While the DS is not my favourite handheld, it has produced a number of RPGs that have given me great joy within the last few years. Unlike the majority of staff members here at RPGamer, I tend to enjoy games that are charming and light-hearted. I love cute games, and the DS produced so many that it was hard just to list the ones I love. All the games I have selected have the power to keep players engaged, be it through their unique mechanics, silly plotlines, or intricately woven worlds. Three of the five titles fit into the category of adorkableness, while two games in particular stand out for simply for being unforgettable experiences.
#1 · Atelier Annie: Alchemists of Sera Island
When I saw Atelier Annie at Run to the Sun 2009, I was immediately enamored by the overuse of soft pastel colours, and a gold-digger protagonist with no sense of manners. Annie isn't exactly a typical female heroine, a large part of the charm comes from the laugh-out-loud localization that really showcases just how whacky of a world Sera Island is. The alchemy aspect of the game is addictive, and forces players to think about how they need to build their resorts. There's a lot of time management involved, and while that will be a turn-off for some, I found the game to be very engaging, even if a bit challenging at times. Annie is one of the most cheerful games it is possible to add to a game collection, and what girl doesn't want to win the heart of a handsome prince? I know I do.
#2 · Magical Starsign
Magical Starsign is a weird game that I probably never would have played had it not been a birthday gift from a dear friend of mine. Ever judge a game by its cover? This game is a case like that, where judging by its unfortunately ugle cover would mean missing out on a cute, hilarious adventure of six students out to save their school teacher. Magical Starsign is one of the few stylus based games that I can tolerate, as it controls very smoothly, and responds very well to the player's commands. While you're not going to find it to be the most original experience on the DS, Magic Starsign is sure to provide laughs on end, and cute as a button characters, such a Mokka, the robot full of pure human emotion... and named after coffee.
#3 · The World Ends With You
The World Ends With You is assuredly one of the most interesting titles to ever be released on the DS. It has a lot of attitude, spunk, and even encourages players to wear some hip threads while traversing through Shibuya. Neku is a character that, despite his personal issues, grows in a way that many teenagers can relate to. Each of the characters in this game are wonderfully flawed people trying to figure themselves out before their days are over. I love the way that The World Ends With You captures such a youthful spirit, which when done exceptionally well can be rewarding to see in a a fleshed out story.
#4 · Rune Factory 3
I adore the Harvest Moon series. Sure, it's just farming your life away, but there's a lot of joy to be found in doing mundane tasks. I've had a more hit-and-miss relationship with the sister series Rune Factory, and that was until Natsume released Rune Factory 3 last year. Rune Factory 3 is the best of both worlds in terms of the game's overall gameplay, music, story, and even its bachelorettes. It just goes to show that Neverland is always constantly trying to improve with each iteration of Rune Factory. There is so much tender love and care in terms of the gameplay and how the world was designed, that Neverland created one of the most imaginative and heart-warming experiences to appear on the DS.
#5 · Magic and Magic: Clash of Heroes
We at RPGamer adored Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes when it was released in 2009. One could say we were completely smitten with the game's puzzling battle system and its excellent sense of challenge. Clash of Heroes is ambitious, and it triumphs on its ability to engage players beyond typical button mashing. Every move must be carefully thought out, and it makes players feel actively involved within the game's combat, which can be a tough feat if a battle system starts out uninspired to begin with. Those who missed out on the DS release have been treated to an HD remix on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but as it stands, this game is pure portable pleasure at its finest.