Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Connoisseur's #1 Nintendo DS Game of All Time

The World Ends With You


The DS is loaded with great games, but there was no doubt which one would land at #1 for me. TWEWY was everything a DS game should be, and is easily one of the best JRPGs of this generation. The story was compelling, and far from the "typical" JRPG that makes us cringe. There is always a tension as the story progresses, and it's easy to empathize with the characters as they fight their way through the streets of Tokyo attempting to complete their goal. There are plenty of plot twists and a shocking ending that you don't want to miss. The game is also oozing with style, with its incredible soundtrack full of catchy tunes, and an interesting level-up system.


But the most remarkable thing is the game's combat system. You utilize both screens at the same time, using the control pad to fight on the top screen while slashing and dashing your enemies on the bottom screen. Once you get the hang of it, the combat becomes immensely addicting. This results in some incredible boss battles as well. And it only gets better as you gain more powerful and intricate attacks. TWEWY is the complete package that all DS gamers should own.

Up next for The Connoisseur: A few more roasts of popular games, and then a top 10 PSP list!

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Connoisseur's Top 10 DS Games of All Time: 4-2

4. New Super Mario Bros DS

 Screw that, let's go the other way.

Well, to put it simply, this game has everything you'd want out of a 2D Mario platformer on the DS. But you already know that because it's Super Mario. So, for those of you who haven't tried it, all you need to know is that this is one of the DS's best games and that you're missing out. Why isn't it higher on the list? Well, some of the levels are less lengthy than they should be, and I found it a bit easier as compared to some of the other entries in the franchise. But that's about it. You should play this game.

3. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow

 Some of the bosses might make you rage.

This was the first of the great DS games that I played. I still regard it as one of the best. This is an excellent Castlevania, on even ground with Symphony of the Night, Circle of the Moon, Aria of Sorrow, and any of the rest. It's a good challenge, has excellent and varied boss battles, great combat and platforming, and much more. I sunk many an hour into this gem. However, I do admit that I haven't played Order of Ecclesia, which I've heard great things about, so perhaps the rankings could change in the future. I didn't try it because I was disappointed in Portrait of Ruin. Anyway, make sure to play Dawn of Sorrow if you haven't already.

2. Advance Wars: Dual Strike

 Jake is all like 'yo yo yo yo yo dawg'

The last two were incredibly difficult to place, but Dual Strike will have to settle for second. It's easily one of the best TBS games I've ever played. My problem with other TBS in the past has always been that they're too slow-paced, especially compared to RTS games. Advance Wars... not so much. The missions move briskly, with great-looking action and loads of strategy involved, whether it be in-battle tactics or choosing the best commanders for the job pre-fight. The only issue is that a veteran of these sorts of games might find the bast majority of the battles too easy. But it's a small issue next to just how incedibly fun this game is. There are plenty of missions to play, along with secret missions, a real-time combat mode in which you control one unit at a time, you vs the AI head-to-head matches with the option of multiple commanders on each team, a survival mode, and much more. There's also a mini achievement system, unlockables that can be purchased with money earned, and even plenty of customization (including map-making). Dual Strike is a game loaded with things to do, meaning there's a huge amount of replayability on top of the superb campaign, and easily deserves its spot so high on my list.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Connoisseur's Top 10 DS Games of All Time: 6-5

6. Professor Layton and the Curious Village

 I've always had the feeling that Layton's a pedophile.

This is one of those gems that few people even know about and most just skip over at the store if they even notice in the first place. But man, is it a surprisingly good game. I love puzzle games, though my experiences with series like Brain Age weren't anything to write home about. Professor Layton puts those games to shame. You get a blend of old and new puzzles that are creative, innovative, and highly entertaining. Some are easy, some are very difficult. And through it all, we get a nice little mystery plot that makes us want to continue. There are plenty of extra puzzles to do, and we can come back to them all we want. The touch-screen controls are flawless, and there's a surprising amount of content. A puzzle gamer's dream.

5. Mario Kart DS

No surprise here. Mario Kart DS has been a fan favorite since the beginning of the DS's lifespan, and it deserves all its praise. Once again, there are plenty of tracks and races to complete playing by yourself, and that alone is loads of fun. Then you add arguably the best competitive multiplayer experience on any handheld, with endless hours of intense racing, and you've got the recipe for a top 5 all-time DS game. Throw in some good customization, and MKDS's place is my rankings is completely solidified. The only thing keeping this game from ranking higher is "snaking" online, which is highly annoying until you learn how to master it yourself. Still feels cheap regardless. A phenomenal game though, no matter how you look at it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Connoisseur's Top 10 DS Games of All Time: 8-7

8. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

Zelda has become a total bitch.

While it was Phantom Hourglass that really showed that touch-screen controls could work with Zelda, Spirit Tracks was simply the superior game. There were a couple of problems, like the method of transportation being tedious and resulting in linearity, and Zelda being transformed into a hussy Hannah Montana figure, but overall the game was solid. Not nearly up to my expectations for this franchise, but for a handheld game, it gets the job done. The music was great, excellent controls and good puzzles, and the bosses were moderately challenging (a step up from previous games for sure). It had its moments, and wasn't a complete blur like its predecessor. This won't, however, keep it from joining my hate list in the future.

7. Metroid Prime: Hunters

 You use the stylus on the bottom screen to aim your gun (like k/m controls, but shittier).

One of the first games I owned on the DS, and still one of my favorites. It's true that the campaign was underwhelming compared to others in the Metroid Prime series, but it was still lengthy and had some good fights. If you wanted more action in a Metroid Prime game, then Hunters delivered very well in this regard, feeling much more like a true FPS than the others. It also boasts some of the best visuals on the system, from both a technical and artistic viewpoint. Some of the maps, both single and multi player, were outstanding, and the competitive multiplayer was exhilarating. In that regard, MPH might not only be the best DS game ever made, but the best handheld game period. With rankings, stats, the ability to add people you've played, and excellent touch-screen controls resulting in innovative competitive gaming, Hunters is still a wonderful game that all DS owners need to play.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Connoisseur's Top 10 DS Games of all Time: 10-9

10. Final Fantasy III

Awe-inspiring 3D visuals.

FFIII narrowly beats out its famed brother IV for a spot in my top 10. The main reason being that I was already so familiar with IV (previously known as II on the SNES), whereas III was a fresh experience for me. And it was certainly a good experience as well. FFIII is the kind of hardcore game that I like, forcing you to keep up with your levels and job types unless you wanted to get pulverized. A decent story and awesome boss battles made this a surprisingly good game for me, and even though it was difficult, the challenge felt highly rewarding by the end.

9. Pokémon Diamond/Peal/Platinum


Unfortunately, it's very possible that this will be the last Pokémon game to appear on one of my lists. The formula is getting jaded, but at this point in time, I still loved these adventures. And the fourth generation of this franchise, while not as awe-inspiring as previous iterations to me, delivered everything I could've hoped for. Dozens upon dozens of hours of gameplay, many new Pokémon to catch, and entertaining Gym Leader battles. On top of that, some online gameplay was added, meaning even more replay value. And of course, hours of chasing those legendaries.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Connoisseur's Top 10 Nintendo DS Games of All Time

 After close to two dozen posts in which I bash games, I think it's about time for me to give some love.  Because despite how much I hate the direction gaming has gone in recent years, with developers aiming to please the teeming masses with easier, watered-down games instead of actually trying to create genuine masterpieces, I still fully realize that there are many superb developers who have released games that cater to the hardcore such as myself.  Therefore, I will soon begin listing my top 10 Nintendo DS games of all time.  Nintendo was the first company to bring us into the handheld "next generation" with the Nintendo 3DS, so now is a great time for me to look back and decide which games any handheld gamer shouldn't miss out on.  I will, soon after, follow with a top ten PSP list.

For now, I'm simply going to list the finalists and begin the actual list with my next post.  A few quick notes about my list (and all subsequent lists) first though.  I'm not going to add games that I haven't played.  It's impossible to judge such a game.  This goes for games that I hate on as well.  If it's on my blog, then I have had considerable time with it.  So my top ten lists only consist of games that I have actually played, and played enough so that I can accurately assess them.  If you don't see a game on my list that you think deserves to be there, then I've either: a. Not played it. -or- b. think it's overrated or not quite worthy of a spot on the list.  If you have suggestions for games that you think should be on here, then post them.  Ports will always be excluded.  I'll copy and paste this before every top 10 list.

All right, so here are the finalists.  There are still quite a few DS games that I want to play (Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, Radiant Historia, Picross, Elite Beat Agents, etc), but for now, these will have to do.

Advance Wars: Dual Strike - Advance Wars is as good as TBS gets.  Dual Strike is loaded with content and a blast from beginning to end.

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow - Quite possibly the best Castlevania since Symphony of the Night. Excellent design and boss battles result in a wonderful follow-up to the GBA's Aria of Sorrow.

Final Fantasy III - A new Final Fantasy for American gamers (and a from-the-ground-up remake), and a pretty good one at that.  A great class system combines with a fun soundtrack and excellent boss battles to make yet another stellar old-school Final Fantasy.  On top of that, it goes back to the olden days of hardcore gaming, with chains of boss battles and huge dungeons that you have to start over if you lose.  Be ready to have your patience tested.

Final Fantasy IV - Another remade Final Fantasy, though this one is more familiar to SNES owners.  Despite having been criticized on my blog in the past (with good reason), it's still a great game.  A tougher (but more balanced) difficulty helps solve one of my longtime problems.

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks - While it's terrible for a Zelda game, it does a lot of good with the DS controls and is still one of the better DS games to be released, and definitely an improvement over Phantom Hourglass (though that might not save it from a spot on this blog later).  Its bosses are also significantly tougher than those in Phantom Hourglass (though not hard), another clear point in its favor.

Mario Kart DS - Mario Kart fans will have a hard time putting this one down, with great single-player, local multiplayer, and online multiplayer racing.  Lots of customization and thrilling online races meant this was the best Mario Kart to date at the time of its release.

Metroid Prime: Hunters - While the single-player is drawn-out and boring, the multiplayer, both local and online, is fantastic for a handheld game.  Nintendo misses more often than not when it comes to online, but this time they hit a bulls-eye.

New Super Mario Bros DS - No surprise here.  Another great, though relatively easier, Mario experience.

Okamiden - It takes a long time to pick up steam, but the ending quarter of the game is a poignant reminder of its lauded predecessor.

Pokemon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum - The Pokemon series needs freshening, but the first series of games to hit the DS are sitll very fun.

Pokemon HeartGold/HeartSilver - These remakes of arguably the greatest Pokemon games in the series took me back to the past on a nostalgic adventure.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village - This puzzle game is one of the generations best.  A wonderful interface and addicting puzzles will make it very difficult for you to put it down once you've began.

The World Ends With You - Unarguably one of the best JRPGs of this generation.  The combat is unique, fun, and takes quick reflexes.  The story is an interesting twist on Battle Royale and will have you on the edge of your seat from the beginning.  Even if you're not a handheld fan, this is a game that shouldn't be missed.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Crysis 2

You spelled "Crisis" wrong. Dumbass. 

Since I’ve already mentioned this game when it was selected as my most overrated game of 2011, I’ll cut straight to the chase.  One of the greatest things about the original Crysis was its drop-dead-gorgeous visuals.  There’s no way around it.  It’s an awesome game otherwise, but it wouldn’t have been the same without those stunning graphics.  So why the hell didn’t Crysis 2 look as good as its predecessor upon release??  C’mon, Crytek had to send out a DirectX 11 patch months after release because they were too worried about profits instead of giving us a completed game.  Granted, it looks wonderful now, but I’m too bored of the damned game for that to make a difference now.  And, screw it, the original still looks better.  And that’s pretty pathetic considering how relatively narrow the levels are in Crysis 2.
 The only thing more pathetic than the aliens are your friendly NPCs.

With that last point in mind, allow me to sum up the weakest aspect of this game.  That is, instead of continuing the trend of the original Crysis with large open-ended maps, Crytek decided to make yet another Call of Duty clone with hours of underwhelming corridor shooting.  Even when you’re fighting outside, the battlefield is noticeably smaller than in the original Crysis, and it rarely gives you more than one path to take.  The powers of your nanosuit have also been cut down to make it simple for console controllers (no surprise, PC games that are “consolized” are virtually always scaled back considerably in more ways than graphics).  There is no more “maximum strength” and “maximum speed” is now utilized through the sprint button.  Perks have been added, and if you choose to upgrade your suit with the best stealth options, even the hardest difficulty becomes a complete joke as you won’t have to fight 90% of the enemies, and most of the rest can be dispatched with a back-attack.  Shouldn’t a difficulty setting called “Supersoldier” be a… challenge?

I’m going to go ahead and wrap this up by saying: what the FUCK did they do to everything laid down by the first Crysis?  These aliens don’t resemble the ones from before in the slightest.  They look like aliens from any other Sci-Fi FPS, and aren’t nearly as intimidating as the ones that would fly around and wreak havoc from above.  And the story… what the hell happened?  I mean, yeah, the plot in the original was terrible anyway, but this one doesn’t even seem to be related.  A character from the original is back and… uh… yeah.  That’s it.  And don’t ask me what the story was actually about because I wasn’t even sure right after beating it on Supersoldier.  Oh, but the multiplayer is marginally better than it was in the original, so there’s the game’s positive aspect.
The aliens spread some kind of virus thing and you've gotta do something to stop all the I don't know.

But seriously, just stick with the original and don’t even bother with this crap (don’t even click on the links below).