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Thursday, May 29, 2008

DS Roundup

posted by on May 29 at 15:21 PM

I’d been planning to write up the DS games I’ve been playing lately, but in light of today’s Tecmo Bowl DS unveil, they all seem moot.

Come September, virtual pigskin addicts will get their fix again via Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff, and in spite of the dumb name, I’m already excited. The original Tecmo Bowl is pretty much the only sports game I can play with my friends, and not just because they’re suckers for the late ’80s era of Bo Jackson and Joe Montana. The series is still marked by many as the pinnacle of video football—simple yet fluid and fast. Only reason Tecmo didn’t keep making TB games was because early ’90s versions for the Genesis became complicated to keep up with Madden’s popularity—dumb move, and the series vanished as a result. This long-awaited return was announced a month or so ago (will also release on the Wii by 2009), but I waited for footage before getting my hopes up. Looks good—as in, butt-ugly, simple, and old-school. Sucks that I have to wait until next year for a non-portable version; Tecmo Bowl is meant for the living room, not the palm of your hand. Still, it’s got online play and editable rosters, which means Bo Jackson will run again! ‘Snough for me.

Other stuff on the DS lately that has proven interesting:

Crosswords DS: Not sure why it took Nintendo this long to make a crossword puzzle game, since the DS is tailor-made for it. You can write on the touchscreen to enter letters; you can save progress on long puzzles in case you have to get off the bus midway through. The same things worked for the New York Times Crossword game from last year, but that one was abusingly hard and all kinds of ugly (not to mention that it retreaded puzzles from 2003-05, so if you’re a Times puzzle addict, fuhgeddaboutit). Crosswords DS starts right with a clean interface and simpler entry-level puzzles. Trouble is, you have to complete one hundred super-easy puzzles (“medium” my ass) before you can even begin to try puzzles with words longer than seven letters (and still averaging at three-to-five until then). The bonus anagram and wordsearch modes don’t help; unless you’re younger than 14, stick to getting ink stains all over your hands.

glitchDS: Don’t look for this homebrew release at stores; to play glitchDS, you’ll need a flash cart (essentially, a memory card that plugs into the DS to run custom programs). Well, not exactly “play.” It’s a program, not a game, specifically an audio sequencer. Other homebrew music synthesizers and sequencers have come out before for portable systems, most of which are watered-down versions of computer sound-loopers like FruityLoops. But this one’s a trip because it plays sound effects according to a cellular automation system. The top screen shows this animation, which can be changed if you add or delete “cells,” drawing them on the touchscreen. You then load sound effects onto a second touchscreen grid, and when the animation steps over that grid’s sound pad, it plays the according sound. The result looks and sounds a little like this:

It’s not quite chiptune material, as glitchDS relies on your own sound effects rather than an ancient, chirping sound processor, but it doesn’t make the thing any less fun to play with. And this is by no means a reliable instrument, but it is interesting to see how cellular automation translates into sonic loops with very little effort (not to mention how well it responds to on-the-fly manipulation). If you have a DS flash card, download glitchDS here. If not, you can always seek out Nintendo’s noise-toy for the DS, Electroplankton (though I don’t recommend it, since the rare game costs over $60 on eBay).

Next week: Does anybody still care about Wii Fit? If so, I’ll sum up my three-week trial of the thing. Elsewise, I’ll need to steal a Playstation 3 so that I can play that new Metal Gear game.

RSS icon Comments


I'm still playing Professor Layton and the Curious Math Homework. Will somebody please kill me?

Posted by kid icarus | May 29, 2008 3:37 PM

TecmoBowl DS?!? I am so there.

Posted by laterite | May 29, 2008 3:39 PM

hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut

Posted by hut | May 29, 2008 3:40 PM

Tecmo Bowl looks fun, but what the hell happened to the awesome hillbilly music from the original? The new tunes sound irritating!

Posted by Bobby | May 29, 2008 3:41 PM

Hmm...I'd been giving thought to getting Crosswords DS (Picross is finally starting to get a bit old), but that's not exactly a glowing review. Maybe I'll wait until I can get it cheap.

Posted by T | May 29, 2008 3:46 PM

You're spot on about the original Tecmo Bowl. I used to play that ghetto POS all the time.

Posted by w7ngman | May 29, 2008 3:47 PM

Still interested in Wii Fit here, or at least in reading about the 3-week trial.

Posted by lostboy | May 29, 2008 3:48 PM

I'm about to over-share, as usual, but Sam did ask if anyone cared about the Wii fit.

My Wii Fit is giving me fits. I've had it a week now and I feel like I'm in an abusive relationship. If I don't use it for a day it taunts me. If I gain an ounce it demands to know the reason. It tells me I'm "unbalanced."

And then just when I despair it turns around and compliments me "great job" on the strength training "perfect" on the step aerobics. It took my cute little Mii and ballooned her up to reflect my actual size, complete with sound effects that left my six year old in hysterics. And don't get me started on the fact that the creepy male trainer talks BUT HE DOESN'T MOVE HIS MOUTH.

Sadly, despite its cruelty and taunting, I am addicted. At night I hear the music from the step aerobics game dancing through my mind. I long to get my yoga pose just right to hear my trainer's kind words. The joy of unlocking a new activity knows no bounds.

Posted by PopTart | May 29, 2008 3:55 PM

@8: Not sure you if you saw my "one week in" review, but I'm pretty much right there with ya. Link:

Posted by Sam M. | May 29, 2008 3:59 PM

@9 I enjoyed your one week in review and am looking forward to the next installment.

Did you see Farhad Manjoo's story about it on Salon? There's a video of him using the Wii Fit. It's a pretty funny article.

Posted by PopTart | May 29, 2008 4:20 PM

I got one yesterday... but have yet to take it out of its box. So yes please tell me what I'm in for.

Posted by Corngood | May 29, 2008 4:21 PM

Affirmative on a desire to see your Wii Fit review. Please reference this video in it.

Posted by Westlake, son! | May 29, 2008 4:47 PM

I cannot stop playing The World Ends With You.

Posted by lol | May 29, 2008 4:49 PM

I played the Wii Fit last weekend and am heartbroken I don't have a TV, let alone a Wii. Review, please! (I think I'm in love with the ski jump, btw.)

Posted by Jessica | May 29, 2008 5:14 PM

They had a Wii Fit display at Folklife, so lots of people got to try it the past weekend.

That said, nothing about the snowboarding game that is coming out which uses the Wii Fit balancer?

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 29, 2008 5:21 PM

@8 - that's why I use the female trainer and just stare at her virtual boobs. Otherwise, I have to agree with your assessment.

Posted by Steve P | May 29, 2008 5:56 PM

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