With the launch of the DSi just around the corner, publishers are apparently flooding the market with top-notch, cameraless titles that’ll play just fine on your DS Lite.
“Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars” (rated M, $35 on DS): Gaming’s biggest franchise (Sorry, Mario) hits its smallest screen, and so far it’s a resounding success, with “Chinatown Wars” having rocketed to the top of Metacritic. You’ll use the touch screen for navigation while the view in the top screen will look familiar to anyone who played the first two “Grand Theft Auto” titles back on the original PlayStation. Despite the graphical downgrade to the DS, “Chinatown Wars” features a Liberty City that should be quite familiar to players of “Grand Theft Auto IV.” “Chinatown Wars” has its own protagonist, Huang Lee, set to deliver a family heirloom to Liberty City before he’s jumped, robbed and left for dead.
“Pokemon Platinum” (rated E, $35 on Nintendo DS): This is an enhanced remake of “Pokemon Diamond” and “Pokemon Pearl.” You know the drill. Collect monsters. Pit them against other virtual monsters. Repeat obsessively. Note: This one’s not due out until Sunday.
“Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure” (rated E, $35 on DS): In much the same way “Puzzle Quest” has melded “Bejeweled’s” game matching with role-playing-game-style questing and leveling up, “Henry Hatsworth” from Electronic Arts is both a platform-jumping adventure and a puzzle game. The running and jumping largely takes place on the top screen, while the touch screen is used to solve puzzles that affect gameplay in the top screen.
“Suikoden Tierkreis” (rated E10+, $35 on DS): No, I don’t know what that title means, either, but the “Suikoden” games have been beloved by role-playing game nuts since the days of the PlayStation. “Tierkreis,” however, lacks a lot of the trappings of the more robust console RPGs. If you go in as a fan of “Suikoden” expecting more of the same, you’ll be disppointed. If you’re merely looking for a decent RPG, “Tierkreis” is worth a look. Oh, and the screen shots look fantastic.
“Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume” (rated T, $40 on DS): Turn-based Japanese strategy RPGs might be a little over-represented on the DS, but according to IGN’s review, this one sports a more mature story than other Square Enix games like those in the “Final Fantasy Tactics” sereies.
“Resistance: Retribution” (rated M, $40 on PlayStation Portable): That’s right, Sony makes a handheld gaming device, too. This third-person shooter takes place shortly after the end of the first “Resistance” game and stars a British protagonist taking on the alien Chimera in an alternate World War II-era Western Europe.
“Call of Duty: World at War” (rated M, $60 on PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360): The first map pack for the game was released this week. $10 scores you three new maps, one of which has zombies!
“Pro Evolution Soccer 2009” (rated E, $40 on Wii): This game’s been out a while on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but if all you have is a Wii — or a desire to play a realistic soccer sim and not “Mario Strikers Charged,” this one’s for you.
“Rune Factory: Frontier” (rated E10+, $50 on Wii): If you’re in the hunt for a good Wii role-playing game, you could do much worse than the latest from the creators of “Harvest Moon.”
What I’m playing this weekend: “Star Ocean: The Last Hope,” “Halo Wars” and “Major League Baseball 2K9” on the Xbox 360. On the PlayStation 3, it’s a steady diet of “Killzone 2” and “MLB 09: The Show.” As always, “Culdcept Saga” and “Left 4 Dead” are possibilities on the 360.