Of course in this case – ten games that will make 2007 the best year yet for DS – I'm well aware that in 12 months time, the list might seem to be somewhat naive, with perhaps some of games proving to be less special than I hoped. But that's life isn't it, so in the spirit of the season, munch another mince pie and come be hopeful with me.
To quickly explain, games not yet out in Europe but already covered in our top 10 of 2006, and other games we're in the process of reviewing such as Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin and Final Fantasy III, aren't included.
Otherwise, if any of your most wanted titles have been missed out, please do add your shout in the comments section below.
The top 10 DS games we're waiting for
We love the smell of diesel and cordite for breakfast, so while geeky WWII hex-based war gamer Panzer Tactics won't appeal to the Touch Generation, we're looking forward to it. And coming from CDV, which is known for its high class PC strategy games, we're right to have high hopes. Playing as the Germans, Russians and Western Allies through 30 single-player missions involving massed tank battles and sneaky commando attacks, there's also the promise of support for the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, meaning we'll be able to take on up to three other armchair generals from around the world.
|Rayman Raving Rabbids|
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Due: 16th March
When we're promised 'the funniest, zaniest, wackiest antics ever' we start to get a bit worried. But considering this tag comes wrapped around Ubisoft's Rayman character, we're prepared to get excited about Rayman Raving Rabbids. Consisting of dozens of mini-games that see Rayman trying to outwit a nation of out-of-control bunnies (we've had that problem too), one of the big focuses of the game are the multiplayer modes. You'll be able to link up and play against three friends. Successful completing the mini-games will also unlock various customisation features such as costumes and different music options.
|Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings|
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Final Fantasy games are streaming to the DS like bees to a honeypot at the moment, which is the best news a role-playing fan could hope to hear. Based around the characters that featured in the Final Fantasy XII game for PlayStation 2, Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings promises to be the most ambitious RPG yet for the DS, with customisation of your battle group expected to be a key feature. You'll also be able to set up automatic moves, or Gambits, to control what your characters do in certain situations. Combined with Square Enix's usual attention to graphics, it promises to be a cracker.
Developer: Jupiter Corporation
Publisher: Buena Vista
Due: 13th March
We'll get onto Pokemon later, but in the meantime comes Spectrobes, which is Disney's attempt to capture the hearts of teenage boys with a pocket monster-type game. That might not sound special, but having played an early version of the game, we were impressed with its scope - there are 500 monsters to dig up, revive and evolve - plus the battles happen in real-time. In these, you can control two Spectrobes and combine their attacks to unleash more powerful combos.
One of the increasing number of PC strategy games planned for DS (will we see Spore or Civilisation in 2007?), at least SimCity DS has been announced. Based on the 1999 PC game SimCity 3000, it will be a sprite-based city simulation, where the DS' touchscreen and stylus will be key in terms of providing a tactile control system. Modes include a start-from-scratch Build a New City, Save the City, in which you'll have to bring ailing urban situations back to health, and the multiplayer Sister City, in which you'll be able to trade landmark buildings and generally be sociable with other SimCity DS players
|Diddy Kong Racing DS|
Shut your eyes and pretend it's 1997 again as the now Microsoft-owned Rare prepares to release another game for a Nintendo console. Now open them and enjoy the strange situation that is Diddy Kong Racing DS. Based around the N64 original, it will be an enhanced version of that cartoon racing game. Some of the characters, such as Banjo the bear, have been lost because of legal restrictions, but new modes, weapons and challenges are promised, as well as support for eight-player online racing via Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection. We hope it will be much better than the overrated Mario Kart DS.
The only issue we have with Pokemons Pearl and Diamond is a nasty little worry that somehow Nintendo Europe won't get the game released over here in 2007. But considering it came out in Japan last September and will be released in America in April, it surely must make it before the autumn? In terms of gameplay, the big feature is the ability to battle against other trainers online using Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection. Other than that it will introduce over 100 new Pokemon and you'll also be able to go out and collect baby Pokemon in the wild instead of having to breed them.
Developer: Kojima Productions
Boasting the subtitle 'Vampire Hunters', Lunar Knights is exciting as it marks the first in what is hoped to be a series of DS games from the stable of Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima. It sees you taking control of two characters, the vampire Lucian, and Aaron, a vampire killer who fights with long range weapons. Also helping them out will be elemental pets, or Terranials, who will fire off spells as you draw them using your stylus. In between the combat, you'll get to complete a spaceship mini-game as you fly between planets, inbetween destroying those so-called Immortal vampire enemies, of course.
|Wario: Master of Disguise|
Like Yoshi and Kirby, Wario is a lower-profile Nintendo character who over the years has carved out a significant niche for himself, most notably in WarioWare Touched! And now he's back in a game that, as the title suggests, has him morphing between various forms in order to get the job done. Confirmed outfits include thief, a laser-firing spacesuited bod, a graffiti artist, a dragon and a doctor. Quite what he's up to no one yet knows, but it will probably be a bit naughty... in a nice way.
|The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass|
If we're a bit worried about the schedule for Pokemon Pearl/Diamond, we're positive terrified that The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass won't make it into European stores in 2007, as it's only due for release in America in October. The game certainly promises to be the best DS title whenever it's finally released. Not only boasting Nintendo's favourite character, it will continue the island-travelling, dungeon-battling action of Link's previous but one game, The Wind Waker. Touchscreen controls will enable the direction of Link's steam-powered boat, and will also provide the ability to annotate maps and solve puzzles. Frankly, we can hardly wait.
(P.S. Excited? Then to keep in touch with DS in 2007, be sure to bookmark Pocket Gamer's unbiased, independent and dedicated DS section!)