Nintendo DS Reviews R

Resident Evil: Deadly Silence
Grade: C-
Publisher: Capcom (2006)
Reviewed: 2006/3/17

screenshotI've always been a rabid fan of the Resident Evil series, and Deadly Silence is basically a portable version of the 1996 Playstation original. While it remains a terrific game after all of these years, there's really no justification for porting it to a portable system like the DS.

Sure, the DS is capable of rendering graphics comparable to the PS1, but a lot of detail is lost on that small screen. The meticulously detailed rooms of the original seem watered down, and you'll be squinting to see small items. Let's face it, a survival horror classic like Resident Evil deserves to be played on a full-sized TV with the lights out.

In addition to the original version, you can also try the new "rebirth mode", which incorporates some touch screen functionality in the form of first-person knife sequences. It's fun to poke and slash creeps with the stylus, and it made me wonder how a light gun game might work on the DS. Another nice feature is the ability to view the house map at all times on the upper screen.

Like the original game, there are plenty of anxious moments that will make you jump, but the default green blood looks cheesy! Deadly Silence also includes multi-player cooperative and competitive modes, but I didn't test them out. I love Resident Evil, but it's hard to recommend this miniature version. At its core, this is a solid game, but not a good fit for the DS. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

Retro Atari Classics
Grade: F
Publisher: Atari (2005)
Reviewed: 2006/2/20
Rating: Everyone (violence)


screenshotLeave it to the "new Atari" to screw up all the classic Atari games we grew up with. This company doesn't even deserve the Atari name! Retro Atari makes an absolute mockery of some of the greatest video games ever conceived. How? Well you can start with the ill-conceived control schemes, ugly graphics, and sloppy programming. You can't even save your high scores, which was the whole point of playing these games!

The stylus proves to be an awkward control mechanism for most of these titles, so you'll want to stick with the control pad (although you don't even have the option with Tempest). Missile Command is spread out over both screens, but it's confusing to "toggle" the cursor between them. Games like Centipede, Asteroids, and Warlords are playable, but they're marginal compared to the original versions. Sprint and Gravitar are practically unplayable due to their touchy controls.

I've played decent versions of Pong, Breakout, and Lunar Lander in my time, but these renditions are just slow and boring as hell. Perhaps the worst travesty is the "remixed graphics" option. Missile Command's new skyline looks fine, but Centipede's day-glow colors and pink hearts (in lieu of mushrooms) will have you reaching for a barf bag. Retro Atari is a total sham that does a great disservice to a lot of legendary games. If you see this one on the shelves, keep walking. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

Retro Game Challenge
Grade: B
Publisher: XSeed (2008)
Reviewed: 2009/4/5
Rating: Everyone

screenshotThis clever homage to 80's video gaming offers an intriguing collection of brand new 2D games that look as if they were pulled straight out of an old NES system! They include a Galaga-like vertical shooter (Cosmic Gate), a platformer (Ninja Robot Haggleman), an overhead racer (Rally King), and a vertical-scrolling shooter (Star Prince). There's even a full-scale RPG! The blocky graphics, limited sound effects, and melodic electronic music have a certain timeless, endearing quality. Even the font used to display the score looks distinctively familiar.

You might expect these games to be junk, but they're thoughtfully constructed and enjoyable to play. Heck, some may have even been legitimate hits back in the day. The games are played on the top screen, and the bottom screen shows two kids sitting in front of a TV, reacting to your performance ("Dude - you just missed it!"). I love how they toss out a lot of old-school trivia and cultural references, from blowing into cartridges to scouring game magazines for secret codes. The tone is dead-on, effectively transporting you back 25 years in time.

Retro Game Challenge has a wonderful premise but its rigid structure takes its toll on the fun. The overarching story of an evil game master is totally unnecessary. You begin with only one game, and subsequent titles only become available one at a time. To unlock a new game you must complete four specific feats, like employing a certain power-up, achieving a certain score, or finishing the game! This regimented style of play eliminates the thrill of discovery, and by the time the game is available in "free play" mode, you're pretty much sick of the thing!

Another "classic" element that's lacking is the challenge. Especially in free play mode, these games are really easy. Back in the day you were lucky to last for three minutes in a good shooter, much less finish the entire game! Retro Gaming Challenge should have ditched the storyline, made all the main games unlocked from the start, and ratcheted up the difficulty. It's a flawed package, but the fact that these new games exude so much old-school charm is worth celebrating. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Ridge Racer DS
Grade: D+
Publisher: Namco (2005)
Reviewed: 2006/1/15
Rating: Everyone


screenshotWith its flashy graphics and simple arcade style, Nintendo probably assumed Ridge Racer would be a safe bet as one of the first DS titles. I've been a huge Ridge Racer fan since it first appeared as the original Playstation "pack-in game" (circa 1995). This DS edition is basically a scaled-down, "best-of" compilation, and it covers a lot of familiar territory.

The game incorporates the tight controls the series is known for, letting you execute precision power slides with a touch of a button. Don't expect much realism though. Crashing into guardrails doesn't slow you down one bit, and the collision detection between cars is erratic at best. To be honest, I much prefer playing Ridge Racer on the big screen.

The roads in this version look angular and the "bleeding" tail light effects look gratuitous. The scenery is not very impressive, and it's sometimes hard to see the road ahead. I also discovered that those tiny DS buttons will hurt your fingers if you have to hold them in for too long.

Yes, you also have the option of steering via the touch screen, but that won't make your life any easier! Ridge Racer DS does offer substantial replay value, with a deep single-player mode along with wireless play for up to six players. Still, I find it very hard to get excited about this. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 6 players 

Rubik's World
Grade: F
Publisher: Game Factory (2008)
Reviewed: 2009/1/7
Rating: Everyone

screenshotThe Wii version of Rubik's World was a mixed bag, but packed enough interesting game variations to justify its existence. This portable version does not have that luxury. After playing all eight variations, would you believe I didn't find a single one appealing? Fit is a really mediocre brainteaser, and Calculate forces you to do math! C'mon now! That will cost you a letter grade every time!

Create and Compose let you tinker around with music and stack cubes, but what's the point? Switch and Roll reminded me of similar puzzle variations from the Wii game, but these scaled down versions are far less intuitive and a lot less fun. The manual describes the Color variation as "confusing", and I think that speaks for itself! That leaves us with the basic "solve the cube" game, but if I wanted to do that (and I really don't), I'd just pick up an actual Rubik's Cube. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


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Screen shots courtesy of IGN.com, Moby Games