Game profile Reflect Missile
So Nintendoís shutting the DSi Shop at the end of the month. While DSiWare will continue to live on as part of 3DSís eShop thereafter, this is our last chance to download the games to an actual DS, the best way to experience them. And it served as good enough an excuse as any to take a quick look back at the DSiWare service.
DSiWare gets a bad rep for shovelware, and while there is a fair amount of junk on the service, there are some gems too. The service arrived at an awkward time - the iOS App Store had only just opened for business, and physical and digital were words used to describe two very different worlds of video games.
The tried and tested way of getting games to audiences was still through physical media, something which held especially true for the DS, a platform with no means of purchasing games digitally for four years.
Which begs the question: How could you make a compelling DSiWare game DS games already thrived on emphasising a gameplay concept and good art direction and had relatively lower development costs than most games?
It turns out you had to take those ideologies even further. The best DSiWare titles arenít attached to the most eye grabbing IP, or the biggest development budgets. And due to the comparatively smaller publishing costs, even the quirkiest game ideas became that much more viable.
Take Reflect Missile for example. Itís Arkanoid mixed with Puzzle Bobble, rethought as a methodological puzzle game. You aim a scarce number of Missiles at an arrangement of blocks, hoping to destroy those marked for clearing each level. It's simple enough, but developer Q-Games took this one concept and ran with it, programming characteristically playful physics for for each missile type and offering a whole tonne of level layouts that make the most of the idea of bouncing stuff off walls and blocks.
Then there's Mighty Milky Way, a game about exploding planets. Tap a planet and it explodes, propelling your green-skinned character into outer space. It's another simple concept, but the circumstances to which its released means it's also surprisingly well polished for what it is.
These games celebrate the importance of good game design above all else, and there are much more of them, listed below.
Iíve also found them fairly refreshing - itís rather neat to see large scale publishers like Nintendo and Konami invest in tiny ideas like these, and the simplicity of the game ideas on display here.
If youíve got a few quid spare, dig out that DSi XL, pick up a few of my recommendations below and remind yourself of simpler times. Times when digital distribution meant realising a simple game idea that might not make it to a store shelf. Times before publishers all set their eyes on the gamification movement on mobile...
DSiWare gems: Sujin Taisen: Number Battle, Art Style: Digidrive, Dragon Quest Wars, Art Style: Decode, Wakugumi: Monochrome Puzzle, 3D Space Tank, Trailblaze: Puzzle Incinerator, Aura Aura Climber, Glow Artisan, Snapdots, Art Style: PiCOPiCT, Alt-Play: Jason Rohrer Anthology, Maestro: Green Groove, Primrose, Surfacer+, Bomberman Blast, 10 Second Run, Starship Patrol, Divergent Shift.