Feature: Ten of Our Favourite DSiWare Games

Remembering some of the best from Nintendo's first portable eShop

The DSi was a console that had some important 'firsts' for Nintendo's portable efforts, chief among them was a digital storefront. Though the DSiWare shop may seem rather primitive compared to the eShop nowadays, there were still plenty of quality titles to be found on the service. Now that the first steps towards the shop's shutdown are beginning in less than a week before its closure next year, we thought we'd put together a list of ten of our favourite DSiWare games.

For those of you looking to make one last splurge before the DSi Shop's doors close for good, maybe these suggestions are worth a look. This writer's opted for a mix of obvious and perhaps less-known examples.

Pinball Pulse: The Ancients Beckon

When it comes to pinball games on the DS, one's mind generally thinks of the rather odd Metroid Prime Pinball. As it would happen, Fuse Games – the developer of Metroid Prime Pinball – also put out an original pinball game on the DSi Shoppe back in 2009 - Pinball Pulse: The Ancients Beckon. Featuring a pinball table inspired by Greek mythology, this game is quite well-designed and offers plenty of value for the 500 points it costs to download. The dot-matrix display is a lovely touch, it features a good mixture of objectives, and the physics are surprisingly realistic.

Original Review Score: 7/10

X-Scape

The sequel to an obscure, Japan-only Game Boy release, X-Scape stands as one of the most polished games on the DSi store. You play as the ace pilot of the VIXIV super-tank, blasting your way through aliens across several Tron-like worlds. Compared to most other DSiWare games, X-Scape features a pretty meaty campaign and still holds up extremely well today. This one was also developed by Q-Games, a studio helmed by Dylan Cuthbert, the man responsible for the 3D technology behind the original Star Fox. Fun Fact: The tunnel music from this game made an appearance in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

Original Review Score: 9/10

Dark Void Zero

This one was released by Capcom as a tie-in for the ill-fated Dark Void, amusingly receiving more critical acclaim than its big-budget counterpart. Dark Void Zero is a 2D action platformer where you run 'n' gun your way through three lengthy levels, with the ultimate goal of saving Earth from an alien threat. Its runtime may be a bit on the short side, but the collectables go a long way towards extending replayability and it's challenging to a satisfying degree. Also, that sequence where you have to "blow on the cartridge" is a nice touch.

Original Review Score: 9/10

Trajectile / Reflect Missile

Another excellent title by Q-Games, Trajectile mixes Arkanoid with puzzle solving elements and the final product is something that's surprisingly solid. Trajectile features over 200 levels, each of which sees you using a limited number of missiles which you must use to destroy certain blocks. Some missiles reflect off walls, others explode, while others can drill through several blocks, and it's up to you to be as efficient as possible in how you utilize them. It's surprisingly gripping; this would be a fantastic game even as a standard DS release.

Original Review Score: 9/10

Shantae: Risky's Revenge

Arguably the greatest game to ever come out of DSiWare, Shantae: Risky's Revenge made the eight year wait for a Shantae sequel all worth it. Featuring a charming cast of characters, a vibrant visual style, and an overworld packed with secrets and collectables, this was everything fans loved about the original and then some. Though there's a Director's Cut now available on the Wii U eShop, the original release is still excellent and is well worth a look.

Original Review Score: 10/10

Starship Defense / Starship Patrol

Yet another release from the talented developers at Q-Games, Starship Defense is a challenging tower defense game with an interesting visual style. The whole thing looks like it's drawn on mathematical graphing paper, and everything has a very clean look to it. Though it doesn't stray too far from the standard tower defense formula, the progression and upgrade systems are well paced and it can be surprisingly challenging.

Original Review Score: 8/10

Bird & Beans / Pyoro

DSiWare was mostly known for offering more stripped back, bite-sized game experiences compared to full retail releases, but games like Bird & Beans proved that this wasn't a disadvantage. The goal of the game is simple, beans fall from the sky and you run back and forth as a little red bird named Pyoro, who must eat as many beans as possible with its long tongue. A game of Bird & Beans never lasts too long, but it almost perfectly manages to nail that "one more try" feeling. Also – after passing a certain score threshold – you get to play Bird & Beans 2, which puts a fun spin on the concept.

Original Review Score: 8/10

Mighty Flip Champs!

WayForward is well known for the quality of its 2D platformers and that clearly shows through with Mighty Flip Champs. This game takes advantage of the dual screens by letting you "flip" between different marginally different screens to clear levels. Featuring over 40 levels and a ranking system based on how efficiently you cleared each stage, this one's got pretty long legs. And, for those of you that loved the concept, it received two sequels in Mighty Milky Way and Mighty Switch Force!.

Original Review Score: 9/10

Art Style: Aquia / Aquite

The Art Style series made its debut on WiiWare, so it made sense that these puzzle games would make their way to DSiWare in some form. Art Style: Aquia was actually one of the launch games for the DSi Shop, and it was arguably the best of the bunch. Featuring simple block-pushing gameplay and a smooth art style (sorry), this one can be infuriatingly addicting once it gets its hooks in you. Also, for those of you that loved this series, there was a handful of other high-quality Art Style games released on DSiWare afterward.

Original Review Score: 9/10

Zenonia

There aren't many RPGs on DSiWare, and though Zenonia may have been a cell phone game first, it nonetheless stands out in the DSiWare library. The story follows Regret, a teenage boy who travels the world investigating the death of his father. Along the way you meet all sorts of colourful characters, fight enemies through the excellent live-action combat system, and can choose between good and evil paths at certain story points. This is a surprisingly well rounded RPG for the DSi, and one well worth a look for any fans of the genre.

Original Review Score: 9/10


Now, let's hear what your favourite DSiWare games are. What games would you put in your list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.