Publisher: Nintendo | Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: May 18, 2009 | Price: 500 Nintendo DSi Points
Art Style: Aquia kicked off the recognition for Nintendo's stylish series of inventive action and puzzle designs earlier on our countdown, but PiCTOBiTS is the brand's clear pinnacle on DSi. This retro-fantastic puzzler combines three huge points of appeal into one must-own package -- its gameplay is wonderfully unique and addictive, its presentation and stages are built on a foundation of classic 8-bit Nintendo sprites, and its soundtrack is greatest chiptune score ever compiled for a first-party project. Thanks, entirely, to the hard work of the frightfully awesome band YMCK (who composed every track).
PiCTOBiTS starts simply, as you learn to use the stylus to absorb squares of color on the touch screen, then re-position the sucked-up squares elsewhere in the playing field. Your goal is to line up the colors with blocks falling down from above -- and if you're successful, the completed shape you just built will rocket itself up to the top screen and slowly begin to fill it the pixel positions of an old 8-bit NES character. When the character's complete, the stage is clear -- which is easy to do. For the first few rounds. But PiCTOBiTS becomes devilishly difficult in later levels, and the pain is dished out even more severely in the unlockable "Dark" versions of every stage.
Stick with it, though, and you'll earn a crop of coins for each cleared challenge -- coins that can then be used to unlock new songs in the game's jukebox. If you're at all a fan of the chiptune scene, remixed video game music in general, or just the old sounds you heard playing games in the '80s, it's worth your time to try for the full collection here -- you can have your own 8-bit radio station playing through your DSi.
Publisher: Capcom | Developer: Other Ocean Interactive
Release Date: January 19, 2010 | Price: 500 Nintendo DSi Points
Old-school franchise is in full swing these days, as it seems like nearly every classic video game brand is getting some kind of new sequel, spin-off or remake on modern machines. Capcom helped kick off this new retro revival a few years ago with Mega Man 9, a new sequel with intentionally old graphics -- it was made to look and play exactly like an 8-bit NES title. Having had success with that attempt, then, the company branched out to other properties.
Dark Void Zero takes a similar path, also presenting itself as a kind of "lost" NES game with its intentional low-resolution look and gameplay style. But Capcom really went all out for this one on the marketing side -- they invented a fabulously convoluted backstory for the "history" of the game, claiming it was a shelved concept from the '80s, that it was once in development for the PlayChoice-10 arcade hardware and all sorts of other nonsense. You might not have fell for the tall tale or even thought it was all that funny yourself, but the more important fact is that Capcom put in the effort -- to promote a DSiWare product. DSiWare's rarely had as much focus and attention as in the span of a month when Dark Void Zero was getting so hyped.
The game itself, too, is a really excellent one. Similar in ways to vintage side-scrollers like Bionic Commando, its use of shooting and jetpack mechanics combined for a very playable and definitely retro game experience. In fact, Dark Void Zero ended up being much better received and reviewed than the home console Dark Void game for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 -- which is definitely funny, considering it was certainly not planned to outshine its big-budget brother.