Quick Hits Preview: There's not a scrub in the bunch
As much as it pains to admit, The 1927 New York Yankees were arguably the greatest baseball team ever assembled. Their famed Murderer's Row changed the game forever by fielding the most fearsome offensive lineup ever. While the Murderers' Row nickname usually refers to the entire lineup, the heart of the order (Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Bob Meusel) were the main men placing fear in the hearts of pitchers everywhere. These three sluggers combined for a total of 115 home runs and 442 RBIs in the 1927 season, ensuring a place in history.
If you look over the lineup of DS games releasing soon, you'll see that Nintendo has their own Murderers' Row brewing. From March 20 to May 7, Nintendo will release four of the biggest DS titles yet. If that weren't all, rumors put the release of the DS Lite in this window as well. To put a strain on this metaphor just a little, not a single one of them is a baseball title. So without further adieu, ladies and gentlemen, here are your DS all-stars:
Metroid Prime: Hunters
Metroid Prime: Hunters has been a long time coming. A demo of the game was originally packed in with DS systems at launch with a promise that it would be out ?soon?. Almost a year and a half later, with Wi-Fi Connection play stuffed nicely into the package, Hunters is finally almost here.
Hunters takes place between Metroid Prime and Prime 2 as Samus Aran is given a message: ?The secret to the ultimate power lies in the Alimbic Cluster.? What's the ultimate power? No one knows, but Samus, and three other bounty hunters, have all received this message and are on the lookout for it. Yes, for the first time Samus will interact with other bounty hunters. Each hunter will have their own unique style and they go by the names Sylux, Trace and Weavel.
While the search for the ultimate power is important, Hunters was designed to showcase the DS' power for a multiplayer first person shooter. And with the new Wi-Fi features (and the recently added Lobby Voice Chat), Hunters is sure to deliver. Players will choose their hunter (while unique, all four hunters can use the Morph Ball and bombs) and then use the control pad for movement and the stylus for aiming. Anyone that gave the Hunters demo a shot way back when knows this control scheme has got a lot going for it. And it looks beautiful too.
So we're waiting Metroid Prime: Hunters. It's been a long trip, but you're almost home.
What more can be said about Tetris? It's not flashy, it's not hyped to the hills and it's often overlooked in any discussion of video game classics. But Tetris is like that solid player that doesn't always put up big numbers, but he's well liked and he always comes through when you need him. That's Tetris, a game everyone can turn to when they need the ultimate puzzle challenge. And Tetris DS brings it online in spectacular fashion.
Sporting NES-era ?themes? of Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Ice Climber and Balloon Fight, Tetris DS brings several new stylus-centered modes to the classic puzzle game. But I think it's the ability to play ?Standard? Tetris against three other players over the Wi-Fi Connection and against nine
other players locally is what makes Tetris DS stand out. Ten players total! There's no way that can't be the most manic moment of Tetris ever.
Although I must admit the idea of Push Mode has me very interested. I want to see how it works to have blocks going both ways in a Tetris battle to push your opponent out of the middle.
Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day
The Brain Training games have turned the DS into a phenomenon in Japan. There's no other way to describe it. Combining short mini-games with the educational mind of noted neuroscientist Professor Ryuta Kawashima, Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day challenges players to learn while they play.
Brain Age adds another new control twist to the repertoire of DS players: holding the system sideways like a book. Now you might be thinking that with this setup pressing the buttons is not going to be easy. And it's not, because with this setup players will have to write in (or in some cases speak) their answer.
Brain Age is made up of a variety of short mini-puzzles featuring color matching, word searches, math and number puzzles and of course, Sudoku. In the end, Brain Age's major selling point may be as the first Sudoku game for the DS. The ability to actually write the numbers in the puzzle grid might be too much for some people.
Nintendo is banking big on Brain Age and plans to release it at the wallet-friendly price of $20. And everyone is already smart enough to know that's a great deal.
New Super Mario Bros.
Unlike the real Murderers' Row, Nintendo has saved their biggest slugger for last. Move over Joltin' Joe and Mr. Mike Piazza, there's a new Italian superstar in this league. Yes, on May 7, 2006, New Super Mario Bros. will become the first original side-scrolling Mario game released in fifteen years.
Like Tetris before it, what more can be said about Mario? If you came to video game life anytime before the PlayStation-era, chances are you've played a Mario side-scrolling game. And chances are even better that you liked it. So what does Nintendo do for an encore? They create a Mario side-scroller out of polygons to give it a modern look and then distill out everything that made Mario platforming cool and turn it into New Super Mario Bros.
So what's actually ?new? about New Super Mario Bros.? Well there's the two-player competitive mode for one. Oh, and did I mention that it's the first new Mario side-scroller in fifteen years? I think I did.
So put it in the books, this is what DS owners (and prospective DS owners) will be playing over the next two months. I think I better start taking some stylus batting practice.