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Joystiq presents

2007: the year of the DS (again)

2006 was a banner year for gamers, particularly DS gamers. We've got it all: a rainbow of system colors, an incredible library of games, and powerful studios clamoring for a piece of the action. Our favorite handheld consistently rocked out, thundering over the competition -- all the competition -- for the entire year. The DS avalanche of awesome can't possibly continue at this rate ... and yet, when we look at the forthcoming year and the incredible parade of titles set for the year, it seems that the DS will, in fact, continue to dominate global gaming.

And we're totally okay with that. Just so you know.

If you're still scrambling to finish some of the titles from the latter half of 2006, play harder -- no matter who you are or what you like, you're sure to find at least ten games this year that are must-haves, and that's just among the games we know about right now. What's worse (or is that way, way better?) is that most of them are slated for the next few months. So run through Portrait of Ruin and put aside the hard rockin' Elite Beat Agents (your fingers will thank you for the break), and check after the jump for a few of the games that will drain your free time in 2007.

Phoenix Wright: Justice for All

If you didn't already import the Japanese version of everyone's favorite attorney, then this month provides what will certainly be one of the most talked about games of the year. The import reviews have already promised a stellar send-up and we can't wait to get the cross-examination going.

Look for more zany characters in the second installment of the growing franchise, and though the caseload may be lighter, we hear each one is far more in depth. This is a great way to kick off a new year of gaming.

Hotel Dusk: Room 215

And speaking of adventure games, Hotel Dusk may not be getting as much attention as some other titles, but that doesn't mean it isn't worthy. Hotel Dusk, the spiritual successor to Trace Memory, is the story of Kyle Hyde, a cop-turned-salesman, whose search for a friend takes him to the mysterious hotel that serves as the center of the story. Details on the retro action -- the story takes place in the twilight of 1979 -- are as sketchy as the art style, but from the haunting trailers to the snippets we've seen, this one looks every inch a winner.

Wario: Master of Disguise

Action platformers have been a little touch and go on the DS, with even some of the most popular series, like Kirby, receiving mixed reviews for their handheld offerings. Wario, however, seems about to slink into the spotlight with a solid game that will prove why anything with Mario's darker shadow is worth playing until you can't play any more. If nothing else, the bizarre mix of puzzles, minigames, and action -- which incorporate both the controls and the touch screen -- will provide enough variety to please almost any gamer, and Wario himself will be his good ol' devilish anti-hero self. Wario: Master of Disguise is likely to end up one of the most fun and most well crafted games we'll see this year.

Pokemon Diamond & Pearl

There's really only two words we have to offer up here: five million. Pokemon Diamond and Pokemon Pearl have already sold more than five million copies, and that in less than three months. Pokemon is going to own April like April's never been owned before, and the WiFi battles may bring in a legion of all new Pokemasters. For those who've just gotta catch 'em all, the two titles offer up more than one hundred new monsters, and there were several other small changes when the franchise moved to the DS. Anyone care to start laying bets on how many copies of Diamond and Pearl will sell worldwide by the end of 2007? We're not sure we can count that high.

Line Rider

Which one of these is not like the others? Surely the answer is Line Rider, which is not exactly making an appearance here because it's a game we'll all own by this time next year. However, it is representative of a recent surge to bring popular web-based flash games to the portable DS. Done right, this new deluge could be big on the DS, as it's definitely a matter of two addictive tastes that could go great together. The innovative Line Rider could be really excellent on the DS, as its gameplay is well-suited to the stylus treatment. But only if the price is right, and we hope the right people are listening when we say that. Done well, this trend of ports could be very exciting on the DS, but we'll have to wait and see. And don't worry, dear reader -- we'll let you know what we see as soon as we see it.

Sim City DS

Speaking of movements ... we're all about porting PC strategy games to the DS. If there's anything the stylus is built for, it's managing cities as they march across a barren landscape, spreading a little light industrial love as they go. And Sim City DS certainly looks like it's going to be done well, though we can't exactly say that EA always bats a thousand. We do have high hopes, mainly because we could probably lose ourselves in a DS version of Sim City for days. For now, though, we'll have to be satisfied with playing it on the Virtual Console.

Dragon Quest IX: Defenders of the Sky

It's unknown if we'll see this title outside of Japan in 2007, but look for the gaming world to be turned on its head when the world's most popular RPG series heads to the DS as an exclusive. If anything can cement the handheld's image as the industry's leader, it's the rubber stamp of approval that is Dragon Quest, and the certain knowledge of hundreds of thousands of copies rushing off shelves the very minute they go on sale. The announcement of DS exclusivity was one of the biggest news moments of 2006, but the release will rock 2007.

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

You know we had to save the best for last. Between this game, Dragon Quest IX, and the dual Final Fantasy titles headed our way, 2007 is shaping up to be the year of the DS RPG. Phantom Hourglass stands to offer the only thing the DS is lacking, and that's an entry in the formidable Zelda franchise. What took you guys so long? Whatever it was, it's continually delayed this title, but we should see it sometime before 2008. We've got our fingers crossed that the latest promise of October will hold. Until then, you can pass the time with a twenty-minute video. We hear if you move your hands back and forth a little, it's almost as good as the real thing. Will the look and feel that didn't quite make us love Link on the 'Cube work on the DS? We can't say for certain, but we've got faith.

This certainly isn't the list of all lists, as there are several games we didn't talk about, like the pair of hard-hitting Final Fantasy titles headed to the DS, or the action-packed fun of Lunar Knights. We just wanted to highlight a few games that are sure to be standouts this year. The excitement is already creeping in, and that's refreshing, since we've had such a dismal release schedule throughout the holidays.

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