This entire week, we have covered our most anticipated 2012 games for the 360, PS3, Wii, and PC. Now it's time for Tony Ponce and I to enter the hardcore, baby-making world of portables. With the Nintendo DS going out with a bang and the 3DS just starting to find its footing, 2012 is going to be an exciting year for Nintendo handhelds!
As much as we love our Nintendo DSes, we are really looking forward to what 3DS games will be releasing in the future. After a slow start in 2011, the 3DS is picking up some major steam going into the new year. Like the DS before it, once the system builds up some critical and commercial momentum, the classic games from first and third parties alike will start piling up. Exciting stuff!
But what specific DS and 3DS games in 2012 are we the most excited about?
Resident Evil Revelations (3DS)
I just recently replayed the undeniable classic Resident Evil 4 and fell in love with the game all over again. And as much as I liked (not loved) Resident Evil 5, after playing RE4, I have been craving a more classic Resident Evil experience. Resident Evil Revelations looks to satiate that need.
Set on a creepy boat floating on a creepy sea, the gorgeous, "is that really running on a handheld?" Revelations should be the return to form the classic series desperately needs. I can't wait for the game to scare the bejesus out of me ... all in 3D!
Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)
I'm not going lie: out of all the games I am excited about in 2012, Kid Icarus: Uprising gives me the most reservations. I obviously love the character and am super stoked for the action-heavy gameplay, but I am very nervous about the controls. In my short time with the game, the controls were very uncomfortable, to say the least.
But when a game is delayed (Kid Icarus: Uprising was originally supposed to be released in 2011), sometimes it is for the best. I am cautiously optimistic for this promising, wildly different sequel. It could end up being a surprise hit!
Luigi's Mansion 2 (3DS)
The original Luigi's Mansion was such an odd little launch title for the GameCube back in 2001, but that was one of the reasons I fell in love with it. When Nintendo does "odd," the results are always, at the very least, memorable.
Now, more than 10 years later, the game is getting an official sequel on the 3DS! Once again starring Mario's tortured, often-forgotten sibling, Luigi's Mansion 2 looks better than the original and promises to feature multiple mansions, more stuff to do, and more ghosts to suck ... into the Poltergust 3000!
I played the game at E3 and absolutely fell in love with its crisp visuals and addictive gameplay. I can't wait to play more of Luigi's Mansion 2 when it comes out later this year!
Paper Mario (3DS)
This is it. Out of all games on all systems, this is the one I am most looking forward to in 2012. I have never been shy about my love for the Paper Mario series. I think it is one of the most charming videogame series of all time, and the original is one of my favorite RPGs ever.
Not much is known about Paper Mario for 3DS, but does it really matter? It's a brand new Paper Mario game! That's all I need to know. I am so freaking excited!
I am going to play the sh*t out of this game!
Honorable Mentions: Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Pokémon + Nobunaga's Ambition (DS)
I am what you call a "lapsed fan" of the Pokémon series, having only played through the first generation before hanging up my towel. I've also never played any entry in the Nobunaga's Ambition series, nor am I consumer of strategy RPGs. However, take these two properties that would never in a million years eat at the same table then make them eat at the same table, and my interest is piqued.
It's such a natural progression, really. For years, we've been exposed to our fair share of historical games that take extensive liberties with the events. Tecmo Koei itself has been pumping out a parade of Dynasty and Samurai Warriors sequels featuring outlandish skills and high-octane rock soundtracks. Sengoku-era warriors chillaxing with the likes of Mewtwo and Jigglypuff is the obvious next step.
Extreme Escape Adventure: Good People Die (3DS, PlayStation Vita)
When I first heard about 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, I expected a beefier successor to the escape-the-room Flash games I enjoyed in college. I was blindsided when I popped the cartridge in and discovered a text-heavy visual novel without any respite, not even within the aforementioned puzzle rooms. Not one for excessive narrative, I shouldn't have liked this game. Not only did 999 become my favorite title of 2010, a lot of other people became hooked as well. It performed beyond Aksys' expectations, completely selling out and forcing the company to produce a second run.
Good People Die is the sequel to 999; if it's even half as good as the original, I'll be a happy man. Already, the details have gotten me excited, the most interesting bit being the cooperation / betrayal mechanic. The participants are once again shackled with death watches, though they operate differently than in the last adventure. By choosing to help or turn on your partner, you collect points, and if you earn nine points, you can escape. However, points are awarded based on both parties' decisions, so should you choose to cooperate with someone who in turn betrays you, you lose points. If you hit zero, the watch will inject you with lethal poison.
Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney (3DS)
It's the season of crossovers! The union of Pokémon and Nobunaga's Ambition is (hopefully) like a pairing of foods that you wouldn't think tastes good but does, like sugar cookies filled with potato chip crumbles. Following that logic, Professor Layton and Ace Attorney is like peanut butter and Nutella -- two great tastes that taste even better combined. You know this to be true.
How can Phoenix even legally practice law outside of the country? I say that because there is no way that town is just a Renaissance festival passing through California. Then again, Phoenix and Layton aren't supposed to exist in the same century, so I probably shouldn't try to introduce logic to this discussion, despite logic being the cornerstone of both franchises.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (3DS)
I was writing these little blurbs when I suddenly realized that none of my top picks have a US release date. Sure, it might just be a matter of time before the respective companies make "the call," and the only title I'm almost certain won't be localized can be imported and played on any vanilla DS without any region-locking hassle. Still, I'm upset that publishers in this modern age continue to be slow to respond to fans who show genuine interest in their more alternative catalog.
But I digress. Where were we? Ah, Theatrhythm! The character art is deliciously adorable and the gameplay reminds me of Taiko Drum Master and Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan. I don't even think it's possible to dislike Final Fantasy music -- at least, I've never met anyone who does. Theatrhythm is most certainly a spin-off I can throw my full support behind.
Rodea the Sky Soldier (3DS, Wii)
I doubt many of you even remember this guy. We haven't seen or heard anything solid of Rodea, from Yuji Naka's Prope studios, in almost a year. All we discovered recently was that development completed some months back and that it's up to publisher Kadokawa Shoten to decide the next move.
I want to play Rodea not only because I think it could be decent but also because I want to see a massive Prope game that isn't a shallow minigame package. Ivy the Kiwi? was fine, but let's aim a little higher, shall we? I definitely noticed shades of NiGHTS into Dreams... in the original trailer, so I pray I'm not setting my hopes up for a touch of that 90s SEGA magic in the final product.
Honorable Mentions: Flipper 2: Flush the Goldfish, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle, Mutant Mudds, Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword , Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Resident Evil Revelations
Additional staff picks for the DS / 3DS:
Sean Daisy: Monster Hunter 4, Luigi's Mansion 2, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance