In the days before I really got into console gaming, a transition which I mark as when I truly began to be obsessed with video games, I played a lot of handheld games, as well as a few PC games. I just felt like I should do a post about five of my favorite games on the GBA and DS.
Golden Sun was one of the best titles in the entire GBA library, if not the best. Its sprites and art were so gorgeous that they made this game look better than almost any other game on the platform. I should clarify: I hate JRPGs, but I loved this game. The battle system was much better than any Final Fantasy game I've ever played (I & II and IV on the GBA, III on the DS), primarily because it involved actual strategy, which sort of validates the turn-based system. The story was really cool to me because it wasn't about revenge or love, which seem to be way too common themes in JRPGs. Also, the game was paced so that the gameplay never really got in the way or even distracted from the narrative. I was aware of where I had to, what I had to do, and why at all times when I played it. Another cool part of the game was that, in order to progress through a dungeon or level, one had to get through puzzles that often required the use of special powers. The music was great, too.
Golden Sun: The Lost Age
Golden Sun's sequel, The Lost Age, was easily the best game on the GBA. It was, without a doubt, a better game than the first, which was already a great game, for the simple reason that it had more stuff in it. It didn't really change much with the gameplay, but that didn't really matter because the original had already gotten it right. The more attentive among you will notice that my avatar is the main character, Felix. Of course, now the less attentive among you will notice this too.
Metroid Prime: Hunters
I was blown away by this game. I never expected handhelds to be able to handle first-person shooters at all, let alone as well as Metroid Prime: Hunters. The story mode is very fun, but I never spent half the time playing it as I did playing in the multiplayer mode, whether against bots or other people over Nintendo's WFC. The multiplayer was very robust, with several different modes, lots of customizable options, plenty of maps, up to four players, and seven different characters to choose from, each with a different "affinity weapon" which was essentially a better version of a weapon that every other hunter could use. Samus's was her rockets, which could track. Trace's was the laser rifle; when wielding it and standing still, he became invisible. The main gripe I've heard about this game is the control scheme can often lead to cramped hands, but I've experienced far worse from a mouse and keyboard. Using the stylus to aim is a great idea, and it's a wonder more developers aren't making FPS's using that control scheme, because it works really well. The graphics are also very nice, especially for a DS game.
Super Mario 64 DS
This game was much more than just a port of the revolutionary N64 game. It was better in almost every way; more places to explore, more stars to collect, more characters to play as, lots of fun mini-games, which I usually hate but are a nice addition here, and much better graphics and art than the original. Many critics hated the D-pad compared to an analog stick, but I never had any problems with it; I just held the R button or whatever to crawl when I needed to go slowly, and everything was cool.
Age of Empires: Age of Kings
Often overlooked and ignored in favor of the more popular Advance Wars franchise, this title nevertheless was a solid offering and my most-played game on the DS. First of all, it involved resource gathering through construction of mines, windmills, and farms, which adds to the strategy required to win. Second of all, it had a Library function, where anyone interested could read about the history of the real world equivalents of all the technologies, units, structures, heroes, and wars in the game. I once spent over an hour straight just reading those entries. I still play this game when I'm on the go or am grounded from my 360, although that is also due in part to the fact that I have lost all of my other DS and GBA games :(