The Top 5 Most Disappointing Nintendo DS Games

I’m not in the habit of spending money on games I think I’ll hate. I’m sure these games are miles away from the worst the DS has to offer, but of all the games I was expecting to enjoy, these were the biggest letdowns.


5. Spider Man: Shattered Dimensions

My only previous experience with Griptonite Games being the excellent Web of Shadows DS, and the fun but short Assassin’s Creed 2 DS, I was fully expecting this game to kick all kinds of ass. Alas, while this game sounds like a total improvement on paper, in practice it’s a complete failure.

Shattered Dimensions replaces WOS’ mobs of blobby 2-3 move enemies with small groups of enemies that have higher quality models and a crapload of moves. Sounds great, but it doesn’t matter that the enemy has a whole swiss army knife of moves when you’ve got him stunlocked and there’s barely anyone else on the screen to worry about. To up the Metroid flavor, special moves are no longer bought with combat experience orbs, but gathered in hidden containers, giving even less reason to fight the baddies. Finally, the game’s achievements are unlocked by speed-running it under various conditions and you happen to be playing a character with the agility of Spider Man. Guess what all these elements turn the game into? A brawler where you’re doing nothing but avoiding fights.

And why is it Web of Shadows, which primarily took place in the sewers and subway, had these enormous environments where you could leap and web swing through the air while Shattered Dimension’s Manhattan skyline level doesn’t even let you get above the 2nd floor? Plus the boss fights suck. They really suck.

4. Infinite Space

I came expecting Space Opera, I got incest hentai instead.

The one good part of the game is the Tetris minigame where you fit components into your hull squares visually, rather than limiting things with abstract tonnage numbers. Unfortunately, this game turns out to be an even worse tease than Galactic Civilizations 2 because fleet combat is literally one-dimensional. Your starfleet acts as a single unit with aggregate stats. You move toward the enemy, let off a volley once they’re in range, then run out of their range while your weapons recharge. Rinse and repeat. The game tries to mix things up by adding a basic rock-paper-scissors system of attack styles, but the AI only picks Rock or Scissors. The initially steep learning curve is the fault of the game’s shitty HUD. The controls are touchscreen-only, but all you’re doing is pushing buttons, at max about 8 of them. The worst of both worlds!

So the gameplay is crap, what about the plot? It actively punishes you for advancing it. The motivation of first boss, the dictator of your homeworld who forbids space travel because he’s too old for it and jealous of the youngsters (not intended to be a joke), is Infinite Space at its least painful. At all times it is made clear that pirates are the dominant military force in the galaxy and the one thing they’re busy doing is rape. Pirate bases are filled with sex slaves. A waitress you’re trying to recruit into your crew is kidnapped, raped, and then gets a bomb surgically implanted in her to try and kill you. Even the Bishonen in your crew nearly gets raped by pirates who mistake him for a girl at first, then decide he’s close enough.

The main character is being monitored by aliens from afar and one of the first things they do is implant the memory into his brain that the girl they’re using as their spy is his beloved sister. So he takes her into his crew and all sorts of creepiness ensues because the main character’s “sister” REALLY makes it clear she wants to jump his bones. Worse, the rest of the crew is catches on and starts saying things like, “You two sure act more like boyfriend and girlfriend than brother and sister, are you sure you’re related? Because, I mean, if you’re not really related it doesn’t count!” while the main character is all, “No that’s gross, dudes, she’s my sister!” It was right around this point that I quit the game.

Star Fox Command, aka. “Help the furries find true love” is less creepy and a better Space Opera than Infinite Space.

3. Zelda: Spirit Tracks

Fuck me! I bought a DS to DISTRACT me from my commute! This miserable flash game is all about taking long trips, staring at empty scenery, honking at animals who wander in your way, and avoiding being hit by asshole road hogs. I haven’t really played a Zelda Game since Ocarina of time but what the hell? An expansive overworld where every tile could hide treasures or dangers wasn’t good enough for you? It was that fucking rumblepack fishing minigame, wasn’t it? You had to go and turn Zelda into a cavalcade of bullshit minigames after that, didn’t you?

There IS eventually some traditional Zelda dungeon crawling, and how can you fuck that up? Oh, I know! Make it so the very first weapon you find is not activated by a button, or even a stylus motion, but by BLOWING INTO THE MICROPHONE! “This is the Captain speaking. Folks I want to let you know you can get a great view right now of the biggest dork in the world. He’s sitting in seat 27C and doing Lamaze exercises into a video game device. We have turned off the fasten seatbelts sign so you may properly stand up, point, and laugh.”

I traded in this turd faster than Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ.

2. Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble

HUGE disappointment, especially since this game is a very close 2nd to Ninja Gaiden for best looking game on the DS. Unlike Ninja Gaiden, this is a perfect example of how NOT to do stylus controls in an action game. Before you even start playing, there’s this thing during the opening cut scenes where every 5 sentences the scene comes to a halt and you have to drag a photo slide (?) up the touchscreen to advance the scene. And if you get impatient and just make an upward flick, the slide will only go up as far as your stylus went, then slide back down into place. You are not half-assing your way through our bullshit busywork QTE, young man! Now drag that slide all the way from the bottom to the top and advance this cut scene like you mean it!

That’s just how picky the touchscreen controls are to activate your powers in real time, while pressing buttons, in the middle of an action packed fight, your Vfx power bar draining the whole time. What a miserable clusterfuck of a game and a terrible swansong for the makers of God Hand.

1. Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift

A deliberate attempt to destroy everything that was good about the original Final Fantasy Tactics, or the well meaning but completely misguided attempts by a high-functioning autistic to improve the game?

I mean, if you want to add demihumans to FF:T, I guess Moogles and Playboy bunnies are easier to differentiate at the DS’ resolution than halflings and elves, but who would want to play a pack of furries? I guess adding one-arm-behind-your-back “laws” you must follow is a way to increase the challenge, but the player is going to be more annoyed by them than anything. I suppose a plot that can be summed up as “we’re playing a MMORPG, join our guild before the giant chicken eats you!” gives an excuse for plentiful battles and encounters, but it doesn’t exactly make for a compelling narrative. Yeah, taking away the ability to custom choose your characters with the job system and instead drip-feeding new skills through random item drops… no wait, that just plain sucks any way you shake it.

Was this a GBA game that got delayed for the DS? Why are the battlefields static drawings? What happened to scaling castle walls to lower the drawbridge and let your party inside? What happened to battles raging across multiple levels and fully rotatable maps? Where’s my magic miniatures map?

I think I can say nothing more damning about this game than the only nice thing I can think of to say about it. It’s refreshingly colorful, compared to the majority of my top 10 games.

Too bad the original Final Fantasy Tactics was only released on non-portable platforms like the PSP, it could have been the ultimate travel game.

Mischief Maker