretty huge.....headphones.....
It's also summer time, which means that it's hot so you get to see all sorts of things that you generally don't get to see during the winter months. I'm referring to the popsicle, here, of course. Here in coastal California, it doesn't get obscenely warm, but there are very few places outfitted with air conditioning, so when it gets warm, you either get a fan, or you eat something cold, and popsicles are a good go-to cold food, as are shaved ice and sorbet (mmmm, raspberry sorbet......).
So, while the baby sleeps (for now, at least), I'm going to write a little bit about the new Game Informer article on the Top 25 DS Games.
Now, don't get me wrong. Many of the games listed there were pretty good. But there are a slew of games that should have made the cut, especially since a good number of them used the touch screen in an innovative way. So without further ado, games that they missed on their top 25 DS games:
Planet Puzzle League
Most people seem to forget Planet Puzzle League, but it is one of the most addictive puzzle games on the DS, and it was created specifically to work with the touch screen system. Loosely based off of the "Pokemon Puzzle League" game (but without the Pokemon theme), Planet Puzzle League allowed people to use limited internet connectivity allowed by the DS system to play with people nearby and around the world. I remember spending days and days with the addictive and deceptively easy gameplay only to find myself stumped and running out of time.
Hands down, Pokemon Trozei is my very favorite Pokemon game for DS. Why is this? Because it's the first Pokemon game that is both a puzzle game and really designed for the touch screen to be the central part of gameplay. Say what you want about Pokemon's advances- they still have the same menu in the touch screen that you could get to on your top screen in the previous generation. While I'm very much looking forward to the changes in Pokemon X/Y, Pokemon has stuck to a very same-y formula for a long time (not that this is a horrible thing) and Trozei is a refreshing change with a nice stylistic redesign of the characters.
WarioWare has a lot of issues, and its minigames can get annoying after you've played them all multiple times, but this doesn't change the fact that Wario Ware Touched uses the touchscreen pretty much 100% of the time, and does a great job of integrating touch screen technology into the gameplay experience.
You might not think that Disgaea counts as a DS game because it's originally a PlayStation game, but you'd be wrong. Disgaea DS was redesigned for the DS with a touch-screen interface for moving units, the ability to play as Plenair (which is not available on any other system), and the bottom screen Prinny Commentaries (which add an entirely new level to the game's hilarity) make this a solid and awesome SRPG that you should not pass by.
Another SRPG that brings the Pokemon franchise into new territory, Pokemon Conquest is just Japanese enough to make you curious and just hardcore enough to make you sweat on some of the later levels. While simple gameplay might make you think that this game is easy, you'll have to match your wits (and your stats) to carry your Pokemon/warriors to victory. I actually kind of like the idea that each warrior only has one special Pokemon that she/he is tied to emotionally and the bond between the two must be strengthened for them both to be able to maximize their potential. It seems functionally different than the traditional "collect Pokemons like the consumer you are" message, and I really like that a lot.
Trace Memory took the point-and-click adventure and revolutionized it for the touch screen. The game was fun, challenging, but didn't turn every five seconds into a puzzle (grr, Professor Layton, I'm looking at youuuu), so it helped keep the narrative cohesive and well connected. There are also multiple endings, so even if you solve the mystery of Blood Edward Island, there are still more than one ways it can end.
Luminous Arc (1&2)
Luminous Arc is the game that introduced me to SRPGs. It's straight forward, gives you a lot of choice and customization options, and best of all, the music and story are quite enjoyable in addition to all the fighting.
Summon Night: Twin Age
There are very few brawler games for the DS, which doesn't make sense, since the touchscreen makes brawlers with equippable items seem like a no-brainer. Similar to the Phantom Hourglass, Summon Night (which is a popular series with multiple games in Japan) allows you to take control of a magic user or a sword user and brawl through dungeons collecting items, fighting monsters and helping to save the world. You also get "conversation" options at the ends of each chapter, so you can choose various characters to grow closer to as well.
Etrian Odyssey (1-3)
Etrian Odyssey at first glance looks like your standard old fashioned RPG. However, it is actually quite revolutionary. While you only get to see your party in various screens and the enemies are static on the screen, the environment you walk through is three dimensional and from a first-person point of view (which is unusual for RPGs). But the part that really sets Etrian Odyssey outside of the norm is the revolutionary Map Making options that use the touch screen as a grid-map of each floor. The game saves each map you make (notes and all), so your adventure is as varied as your maps. In later verions of the game, you even take to the sea and must battle monsters and build sea maps for quests.
These games are designed to give you a lot of bang for your buck and the art is lush and gorgeous as well. You won't be disappointed if you slip on your headphones for the music, either.
Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
Spirit Tracks got a lot of flack because a good chunk of the game's exploration was tied to the rail lines. But there were lots of things about this game that I enjoyed even more than Phantom Hourglass. Zelda's involvement in the game was one of my favorite parts, especially when you could possess armor and solve puzzles/fight together. There's just something amazingly awesome about that mechanic. And even if you do know that rail lines are fixed, there are quite a few different types of areas to ride around on, and let's not forget the suspense I always feel when those scary trains are chasing me on the same line!
Digimon Dawn & Dusk
If you were to ask me what Pokemon should take its cues from, I'd say Digimon World Dawn/Dusk. This game utilized both screens on a regular basis, using one screen for the adventure, and the other screen for watching your various farms. The fact that Digimon can talk and have personalities is also interesting to me, and I loved the battle system because it allows you to fight multiple characters against multiple enemies at the same time- a feature that is sorely lacking in Pokemon battles.
Ostensibly, you'll probably notice that most of my picks have a strategic or story element to them. And to be fair, there are plenty of puzzle games I didn't even mention that are also worthy mentions. But to be fair, I think that it's a good idea as a gamer to play to your strengths. I'm not a fan of Grand Theft Auto and have never been able to get into the Castlevania or Contra series (even though I do have Game Boy versions of these games). If you're like me and you enjoy the games I described above, you'll probably be interested in picking up one or more of these games.
However, I understand that there is no objectively "best" top 25 DS games- everyone will have a different opinion, after all.
This is my almost-leveled-up-to-8-months daughter Lyra. She's smiling like that because she's standing up by herself and she's got my Game Informer magazine and she's not sharing... XD
So anyway, with that, it appears that the baby is stirring, so I need to beat a quick retreat for the night.
But before I go, a few questions:
What do you think is, hands down, the best DS game on the system that everyone should own if they have a DS (or 3DS- as the 3DS plays DS games)?
What handheld game are you most looking forward to playing?
And finally, do you think there is value in previous generations of games (I know this is a big one, seeing as there are some big changes coming from the consoles) and keeping those systems/games to play?
It's been great to finally blog again, and I am glad that I got this opportunity to do so. I'll be floating around, so don't hesitate to drop me a line if you have any questions, game suggestions or interesting tips!
Until next time!
PS: I just found out that they released Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages for download on the 3DS for $4.99 each!
PPS: I totally downloaded them.
PPPS: OH SQUEE, THEY HAVE A 3D TRAILER FOR THE NEW LINK TO THE PAST GAME.
PPPPS: Can you tell I like Legend of Zelda games?
PPPPPS: OK, I promise, I'm done now.