The Nintendo DS remains an ever-popular holiday gift. The newest model, the DSi, features a virtual storefront, accessible directly from the device, with numerous downloadable games and apps. With a Nintendo Points card, you can sweeten your DSi gift or brighten an existing DSi owner's holiday. Here are our suggestions for how to spend your DSiWare points:
The Casual Gamer
Not all of us has the time to game all day, every day, thus we have: the casual gamer. Here are a few simple, yet delight DSi downloads:
Dr. Mario Express (500 Nintendo Points)
Dr. Mario is a classic puzzle game in which players match like-colored pills and viruses to clear the screen and earn points. Plus, it's got toe-tapping music to boot! Headphones recommended.
Bird and Beans (200 Nintendo Points)
Originally an unlockable in the first WarioWare game for Game Boy Advance, this downloadable version offers two delightful, pick-up-and-play minigames.
Paper Plane (200 Nintendo Points)
Another deceptively simple game, Paper Plane tasks players with guiding their fragile aircraft around obstacles, down the scrolling screen. It gets tougher -- and more addictive -- the longer you go without crashing.
Boxlife (500 Nintendo Points)
Boxlife is a puzzle game entry in Nintendo's popular ArtStyle series in which players cut, fold and assemble box patterns with the stylus. It looks and sounds simple enough, but -- like working in a real box factory, we imagine -- it can be quite challenging.
Puzzle League Express (500 Nintendo Points)
Our final recommendation is another puzzle game where players shift colored blocks around a game grid to make matches, thus eliminating those pieces from the board. Puzzle League is a lot like Meteos, another great stylus-controller puzzle game, and features a couple of different game modes, including Score Attack, Endless mode and Clear mode.
The Kids Corner
Portable game systems are great for youngsters, and DsiWare features a number of engaging downloads that are appropriate for kids. Here are a few of the best:
Flipnote Studio (Free)
Creativity is a wonderful thing, and Nintendo's free illustration software for the DSi could be the perfect outlet for the "Little Monet" in your life. Kids can create animations or simply doodle to their hearts' content -- and you don't have to worry about them not liking Flipbnote, because if they don't, you're not out a dime.
Mixed Messages (500 Nintendo Points)
This is kind of like Pictionary for kids, where one player writes a funny sentence and another tries to draw that sentence as an image. Best of all, this is a game kids share with their friends.
Bomberman Blitz (500 Nintendo Points)
The unfortunate part about being a kid is that you've missed out on all the great games of the past. Bomberman is one of those games and its concept is simple enough that any kid should be able to learn to play within minutes.
Mighty Flip Champs (800 Nintendo Points)
A unique puzzler that's exclusive to the DSi, Wayforward's Mighty Flip Champs sports a simple control scheme that mainly uses the stylus and a premise all too unique: players move between two worlds, where decisions in one world affect the layout of the other. There's tons of levels, making Mighty Flip Champs one of the better third-party titles available on DSiWare.
Phantasy Star Zero Mini (200 Nintendo Points - Japan only)
This one may be a bit too advances for your younger kids, but a full 3D world and plenty of customization means big kids can get a lot mileage out out of Phantasy Star Zero Mini. Plus, it's a great introduction to the dungeon crawler genre of games.
The Parent Trap
Even mom and dad need a little mental stimulation every now and then -- and more than the average Sudoku puzzle or John Grisham novel can provide. So, here are some ideas for DSiWare downloads your parents will enjoy:
Clubhouse Games Express: Family Favorites (500 Nintendo Points)
A condensed version of the DS cartridge game, Family Favorites features games mom and pop ought to know: Hearts, Bridge and Dominoes. There's also Ludo, and Dots and Boxes to keep 'em occupied.
Brain Challenge (800 Nintendo Point)
Assuming the 'rentals aren't hardcore gamers, a simple quiz game like Brain Challenge should provide a source of fun. Plus, it may teach them something new, and if there's one thing Joystiq's all about, it's expanding the knowledge base of the older generations. Check out our review.
Bookworm (500 Nintendo Points)
An addictive puzzle game from celebrated peddler PopCap Games, players shift letters around on a tile board to form words for precious points. Bookworm is a simple, yet stimulating game.