The Nintendo DSi ($170): Nintendo’s latest revision to its DS line of handhelds will eventually make current handhelds obsolete. The new device is fully compatible with all existing DS games. Plus, its two digital cameras, ability to download games and store them on SD cards, play music and browse the Internet tread dangerously close to iPhone territory, and we know how addictive all those are. The DSi will set you back $40 more than the current DS Lite, which is itself a revision of the original DS. Should you pick up a DS over the weekend, here are a few DS games you might want to look into:
“Chrono Trigger” (rated E10+, $40): This is a remake of a role-playing game from the Super Nintendo era that many consider the best game in the genre. It’s been completely remade for the DS and is the second-highest-rated game for the system on Metacritic. It’s a time-traveling, save-the-world adventure with multiple endings.
“Rhythm Heaven” (rated E, $30): In the same way many retailers bundled the DS Lite with “Brain Age” when that version of the handheld launched, expect to find package deals that include a DSi and this game, in which you tap and slide the DS stylus along the touch screen in time with music. Yeah, it sounds silly, but so did “Guitar Hero.”
“Mario Kart DS” (rated E, $40) and “New Super Mario Bros.” (rated E, $35): You know what these are. The former is a kart-racing game starring Mario and his pals. The latter is a platform-jumping game reminiscent of the original “Super Mario Bros.” game from the NES days. Both feature wireless multiplayer that lets two gamers with DS handhelds play together, even if they only have one cartridge.
Just go read this “what to play” from a couple of weeks back. Four or five solid DS games came out that week, including “Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars,” currently the highest rated game for the system on Metacritic.
If you’re picking up a new PlayStation 2, now that the price has dropped, see my Friday post for a suggestion on how you can get the console, a memory card and eight games for a cool $203, or not much more than the cost of a DSi and one game.
Outside of the PS2 price cut and DSi launch, it’s a slow week if you own a PlayStation 3, Wii or Xbox 360. Over on the 360, you should at least download the demo of “Dishwasher: The Last Samurai” (rated M, $10 Xbox Live Arcade download). It’s the winner of Microsoft’s first Dream, Build, Play competition, and its developer, James Silva became the face of Microsoft’s Community Games portal last year at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. He’s a well-spoken, self-deprecating kind of guy who came up with the idea for “Dishwasher” based on his low-wage job. What’s more, he made the whole game, reminiscent of The Behemoth’s “Alien Hominid,” by himself. Even if it’s not your cup of tea, you have to applaud the effort.
Speaking of “Alien Hominid,” the Xbox Live Arcade version of the game, called “Alien Hominid HD” (rated T) is on sale for $5 through the weekend. The punishing difficulty is reminiscent of old-school side scrollers like “Contra” and “Double Dragon,” while the hand-drawn art style and cute, bug-eyed alien protagonist is the kind of thing that’ll draw in passers-by.
When you finish with those, “Gears of War 2” (rated M, $60 on Xbox 360) got four new multiplayer maps this week. Bundled together as the Snowblind Multiplayer Map Pack, the four snow-covered levels sell for $10 over Xbox Live. Xbox.com has writeups of all four maps.
What I’m playing this weekend: “MLB 09: The Show” (rated E, $60 on PS3) and not much else. I might sneak in some “Killzone 2” (rated M, $60 on PS3) or toss my review copy of “The Godfather II” (rated M, $60 on Xbox 360 or PS3, $50 on PC) into the 360 for a spell. But mostly, I’ll be working.