[h2]5 years of DS roms- day 4 covering year 4[/h2] Time for year 4 of our 5 years of DS roms in 5 days threads. For those just joining us the 16th of June marked the 5 year point since the release of the first DS rom, this week we are counting off the 5 years of DS roms with a day given to each year. Today is year 4 which ran from the 16th of June 2008 round to the 15th of June 2009 which started with Etrian_Odyssey_II_-_Heroes_of_Lagaard_USA_NDS-iND and finished with Lux_Pain_EUR_NDS-BAHAMUT. All in the year saw just over 1650 releases including nukes, patches, tools, trainers and the like. Year 5 Year 4 Year 3 Year 2 Year 1 [h2]Some history[/h2] A rough overview of the history of the DS was made for the initial 5 year post but these threads allow us to cover the news of the day in more depth while retaining a measure of readability. Year 4 was another great year for the for the DS scene even though anti piracy was more prevalent and we saw the DSi launched everywhere which blocked all the flash carts at the time (and later troubled them again with the DSi 1.4 update). April 2008 saw the last official r4 update and while people could still get things done the r4 was no longer the dominant flash cart (although the r4 name was repurposed for many clones and other flash carts). Most makers had released updated devices with SDHC support and later DSi compatible flash carts- this was the big shock for most of the scene and for a while at least culled off the weaker teams. Whether there was a dominant flash cart is a matter for debate although it was a 5 way shootout between relative newcomers acekard (the acekard 2 had just been released and the acekard RPG had been around for a while), team cyclops with the cyclo DS, the supercard team with the SC DS one, EZFlash with the EZ5 plus and for a time at least the M3 team with the M3 DS real. Similarly flash carts and the memory to go in them were cheaper than they ever were- a complete setup often costing less than a new charted game. Emulation got to be quite good although no$gba had stopped updating in April 2008. Desmume carried on behind the scenes and saw a massive update in January 2009. On the other hand while the DSi, updates and antipiracy provided more than enough to keep people busy should you have been following tools you would have had a rather boring year. [h2]The releases[/h2] The big news of the year (other than the DSi) was the strengthening of anti piracy methods, the big makers (and AKAIO, especially AKAIO) took it in their stride though and rarely were games unplayable for long. Despite the DSi being available in Japan for most of this year it would be just after our cutoff date for this thread before DSi hybrid games (games that had extra features on the DSi- flash carts then and to this day run in DS mode so even on a DSi you lacked these features) appeared. As for the releases themselves this was definitely the year (to this date) of shovelware and non-games (self help books, cooking guides, language tutors/dictionaries....) but it did see many great titles released/localised in among all of that. Flash carts and the like had hit big long before this year arrived and while most reading this were probably around for it there were others that took a step back in all the mayhem- this is largely for them although as always will we try to highlight the best releases around and those that meant something to the scene. By this point in time many people knew of flash carts and what they could do and indeed far more of those reading would have seen at least some of this year there are still likely to be those who did not see it and those who missed things during it. Anyone can look at the releases lists and we do not want these threads to read like one of those so we will select a few releases of note to us or the scene and then kick it over to you to suggest a few more, we ask you confine yourself to the year we are covering in these threads, the good people over at ABGX do nice text release list with dates. [h2]The games[/h2] While we did start out in the middle of summer there were many releases waiting to greet us right off the bat. Etrian_Odyssey_II_-_Heroes_of_Lagaard_USA_NDS-iND The first was mentioned in an earlier post and this game is a sequel, much like any good sequel it took the first entry and polished it. It is still very unforgiving but if you like that sort of thing give it a spin. There are a few dungeon crawlers on the DS but this is among the best. Space_Invaders_Extreme_USA_NDS-iND We have since seen a sequel to it but this is a great cart filler, we figure most people playing games will have at least played a clone of space invaders at some point so no need to describe the gameplay. While it can use the arkanoid paddle it works just as well with the regular controls. A few new modes and options but at the core of it all is classic space invaders. Final_Fantasy_Tactics_A2_Grimoire_of_the_Rift_USA_NDS-iND Final fantasy tactics and indeed the tactics line of games were fairly well represented on the GBA and while it took a while for it to start happening on the DS. For those new to the genre it revolves around a grid based fighting game with enough rules, strategy and the like to satisfy just about anyone who likes that sort of thing. This one leans more towards the in depth side of thing so this does mean it did not come off as well to those wanting a quick paced game (there are examples of that in this genre as well). Daigasso_Band_Brothers_DX_NDS_JPN-XPA A v1.1 of thise also exists as Daigassou_Band_Brothers_DX_v1.1_JPN_NDS-BAHAMUT and it has since seen a European release as Jam_with_the_Band_EUR_MULTi5_NDS-EXiMiUS.nfo . As the name implies it is a music game and is a sequel to an early release of the DS called Daigasso Band brothers- it features a lot of songs and indeed caused trouble by using a massive save (1 megabyte is about as big as it usually gets and more often than not sits in the low kilobytes...... this was 32 megabytes. This does however allow for extensive hacking potential. The_Tower_DS_NDS_JPN-XPA An entry into the Sim Tower franchise and sort of sequel to the fairly well liked GBA version (that was in English). You might come a bit unstuck on occasions as it is in Japanese but fairly playable without knowledge of the language. Mega_Man_Star_Force_2_Zerker_X_Saurian_USA_NDS-XPA and Mega_Man_Star_Force_2_Zerker_X_Ninja_USA_NDS-XPA Sequel to the megaman star force games and indeed a common comment/criticism of the original battle network series was that each game was very similar to the last. Such a "feature" appeared to now hold true for the star force series. It is none the less a good game and one for the RPG fan that likes fast action in their battles. Trauma_Center_Under_The_Knife_2_USA_NDS-XPA The first entry of the series was one of the favourite early releases of many people and while this sequel to the did not do all that much to advance the gameplay it did not matter as it was already a great example of a touch screen game. Jigsaw_World_-_Daigekitou_Jig-Battle_Heroes_JPN_NDS-iND A Japanese game about jigsaws and while that may sound a bit dry it is in fact great fun as it is an action game rather than a simple puzzle simulator(?), you control one of a choice of anime characters up against one of the other characters in a race/battle to finish the puzzle (you win by your or your team placing more pieces than the competition), add in some special moves more reminiscent of a traditional action/fighting game, a decent multiplayer and you are looking at a very underrated game. For now there is only a Chinese translation but once you get past the menu options it does not matter. Sid_Meiers_Civilization_Revolution_USA_NDS-XPA Civilization is a big name in turn based simulation games and while it not all that similar to modern iterations of the PC series it is no less dangerous when it comes to sucking down hours of your time (indeed the only thing that may stop you from seeing longer play sessions is your battery running out). You get to choose a civilization each with their own perks and play them from stone age to near future in either world domination or any one of a number of themed maps/challenges. Densetsu_no_Stafy_Taiketsu_Dire_Kaizokudan_JPN_NDS-HR We have since seen a US release in The_Legendary_Starfy_USA_NDS-OneUp. The GBA entries to this series were some of the best platform games on the GBA and this quite happily followed in their footsteps. Some call it an underwater kirby and maybe that is true (not that kirby is bad of course) but great platforming and great multiplayer (up there with the mario multiplayer minigames) mean this is platformer you can not afford to miss. Final_Fantasy_IV_USA_NDS-iND The DS port/3d remake of final fantasy 4, while the final fantasy 3 remake might have felt a bit dated final fantasy 4 still sits on many a top ? RPGs list and while this version refines it quite a bit it is still Final Fantasy 4 (albeit a bit harder in places). On the other hand it might be best summarised as- if you want to play it for the first time or want to play it again make it this version but if you have recently played it again or do not have a great desire to play it again this will not change your mind on such a thing. Izuna_2_The_Unemployed_Ninja_Returns_USA_NDS-XPA A somewhat unexpected sequel (or at least localisation) to the roguelike mentioned in a previous post. It does not do that much to sway you from some of the excellent homebrew alternatives but well worth a play if you like the genre. KORG_DS_-_10_Synthesizer_JPN_NDS-DiPLODOCUS Not a game per se but a cut down version of a KORG synthesizer, unashamedly lacking in any form or gameplay/tutorial it does however act as a rather well made synthesizer/sequencer for your DS and it is certainly not unheard of for those in the world to use it for a gig. Various homebrew programs by virtue of being able to use samples and beyond have the edge in some things but much like all things that use tools you can never have enough. N_Plus_USA_NDS-XPA A port of an incredibly popular flash game to the DS. Best described as a puzzle platformer it strikes the balance between addictive gameplay and making you want to break things. A unique graphical style, loads of levels, great gameplay and incredibly tight controls will see this become a favourite of yours. Mazes_of_Fate_USA_NDS-XPA A port/update of a GBA game, it got decidedly mixed reviews but this first person role playing game did find an audience among those that like old western RPGs. Nobody will blame you if you do not like it but if you spent time on the likes of might and magic or eye of the beholder then you might want to give it a spin. Dragon_Quest_The_Chapters_of_the_Chosen_EUR_MULTi5_NDS-EXiMiUS For those new to Japanese RPGs Dragon Quest is arguably even more well known than Final Fantasy in Japan. This is a port of the NES classic but with much that the PS1 port had as well and with new translation as part of the package this classic RPG gains a new lease of life while still retaining what made it in the first place. Star_Wars_The_Force_Unleashed_NDS-VENOM Caused a bit of trouble for flash carts and much like any console version of a big handheld release (especially one that acts as a cut down port) it had many people pulling in many directions when it came to the question of how good it was but at the heart of it all is a solid 3d star wars game where you get to destroy everything in your path. Castlevania_Order_of_Ecclesia_NDS-VENOM Some nuked this for lack of region tag ( Castlevania_Order_of_Ecclesia_USA_INTERNAL_NDS-XPA taking the place of it in some sites) but no quality issues with the release. The third DS Castlevania game takes things back to the basics and depending on the person you are speaking to makes it the best of the DS entries. Mechanic_Master_USA_NDS-XPA In any description of this game you will probably see the incredible machine mentioned but this is not a bad thing though as like that game this is great fun to play. For those that never played that game think a cross between lemmings and some of the DS kirby games (canvas curse mainly) and several other A to B puzzle games. Professor_Layton_and_the_Curious_Village_REPACK_EUR_MULTi5_NDS-EXiMiUS Ok so the US release of this was available in the year 3 period but it is worth mentioning here. Another puzzle game for the list but this one harks back to such classics as 11th hour and 7th Guest although in a slightly more censor friendly package and with lessons learned from the other DS staple of brain training type games. Chrono_Trigger_JPN_NDS-Caravan There are now US and European versions but this featured English as well (not unheard of for a Japanese game but very rare on a big release like this). Chrono trigger is a classic RPG according to some people (others really can not see what the fuss is about) and unlike the other Square (enix) remakes the DS saw this one does not go the "enhanced remake" route and retains the original artwork although it does see a better translation and the extras from later ports. Once again it is the definitive version of the game with all that such a position entails. Skate_It_USA_NDS-XPA On the consoles the Skate series has in many ways taken over the long standing Tony Hawks franchise as top skateboarding game and this is the DS spinoff of it. The Tony Hawks games on the DS have are generally considered better than their equivalent console brethren but great controls and good gameplay see skate providing a more than adequate challenge on the handhelds as well. Luminous_Arc_2_USA_NDS-XPA A sequel to the tactics/strategy RPG game, the sequel takes and equally light hearted route rather than the more common oh so serious tone usually adopted by the genre and works well because of it. It gains bonus points in the eyes of a fair few for not being incredibly difficult and having a good story behind it all. Rune_Factory_2_A_Fantasy_Harvest_Moon_USA_NDS-XPA A sequel in name only (it assumes nothing of the first entry) to the well liked Rune Factory harvest moon/dungeon crawler hybrid game, it further refined gameplay making it flow a bit better and adding depth to the gameplay (the first was great but was marginally less linear than an equivalent Japanese RPG after you got over the “you can do whatever you want” concept). Metal_Slug_7_USA_NDS-XPA A 2d shoot em up probably familiar to anyone that went into an arcade in the mid 1990s or has since explored the shoot em up genre in any depth. Short but sweet is how this best described but such games are all about times and high scores so that does not matter much. If you are the sort of gamer that has honed your reactions to “twitch” grade then this is the sort of game you will find yourself playing. Age_Of_Empires_Mythologies_USA_NDS-XPA The first age of empires game happened early on the DS lifespan and was a surprising good title to boot. While it is not the traditional RTS of age of empires (instead opting for turn based) this game stands up against any rivals in the genre. Prince_Of_Persia_The_Fallen_King_EUR_NDS-XPA The GBA Prince of Persia was a truly fantastic platformer and before this the franchise had not done well on the DS. The touchscreen controls irked some but once you got used to them a fun little game emerged and the Prince of Persia series returned to form on the DS. Elebits_The_Adventures_Of_Kai_And_Zero_USA_NDS-XPA Known as Eledees when it hit Europe this is a sequel to an earlier Wii game (50/50 as to whether you really need to play it to appreciate this), strongly reminiscent of the megadrive/genesis classic Crusader of Centy (Soleil in Europe) and rune factory/harvest moon (at least the animal parts) mixed with a dash of pokemon this adventure game made for a nice, if somewhat simple, distraction around new years 2008-2009 and if you are up for a game you can pick up and put down easily but not a puzzle game then this may be for you. Retro_Game_Challenge_USA_NDS-XPA If you took the 9 volt sections of warioware and extended them while cranking the satire up to near ridiculous levels you would end up with something like this. If that line did not sell you on the premise then you probably will not enjoy it but if it did then have fun. Bomberman_2_EUR_MULTi5_NDS-EXiMiUS So far Europe (and Japan as Custom Battler Bomberman) only it went somewhat under the radar as a result. It is none the less a new bomberman game for the DS with all that it implies, while it will probably not replace the bomberman game from early in the DS lifetime it is a worthy addition to it. Legacy_of_Ys_Books_1_and_2_USA_NDS-XPA A classic action RPG series got an update/remake/port on the DS (a PSP version is also out in Japan), some purists did not get on overly well with it but by and large it was welcomed to the DS. Grand_Theft_Auto_Chinatown_Wars_USA_NDS-XPA One of the big releases of the year it was the first DS GTA game and by all accounts pulled it off very well. It was also noted for causing a few fair troubles on release owing to a new save type. While it did get an improved PSP port the DS version is still a great example of what can be done on a handheld game. Valkyrie_Profile_Covenant_of_the_Plume_USA_NDS-XPA Among RPG fans developers Tri-Ace have a reputation for trying new things and occasionally falling over but occasionally producing a true gem. This fell somewhere in between with a few things keeping this strategy RPG from being a true classic but if you can ignore a few flaws (not usually a tall order for an RPG fan) you can have a lot of fun with this entry into the Valkyrie Profile series. Broken_Sword_Shadow_Of_The_Templars_The_Directors_Cut_EUR_NDS-XPA Something of a staple on the GBA and a well known series on the PC the DS entry to the series gains touchscreen controls (greatly missed on the GBA). A true adventure/mystery game through and through and considerably better than the attempt at porting myst to the DS. Final_Fantasy_Crystal_Chronicles_Echoes_of_Time_USA_NDS-PYRiDiA Sequel to the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles game on the DS, not a lot has changed for this version but then again the first DS version did wonders for the series as compared to the gamecube game and this even more so. While it has a solid single player the multiplayer side of things is where it shines- modern gamers have to take co-op where they can get it with the DS even worse off here. Dementium_The_Ward_EUR_MULTi5_NDS-EXiMiUS OK so it was available in the US in time for the previous “year” but overlooked last time. There have been a few attempts at horror games for the DS but this one was a cut above them all with the game being especially noted for the graphics. Turn off the lights and have a good time for a few hours. The_Dark_Spire_USA_NDS-XPA Taking a cue from the early Wizardry games is the Dark Spire and much like many games of that era this dungeon crawler has a fairly complex character system and things tend to have to be found out rather than told to you outright or be painfully obvious. It would be a stretch to call this a first person roguelike but if and when such a game appears it could count this among the precursors. Anno_-_Create_A_New_World_EUR_MULTi5_NDS-iND Anno was mentioned before and is this entry does nothing to change it from being on the top flight city building game. Rather nicely it opts for shorter games rather than the hours that say Civilization Revolution might take (not to say that you will not be able to spend hours playing the game itself should you so desire). Knights_in_the_Nightmare_USA_NDS-PYRiDiA A hybrid between a strategy RPG and 2d shooter if that makes any sense at all this game came a something of a surprise to many (it was the start of the summer at this point which is traditionally where bad games get released to try and not be dwarfed by releases elsewhere in the year). On the other hand it was from Sting Entertainment who made the Dokapon, Yggdra Union and Riviera games the latter two of which appeared fairly late in the day on the GBA and while they were divisive from the perspective of players and critics most would agree if they were not outright great games they had the features of them. Hybrid games are always interesting to see and this game is probably best suited to someone who thinks they would like a tatics/strategy RPG but with the quicker gameplay of something like pokemon, robopon, medabots RPG or something like that. Black_Sigil_Blade_of_the_Exiled_USA_NDS-OneUp This game was originally slated for release on the GBA and while such origins are clear if you are looking for it this is a solid story based RPG albeit with a tendency to want to grind on several occasions (rather nicely there are some experience multiplier cheats to spare you some of that). There are other somewhat better RPGs on the DS but if you are looking for something slightly off the beaten track you could do worse than this. [h2]Closing words[/h2] Year 4 was the biggest year in terms of releases (year 5 tomorrow actually has considerably fewer releases even if it just over 1300 of them) and a fairly turbulent one at that. Tomorrow is year 5, DSi hybrid games, DSi homebrew, enhanced flash carts, more AP and of course more games you might have missed.