Virtual Vocations – The DS as Career Counselor
Probably my favourite new gig so far has been taking up a scalpel to slice and dice an endless stream of patients as a talented but troubled surgeon in the ludicrously fun game Trauma Center: Under the Knife. Admittedly, I could do without all the endless pre-op soap opera nonsense, but a bad case of verbal diarrhea is a small price to pay for the chance to chop out tumors and salvage dodgy hearts.
Real lawyers spend their days slogging through dense documents and parsing legal jargon, but that probably wouldn’t make for the most entertaining game. Luckily, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney skips the paperwork and goes straight for outlandish plot twists, tense cross-examinations and some seriously hilarious dialogue. Just don’t start a new case before bed, unless you want to be up until three in the morning yelling “objection” at an uncooperative judge.
A proper PI story needs two things: a twisty-turny hardboiled plot and plenty of gritty style. And fortunately for would-be gumshoes, Hotel Dusk: Room 215 delivers both in spades. With its sepia-toned look, head-scratching puzzles and tightly written dialogue, Hotel Dusk feels less like a traditional game and more like an interactive noir novel. Twitch gamers will probably find it too slow-paced, but anyone with an interest in a mature and atmospheric detective experience should check into this seedy hotel.
Nintendogs is pretty simple. Pick out a little fuzzy friend. Teach it a few tricks. Take it for a walk. Feed and water it. Give it a bath. Toss the Frisbee around. Enter an obedience contest. Then, repeat. Over and over again. Sure, it’s very cutesy and adorable the first few times, but eventually it starts blurring together into a haze of doggy boredom. All in all, an interesting failure.
Life of Leisure
Another interesting but ultimately flawed game is Animal Crossing: Wild World. This cartoony Sims-style game plunks you down in the middle of a small village, where you can redecorate your house, make friends with the locals, design clothes, search for bugs and generally kill time. Just like Nintendogs, it’s fun for the first few hours, but the lack of depth and repetitive nature makes it hard to recommend. And as my wife said, “Why would I want to play a game where one of the main goals is to pay off a mortgage?”
Feel like whipping up a gourmet feast, but don’t want to shop for groceries, wash dishes or actually eat anything? Then you need Cooking Mama, the only game that turns boiling pasta into a stylus-stabbing frenzy. Yes, it’s basically just a collection of follow-the-directions mini-games, and there’s not much to do once you’ve unlocked all the recipes, but if you’re looking for a quick three-minute game fix (nothing beats frying octopus dumplings while sitting on the toilet) then this is the game for you.