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Roleplaying Games for Handhelds - Nintendo DS
Mike 'txa1265' Anderson, 2005-12-20

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Many gamers were very skeptical of Nintendo's Dual Screen system when it was released - was it just a gimmick, and what kind of games would be released for the handheld? A year later we have seen some truly excellent games released ... but not a lot on the Role Playing Game front.

In this article I will go through the few titles that have been released for the system. I'll indicate either my review score or the average review score and discuss a little bit about the game. I'll also include some non-RPG games that are often called RPG's and a few upcoming releases.

RPG's for the Nintendo DS

Lunar: Dragon Song (My Score 3/5, Rated E-10) Lunar Dragon Song has a number of interesting elements as well as a lengthy main quest. It is a good game hampered by flaws and a feeling of being padded for length. The game feels and plays like a Game Boy Advance title stretched for height and with minor adjustments for the touch screen. Despite the positives, it just doesn't live up to the standards of games for Nintendo's previous handheld systems. Read my full review at GamerDad.

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Lost In Blue (My Score 3.5/5, Rated E-10) Lost in Blue is really more of a survival adventure than a true RPG. It is an excellent game held back by some glaring flaws and a fundamental bias against the player. These prevent you from enjoying all the good things to be found around the island. It's good, but not great. The biggest problem with the game is just how much you need to do to survive. The thought that eating a bunch of mushrooms and half-dozen coconuts and drinking their milk would leave you near death four hours later is ludicrous, yet that is the constant challenge of the game. Read my full review at GamerDad.

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Mario & Luigi Partners in Time (Avg 87, Rated E) In the sequel to Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga, Mario and Luigi have to go back in time and pair up with themselves as babies. It's not a pure action game, it's not really an RPG...and it's not even an action-RPG. It's a successful blend of all these elements, with an even crazier story, funnier dialogue, more elaborate puzzles, and more action-based fights than the original game.

Other Games Called RPG

Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow (My Score 5/5, Rated T) While not an RPG, Castlevania is an excellent game in every respect. While it could be argued that the gameplay has not evolved enough from Aria of Sorrow or that the 2-dimensional, side-scrolling type of game has lived out its time, the bottom line is that Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow is extremely fun and engaging from the time you power on your system until you are finished. It looks and feels thoroughly modern, and provides a depth and excitement of gameplay that will keep you focused and immersed throughout. It is a reminder that handheld games need not make excuses. Castlevania isn't great ‘for a handheld game', it is a truly great game that just happens to run on a handheld system. Read my full review at GamerDad.

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Animal Crossing: Wild World (Average 88, Rated E) Again, this is not really an RPG, but more of a 'life simulation'. It is just as crazy-addictive as ever, and with wireless multiplayer and good use of the touchscreen, it promises to keep players going for years.

Upcoming RPG Games - There are a wide variety of RPG's planned for the DS in 2006, including two Final Fantasy games, two Xenosaga games, and a Children of Mana game among others. Looking at screens from Final Fantasy III shows how the game series is transitioning to 3D as it moves from GBA to DS.

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The Nintendo DS has emerged this year as the dominant handheld system, counter to the predictions of many. There are several groundbreaking and innovative games for the system - some of the best games of the year are on the platform. But none of that has anything to do with RPG's. The few RPG's released this year are either mediocre or not strictly RPG's ... but either way there isn't much available right now to make the DS attractive to the RPG player. We can only hope the 2006 releases are better than the offerings to date. However, we can always take heart in the ability to play the excellent GBA library on the DS ... which makes it a solid choice for a purchase even if just to play the GBA games.

Thanks to Mike 'txa1265' Anderson from GamerDad for this article!

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