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Joystiq presents

The best and worst (that we've reviewed)

2007 is almost over, and the end of the year brings joyous tidings of List Season. It's the time for taking stock of the last 12 months of gaming, and trying to make sense of it by putting things in numerical order. Join DS Fanboy for our best-ofs, worst-ofs, and other categories-ofs.

We cranked up our review quotient in 2007 (and hope to do even more in 2008!), but we still can't review everything that comes out, to our chagrin. We wouldn't have time for anything else! However, we did try to hit a wide variety of titles this year, from the biggies like Pokémon Diamond and Pearl and Phantom Hourglass, to some smaller titles, like WordJong and Duck Amuck. We even worked to review some more off-the-wall things, like the Nintendo Fan Network at Safeco Field -- you know, in case you happened to find yourself in the Northwest with a hankering for a day of DS and baseball.

But how did the reviews we managed stack up? We played a lot of solid titles this year -- either we just love everything about the DS, or we gravitated toward better games. Many of those games won't show up on this list, but we still encourage you to check out titles like Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales and Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja, if you haven't yet. After all, you needn't look much further than our Best-Of polls to see that the DS enjoyed a vast array of incredible titles this year.

Despite that, DS games consistently get less love from reviewers, which is a curiosity that continues to plague us. Comparing the DS to the Xbox 360 on Metacritic, it would seem that the 360 far outshines the DS in every way. Is that the case? We're fond of both systems; we love our handheld, but the 360 has a lot to offer. It's hard to call one better. Certainly, the 360 offers a different play style, but is it so different that the top DS games only hit scores in the low nineties, while the top ten of the 360's fare ranges from 96 down to 90? Obviously, we don't think so, and looking at our top reviews scores, we're above the average.

But hey -- we're fans. That said, let's examine some of the best -- and worst -- we've looked at this year.

The top three DS games, as reviewed by DS Fanboy
(again, we couldn't look at everything, but here, we think we chose pretty well)

Contra 4
Reviewed by: JC Fletcher
Score: 10.0/10

This one should come as no surprise. We crowed and cheered about Contra 4 from the moment it was announced. We drooled over trailers. We ran our fingers over the glossy pages of magazine ads. And then the game finally released? We put on our man pants (even I can put on man pants for special occasions!) and we stepped up to the challenge. Our efforts were rewarded with one of the most glorious gameplay experiences on the DS this year. Contra 4 was everything it should have been -- a true homage to the early days of gaming that still managed to grow and evolve into the modern era of the DS.

Gallery: Contra 4 DS

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
Reviewed by: David Hinkle
Score: 9.5/10

Link's greatly-anticipated foray onto the DS had many of us tied up in knots prior to release. The game was delayed, there were some things that looked a little questionable, and it lifted its look (and more) from Wind Waker, which is not exactly known as the fan favorite of the franchise. Once we had it in our hands, however, the doubts disintegrated. Phantom Hourglass made us love exploring again, and the title drew on all the strengths of the DS. It was definitely worth the wait, and sets a tremendous standard for the next DS Zelda venture.

The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night (GBA)
Reviewed by: David Hinkle
Score: 9.5/10

This Spyro title was truly one of the best of the year, and it wasn't even for the DS! The game may well be the GBA's swan song, and it sends that other handheld out with a bang. Not only was it beautiful, with crisp, clean, eye-catching sprites, but the gameplay absolutely shined. Perhaps its only flaw was the length, but every moment of those few hours reminded us that we were damned grateful to be able to pop GBA games into the DS.

... and the worst three DS games, as reviewed by DS Fanboy
(we're sure we missed loads of garbage, but these were the worst to cross our path this year)

The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night
Reviewed by: Alisha Karabinus
Score: 5.0/10

Fullmetal Alchemist: Trading Card Game

Reviewed by: JC Fletcher
Score: 5.0/10

Five? That doesn't sound so bad, does it? Just mediocre. Of course, at many of the big review houses, a five is like unto death; it means a game is truly terrible. Despite our beef with that trend, a five for us is just that -- it's mediocre, and that's what these games were. Both Spyro DS and Fullmetal Alchemist's card game had a few things going for them that kept them from getting much lower scores, but in the end, those few bonuses just weren't enough to make them worthwhile. If you're a dedicated Spyro fan, just play the GBA game you may enjoy it, and fans of the FMA card game should certainly love having all the resources at hand. For everyone else? Nothing much to see here.

Hannah Montana: Music Jam
Reviewed by: JC Fletcher
Score: 4.5/10

If we had an award for disappointment of the year, we would slap it right on Miss Hannah Montana's smiling face. Footage from this title has us hoping that it might actually be worthwhile -- a game to rival Jam Sessions, in fact. The hard, harsh reality, however, was a bevy of terrible mini-games and atrocious graphics. Oh, and there was something like a music simulator, too. Maybe if we were a) much younger and b) fans of 'tween' idols, we wouldn't have wanted to open our wrists during gameplay, but since neither is true, well ... it was the razor for us.

John Deere: Harvest in the Heartland

Reviewed by: Candace Savino
Score: 3.0/10

There's no better way to break in a new reviewer than to hand 'em a game that is sure to be less-than-great. Candace bravely stepped up to the challenge and poured hours into John Deere: Harvest in the Heartland. Hours of loading times, hollow story, and frustrating gameplay, that is. Our final verdict? Avoid. The game may have a lot of depth, but it's just not worth digging into.

Also worth a mention:

My French Coach
Reviewed by: Alisha Karabinus
Score: N/A

We spent a full week with Ubisoft's language trainer, but never formally scored the game. There was no need to do so. With few flaws and a ton of benefits, My French Coach was everything we've been waiting for in an English-language based trainer of this sort. You were right there with us through lessons and learning, and in the end, numbers just weren't necessary to rank this title. My French Coach? C'est magnifique! My French, however? Still not great. Need to pick those lessons up again ....

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Reader Comments (Page 1 of 1)


2-08-2008 @ 9:27PM

RootiePatootie said...

Two comments:

I don't feel it's fair to compare the DS to the XBox 360 or any other current console or to PC gaming. It's completely different gaming, IMO. The DS is a handheld and thus has limitations simply because of the fact that it's portable, and not in the same way my laptop is portable either!

My French Coach: Damn I do wish they'd put this game out in the US in more than Spanish and French (which is all I've seen). I can always use some more help with my mostly self-taught German. I do see that on you can buy a My English Coach and I'm sure you can buy that one in other countries too. IF there *is* a My German Coach out there please let me know..anyone!

Keep up the good work with the reviews. Like most folks I'm sure that although you can't review ALL of the titles out there I appreciate the ones you do.


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