Snackbar Games Holiday Gift Guide 2011: DS/3DS

December 6, 2011

Looking for a good game for yourself or someone else this holiday season? We’ve got you covered. Things slowed down for the DS this year and started off sluggish for the 3DS, but there are still some gems in this year’s lineup.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow WarsShadow Wars is really a turn-based strategy game, in the vein of X-COM or Fire Emblem. While this makes sense to those who know that X-COM creator Julian Gollop was lead designer on the project, it’s probably not what most expect from a Ghost Recon game. You take a small squad of characters, each with their own abilities, weapons and roles, and move them across a grid-based map to complete objectives. (Full review)

Super Mario 3D Land: Each stage is fairly straightforward and requires you to get to point A to point B, collecting Star Coins along the way to unlock locked stages later on. While the game starts off simple to ease gamers into the game’s mechanics, the difficulty ramps up faster than you’d imagine, throwing gimmicks at you left and right. While the game leaves more to be desired for exploration, it really tosses back to Super Mario Bros. 3, requiring you to look beyond the stage’s limits to find what you were looking for. (Full review)

Ridge Racer 3D: Anyone who has tried out a 3DS quickly realizes that the system’s particular brand of 3D lends itself well to a few specific genres. Flight games? Oh yeah. Augmented reality? That too. Most especially, though, three dimensions make a racing game really shine. That depth perception, while making most games immersive, actually helps the control of the game itself in racing titles, as you see the walls coming at you and the cars zip past. Why? We’ve been training ourselves all our lives to judge that stuff. (Full review)

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D: Ocarina of Time 3D includes the three modes, the original version of the game, the Master Quest and a Boss Rush mode. The classic game should be familiar to anyone reading this, but just in case you’ve never played Ocarina of Time, here’s a quick rundown. You play as Link, an inhabitant of a small village in the kingdom of Hyrule. Together with your fairy friend, Navi, you will set off on an adventure that will prove to take you across Hyrule, through time, and to a date with destiny. (Full review)

Samurai Warriors Chronicles: When you pick up one of Omega Force’s Warriors games, you know what you’re going to get. All play similarly, with huge casts of characters, weapons to collect and maps with officers to hack and slash to death. Samurai Warriors Chronicles is very much one of those games, and people looking for a profound shift in what the game is are out of luck. There’s quite a contingent of people who love the feeling of playing these games, though, as it’s the game equivalent of a cheap pizza: it may not be a high-quality meal, but it’s comforting to kick back with a slice. (Full review)

Steel Diver: Despite the lame pun, Steel Diver really is a very deep game with three vastly different gameplay modes that come together to make a very enjoyable game. The 3D features provided by the 3DS are nice, but in the end I usually played with 3D turned off. Steel Diver is definitely not a title that simply shows off the features of a new platform, it’s one of the most enjoyable handheld games that I’ve played in a long time. (Full review)


Monster Tale: In Monster Tale, you play as Ellie, a little girl with a bracelet and a bag. She finds an egg and hatches it, and names the strange creature that pops out Chomp. And Chomp follows Ellie around everywhere. You feed Chomp cookies and give him toys and generally help him grow and be happy. At this point in the description, it may be hard to believe that this game is essentially the best Metroid-style game in years. But off Ellie goes, moving back and forth across the same areas, acquiring new abilities and using them to access previously-blocked pathways. (Full review)

Ghost Trick: Phantom DetectiveFrom the same mind that brought us Phoenix Wright and the Ace Attorney Investigations series arrives Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, a puzzle/maze/adventure game starring Sissel, an amnesiac ghost with some interesting powers. Mostly Sissel can possess inanimate objects and perform a simple “trick”, like unfolding a deck chair, turning on a lamp, or throwing a switch. He can move from object to object via their “cores”, but he can only reach out a limited distance to reach the next core, which is where the maze-like elements of the gameplay kick in as you try to figure out how to gain access to the objects you really need to manipulate. (Full review)

Professor Layton and the Last Specter: Since pretty much all of the Nintendo handheld attention for the last several months has been focused on the 3DS, those of us who have chosen to remain DS owners have felt somewhat ignored. Fortunately, a gentleman never abandons his fans unless he absolutely has to, and so Professor Layton has arrived once more to grace the puzzle-lovers among us with more brain burners. (Full review)

Solatorobo: Red the HunterSolatorobo is an absolute blast to play. From awesome character designs to the enjoyable music and an engaging storyline, you’ll find yourself wanting more. Aside from a few control issues, the game’s difficulty is fairly moderate, so you won’t find yourself struggling to get through the story at all. (Full review)

Radiant Historia: The best way to describe Radiant Historia, the latest Atlus-published DS RPG, is to compare it to a “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel. By the time you successfully complete a run-through of Radiant Historia, you will have navigated two alternate timelines, both of which are littered with potential dead ends – which result in the eventual termination of the world under a blanket of lifeless sand – and only one “good” ending. Navigating your way along the “razor-thin path of light” (as one character describes it) will require you to hop back and forth not only between the time lines, but between past and present as well. (Full review)

Pokemon Black and WhiteThe basic formula and gameplay of Pokemon have remained intact ever since Blue and Red first graced our shores. You play as a boy, or girl, from a small town who is given a Pokemon to raise and train on your way to becoming the champion of the Pokemon League in your region. In your way are 8 Pokemon gyms, the Elite Four, a rival trainer, and a gang of mostly inept ruffians. For the most part, Pokemon White doesn’t mess with the formula; after all, why change something that has sold more than 200 million copies in 15 years? It does, however, tweak the formula just enough to make it a new and refreshing take on the series. (Full review)