The DS was Nintendo’s first great attempt at pioneering new methods of playing video games. Released in 2004, it was designed to be both a successor to Nintendo’s acclaimed Gameboy Advance handheld, and to be the device to usher in their new innovative controls paradigm, the first of which being touch. As of today, the DS has sold millions of units and all in all has been another smash hit for Nintendo, providing to be practically a money-printer for them for years. It still sees new games come out today, despite the release of its successor, the 3DS, being released last year in 2011.
Though the handheld was successful, it produced relatively few games that truly took advantage of its touch controls to the fullest extent, without making touch feel like an unwelcome gimmick. These games are what I personally found to be some of the best representatives of touch-based controls released on the DS, of all of the DS games that I have played.
1. Trauma Center: Under the Knife
Trauma Center, released in 2005, was a game that tasked you to play doctor. The concept is simple but the gameplay itself is complex. The game provides you a large arsenal of tools, such as scalpels, tweasers, a few chemicals and… the healing touch.
Your job, as portrayed by protagonist Dr. Derek Stiles, is to perform various surgical operations. Though these virtual tools are numerous, your only real tool in the real world is the DS stylus, used to zig zag, rub, drag, and draw patterns on the lower screen to use these virtual instruments. Though the game itself isn’t the pinnacle of realism, it does an absolutely wonderful job of making you feel like a doctor in an operation room, saving patients, inches away from death with your touch-based medical expertise. The game becomes unforgivably difficult as the story progresses, and thus more rewarding for quick, precise, touch-based movements.
2. WarioWare: Touched!
WarioWare: Touched! is similar to Trauma Center in that you’re assaulted by rapid-fire touch challenges, however the nature of the challenges themselves are more ubiquitous and unique. WarioWare is built upon a foundation of multiple series’ of microgames, which vary in objective from filling buckets of water, to slicing vegetables, to drawing paths to safety, and to picking noses. All of these surreal jobs are handled with the stylus, which is used to blast through themed marathons of microgames ranging from drawing, circling, and poking. Virtually every possible utilization of touch is covered here, which is what truly makes it notable.
3. Kirby: Canvas Curse
Kirby, unlike the previous entries, is more of a singularly-focused adventure game than the task-based ventures filled with various touch mechanisms that are WarioWare and Trauma Center. In this installment of the Kirby franchise, Kirby is transformed into a ball, and he needs to rely on a “Magic Paintbrush” (the stylus) to aid him on his quest to defeat the evil witch Drawcia.
The stylus is used to draw paths and loops for the legless Kirby to traverse through levels, it can also be used to poke enemies on the screen to stun them, allowing Kirby to roll through and destroy them with ease. Touch is exploited marvelously here, as the game provides many obstacles for you to paintbrush solutions to. You can use a drawn line as a shield to protect from projectiles, for example. You are also constantly encouraged to use momentum to your advantage. By using the paintbrush stylus to create loops that give Kirby a boost, you can then draw a ramp for the boosted pink hero to soar through the air. And the fact that you have a limited supply of ink that slowly regenerates over time forces you to be resourceful with your paintbrush.
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