Earlier today, we pointed you in the direction of Joystiq's hands-on impressions of Guitar Hero: On Tour, itself on tour as various websites tried the game out for themselves.
One of those sites was ShackNews, which also got to speak to Vicarious Visions CEO Karthik Bala. And we had only just started reading when one of Bala's opening statements got our blood boiling: apparently, Guitar Hero: On Tour was developed to "see if it was even possible to do a really good music rhythm game on a handheld."
Altogether now: "WHAAAAAT?!"
We can only assume that Bala is totally unaware of the vast treasure trove of rhythm-based awesomeness already available on the DS -- never mind what is still to come, or even on other handhelds.
Whenever the topic of internationally developed homebrew DS games comes up, as it often does among hip and attractive people, most people in "the scene" immediately think of France, whose homebrew community rivals North America's in both size and production. You'll see an occasional release from other countries, such as Spain or Korea, but you'll rarely see much activity elsewhere.
But what about Japan's scene? For a country with so many DSes and a strong independent game development community, outside of Infantile Paralysiser's MoonShell media player, we've hardly seen any DS homebrew projects cross the Pacific. Where are all the doujin developers?
At least one programmer in Japan has been working on creating games for the DS, and we're bringing him out of the shadows to highlight three of his projects, likely games that you've never even heard of, let alone seen. If you're interested in homebrew development at all, you definitely need to pay attention to MeRAMAN!
We can't imagine what we'd use it for, so we figured we'd ask you! Who better to let us know the many uses of a DS stand than the fine folks who've been using one for awhile now. So, tell us how your DS rocks its stand.
So imagine our surprise when we read this little piece and totally realized we could output our DS's sound to our car speakers, almost providing a surround sound experience. Sure, we have headphones for when we're trying to get our dual-screen on out in the wild, but sometimes they're uncomfortable. This just seems like an incredibly obvious thing we never thought of ourselves. We can totally picture playing Ouendan or Elite Beat Agents in this manner.
If you haven't played both titles, which do you think you'd like better? And if you haven't played either, why not? Do these rhythm games just not interest you, or have you not gotten around to it yet for some other reason?
Bringing in the Chinese New Year, import shop Play Asia has slashed the prices on over five thousand of its in-stock games and accessories. What's more, each order you put in between today and February 29th will count towards an entry for you to win a variety of Japanese consoles, games, and store credits. There's just too many items on sale to list, so we've picked out a few from the DS and GBA sections that might pique your interest.
DS game sales:
- Ryuusei no RockMan: Dragon, Leo, and Pegasus - $48.90 $9.90
- Nodame Cantabile - $48.90 $14.90
- Operation: Vietnam (US) - $24.90 $16.90
- Slide Adventure: Mag Kid - $58.90 $19.90
- Oshare Majo Love and Berry (DS Collection) - $58.90 $19.90
- K-1 World GP - $48.90 $24.90
- Moero! Nekketsu Rhythm Damashii Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2 - $48.90 $29.90
The price was slashed from its original import cost of $50.99, and now will only set you back $31.99. Making the deal even better, YesAsia offers free shipping with the item. The total may still sound costly, but trust our Ouendan-loving hearts when we say that it's well worth it.
The only thing to be wary of is YesAsia's claim that the game "usually ships within 21 days." We hope that doesn't mean you have to wait too long for it, and that Ouendan 2 will ship sooner rather than later. Buying the title at a reduced price might make the possible wait a little easier to swallow, though.
Not wishing to be left out, Capcom's Rosario + Vampire (which, Capcom has confirmed, won't be appearing in the west) also uses the touchscreen in a novel way. Rather than the traditional method of pressing buttons, the game's combat sequences are carried out with directional stylus swipes, with different Ouendan-esque strokes producing certain moves.
It's definitely an interesting approach, and it makes us wonder whether we'll be seeing more fighting games embracing this method in the future. If Rosario + Vampire pulls it off well, we wouldn't bet against another developer picking up this idea and running with it.
Normally, there's a period of intense waffling when we come across one of these sales. Do we go for the impulse purchase? Is an awesome deal worth disrupting our careful game budgeting? That is not how it went this time. This time we instinctively threw our wallets at the screen as soon as we saw the price.
When determining the best games of the year, it's a good idea to go at it from different angles: by referencing our own history of reviews, obviously, but we must also look to the wider journalism community. Our reviews, while insightful and entertaining, were not comprehensive. We just didn't play everything. In addition, one reviewer's opinion is simply not sufficient data to make definitive conclusions, even if that one reviewer is me.
So we turned to everyone else in aggregate to see what they thought of this year's releases. We've gathered the top 10 DS games of 2007 according to their Metacritic ranking. Keep in mind that many of these games tied in Metascore, meaning that if we were to rank the games, there would be fewer than ten positions. It's still sequential, but with a lot of tie scores.
We then carefully applied science to these games in order to convert the Metacritic numbers into a rubric we feel more accurately conveys the quality of these games. Head past the post break for Metacritic's top ten DS games of 2007, graded on a scale from adorable kitten video to unbelievably adorable kitten video.
With its outlandish (yet easily portrayable) cast and one of the most compelling soundtracks in gaming, we're not surprised that cosplayers are so drawn to Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan. In the video above, a highly enthusiastic crowd is treated to a performance by the Singapore-based "Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan Cosplay Group" at the annual EOY '07 Event at Singapore Expo. If only the same amount of effort was ploughed into all cosplay performances.
A warning before you hit play, however: as this is the last song from the second Ouendan game, consider this to be spoileriffic.
WarioWare: Touched! was perhaps the first title to really make us laugh out loud, and more recently Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan and the Ace Attorney games have coaxed a titter or two from us. It's also worth noting that Kaboom Kaboom and Insecticide both look like they could contain a good few chuckles.
We can't be alone in this respect, so which DS games crack you up?
We asked you to tell us what you were thankful for yesterday for our three-pack giveaway, so it's only right that we commemorate this turkey holiday with our own shout-outs!
- Eric: I am thankful for those blue shells that helped me win so many races against people who're much better at Mario Kart than me.
- Alisha: I am thankful for whips ... I mean, awesome, portable dual-screen Castlevania games. With whips. Because whips are awesome.
- David: I'm thankful for having a portable device I can turn on to ignore people in front of me I don't want to talk to. Tetris music drowns out all.
- JC: I'm thankful for Brain Age, because photoshopped Brain Age screenshots are a well that will never run dry.
- Candace: I'm thankful for the crew of Ouendan, without whom we would have long ago succumbed to a giant rat, meteor collision, and alien attack. I'm NOT thankful, however, for the habit it's given me of yelling out "Ouendan!!!" during job interviews when they don't go well.
- Chris: I'm thankful for every last one of those life-saving straight tetraminoes that got me out of a pickle. And for Animal Crossing, and its ability to drag me away from the gray, depressing mundanities of my real life on a daily basis. *Sniff* Also, it teaches me about dinosaurs and stuff.